The new Star Wars trilogy seemed to be built out of the ashes of the Jedi, Sith, and the Empire. But now that fans know which villain returns in Star Wars 9, it can finally be confirmed: the true story of Star Wars belongs to Sheev Palpatine, not anyone named 'Skywalker.'
What a story it is, after all. Rising from obscurity to conquer the entire galaxy using nothing but The Force and his own mind, each of the three Star Wars trilogies are now testament to his mission. And with Kathleen Kennedy confirming that the Emperor's return was always the plan, fans only believed that Snoke, Kylo Ren, and the First Order were a fresh start. But the one pulling the strings seems more and more likely to be a living (or spirit form) of Palpatine, back to complete the final chapter of his epic.
Don't believe us? Still clinging to the idea that Star Wars is the story of the Skywalkers or the Jedi? Then we recommend revisiting the original saga. Because the six--and soon to be nine--movie series never would have happened without Palpatine steering the universe from day one.
The Star Wars Prequels: Palpatine Strikes
If viewers take the film at its word and assume that Sheev Palpatine truly is a native of the planet Naboo (and not just the immortal Darth Plagueis under a fake name), then his long term plan executed in the prequel trilogy is an astounding maneuver. An endless chain of maneuvers, in all honesty, and all built on one great truth of the late stage Republic: bureaucracy made the Senate weak. No matter how one feels about the morality or ethics of Palpatine or his Sith alter ego Darth Sidious, you have to recognize that he rose to the top using politics first.
Even based on the titles of the films alone, the prequels ARE the story of Palpatine. He created the 'Phantom Menace' to play both sides of the Senate and Trade Federation schism. He orchestrated the 'Attack of the Clones' by taking over production of the Grand Army to create his future empire. He was the one to claim 'Revenge of the Sith.' The films all just happen to be named for his master plan by coincidence?
When George Lucas laid out the plan for his prequel trilogy, the fans assumed that Anakin was the hero, and the three-act story designed to tell his fall to the Dark Side above all other concerns. But think about it: Episode I begins with the Jedi heroes already being played by Palpatine's Separatist underlings. Even if Anakin is the apparent protagonist, his story is told alongside Palpatine's. Does the story belong to the Student manipulated and seduced into servitude, or the Master to whom he serves?
But most importantly, fans who believe that the Star Wars story begins with Anakin Skywalker being 'born of the Force' will want to catch up on the most recent changes to Star Wars lore. Because Anakin's birth was no stroke of fate... it, too, was part of Palpatine's master plan.
The Star Wars Trilogy: Palpatine Conquers
Even ignoring the recent comic book confirmation that Emperor Palpatine created Anakin in his mother's womb, the story of Skywalker is still all part of Palpatine's larger machinations. By the end of Episode III, both Anakin and the Jedi have lost, while Emperor Palpatine has attained total victory. And the supposed hero, Anakin, had his destiny created, shaped, and decided by Darth Sidious, all except for his own death. At least... that's what we had thought.
The shift from revenge to rule is a subtle one to track, but it's important to remember that after Sheev attained "revenge" upon the Jedi for the Sith Lords that preceded him, he didn't proclaim himself 'Emperor Sidious.' His victory belonged to him, as did the Galactic Empire that he desired to create. Separating politics from religion is difficult in the prequels, but the original trilogy helps emphasize that Emperor Palpatine wants fascist rule (in the big picture, using the Dark Side of the Force could be seen as a means to an end for him).
Entering the era of Star Wars: A New Hope, the Emperor has used his Clone Army to take total control of the entire galaxy, dissolving the Senate and with it, the last of the old republic. While the Rebels can claim a victory for destroying the Emperor's planet-killing weapon, the audience soon learned he had anticipated even that unlikely scenario, constructing a spare Death Star just in case. Even the Rebels' greatest victory was false, and accounted for by Emperor Palpatine.
The Final Star Wars Trilogy: Palpatine Ascends?
And before anyone claims that Sheev Palpatine was undone by his ego or hubris, and his plan to rule the galaxy with either Skywalker at his side spoiled with it, fans can't forget his final words. Even in his last hours, Palpatine claimed that "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen [Laughs]." Now that we know Palpatine is still laughing come Star Wars 9, it seems his vision also included his supposed defeat--what may be his greatest deception ever.
The clock is now ticking until fans learn just how much of this final Star Wars trilogy was orchestrated by Palpatine, either beyond the grave or after he faked his demise. So if the new heroes return to the remains of the Death Star and meet what remains of Palpatine, and it can be assumed that Kylo Ren met Palpatine when retrieving Vader's helmet, the clues suggest the Emperor's influence has been at work all along. Either in Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader Snoke, the First Order, or all of the above.
That will mean the Star Wars saga begins with Sheev Palpatine's first move, and likely ends with his last. Even if he is vanquished, and the Sith along with him... surely that must be the story these movies were telling all along. After all, what other character has driven the plot throughout the entire saga? It's either Sheev Palpatine at the heart of this epic, or C-3PO. We'll let the fans decide.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019