Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni has confirmed that season 4 will not feature an appearance by Emperor Palpatine, as previously-rumored. The Disney XD series is nearing its end as its fourth and final outing is scheduled to roll-out this month. While we expect to see some major battles between the evil Empire and the budding Rebellion this season, the mastermind behind it all, Palpatine aka. Darth Sidious, will remain in the shadows.
As the different pockets of Rebellion slowly come together in Rebels season 4, the Empire will be gearing up to retaliate in the aftermath of the Rebels season 3 finale. Although Chopper Base was essentially ransacked by Grand Admiral Thrawn and his Imperial cohorts at the end of season 3, the Ghost's crew was able to escape his clutches and regroup in preparation for the next attack from the Empire. Despite the Empire's multiple failed attempts to finally put an end to Hera and her ragtag group of freedom fighters, Emperor Palpatine will continue to focus on other, bigger matters when Rebels picks back up in season 4.
Filoni himself confirmed the news at Fan Expo 2017 over the weekend, according to Star Wars Underworld correspondent Benjamin Hart (see the Tweet below). This news arrives two weeks before Rebels makes its final return to Disney XD.
Dave Filoni confirmed at Fan Expo that Palpatine's not in season 4.
— Benjamin Hart (@BenHartWithNoE) October 1, 2017
All things considered, it only makes sense that Palpatine himself would get involved with a fight against what is still presumed to be a small group of freedom fighters. The rebellion against the Empire is not as open and public at the point in the Star Wars timeline where Rebels takes place - and with some of the Empire's best generals at the forefront, the Emperor doesn't have that much reason to be worried about the possibility of the rebellion growing large enough to become a serious threat to his reign yet, either.
By not including Palpatine, Rebels season 4 will also be less at risk of growing overcrowded with villains. We know that Thrawn is a master tactician and some fans felt that Rebels scaled down a bit in season 3, in order to make room for the Darth Maul storyline, With Thrawn coming back into the fold for season 4, we expect that Thrawn will become a bigger and badder threat than ever before in the episodes to come. On top of that, the trailers for Rebels season 4 confirm that Grand Moff Tarkin is returning this season, along with Thrawn and Governor Pryce (who even appears next to Thrawn in the Rebels season 4 poster). As such, it's fair to say this season won't be hurting for villains, as is.
Now that it's been confirmed that Palpatine won't appear in Rebels season 4, the next question is - will Darth Vader appear in some form? Given that it's been all but confirmed that Ahsoka will appear in Rebels season 4, it would only be fitting for her former master to make an appearance of some sort (to help further bring her storyline to a satisfying conclusion). Whether or not that actually happens, however, remains to be seen.
Star Wars Rebels returns Monday, October 16th with 'Heroes of Mandalore: Part 1 & 2' on Disney XD.
Source: Star Wars Underworld