The Rise of Skywalker had the grand task of concluding Star Wars‘ Skywalker saga. Spanning decades and three trilogies, that was a massive undertaking and it wasn’t going to satisfy everyone. However, the movie alienated a lot more fans than it probably wanted to. One reason was that some people had an issue with Palpatine coming back into the story. But now, the new novelization of the film confirms that the Emperor was a clone, which clears things up and actually works better within Star Wars.
The new novel confirms Palpatine is a clone, and it answers a lot of questions
On Feb. 29, The YouTube channel, Star Wars Theory, posted a video explaining this confirmation and how it fits into the lore of Star Wars. He tweeted that a journalist named Damien Dennis emailed him with excerpts from the unreleased The Rise of Skywalker novel. The book’s author, Rae Carson, sold early editions at C2E2, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, this past weekend. The public release date is March 17.
In the screenshots given, it’s further explained that Kylo Ren figures out the Palpatine they face throughout the film is a clone. Kylo refers back to his studies of the Clone Wars and how the machinery is similar. As IGN reports, the excerpts read,
All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.
The passage also states that Kylo Ren could “feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit.” However, the body was “imperfect” and wouldn’t “last much longer.” This explains why the Emperor looked so frail in the film. In The Clone Wars, there are sometimes malfunctions where clone cells suffer rapid deterioration, especially if there isn’t a host body to cultivate more cells from. The same thing happened after Jango Fett died and would definitely be a problem here since it’s been around 31 years since the real Emperor died.
The clone storyline for Palpatine comes straight from Legends, Star Wars’ Expanded Universe
This news rocked the fandom, but it’s not the first time a Palpatine clone was brought up in canon. As the founder of Slashfilm, Peter Sciretta, tweeted, Resistance fighter Beaumont Kin (played by Dominic Monaghan) said that this was a possible explanation for the Emperor coming back, along with “dark science” and Sith powers.
And Star Wars Theory points out that this storyline isn’t new either. It comes from the Dark Empire comic books from Legends. Before George Lucas sold Star Wars and Lucasfilm to Disney, Lucasfilm had a whole legion of comic books and novels called the Expanded Universe/Legends, that explored stories outside of the original and prequel trilogies. None of these are canon since Disney took over, but this storyline now is.
In the Dark Empire comics, which George Lucas signed off on, Palpatine had clones of himself set up and ready to transfer his spirit into when he was near death. It couldn’t house his immense power, but it was a way to save his essence if the worst-case-scenario happened for him.
The implementation of a Legends storyline is a little annoying to some fans, though. As Twitter user @headfallsoff wrote, “absolutely nothing funnier than Disney nuking the EU [Expanded Universe] only to do a movie about a clone Palpatine, not actually say so in the movie, and ‘confirm’ it in a book months after everyone stopped caring.”
Palpatine as a clone allows Anakin Skywalker’s legacy to live on
We’ve written this before, but the sequel trilogy’s biggest fail is the fact that it didn’t follow the central theme of Star Wars, which was Anakin Skywalker’s story. And not only that, but Palpatine’s resurrection messed up the Chosen One’s prophecy. The whole redemption arc and point of Anakin’s story is that he’s supposed to bring balance to the Force. Through immense tragedy, he finally does so in Return of the Jedi, balancing everything, turning to the Light, and redeeming the small boy from Tatooine’s arc.
With The Rise of Skywalker bringing Palpatine back, it voided Anakin’s sacrifice. For Star Wars Theory, it still fulfilled the prophecy for the time being, but then cheapened it a bit with Palpatine returning 30 years later. Now, though, with this Emperor as a clone, Anakin’s redemption arc still stands and wasn’t ruined by the sequel trilogy after all.
Although it’s a lot to take in, Palpatine being a clone ties up issues with The Rise of Skywalker film and makes it a better fit in the Star Wars Skywalker saga.