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“THE DEAD SPEAK” shouted the opening crawl of The Rise of Skywalker. The dead, of course, was Emperor Palpatine, back with another evil scheme to have the Sith overpower the Jedi. It does not end well for him. 

However, the Star Wars movie, like so many action/adventure tentpoles, leaves audiences with the nagging question about the death of a key player.  Now fans are arguing that Rey didn’t actually kill her grandfather, as an initial viewing of the film might have you believe. 

How did Palpatine meet his end in ‘Rise of Skywalker’?

Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley | Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

In the film’s opening scene, Kylo Ren finds a revived Palpatine, who as all master villains must, reveals his master plan in a monologue: He’s amassed an armada of Star Destroyers to wipe out our heroes once and for all.

Said heroes learn of this plot and go on a “find this object” quest, which becomes fraught after Rey learns her parents were not nobodies, from a certain point of view – they were Palpatines. 

Rey and friends eventually make their way to Palpatine as he cackles and shoots Force lightning, as is his wont. As he had attempted to do with Luke Skywalker, Palpatine tries to kill Rey with lightning, but she fends off the attack by wielding both Luke and Leia’s lightsabers, having heeded a call from generations of Jedi to fight on.

This directs the lightning back at the Emperor, who falls and expires. Probably. 

It’s easy to read this as Rey killing the Emperor with the double-saber defense. However, as they always do, fans on Reddit have their own theories. 

Fans say Palpatine’s death was his own fault

The discussion on Reddit started with a post about Sith rituals as they relate to the Sequel Trilogy.  It mentions that in The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren kills his father, Han Solo in a sacrificial act. In The Last Jedi, he kills Supreme Leader Snoke, proving that Kylo is an heir to the Sith. Finally, in The Rise of Skywalker, “we witness a Sith Essence Transfer on Exegol, but Rey doesn’t succumb to her grandfather’s plan.” 

This prompted the not unreasonable question, “But since Rey kills Palpatine… doesn’t she actually end up following the plan?”  Another fan answered, “She doesn’t really kill him though – he kills himself as she reflects his lightning back at him.”

A third fan elaborated:

“He wanted her to physically kill him and run him through with her saber, since that would set off another sith practice of his soul transferring into her. He wanted to take over her body since the body he was currently inhabiting was too weak to stand/move. Since Rey instead reflected his lightning back on himself with the sabers, his own lightning killed him, so both his body and his soul died without transferring.”

Won’t someone hire Daisy Ridley?


Star Wars: ‘The Phantom Menace’ Foreshadows Palpatine’s Return in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

What needed reviving after The Rise of Skywalker opened was Daisy Ridley’s acting prospects. Of the principal players new to the Star Wars galaxy, Ridley’s was the star who was truly born. Oscar Isaac and John Boyega both had notable credits before The Force Awakens, but Ridley was more or less unknown.

Her performance in The Force Awakens impressed fans and the industry alike, and she seemed poised to find a career outside of Star Wars. 

That didn’t pan out as much as she would have liked, She did land a role in Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express, and she won some acclaim for Ophelia, a movie that looked at Hamlet through different eyes, But after Rise of Skywalker, few opportunities knocked. 

“Weirdly, at the beginning of the year nothing was coming through,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I was like, ‘Aww! No one wants to employ me.’ I had that moment of ‘Oh my god!’ and then just thought ‘everything in its right time,'” she says.

She did find a video game role in the time loop thriller Twelve Minutes