Emperor Palpatine’s infamous Order 66 was supposed to wipe the Jedi off the face of the galaxy, but, as well all know, it didn’t exactly work as planned. Yoda survived. Obi-Wan survived. Luke and Leia survived. That kid in the new video game Jedi: Fallen Order survived. But there’s one Jedi survivor from the Star Wars extended universe who you’ve probably never heard of, but who could end up revealing how the Resistance will finally defeat Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Meet Empatojayos Brand. This extended universe character never appeared in any of the Star Wars movies, but in supporting material (none of which is currently canonical) he played a key role in defeating Emperor Palpatine in the years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Empatojayos was a Padawan of [Master Yaddle](https://www.inverse.com/article/60646-mandalorian-leaks-yoda-yaddle-connection-theory-spoilers-episode-1 (that other member of Yoda’s race from the Star Wars prequels) who was hunted by Darth Vader. His ship was damaged and he survived after being rescued by a technologically primitive society that outfitted him with a bionic body to save his life. He’s basically like if Darth Vader was always a good guy and also janky AF.
Later on, after Return of the Jedi, Empatojayos teams up with Luke Skywalker to take out Palpatine, who had found a way to survive his fall down that Death Star shaft by storing his consciousness in clones. Eventually, with some help from Han Solo, Empatojayos captured Palpatine’s soul and brought it to the Netherworld of the Force where Palps could never escape. (Even though Jedi do it all the time — it’s called being a Force ghost.)
Anyways, why does this matter? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that Palpatine’s ability to cheat death in this non-canonical story sounds a lot like the leaks and rumors we’ve heard about how he’ll return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That’s what led one Star Wars fan to wonder who could fill the role of Empatojayos in Episode IX.
If that’s what happens, then some other character (Kylo, maybe?) will have to take Palpatine’s soul to the netherworld. That would also mean Episode IX could bring an underexplored corner of the galaxy onto the big screen for the very first time.
But here’s another theory: What if the events described above (or something very similar) already happened in the current Star Wars canon? What if Palpatine already cheated death and it took a team of good guys to take him out and lock his soul in the Star Wars version of hell? This could even be the big spoiler hiding in the first episode of The Mandalorian.
Considering how each Star Wars movie in the sequels trilogy keeps introducing new Force abilities, is it possible that, in Episode IX, Palps could figure out how to become a Force ghost too? Historically, that’s always been a Jedi-only ability, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. And if it does, it could just be the first step in the Emperor’s evil plan to resurrect himself entirely.
Then again, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s just deal with the Palpatine that somehow survived before we take on the one who brought himself back from the death. And in that case, we’ll need Empatojayos Brand — or someone just as motivated — to finish the job once and for all.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.