‘Tis the season for Emperor Palpatine’s miraculous return to Star Wars. After (presumably) falling to his death in Return of the Jedi, the diabolical villain is making a major comeback in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Exactly how he’ll return has been a hot topic of fan speculation in the months ahead of the film’s debut. Does Kylo Ren find him with the mysterious “wayfinder” device? Has he secretly been hiding out in the Unknown Regions? Director J.J. Abrams recently revealed his favorite Star Wars prequel scene, and it might be the key to understanding Palpatine’s resurrection and role Episode IX.
Warning! Speculative spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
While the Star Wars prequel films have gotten a lot of criticism from fans, a few key scenes that have withstood the test of time. One such scene is the quiet exchange between young Anakin Skywalker and then-Chancellor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith. It’s a turning point in their relationship, marking the beginning of Anakin’s downfall. In an interview with EW, Abrams spoke highly of the scene, calling his favorite from the prequels.
“There’s just something about that scene. There’s just two people sitting there. It’s visually interesting. But I just think Ian’s performance in it is spectacular,” Abrams said.
This exchange centers on Palpatine’s explanation of Darth Plagueis the Wise. To appeal to Anakin, Palps tells the story of how Plagueis became so powerful that he could use the Force to “influence the midi-chlorians to create life.” In fact, he had “such a knowledge of the Dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
Abrams calling this particular scene one of his favorites lends credence to the theories that Palpatine would simply will himself back to life. After all, the former emperor is exceptionally strong in the Dark side and would have accounted for the inevitability of his own death (unlike Plagueis).
All that said, it’s possible Abrams used this scene as a blueprint to resurrect Palpatine in Episode IX. It doesn’t explain whether or not Palps actually died after his fall on the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi, but perhaps he did and spent the last few decades in the Force afterlife trying to bring himself back. It’s not a stretch to imagine that he’s figured out a way to surpass even Darth Plagueis in power. If Abrams finds a way to tie this conversation into finale, it might serve as one of the greatest Star Wars callbacks of all time.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.