On Thursday, Lucasfilm released yet another chunk of brand-new footage for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and it’s a real doozy. The scene shows Kylo Ren on his way to a mysterious, shadowy, and clearly super-evil location in the far-flung reaches of space. So who’s he going to visit? From the looks of things, it’s none other than Sheev Palpatine. The fact that Kylo meets the Emperor isn’t a massive surprise, but some of what the presumed-dead ruler says to the brooding Supreme Leader is rather surprising. Let’s break it down.
Warning: speculation and discussion of leaks for Rise of Skywalker ahead. We’re heading into big spoiler territory here, people.
“At last, my boy. I have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head,” the Emperor tells Kylo Ren.
Palpatine speaks in a number of voices during the line: first with Ian MacDiarmid’s instantly recognizable gravelly croak, then as Snoke (Andy Serkis) and finally, most hype-worthy of all, as the iconic original voice of Darth Vader (James Earl Jones).
I happen to think that the “my boy” part of the line could be a Revenge of the Sith-era young Vader, but I’m not totally sure. It definitely sounds a little different from Palpatine himself, and not quite as booming and resonant as Jones.
The music in this new 90-second clip merges elements of “Duel of the Fates” from the prequels, and the original Emperor’s theme from Return of the Jedi. It’s incredibly badass, and will get even the saltiest of prequel haters (such as myself) start tapping their toes and singing “bapa badapa” along with the awesome visuals.
With such an obvious, iconic homage to the prequels, it seems like Anakin has to return here in some capacity, right? If Palpatine’s been pretending to be Vader inside Ben Solo’s brain all along, perhaps someone else has been behind his pull to the light. Rey is an obvious choice, but maybe grandpappy Anakin has been trying to get through to them. If the rumors about Rey hold true and she really is Palpatine’s granddaughter, that would make for some interesting symmetry between her story and Kylo’s.
This new footage is just the latest piece of evidence in a growing pile to suggest that many of the story leaks dropped by JediPaxis earlier this week are true. That leak describes an opening sequence very much like the Kylo Ren scenes in this latest footage, right down to the red nebula. The leaks have become so widely talked about online that Burger King is running an entire ad campaign about it in Germany. However, those leaks say nothing about an Anakin appearance in The Rise of Skywalker.
At this point, we don’t have much longer to wait until we find out whether or not the Chosen One deigns to appear in the film that bears his name. Fingers crossed!
The Rise of Skywalker comes to theaters December 20.