A recent teaser from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker confirmed that Emperor Palpatine was the one behind “every voice inside” Kylo Ren’s head, including Darth Vader’s. It was deeply disturbing, but also confusing. How could Palpatine have been talking to Kylo all this time? While we still don’t know exactly how Palpatine will return Episode IX, a brazen new theory draws from Sith lore to explain Sidious’ resurrection and it involves a corpse and a connection to Darth Vader’s helmet. Let’s dive in.
Warning: Speculative spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Several fan theories have posited that Palpatine used the Dark side power of Essence Transfer, to house his power in another vessel. (Think of Horcruxes from Harry Potter, but with a Star Wars twist.) The root of this idea was that Palps possessed Snoke’s body until the Supreme Leader’s surprise death in The Last Jedi before moving onto something else. However, it’s possible old Sheev’s been using another body all along.
Reddit user thebrywalker takes this idea a step further and suggests Palpatine returned by repossessing his own corpse after Return of the Jedi. It’s not impossible. We know that Sith can attach themselves to inanimate objects and however creepy that sounds, a corpse fits the bill.
The redditor posted an image of Palpatine holding the mask of Lord Momin from the canonical comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. Palpatine discovered Lord Momin’s mask inside the Jedi temple. While Palps was in possession of the helmet, Momin’s spirit told Sidious about the mask and his history. Sounds a lot like Kylo Ren talking to Vader’s mask, right? Years later, Sheev gifted the helmet to Vader and the rest is history.
It’s possible that Palps found a way to transfer a part of his essence to Vader’s helmet, or the mask of Momin, before passing it along. Palpatine’s nothing if not a master planner and, much like Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort, likely planted several fail-safes in case he was unsuccessful in repossessing his dead body. After all, if Palpatine has always been the voice inside Kylo’s head, then it makes sense that he’s been talking to Palpatine via Vader’s helmet instead of his grandfather.
Also, remember that leak about Palpatine being attached to a bunch of “mechanical stuff”? Well, it’s possible his body’s so frail because his corpse is literally falling apart, so he needs young Force users to rejuvenate himself. That could explain a lot of what happens in The Rise of Skywalker without getting too deep into the lore weeds.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.