Prior to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine’s reemergence was a hot topic of speculation. We knew he was coming back, but how would the movie explain his return after all these years? Multiple fan theories suggested that Sheev was a clone, which explained how he was able to return after seemingly dying in Return of the Jedi.
Now, leaks from the official Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition novelization confirm that Palpatine was, in fact, a clone. Since the final film of the Skywalker Saga didn't reveal the circumstances that allowed for the Emperor's return, fans had predicted the novel would reveal that pertinent information. More intriguing still is that the reveal also helps to explain some of Kylo Ren’s dubious behavior throughout Rise of Skywalker.
Spoilers ahead for The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition.
The Rise of Skywalker opened with Kylo’s visit to Exegol, where he came face-to-face with the nefarious Palpatine, who promised Kylo he would be able to rule the entire galaxy. However, Palpatine had one request: Kylo had to kill Rey so Sheev could possess her. Kylo refused to play along, effectively disobeying Palps’ orders for most of the movie. At the time, Kylo’s actions were confusing, considering the power to rule the galaxy was something he'd wanted all along. As it turns out, Kylo knew more about Palpatine than we thought.
Over the last weekend in February, Chicago’s Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) had advance copies of the official Rise of Skywalker novelization available for sale. While the book won’t be released to the general public until March 17, Reddit user ichrisdafa posted an excerpt with further details regarding Kylo’s first trip to Exegol. The novelization confirms that Palps is a clone, as many suspected, but adds the intriguing twist that Kylo actually knew about it beforehand.
Here’s the excerpt:
“All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh. ‘What could you give me?’ Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel it in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit.”
This moment tells us quite a lot about the reasons behind Kylo’s actions. Knowing that Palpatine was a clone all along — information Kylo failed to divulge to anyone, for some reason — may suggest that Kylo used that knowledge to do what he pleased and get away with it.
After all, why would Kylo need a clone to rule the galaxy? Palpatine’s time was clearly limited given that he needed Rey’s body to carry on his scheming. That alone wasn't reason enough for him to kill Rey, and Palps' motives for that were muddled at best. Despite Kylo’s best efforts, though, Palps seemed to know that he wouldn’t do as asked, as Rey ultimately wound up on Exegol to face her grandfather anyway.
The Rise of Skywalker novelization will be available on March 17.