Sith Happens

New Star Wars book could reveal how Palpatine thwarted Yoda's secret plan

“Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side.”

Did Emperor Palpatine hire a secret squad of Sith ghost catchers? Based on a riveting new Star Wars book excerpt it seems like Anakin’s Force ghost has been hidden in a weird spot in the galaxy, but how did it get there? One new theory might suggest Palps was hitting back at Yoda’s most important long game plan.

Did Palpatine have a secret counter-attack to Yoda’s ultimate checkmate? Let’s take a closer look.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME-TRAVEL MOVIE? Click here to help us rank all the ones on Netflix

Anakin’s ghost on Exegol

In the forthcoming book Shadow of the Sith, Luke Skywalker finds himself on Exegol thanks to the power of the Seeing Stone from The Mandalorian. The physical truth of all of this is still a little fuzzy. Is Luke actually on Exegol or is he like astral-projecting himself across the galaxy? We don’t know, but what we do learn is that the ghost of his father is on Exegol, but why?

Anakin, Yoda, and Obi-Wan reunited as Force ghosts.Lucasfilm

One theory over on Screen Rant suggests Palpatine and the Sith Eternal trapped the spirit of Anakin Skywalker on Exegol for the specific purpose of preventing him from helping any of the living Jedi. This is a compelling idea for several reasons, and there’s a precedent for ghost-catching Sith elsewhere in Star Wars. As Screen Rant points out, the 2020 book Dark Legends makes it clear that catching Force ghosts was, at the very least, a story told about the Sith within Star Wars canon. So the idea that Anakin’s Force Ghost is on Exegol because he’s trapped there is compelling.

But the implications are even bigger because if Anakin’s Force Ghost did get busted and captured, Yoda was probably really pissed.

Yoda’s Force ghost plan

Yoda appears to Luke in The Last Jedi.Lucasfilm

In the context of The Clone Wars, it really seems the Sith are unaware of Force ghosts. Recall, in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, the concept of a Jedi just fading away after they’re dead doesn’t exist at all. Within chronological, live-action canon, Yoda first reveals the concept of becoming a Force ghost to Obi-Wan offhandedly during the denouement of Revenge of the Sith. Retroactively, in The Clone Wars episode “Sacrifice,” Yoda learns how to conjure the Force ghost power from Force Priestesses.

Within this Clone Wars episode, Yoda makes it very clear that he firmly believes the Sith don’t know how to do this. This, he thinks, will be the ultimate secret weapon. He even says as much:

“Open to us, a path remains, that unknown to the Sith is. Through this path, victory, we may yet find. Not victory in the Clone Wars. But victory for all time."

From this one Clone Wars episode, and everything that happens in The Rise of Skywalker, the Yoda math seems to go like this: Force ghosts create an immortal power source, which when summoned all together at the right moment, will destroy the Sith and create a “victory for all time.” However, the key detail to this plan seems to be the idea that Force ghosts are secret.

Did Palpatine ruin Yoda’s plan?

When did Palpatine find out about Force ghosts?Lucasfilm

Assuming Yoda was right, and that during the era of the prequels, the Sith did not know about Force Ghosts, that doesn’t mean they didn’t know later. If the theory about Anakin’s ghost getting trapped by the Sith is legit, then it follows that Palpatine, post Return of the Jedi, learned about Force Ghosts.

This has a lot of implications. If Yoda’s long game checkmate move against Palpatine was (in theory) stockpiling Force ghosts as a kind of last resort, then the Sith catching and holding those ghosts would be a huge problem. If the spirit of Anakin Skywalker is imprisoned on Exegol during the events of Shadow of the Sith, that implies he’s been there for a while.

Shadow of the Sith takes place 21 ABY, putting it 17 years after Return of the Jedi and 14 years before The Rise of Skywalker. If the Sith have been capturing the spirits of Jedi and imprisoning those spirits on Exegol, they’ve had plenty of time to learn not only the existence of said ghosts but also, capture, at least one of them. This means Yoda’s statement about the Sith’s ignorance of Force Ghosts during the Clone Wars would still be accurate. Shadow of the Sith happens literally 40 years after The Clone Wars episode “sacrifice,” and a lot can happen during those four decades, specifically, the creation of a Sith ghost-busting squad.

Sith ghost jail fixes a Force Awakens plot hole

Kylo believes he spoke to Vader’s ghost. But where was Anakin’s ghost?Lucasfilm

In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren believes that he has recently communicated with the Force ghost of Darth Vader. At the time the movie was released, this made almost no sense. Why would there be a spirit of Darth Vader and not Anakin? Wouldn’t Anakin’s spirits have appeared to Kylo Ren and told him to knock it off?

The Rise of Skywalker revealed that when Kylo spoke to “Darth Vader’s Ghost” through the Force, he was really talking to Palpatine. If Anakin’s ghost was imprisoned in Sith ghost jail at this point, then it makes sense he couldn’t appear to Kylo and set the record straight. But if that’s the case, there’s an even bigger implication. If Rey was unable to communicate with all the spirits of the Jedi prior to those final moments on Exegol, does that imply they were all locked up in ghost jail? Yoda appeared to Luke in The Last Jedi, so clearly his Force Ghost was free at that point. But what about everyone else? Obi-Wan’s ghost? Qui-Gon’s? Mace Windu?

If Star Wars canon reveals that a huge majority of Force ghosts (including Obi-Wan) were imprisoned on Exegol for at least 14 years, it’s not just the most depressing Star Wars twist ever, it’s terrifying, too.

STAR WARS: SHADOW OF THE SITH IS OUT JUNE 28, 2022, FROM DEL REY BOOKS.