Fans first learned that Emperor Palpatine would be returning to the Skywalker Saga when the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted last April, though even the released film left some ambiguity around how the character could seemingly be alive, with the film's novelization confirming that cloning technology was used for his revival. The novel doesn't go into explicit details about what transpired in his nearly 30-year absence from the galaxy, but the book does lean more heavily into the mechanical devices that allowed him to "live," while still remaining vague enough as to not reveal all of the story's mysteries.
"All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted," the book reads of the scene in which Kylo Ren meets Palpatine on Exegol. "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."
Some fans might be frustrated that this still doesn't directly confirm whether we're seeing the original rejuvenated body of the Emperor or merely a clone, but the mention of the Clone Wars technology at least leans more closely towards this figure not being his original body. Given that the Emperor was not only thrown down a chasm on the Death Star II back in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and then the Death Star II then blew up, this added information from the novelization would make it seem much more likely that some of his genetic material was utilized to create this clone body, as the film also saw vats full of figures that resembled Supreme Leader Snoke, hinting that there was a lot of clone activity happening on Exegol.
With the film coming to home video next month, some fans were excited about the deleted scenes we might witness, but don't count on learning more about the Emperor's origins, as the film's editor Maryann Brandon previously confirmed how little was shot for that sequence.
“It was kind of a delicate balance and went back and forth a lot about how much we wanted to reveal,” Brandon shared with The Huffington Post of the opening sequence. “Some scenes changed quite a bit, the way that we wanted to present it to the audience. In the end, we ended up showing a lot less of it than we started with.”1comments
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization will hit shelves on March 17th, with copies having been sold at this weekend's C2E2. Pre-orders are live on Amazon now. The film hits Digital HD on March 17th and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31st. Additional details about the release can be found here.