How 'Star Wars Rebels' Set up the Emperor's Return in 'The Rise of Skywalker'

With Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, audiences witnessed Darth Vader bowing down to Emperor [...]

With Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, audiences witnessed Darth Vader bowing down to Emperor Palpatine, a symbolic gesture that reminded us no matter how terrifying Vader was, someone was still more intimidating. The Emperor's imposing on-screen presence continued in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, until Vader eventually toppled his master and sent him plummeting to his death. The debut of the first teaser for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, however, hinted at Palpatine's return, which came as a surprise to many. Those fans who watched Star Wars Rebels were much less shocked, as the series offered insight into how the character could possibly reappear.

In the prequel trilogy, one of the more iconic conversations takes place between Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker, with the politician revealing to his apprentice the story of Darth Plagueis. According to Palpatine, Palgueis was "so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life" in addition to preventing others from dying. Palpatine also noted that, while Plagueis could save others, he couldn't save himself, and he was reportedly killed by his apprentice.

In the Season Four episode of Rebels, "The World Between Worlds," budding Jedi Ezra Bridger discovered a portal at a Jedi Temple which transported him to a realm we've never seen. As Ezra explored the area, he saw many other doorways and heard whispers of dialogue from various points in the saga, dating back to The Phantom Menace and extending to The Force Awakens.

In addition to witnessing various events throughout the course of time, Ezra could even intervene and change the course of events. In that regard, it's possible that, prior to his death, Palpatine was able to visit this World Between Worlds to impact the events of the future, potentially allowing himself to influence any number of events after his death.

Given that all we know about Palpatine's role in The Rise of Skywalker is that actor Ian McDiarmid filmed new scenes as the Emperor, it's unclear what we can expect from him in the new film. Were he to somehow appear in a corporeal form, there will surely be some explanations needed, though appearing in an alternate reality to potentially influence Kylo Ren would be much more feasible, thanks to what was established with Rebels.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.

What do you think about Rebels' influence on the new film? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!


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