Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has released a new clip - and what a clip it is! This is probably the single most revelatory footage from the film that Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams have revealed - so if you are worried about SPOILERS for The Rise of Skywalker, you may not want to watch, to preserve the surprise. The sequence shows Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) arriving on the same dark and frozen planet seen in trailers, where he seems to be lured by something that leads him into a crypt-like chamber. There we hear the omnious voice of Emperor Palpatine - but that's not where the surprises end!
As the voiceover from Palpatine reveals to Kylo Ren, it is The Emperor who has been the voice in Kylo Ren's head all along - as Vader, as Snoke, and now as the Emperor, finally revealing himself!
There is so very much to unpack in this scene, which if a perfect stealth-missile drop by J.J. Abrams, at once revealing something monumental, without fully spoiling how this moment fits into the film, or what exactly is happening in the moment. We see Kylo Ren land on this dark foreboding planet, and enter what looks like an ancient Sith Temple (based on similar structures seen in the Rebels animated series). There, Kylo hears the Emperor's voice, with Palpatine basically hinting that he has been the puppet master pulling Ben Solo / Kylo Ren's strings, this whole time. That raises so many questions.
Could Star Wars: The Last Jedi theories have been true? Was Supreme Leader Snoke really just an illusion or Force hologram generated by Emperor Palpatine, serving as Palpatine's avatar? Has Kylo Ren's connection to "Darth Vader" really just been Palpatine messing with his mind this whole time? This latest clip certainly seems to suggest as much, leading to the big, looming, question: What is Palpatine's endgame here?
Clearly it would follow that the Emperor is trying to finish the one mission he's been on, since the Skywalker Saga began: turning a member of the Skywalker family to the dark side of the Force. However, Palpatine has always presented that goal as the means of two Sith ruling the universe as master and apprentice - but at this point, it's hard to believe that at face value. If Palpatine is returning in The Rise of Skywalker, it's almost certainly as a very old and injured Sith Lord, following the Battle of Endor and his plummet from the Death Star. Given what the Original Trilogy and Sequel Trilogy have already established, it could very well be possible that Palpatine has developed new Force powers - like transferring his essence into a new and better vessel.
So while Kylo Ren meeting the Emperor could be seen as an unholy alliance taking shape, it could actually turn out to be the worst trap that Kylo Ren has fallen into....
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th.