Fans are still unsure about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s Palpatine being a clone, but there’s one major benefit to this that’s being overlooked.
The confirmation that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) was a clone met with varying reactions online, but no matter what you feel about it, there’s one silver lining to it – Darth Sidious didn’t have sex. During C2E2 in Chicago, copies of the film’s novelization by Rae Carson were made available despite the fact that it had an official release date of March 17. Those who were able to nab the book read it through, and soon big takeaways from it made their way online, which includes additional explanation on how Palpatine was able to return.
It was during last year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago that it was confirmed that the Sith Master will factor in Skywalker Saga capper, but much of the specifics of his return was cloaked in mystery leading up to The Rise of Skywalker’s release. Many expected that all questions regarding his supposed survival in Return of the Jedi would be properly addressed in the movie, but that wasn’t the case. J.J. Abrams overlooked a lot of pivotal details that would’ve given viewers a proper understanding of Sidious’s current state. To make things worse, the movie revealed that he had a son (played by Billy Howle), who turned out to be Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) mysterious father, making the scavenger-turned-Jedi the Sith’s granddaughter.
The familial connection between Palpatine and Rey was clear, but the finer details about it were left in muddy waters. Sidious having a son obviously raised questions of any romantic relationship he had that viewers didn’t know about. The Rise of Skywalker barely touched on this subject, but the novelization explained that like Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Rey’s dad was clone, albeit a failed one. While he wasn’t able to carry Palpatine’s consciousness, he survived, married, and fathered Rey. The confirmation that Palpatine and his supposed son were both clones of the original Sith Master effectively eliminates fans’ questions about the ghoulish villain potentially having an affair with someone and being intimate with her.
Regardless of what you think about Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio’s decision to make Palpatine a clone, one cannot deny that the novelization’s reveals effectively shut down the barrage of questions regarding his return. Prior to this confirmation, some were still hung up on the idea that there could be a story left untold regarding the master manipulator. Had Lucasfilm go on a different route – deciding that it’s more compelling to give the villain a romantic backstory – there would be more questions than answers.
Aside from the unpleasant visual of imagining Sidious engaging in romantic shenanigans (assuming that it was a mutual affair), we can all finally move on from him. While The Rise of Skywalker was deemed the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, the fact that it has had one too many unanswered questions kept Star Wars fans from accepting that it’s supposed to be the definitive end of Star Wars’ episodic film series.
It’s worth noting, however, that the idea of Palpatine having a romantic relationship is an idea previously floated by Star Wars creator George Lucas back when he still had creative control over the franchise. It’s difficult to say that this narrative choice would be bad given that Lucas’s plans have been significantly changed after Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney. However, considering how the story officially shaped up in the sequel trilogy, particularly in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it’s undeniably for the best that Abrams and company went against the idea of Palpatine in a traditional love affair.