One of my major concerns going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is that it will lessen the impact of the ending of Return of the Jedi. I’ve talked about this a few times in articles and many of our various Podcasts here at LRM. What I mean is, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Anakin makes a choice which destroys the Sith, ending their reign and bringing balance back to the Force, and saving the Galaxy from pure tyranny. This is the ending of Anakin Skywalker’s (The Chosen One) entire arc from tragic fall to the Dark Side, and eventual redemption at the hands of his son Luke.
My worry is that bringing back Emperor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious at this point would make Anakin’s arc less impactful and since that ending is literally one of the top moments in all of Star Wars, yeah it’s a concern prior to watching The Rise of Skywalker. However, hopefully listening to co-writer Chris Terrio, this is something they made sure they were maintaining in this movie. The writer spoke with Uproxx recently and here is what he said about bringing back Palpatine and how they had to be careful not to mess with the end of Return of the Jedi.
“Oh, geez, I should probably steer away from specifics on that stuff until after the film comes out. Then I’d love to talk to you about it in detail. I’m afraid anything I’d say about it would give away some plot stuff and I’m not as fleet of foot as J.J. at avoiding stuff. But, what I can say is we felt that this story, these nine films, were a family saga. We decided pretty early on that we wanted to really think of this as the Skywalker Saga. And from the beginning, the chess game has been between Palpatine/Sideous and the Jedi. Specifically, the Jedi as represented by Anakin and the Skywalkers. So, we were convinced some way or another Palpatine had to be a presence in this film. Of course, the sacrifice of Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi and bringing balance to the Force, we still had to honor that and I think we do honor that in the film. We don’t take the end of Return of the Jedi lightly at all, because it is one of the most beautiful moments in any film, really — in seeing what Vader does for his son. Return of the Jedi was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, and I remember just being rocked by what I saw in that moment. Because it almost never had occurred to me as a kid that the bad guy could cease being a bad guy and be a good guy. That moment when Vader lifts Palpatine was a genuine shock to me and it’s full of truth and beauty. We had to be careful about that, but if you look at some of the lore of Palpatine and the Sith and the way that George has embedded ideas about the Sith into the mythology of Star Wars, there are ways the presence of that character can still cast its shadow in the future. I guess I’ll leave it at that.”
This actually gives me reason to doubt myself and perhaps a glimmer of hope that this movie can somehow feel like a proper conclusion to a story I felt ended firmly with the redemption of Anakin Skywalker. It remains to be seen whether I will feel the same way after the movie has ended, but at least it’s something we know Terrio and writing partner J.J. Abrams considered when writing this movie.
Abram himself also recently spoke about the need to bring back Emperor Palpatine, but I was less enthusiastic about how he explained it when he also spoke with Uproxx previously.
“Well, when you look at this as nine chapters of a story, perhaps the weirder thing would be if Palpatine didn’t return. You just look at what he talks about, who he is, how important he is, what the story is — strangely, his absence entirely from the third trilogy would be conspicuous. It would be very weird.”
See my thoughts with this answer were less enthusiastic, because if you suddenly try and not make Vader’s redemption so climactic by bringing back The Emperor then it feels a little cheap. I likened it to someone writing a sequel to The Lord of the Rings and just deciding to bring back Sauron and the Ring because “this is the new end to that story”. So Terrio gives me a little hope that this won’t happen, though, only a little I admit, I guess we will find out soon enough, 15 days to be exact for me.
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What do you think of the return of Palpatine, what do you think of Terrio’s words about preserving the end of Jedi? Leave them in the usual place if you got them.
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