A Look at How Darth Sidious Cheated Death in the Expanded Universe
Ever since the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker dropped and we heard the laughter of Ian McDiarmid, Star Wars fans went crazy. As a lifelong fan of the franchise, who is admittedly a little bitter over the loss of the EU (#MakeRevanCanonAgain), I was skeptical. I immediately asked one question, the same question everyone is asking: how the heck could Darth Sidious still be alive? We saw Anakin throw him over the railing and explode in a ball of dark side energy. Not even a Sith Lord could survive that.
However, assuming it’s not a red herring or he’s a ghost, I keep coming back to a single theory: cloning. We know Palpatine has access to advanced cloning technology. It’s possible he could have made clones of himself when and if he died. It’s a theory that’s been proposed already, but that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about the time in the Expanded Universe where Palpatine did, in fact, come back from the dead. It’s called the Dark Empire series, and I think it gives us clues on his possible return in The Rise of Skywalker.
Sidious’ Cheat Code
Like many Sith, Palpatine tried looking for a way to cheat death so he could rule his Empire for eternity. Fortunately for the Galaxy, while the Force has ways to extend one’s life by decades, even centuries, true immortality is a myth. Thus, Sidious found himself a workaround using cloning technology. He made an army of mindless clones of himself that he could inhabit when his original body died.
As a result, when a redeemed Anakin threw him down that reactor, he did die, but his spirit stayed behind. He traveled to his private fortress near the center of the galaxy, where he possessed a younger clone of himself. Thus, Darth Sidious returned from death.
The Shadow Hand
One would think that his first priority would be letting the Galaxy know he’s alive. Rather than do that, Palpatine stayed in the Deep Core and watched his Empire tear itself apart like a pack of starved Womp Rats. He built up his forces and created an arsenal of super weapons. These included the Eclipse and Eclipse II, two Super Star Destroyers with miniature versions of the Death Stars superlaser. There were the World Devastators, mobile factories that sucked planets of resources and churned out ships and weapons. Then my personal favorite, the Galaxy Gun, a platform capable of firing planet-destroying missiles through hyperspace. It’s like the galaxy’s biggest sniper rifle.
Around six years after the defeat at Endor, Sidious made his move. Using the Force to create a portal to his fortress world of Byss, Sidious captured Luke Skywalker. Rather than face certain death, Luke pretended to bend to the reborn Sith. However, Sidious eventually broke him for real, turning him into the leader of his armies. With an armada of ships and deadly superweapons, Sidious announced his return to the Galaxy.
However, Sidious once again underestimated the power of love for another person. Leia chose to confront her brother, and was able to bring him back from the Dark Side. Together, they used the Force to cut off the Emperor’s connection to it. As a result, he lost control of the massive Force Storm he just created, destroying him and his flagship.
He then came back, again.
Having suffered several major setbacks, things only got worse for the Sith Lord. Due to the actions of a traitorous guard, Sidious’ remaining supply of clones were falling apart; even the genetic template was damaged. Desperate, Sidious sought the aid of the spirits of the Ancient Sith Lords. They advised him to take the body of Leia’s infant son, Anakin Solo.
Yes, Leia and Han names their youngest son Anakin. They wanted the name to stand for something good again.
Sidious tracked the family to Onderon and brought his armada in to finish the job. However, Luke arrived soon afterwards. Alongside him and Han was a Jedi survivor of Order 66, Empatojayos Brand, and his padawan, Rayf Ysanna. The three Jedi engaged in a furious fight with the Sith Lord and his Dark Jedi guards. Despite besting his guards, the Emperor killed Ysanna and mortally wounded Brand. However, Han Solo arrived, and with a well placed blaster shot, struck the Dark Lord down; which is what Sidious wanted. No longer needing his body, his spirit rushed towards young Anakin. Before he could do anything though, Brand used the last of his strength to throw himself in front of the baby and his mother.
Knowing that he was dying, Brand used all his power to trap Sidious within him. He told Luke he would drag the Emperor to the depths of hell, where all the Jedi he’d murdered would ensure he would never return. Thus, cursing the Skywalker bloodline, Darth Sidious died, this time for good.
A Similar Scenario for Sidious?
First off, this story came out in the early 90s, well before the Prequel Trilogy established the idea of the Chosen One. Thus, even though it’s said the Chosen One would destroy the Sith, Sidious’ survival seems to contradict that. It was a crazy time for Star Wars.
Secondly, I bring this story up now because, in my opinion, cloning may be the best way to explain how Sidious’ returns in The Rise of Skywalker. He could have created clones of himself on some remote planet where he could lay low and gather his strength over the next thirty years. That, and he’d probably see the Galaxy falling apart as some sort of sadistic entertainment.
How he came back, though, doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that Darth Sidious is back from the dead, and by the look of things, he has dark plans for Kylo Ren and Rey. What’s surprising, though, is how I’ve warmed up to the idea of Sidious returning. If the rumors and speculations are true, then he’s been behind everything in the movies. He’s one of the greatest villains of all time, the overarching antagonist to Star Wars. Seeing him one last time will be awesome. Plus, after all’s said and done, he’s still got the Villain Pub on How it Should Have Ended to go back to.
Click here for some of my Star Wars stuff. Dew it!
Check out this fan animation for the comics that I just found!