Palpatine’s Return Was Almost Exposed Years Before Rise Of Skywalker
Palpatine’s resurrection was almost exposed years before the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as the Emperor’s plans went badly wrong. « Somehow, Palpatine returned. » That was essentially all the explanation really given for the Emperor’s return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and naturally tie-in novels and comics have since been filling in the details. The Emperor’s return was indeed the culmination of a plan that had been in the works for a generation, but it had actually almost fallen apart some years earlier.
Sith cultists had used the Force vergence at Exegol – a place where the veil between life and death is unusually thin – to draw Palpatine’s spirit from the netherworld of the Force and place it within a clone body. Cloning is distorted by the presence of the dark side, however, and so the attempt was only partially successful; it led the Emperor to begin experimenting with further clones (and even genetically-modified beings, leading to the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke). All these experiments were generally considered a failure too, however, with the most notable being the creation of a Palpatine clone who didn’t even have the Force. Palpatine left this clone alive, figuring he might find a use for him, but had no idea this decision would nearly be his undoing.
Palpatine’s Clone, Dathan, Almost Exposed The Sith
Adam Christopher’s novel Shadow of the Sith tells the story of Palpatine’s clone, who took the name Dathan and escaped from Exegol. Dathan fell in love with a woman named Miramir, and together the two had a daughter – Rey. Somehow Palpatine learned of Rey’s existence, and he sensed she could be the potential host he had been looking for to house his spirit. The Emperor sent his agents, including Sith assassin Ochi of Bestoon, to capture Dathan and Miramir; their initial efforts were thwarted when the couple stumbled upon a New Republic task force. Dathan and Miramir left records indicating they were being hunted by the Sith, records that really should have raised red flags with the New Republic government.
Why Luke Skywalker Didn’t Realize Palpatine Was Alive
Luke Skywalker himself actually stumbled upon the report. The Jedi Master was already searching for a way to Exegol after experiencing a number of harrowing Force visions indicating darkness was rising in the Unknown Regions, and he and Lando Calrissian began trying to find Dathan and Miramir. Palpatine’s greatest skill has always been his ability to adapt, however, and he came up with a clever misdirection. He tricked Luke into believing the darkness he sensed was the spirit of a long-dead Sith Lord named Viceroy Exim Panshard; Luke thus remained ignorant of Palpatine’s return, believing the Sith defeated when Exim Panshard was destroyed.
The story of Dathan and Miramir introduces a strong element of tragedy into Palpatine’s return. The New Republic was warned about the Sith, but the report was lost in its burgeoning bureaucracy; Luke Skywalker himself heard the warning, but was tricked into ignoring it. The Emperor’s resurrection would not be revealed for many years, until the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, when it was almost too late.