Fans have known that Emperor Palpatine would return in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘ for quite some time but now we’ve learned the specific reason why. The idea had come from Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan specifically as a plot device not for the Skywalker Saga to come full circle as director J.J. Abrams has been stating, but to allow for a chance at the redemption of Ben Solo.
There are, of course, some spoilers below.
Speaking to Awards Daily, Terrio revealed:
“Kathy Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan had a clear plan for where they wanted things to end. They had clear plans about certain narrative marks they wanted us to hit. They also gave us a lot of freedom within that. We knew that Rey and Ren were utterly key to this trilogy, but we also felt that there was no way that we were going to not find a path to redemption for Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia. We felt that right from the beginning, when [director/co-writer] J.J. [Abrams] established Kylo Ren in Episode VII, there was a war going on inside him and that he had been corrupted by something bigger than himself and had made bad choices along the way. J.J. and I felt we needed to find a way in which he could be redeemed, and that gets tricky at the end of Episode VIII because Snoke is gone.”
You can take that last statement as a dig at Rian Johnson or just a show of confusion as to how the characters could get from point A to B. Terrio went on to explain how their tactics changed in making Kylo Ren not the big bad but something else entirely:
” The biggest bad guy in the galaxy at that moment seemingly is Kylo Ren. There needed to be an antagonist that the good guys could be fighting, and that’s when we really tried to laser in on who had been the great source of evil behind all of this for so long. That’s when we really started aggressively pursuing this idea that there is old evil that didn’t die. The source of the evil in the galaxy is this dark spirit waiting for its revenge and biding its time. The entity known as Palpatine in this version – his body died in [Star Wars:] Return of the Jedi – is patient and has been waiting. He dug his fox hole and has been waiting for his chance to re-establish his total domination.”
As to how the idea for redemption landed on Palpatine? That was fully decided before Terrio even stepped into the writer’s room:
“Well, I can’t speak to Kathy’s overall intent. That was certainly discussed and was discussed before I ever came on. Kathy had this overall vision that we had to be telling the same story for nine episodes. Although from the sleight of hand of Episode VII and Episode VIII, you wouldn’t necessarily know immediately that we were telling the same story. She thought it would be a very strong end for the ninth movie. This fits well with J.J. because he loves magic tricks. He will often talk in metaphors and magic tricks, and so in Episode VII and Episode VIII, you think you’re watching one thing, but Episode IX tells you to watch more closely – you were actually watching something else.”
Terrio felt that they were seeding much of the overall story throughout the final trilogy, though I’m sure many fans would argue that was the case:
“When you rewatch the earlier films, things start to make additional sense. Ren and his devotion to the idea of his grandfather. The voice that he’s always heard in his head. The certain similarities between Snoke and Palpatine. The intention was that, by the time you get to Episode IX, you realize there were real reasons this is all happening. It all shows how this story is being fought cyclically through the series.”
If this were indeed the plan, a single 5-second line of dialogue of Snoke reporting to someone else in “The Force Awakens” would have established an even bigger bad right from the start without having to reveal it as Palpatine. This would have made the Palpatine reveal feel planned out instead off how it currently comes across to many.
Do you agree with Chris Terrio’s assessment of the final three “Star Wars” films, or was he trying to save face for having to work with what the first two films had given him? Share your thoughts in the comments below!