It was our very first question on our list of unanswered mysteries from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: “How Did the Emperor Come Back to Life?” The dude was pretty convincingly murdered in Return of the Jedi. There was basically zero mention of him in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. And when The Rise of Skywalker begins, he’s already back; the only hint of an explanation is when he tells Kylo Ren that the Dark Side of the Force gives him access to “unnatural” abilities, the same line he fed Anakin Skywalker way back in Revenge of the Sith. Beyond that, it was anybody’s guess.

Apparently, the fuller answer to this question is finally revealed in Rae Carson’s novelization for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was unveiled at this weekend’s C2E2 convention in Chicago. The book says (via ScreenRant) that the new Emperor is, in fact, a clone of the original Palpatine. Kylo’s inner monologue in the book mentions these details, and suggests that all that Jedi magic was causing the cloned body to decay, giving him an appearance similar to the one in Return of the Jedi.

Here’s the relevant passage:

All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He'd seen this apparatus before, too, when he'd studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor's putrid flesh.

So now we know. I guess that makes sense; what with all the cloning going in the prequels on Palpatine’s watch. Now there’s only like nine other Rise of Skywalker questions left!

The Digital HD version of The Rise of Skywalker comes out on March 17. The Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD arrive on March 31 — when all eight previous Star Wars Saga films will become available on 4K UHD for the first time as well. The novelization of Rise of Skywalker is officially due in stores on March 17 as well.

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Gallery — All Our Unanswered Questions From Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: