Sorry people, but we have to discuss “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” one more time. Thankfully, this news doesn’t have anything to do with fandom and/or social media. Instead, we get to breakdown one key element of the recent Skywalker Saga finale and answer one of the biggest questions that lingered after many viewed the film.

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“What the hell is Emperor Palpatine?”

Is he the original Emperor that seemingly disintegrated at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi?’ Is he some Super Palpatine that has lurked in the shadows for decades, while he sent clones of himself out in the real world to wreak havoc? Frustratingly, ‘Rise of Skywalker’ never gave us a real answer. Well, thanks to the novelization of ‘Rise of Skywalker’ (via Screen Rant), the truth is out there. And you’re probably going to roll your eyes when you hear it.

**Spoilers for ‘Rise of Skywalker’**

The Emperor that was defeated by Rey at the end of ‘Rise of Skywalker’ was a clone. Yep, a freaking clone. The story says that the Palpatine that we meet in ‘Rise’ is a clone of the original villain that is inhabited by the spirit of the Sith Lord after his death in ‘Jedi.’

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According to the novelization:

“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.

“‘What could you give me?’ Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn’t last much longer.”

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First, it’s important to point out that the idea that Palpatine used a clone body isn’t that shocking, as cloning was one of his favorite things and he always hinted at how Sith could cheat death somehow. But the idea that Palpatine in ‘Rise’ is a clone just leads to even more frustrating questions.

Obviously, you might wonder why a fairly new clone of the villain would look like he was on death’s door, with charred fingers and decaying skin? Well, the novelization has that figured out, as seen above. But you still can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better idea to have this Palpatine be Palpatine-Prime, a being that has existed for decades in the shadows, and have the villain shown in the prequels and Original Trilogy turn out to be a clone that was killed, right? It would answer questions about why he looks so ancient and disgusting.

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The other major question is “why wasn’t this explained in the film?” We already know that director JJ Abrams and the folks who created the film had a full story of why the villain returned and how it was possible, but it all hit the cutting room floor. Wouldn’t this explanation gone a long way to appeasing fans who had concerns over the plot? Instead, those fans have to read a novelization, months after the fact, to get the full story. Again, very frustrating.

As the weeks go on and we’re more and more distanced from the debut of ‘Rise of Skywalker,’ the cracks that exist in the film are beginning to become chasms. And this latest Palpatine explanation does little to help.