There’s no question that the Star Wars: Episode IX panel was the highlight of Star Wars Celebration Day 2. The interviews were fun, of course. And the sneak peaks we got to see of each character were stunning. But the event of the day was the trailer reveal and learning the film’s title: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There was a lot of imagery, visual and auditory, packed into those two, breathtaking minutes. Perhaps nothing was more surprising than the sound of the Emperor’s trademark cackle. That’s right: Palpatine is returning, in one way or the other.

Luke Skywalker’s voice over told us “no one is ever really gone.” Those words could be comforting and endearing in the right circumstances. Within the galaxy far, far away the sentiment could refer to the loss of Han Solo… and likely Leia by the film’s end. In real life, it helps us to remember fondly our princess, Carrie Fisher. But when spoken over a scene of Rey, Poe and Finn staring at the destroyed remains of a Death Star, followed by Palpatine’s laugh? The words take on a whole new meaning.

Palpatine Returns for The Rise of Skywalker

Image: Lucasfilm

Emperor Palpatine, despite his ultimate shortsightedness, was a powerful Sith. He knew things no other Sith knew, mainly because he’d murdered his own Master upon learning them. Could he have found a way to cheat death? Canon has already established the fact that dead Sith, some long dead like Darth Bane, could still commune with the living. Hearing Palpatine’s voice in the trailer certainly suggests Darth Sidious has returned.

Palpatine; The Rise of Skywalker
Kylo Ren’s restored helmet in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

All of this is in general keeping with Palpatine rumors that have been swirling for months. Now the question is whether Palpatine returns and reveals himself to Kylo Ren (with his restored helmet), as expected, or whether he appears to Rey. If Rey enters the ruins of the Death Star in which he was killed, his lingering darkness could permeate the very steel of which it was made.

It will likely be months before we get another trailer. Until then, how many times will you watch the trailer just to hear Palpatine once more?