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Is Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker?

The Ominous Laugh at the End of the Star Wars: Episode IX Trailer Reveals the Film's Villain

The first teaser for Star Wars: Episode IX — officially dubbed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — has arrived, and though brief, it reveals a lot about what we can expect from the final installment of the recent trilogy, including the "new" villain.

The footage begins with Rey (Daisy Ridley) alone in the desert as a voice-over from the late Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) informs her that hundreds of generations live within her, and even though many of the Skywalkers are gone, they'll "always be with" her. We can't be sure exactly when he tells her this in the actual film, but it makes for a highly emotional moment as Rey does an epic flip into a First Order ship, lightsaber in hand. Clearly Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still leading the charge against Rey despite their connection in The Last Jedi, but the last few seconds of the teaser also confirm who will be the film's Big Bad with one seriously ominous laugh: Palpatine.

The The Rise of Skywalker trailer and Palpatine's return was revealed during a panel at the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago on Friday. "This movie, in addition to being the end of three trilogies, it also has to work as its own movie," director J.J. Abrams revealed. "It's about this new generation and what they've inherited the light and the dark, and asking the question as they face the greatest evil, are they prepared? Are they ready?"

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Palpatine — the previous Dark Lord of the Sith who looks like a withered lemon and also went by the moniker Darth Sidious — was previously played by Ian McDiarmid in the first two trilogies, and was thought to be dead after being taken out by Darth Vader in 1983's Return of the Jedi. Palpatine rose to infamy after becoming an apprentice for Darth Plagueis, and later conspired to restore the Order to galactic dominance by force, killing many along the way. Despite his death, Sidious's legacy is what the First Order bases their regime on in The Force Awakens, with Supreme Leader Snoke helming the successor to the Empire.

McDiarmid, 74, was on hand at the Star Wars Celebration event, and boomed "roll it again" in character onstage as the trailer replayed. He's played the villain four out of the five times the character has appeared in the franchise — Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Since Snoke has (presumably) been eliminated for good thanks to the end of The Last Jedi, Palpatine is a fittingly familiar face to bring back.

What's more is just how tangled Palpatine has been with the Skywalkers. Annakin served as his apprentice, eventually leading to the former Jedi's transformation into Darth Vader. Luke also has a few brushes with Darth Sidious in the original trilogy. It's his connection to Vader that saves him from a fight with Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, with Vader tossing Sidious down a giant shaft on the Death Star where he was thought to perish in an explosion. In the more recent films, we've watched Kylo Ren struggle with his Skywalker lineage, feeling the push and pull from both the dark and light sides. How will Palpatine's reappearance factor into his internal battle?

It's also worth wondering how, exactly, Palpatine will been seen in the third film. Did he actually die in that explosion in Return of the Jedi? Will we be seeing his Force ghost? Or did he miraculously survive and is now older and more deformed than ever? We'll have plenty of time to mull it over since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker doesn't hit theaters until Dec. 20.

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