An entire industry has sprung up around Star Wars rumours. From YouTube channels and Reddit sub-channels to dedicated websites, it is rare for more than a few days to go by without another unlikely theory raising its freakish head above the parapet, like Salacious B Crumb peeping from the fatty folds of Jabba’s slug-like torso. As we get closer to the December release date for Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker, it’s only going to get worse. Not least because Star Wars: The Last Jedi featured such outlandish storylines – Luke Force-projecting himself halfway across the galaxy; Leia spacewalking without any suitable astronautical equipment; Snoke getting sliced and diced before anyone had a clue who he was – that it makes even the silliest theories look perfectly feasible by comparison.
The first trailer for Episode IX certainly hasn’t helped. Emperor Palpatine is returning, there are ruined Death Stars plonked on planetary surfaces, and Kylo Ren will apparently try to kill Rey by flying a spaceship into her. Meanwhile, Luke is Force Ghost-voiceovering like there’s no tomorrow. It’s all so nutty that if JJ Abrams’ return to the director’s chair were to feature a love triangle between R2-D2, Jar Jar Binks and the mean droid boss from Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi, nobody would be shocked.
Intriguingly, many of the strangest rumours seem to have roots in entirely different fantasy sagas. One much-shared idea, which we’ll call the Voldemort theory, is that Palpatine had been hanging around, ever since his apparent death in Return of the Jedi, as a sort of Force parasite, before taking over Snoke’s body prior to the events of The Force Awakens and attempting to rebuild his evil Empire as the First Order. A related theory suggests old Palp was living for a while in Darth Vader’s crumpled old helmet, while another suggests he’ll jump into the body of new Rise of Skywalker cast member Matt Smith now Snoke is done.
Fans of this concept refer to the fact that Palpatine’s theme is briefly heard during the scene in The Last Jedi in which Snoke attempts to force Rey and Kylo Ren to fight it out, but ends up being chopped in two by a stray lightsaber. And there have long been suggestions that Palpatine learned to cheat death, fostered by a conversation he has with Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, in which he relates the story of an ancient Sith named Darth Plagueis, who discovered the same secret. It wouldn’t be the first time Star Wars has half-inched from Harry Potter.
If this one turns out to have any basis in truth, it would at least explain why Snoke was so easily discarded in The Last Jedi, just when we were expecting to find out his true origins. But there is something deeply dissatisfying about the idea that the main villain of the first two episodes of the new trilogy is as inconsequential as one of C-3P0’s cheerfully birdbrained monologues.
Another monumental death in The Last Jedi was Luke’s apparent demise, following his heroic astral projection endeavours on Crait. But what if Luke died long before his final encounter with Kylo Ren? We can call this one the Sixth Sense theory. Some fans have suggested Skywalker was murdered by Ren when the latter rebelled against his master, while still a member of the Jedi Academy. According to them, Skywalker has being hanging out on Ahch-To ever since as a sort of distressed Jedi demi-ghost, waiting for the chance to fully cross over. It was his encounter with Rey that allowed him to recover his true identity and join his fellow dead Jedis in the afterlife, after proving his worth with that final feat on Crait. At the very least, this theory would appear to explain why Luke cuts such a deeply whiny and unimpressive figure throughout most of Rian Johnson’s movie.
Another intriguing, though surely pretty silly, theory has it that Rey and Luke are related after all, even if they are not exactly father and daughter as we were led to believe. The idea is that Palpatine cloned Rey from Luke Skywalker’s severed hand, after recovering it following the Jedi knight’s disastrous battle with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. It also solves two major mysteries in the new Star Wars trilogy: why Rey is so powerful with the Force and how she ended up in Jakku in the first place. Any child genetically related to Luke and descended from Darth Vader would be multi-midichlorian-tastic. And Chuck Wendig’s in-canon Aftermath novels have previously revealed that the Emperor placed a secret observatory on Jakku, located conveniently in a place called the “Plaintive Hand plateau”. Could this have been the lab where Rey was nurtured into life, giving Palpatine a second chance at turning young Skywalker to the dark side?
Tie this one in with the Palpatine as Snoke theory and it even explains away the latter’s apparently clumsy use of the expression “young Rey” just before the old git copped it. And anything that can retrospectively make perfect symmetry of such apparently lazy writing has to be worth betting on.