How Palpatine’s “Long Con” Was an Own Goal

Have you seen Christopher Nolan’s epic movie, The Prestige? The movie's main characters – two identical twin brothers – play the ultimate long con and it’s not until the very end when things start to go really bad that the con is revealed. Maybe Sheev Palpatine should have studied Nolan’s work.

While Return of the Jedi supposedly killed off Emperor Palpatine, J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio “revived” the character for one more throw of the Force dice to end the sequel trilogy and the reign of the Sith once and for all.

The re-introduction of a dead character turns a lot of the original trilogy on its head and even warrants a re-watch of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi with renewed clarity.

We now know, for example, that Supreme Leader Snoke was a mere cloned puppet of Emperor Palpatine's and that, even twenty years after his “death,” he was ultimately the villain pulling at Kylo Ren’s strings and setting himself up to continue his domination of the galaxy. It was a long con, but something the Emperor was used to doing.

He was, of course, The Phantom Menace that the 1999 movie's title referred to. He conned and connived his way to power until he finally became the Senate itself. He did this by feigning attacks on himself as a ruse and granted himself powers to take full control of the Senate until he was El Supremo in the universe.

Heck, he took part in his own kidnapping by allowing himself to be captured by General Grievous. He also tricked Anakin Skywalker into joining the dark side with lies, false promises, and half-truths. And while that was all happening, Sheev was building up a “spare army” just in case. And even though Palpatine was considered dead, the Acolytes of the Beyond were still advancing his cause.

In Return of the Jedi, the Emperor was still playing games. At the start of the movie, when arriving on Death Star II, he feigned age with the use of a walking stick. When he stands to take on Luke Skywalker, he does so agelessly. Another con.
Emperor Palpatine starwars
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

30 years later, and a few years after Rey had been crowned The Last Jedi by the actual last Jedi, Palpatine sent a message from the dead that explained he was back – as if he had been watching too many Poltergeistmovies in his downtime.

That announcement set off a chain that resulted in Kylo Ren and Rey dancing across the universe as they duke it out to be the one who finally puts an end to the threat of Palpatine.

Things at that point were going well for Palpatine – his plan to have Rey and Kylo appear before him so he could drain their life force and restore himself to full operational status had hit his stride. And then, it turned out that Rey was actually THE CHOSEN ONE and she kills Palpatine flat out.

Oh, did we mention that Rey is actually Sheev Palpatine’s granddaughter? Being killed by your own family member is a bit of a thing in Star Wars, eh? So while that was clearly not the goal Palatine was going after, it’s still not the real own goal.

Let’s forget for a moment that the Skywalker lineage is now finished in a genetic sense. Rey, now with full knowledge that her parents died trying to protect her from Palpatine and that she's of his makeup, rejected her familial line completely.

She deliberately took on the mantle of being a Skywalker. While Ben Skywalker rising from the pit to save her life is a literal Skywalker rising (and thus perhaps the ultimate act of the Skywalkers), the real rise of Skywalker is Rey taking on the “family” name. She became the ultimate symbol of balance in the galaxy – a symbol of peace and freedom where her destiny is her own – which is the exact opposite of the unlimited power that Palpatine had gained.

And thus, Palpatine's inability to handle what “awakened” from within the Force (as Snoke pointed out to Kylo in The Force Awakens) was his biggest own goal and his ultimate undoing.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.