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No-Palpatine Rise of Skywalker Radical Brainstorming Thread

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This is a thread for proposing and discussing ideas to fully remove Palpatine as a living, resurrected character and an active antagonist from Episode IX. I know there have been one or two edits to attempt this, but simply removing Palpatine’s scenes requires losing a lot of material integral to both the plot and the structure of the film. So it’s understandable that most conversation has gravitated toward more feasible lines of editing.

However, after sharing a few ideas in the general TROS Redux thread, I was inspired to do some more brainstorming, and I think I’ve hit upon some novel solutions to those issues. I’ll detail and explain them in the next post, but hopefully this thread will also serve as a clearinghouse for anything and everything related to leaving the Emperor’s ROTJ death intact, so please feel free to propose or debate other ideas as well.

This is an ambitious topic for sure, but also one that deserves much more exploration than it’s gotten to date. Multiple projects exist for making the most of TROS on its own terms, and there have been discussions and efforts to make the Sequel Trilogy cohere and Palpatine’s return work by teasing or revealing him in the previous movies. But there’s something to be said for devoting more energy to making the trilogy cohere from the opposite direction, in a way that doesn’t compromise the good in Episodes VII and VIII by retrofitting a major plot element at odds with their original intent.

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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(1) Use some of the TROS Palpatine footage…but not as Palpatine. If you take Palpatine in the life-support rig and black out his face with shadows, you’re left with a creepy, mysterious hooded figure who could easily be seen as simply the leader of the Exegol cultists, someone who either Snoke or Palpatine had tasked with overseeing the Final Order fleet, and who could be dubbed over with original dialogue to facilitate a wide variety of plot changes without having to worry about fitting lip movements or matching the voice of a preexisting actor.

Suddenly, instead of a character whose revival saddles the film with massive questions and complications for previous stories, we’ve simply got another henchman whose origins can mean as much or as little as the viewer chooses to read into it without truly mattering to the story. Making use of the Palpatine footage in this way also serves a practical purpose that would almost be a necessity to making certain scenes usable, simply because he’s the only person in these scenes that Kylo or Rey interacts with.

Other TROS Palpatine footage could also be modified to use as an old hologram he left for one of his apprentices or other servants, and/or part of a dark-side vision Rey experiences. This would give us the best of both worlds—preserving some of Ian McDiarmid’s massively-enjoyable performance while leaving the character’s ROTJ fate intact.

There are lots of ways the above ideas could go; here’s one example I came up with, as a proof-of-concept:

As Kylo explores the temple, he hears the voice of a Sith Acolyte, the leader of the Exegol operation who for now we’ll simply call the Overseer:

  • OVERSEER: At last, Snoke’s apprentice graces us.
  • KYLO: I killed Snoke. I’ll kill you.
  • OVERSEER: Such hate! More than enough to hear the wayfinder’s call. And it led you here. Just as he knew it would lead someone worthy.
  • KYLO: Who?
    Kylo finds the black-robed acolytes working at unrecognizable machinery (remove the clear shot of the clone tanks, unless it can somehow be edited to convey that they’re cloning troopers instead of either Snoke or Palpatine). Kylo eventually stands before the Overseer, who gives Kylo a greeting and an explanation:
  • OVERSEER: While Lord Snoke prepared the galaxy for a return to order, we kept watch over the true might of the Emperor’s Contingency. What was once Snoke’s inheritance is now yours to claim.
  • KYLO: What could you give me?
  • (Cue the Star Destroyers rising to the sky. The acolyte triggers an old hologram of Emperor Palpatine)
  • PALPATINE MESSAGE: You have trained well, Snoke. The might of the Final Order will soon be ready. You will rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor.

(2) The cave, remember your failure at the cave! A lot of the other changes to remove Palpatine would be fairly straightforward, (like reframing the heroes’ mission from finding him to finding the fleet, changing the hangar reveal from “you’re a Palpatine” to “you killed your parents,” etc.). But the big hurdle that still remains would be how to handle the final battle.

The conventional answer seems to be moving Rey and Kylo’s Death Star duel to take place concurrently with the Exegol space battle. With all due respect to those who have gone this route, I don’t think this entirely works because it leaves the trilogy’s central hero without a role in saving the galaxy from the final threat, and it leaves Kylo with far too little to do—if Rey doesn’t heal him, the last Skywalker dying evil would be a major downer, and if Rey does heal him we’re left with a Ben Solo who apparently renounces the dark side but doesn’t actually do anything to start atoning for his actions.

So my suggestion would be to retain the official film’s general structure, but significantly alter what Rey and Ben find on Exegol—essentially, Rey still flies there to lay down nav markers for the Resistance fleet (preserving her importance to the battle), but once she reaches the arena and confronts the Overseer she experiences intense dark-side visions, comprised of moved, altered, and recycled footage from various sources. Now the scene is more of a spiritual trial like the Dagobah cave, in which Rey has to face all of her fears that have been building throughout the movie about her inner darkness.

I have an outline of how this could go, as well. The centerpiece of this vision would be the Dark Rey sequence, which would have to be removed from its earlier position—and fortunately, could be removed fairly cleanly (once Rey climbs up the ledge leading to the Death Star throne room and turns her head to the right, cut straight to the reveal shot of Kylo already there, to her right, holding the wayfinder).

With that out of the way, here’s my proposal:

  1. Rey lands on Exegol and comes face-to-face with The Overseer, whose red guards surround her:
  • OVERSEER: What have we here? Another contender for the throne?
  • REY: I haven’t come to lead the Sith…I’ve come to end them.
  • OVERSEER: Really. As a Jedi?
  • REY: Yes.
  • OVERSEER: [laughs] Many have said such things. Some even believed them. But you know better, child. Do you think the Sith Eternal cannot see through you? Here of all places? Fear and anger define your earliest memories. They define you.
  • REY: All you want is for me to hate, but I won’t. Not even you.
  • OVERSEER: So you say. But Exegol has a way of…unveiling truths. We shall see soon enough.
  1. With that, Rey’s surroundings are swallowed in shadow, then she’s bombarded with visions. She sees and hears the Sith of the past, which lead to her again being shown herself destroying her parents’ ship, contrasted with the way she almost killed Chewie, and her stabbing of Kylo in anger. As she sees all this, Luke’s “you went straight to the dark” and Kylo’s “you wanted to prove to my mother you’re a Jedi but you’ve proven something else” thunder in her ears.
  • There’s a lot of opportunity here, showing darksiders from the previous movies as well as sufficiently-convincing video game CGI or fan films (with an ethereal vision filter to mask discrepancies and imperfections). Even more opportunity to use villain audio from KOTOR, Clone Wars, Force Unleashed, Battlefront, etc.
  1. All of this culminates with the Dark Rey duel (with the Death Star background obscured by shadow). Dark Rey knocking Rey over transitions to Rey lying injured on the floor. As part of her vision she sees Palpatine unleashing a massive storm of Force Lightning, though we don’t see it actually connect with the Resistance fleet. Perhaps a montage can be constructed of the lightning somehow destroying planets or electrocuting her friends, just to make clear the destruction she’s seeing is symbolic and not actually happening to the fleet.
  • Note: incorporating Palpatine’s lightning storm in some way would likely be a technical necessity, simply because it wreaks so much havoc with the lighting conditions of the Rey footage.
  1. Eventually Rey calms herself, pleading with the Jedi spirits to “be with me.” She hears the voices, rises to her feet, and as the spirits appear behind her (thanks to John’s amazing edit), their light dissipates the darkness and we return to her actual surroundings. As she rises, she responds to Palpatine’s “You are nothing!” With “I… I am a Jedi.” The vision of Palpatine fades away, as do the Jedi spirits. Rey has rejected the darkness, passed the ultimate trial, and is now a true Jedi Knight.

  2. The red guards attack Rey, and she defeats them all while Ben (who arrived while the above was going on, just as in the official movie) fights and defeats the Knights of Ren. Ben joins Rey in the arena. They raise their lightsabers in unison to confront the Overseer, who doesn’t stand a chance against two Jedi.

Admittedly, I don’t yet have a strong idea for how the end of this sequence could be fleshed out in a fully satisfying way. I suppose it would be technically possible to give the Overseer the ability to use Sith Lightning and have Rey kill him the way she kills Palpatine, but I personally wouldn’t be a fan of that since I wouldn’t want to make him more significant than he is. The closest I’ve come up with so far would be having an explosion from the battle above rock the arena—maybe a ship crash or a stray shot—which destroys the Overseer, hurls Ben into the pit, and seemingly kills Rey. From there Ben could crawl out of the pit, and pick up where vanilla TROS or any number of other fanedits do (I’ve got definite opinions on what should be changed there, too, but that’s a topic that’s both beyond the scope of this thread, and which has gotten plenty of debate elsewhere on OT).

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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I really like all of these ideas. It would be tricky to turn the Palpatine footage into holograms since he looks so different in TROS than in ROTJ, but maybe even filming a new actor in costume with an obscured face could be used to dub the dialogue over.

I agree that the ending with the Force lightning needs something else. I think it needs to connect with the fleet literally and Rey stops it, otherwise you run into that same issue of Rey’s journey being disconnected from saving the Resistance and the Galaxy. Plus, incidental falling debris knocking Ben into a pit would be similarly unsatisfying, I think.

It’s all worth pursuing though. I really like the idea of obscuring Palpatine’s face and dubbing him over with a very different voice; in my head I read your dialogue as sounding something like Vaneé from Rogue One.

“It’s like rhymetry. They poem.” - Leorge Gucas

The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition by Rae Carson: The Faraday Edit, The Last Jedi: Stoic Edition, Revenge of the Sith: The Faraday Nudge, ROTS Ultracut: Order 66, Godzilla Vs Megalon, The Light Rises, Faraday Junior’s Star Wars

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Make Palpatine an ancient sith. Deepfake his face. Redub his lines and add new lines.

This new character is an ancient sith who was snokes master.

New lines of dialogue should be added along the lines of:

"Long have I waited in the shadow. I have watched the jedi rise and fall for over a millennia. I have seen hope grow and decay, all in the same breath. But through it all, there has been a constant, that constant is the dark. "

Yadda yadda etc etc…

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Thanks for the feedback. Deepfaking someone else over Palpatine’s face would also be a possibility with a ton of options – maybe Vaneé, maybe one of the purple-robed ROTJ advisors; heck, maybe even go wild and make him Plagueis. Or maybe put him in a mask. Maybe give this guy the name Tor Valum as a shout-out to DOTF.

All that would be technically challenging to make fully convincing, though. If someone can pull it off I’m all for it, but if not the fully-obscured face would at least make the concept work.

I also sympathize with the desire to have Rey contribute more directly to the Resistance’s victory, and hope someone can come up with something. Given the limits of the source footage, though, I’d also be content with leading them to Exegol in the first place being the extent of her contribution, which seems to me in line with how Luke’s contribution to the Battle of Endor (keeping Vader occupied and out of a TIE fighter) isn’t explicit in the film itself.

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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Another possibility might be that the Oveseer character is taken out by a shot Rey deflects from one of the red guards. Anticlimactic, sure, but such a pathetic end for the character might actually be good if it helps reinforce that he isn’t important for his own sake. After that, maybe Rey and Ben just fly away from Exegol and go their separate ways, which the ending could follow up with either by having them reunite on Tatooine or constructing a new scene of Ben in exile.

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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If we obscured Palpatine’s face and dubbed him, we could dub him with a woman’s voice just to particularly distinguish the character from any of the known leading Sith.

The problem with this approach either way though is that you have the essentially less well explored Snoke followed by the essentially less well explored Overseer, putting a lot of weight on the idea of Kylo as the primary defeatable antagonist.

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EddieDean said:

The problem with this approach either way though is that you have the essentially less well explored Snoke followed by the essentially less well explored Overseer, putting a lot of weight on the idea of Kylo as the primary defeatable antagonist.

I agree … it would, in some ways, be a step backwards. Where it would be even more less connected with not just the trilogy, but the entire saga as well. Not to be the downer or anything, I’m just not sure if making the Palpy replacement be some “bigger” bad sith guy/gal who has no connection to anything that’s been seen since The Phantom Menace till now isn’t the best route.

Man talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Even if you remove all the palpy stuff to JUST have Kylo be the main baddy, the ending doesn’t quite work and is a bit anti climatic. But I think a lot of people would love to remove the whole palpy thing since it was so badly set up and not really based on anything.

I like the brain storming and maybe something could be thought out/figured out!

“Because you are a PalpaWalker?”

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Valid concerns, though I think the benefit of making this some anonymous figure would be that he isn’t a bigger character; he’s a much smaller one. New dialogue could help clarify this, as well as sell the connectivity to Palpatine’s contingency plans that has been in the official lore all along but the movies don’t spell out well. Sure, there would still be the question of why this dude is hanging from the ceiling, but if he’s just some servant I think weird details like that would be much easier to accept as harmless speculation fodder.

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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I actually think the opposite, up until the climax. Having a caretaker-type person who isn’t important in his own right allows you to have the echo of Palpatine still be an active antagonistic force long after his death, while allowing Kylo to be the central “bad guy” for the majority of the film. It only breaks down at the climax, where if you can’t have a confrontation between Kylo and Rey since he’s been redeemed, you really need a genuine physical battle against a galaxy-threatening foe to tie into the Resistance story.

“It’s like rhymetry. They poem.” - Leorge Gucas

The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition by Rae Carson: The Faraday Edit, The Last Jedi: Stoic Edition, Revenge of the Sith: The Faraday Nudge, ROTS Ultracut: Order 66, Godzilla Vs Megalon, The Light Rises, Faraday Junior’s Star Wars

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I think he’s referring to how exactly Palpatine’s role as the villain would bring the saga full circle — the heroes fighting the literal mastermind behind everything that’s happened throughout the saga. Plus, Palpatine himself represents the undying hatred of the past that affects the current generation, that we’re having the same struggles as those of old.

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I’m not sure how you’d do it, but to give Rey a role in the victory maybe she can be shown doing something that takes out the cloning facilities churning out Sith Troopers.

Maybe part of selling that could be if the clone tank from the beginning of the movie is shown to have Jango clones inside of it instead of Snokes or Sheevs, then that tank gets destroyed and causes a chain reaction.

EDIT: Okay, so how about this:

  1. During the opening scene we still see the clone tank, but it’s full of Jangos. Maybe a new shot can be inserted of a legion of Sith Troopers assembled at the ready, possibly constructed from Battlefront II mods (I wonder if the Cinematic Captures guys would actually be interested in making such a shot).

  2. After Rey beats the red guards and Ben arrives after beating the Knights of Ren, Ben (who has prior knowledge of the facility) yells something like “hit the tank,” Rey fires (either a recycled shot of Daisy with her blaster or a new actress filmed from behind), the tank explodes, cloning facilities explode, and THAT’S what causes the explosion that knocks Ben into the pit and seemingly kills Rey.

Another potential source for cloning facility footage would be the first 15 seconds or so of this cutscene from The Force Unleashed II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twPxgsDPsv0 It’s not photorealistic, but add some smoke, play with the lighting, or only show it briefly while it’s being consumed by flames, and who knows?

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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Revised dialogue for opening sequence (edited again August 5):

OVERSEER: At last, Snoke’s apprentice graces us.
KYLO: I killed Snoke. I’ll kill you.
OVERSEER: Such hate! More than enough to hear the wayfinder’s call. And it led you here. Just as he knew it would lead someone worthy.
KYLO: Who?

Kylo finds the cultists working at cloning tanks, we see new shot of Sith troopers assembling, maybe a holographic memorial or statue of Palpatine. Ideally the clones would have Jango’s face. At last Kylo reaches the Overseer.

KYLO: Who are you? Sith?
OVERSEER: No. We are but worshippers of the Two. For a millennia we served them. Even in their deaths we remain faithful, for the dark side is eternal.
KYLO: What is this?
OVERSEER: While Brother Snoke prepared the galaxy for a return to order, we kept watch over the jewel of the Emperor’s Contingency. What was once Snoke’s inheritance is now yours to claim.
KYLO: What could you give me?

[cue Star Destroyers rising to the sky]

OVERSEER [partly voiceover during fleet footage]: All that remains of the Imperial Starfleet. Hidden away years ago, left to our care…the final order of Lord Sidious.

This provides a succinct explanation of who and what we’re seeing, makes clear the Overseer himself isn’t significant, establishes their ties to the Sith without the Sith themselves returning, adds a bit of lore to Sith history between Bane and Sidious, suggests a simpler explanation for who Snoke was, ties the plot into/pays off the Aftermath/Shattered Empire/Battlefront II setup about the Contingency, further preps the audience to recognize Rey’s ability to sense the dagger’s connection to the wayfinder as a dangerous sign, and strengthens the final chapter’s sense of finality, by more clearly suggesting that once this fleet is finished the Empire will truly be gone.

Co-author of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - THE TEAM DALE REWRITE

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Hi! I have thought about this too and gave it an honest try as an experiment. ROS is a film that I think is problematic beyond just Palpatine (although, that’s still a big issue.) The editing is bizarre, its narrative pinballing, undoing its own bolder decisions, etc. Because of that, I don’t think any edit that addresses any of these issues can be feature length. So I opted to try a 24 minute summary style thing that removes Palpatine, and just makes the through line the rise of Kylo’s empire after the Exegol discovery. It’s a bit weird structurally, requires a little suspension of disbelief, and is definitely REALLY simplified. But seeing as the editing style is definitely not film-like and neither is the length, that probably won’t be an issue. Consider it more like a companion piece that’s also the finale to the trilogy. Not sure if it’s good, but it was interesting experiment I thought I might share for those of the anti-Palpatine sentiment. If you’re interested, here’s a link to my post on the forum for more details that might be pertinent to know before watching: https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Star-Wars-The-Rise-of-Skywalker-Edit-Renamed-The-New-Order/id/88070#1443477

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In addition to removing Palpatine, you should also remove Luke. Sequal Luke is an embarrassment to the franchise. perhaps he is already dead, or he simply shows up on Crate to save the day like a bad ass.

Leave him as Force Ghost in those great scenes, and let Leia be the only one training Rey.