“Somehow, Palpatine returned”. That infamous, memefied line from The Rise of Skywalker has come to symbolise the increasingly thin veil between life and death in Star Wars. The explanation given for the Emperor’s resurrection is brief and unspecific, at least in the confines of the film, but it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is the role he plays in the narrative, and Zombie Sheev plays it dutifully. The same is true for Darth Maul, who made a reappearance in The Clone Wars despite being cut in half a decade earlier. Is the explanation for his survival – that he was just too angry to die, travelled to the other side of the galaxy to hide, became insane, and made legs out of garbage – totally stupid? Yes. But is it worth it because the show managed to turn him into one of the most compelling villainous characters in the franchise? Also, yes.
From Force Ghosts to Sith-possessed artifacts, unexpected resurrections have been in Star Wars since the beginning and are sure to continue to its end, if indeed it ever does. So, who should, somehow, return, however stupidly, because they have a role to play in the future of the storytelling? And which heavily speculated character should actually remain dead?
The Return of the Jinn.
I begin with Qui-Gon simply because do I really have to explain my reasoning? He has the means and the reason to return. In fact, he has returned, although not as much as I would like. Liam Neeson’s voice as the character can be heard after his death at the blade of Maul in both Attack of the Clones and The Rise of Skywalker. He was the Jedi who learned how to transfer his being into the Force when he died, and he reached out to Yoda in The Clone Wars to teach him how too. His voice in live-action, his ghostly apparition in animation. The upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series is the perfect place to have Qui-Gon back onscreen for a talk with his old apprentice. Kenobi will be looking for guidance regarding his “rematch” with Vader and his guardianship of Luke and it makes perfect sense for Qui-Gon Jinn to offer sage wisdom rather than him having to traipse over to Dagobah.
Time for Phasma to Shine.
Captain Phasma survived being thrown into a trash compactor on an exploding Starkiller Base so why not a fall into a fiery chasm too? That’s literally an old school villain-sure-to-return cliffhanger ending from the movie serials that have inspired the franchise enormously since its conception. I understand people being disappointed in Phasma in the sequels; no character did nothing but look cool and perfunctorily serve her narrative function as much as her. She’s Finn’s nemesis as he struggles to find his identity in Episodes 7 and 8, a representation of his First Order past he has to destroy, for the right reasons, to become a true believer Resistance fighter. There was very little actual character there. Instead, she simply and literally reflected back what her opponent needed to see in her.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. The movies should stand on their own and ancillary material shouldn’t make excuses for them, but having said that, both the Phasma novel and comic are fantastic. The novel is particularly great, offering plenty of rich character detail and pushing Star Wars in a fresh direction. There is substance under the chrome dome after all so why not explore it onscreen? There are rumours that a Disney+ series focused on Finn is in development and if that’s true then Phasma’s return, maybe a little charred, makes sense. The series could give us the full ‘Stormtrooper rebellion, Jedi Finn’ storyline that The Rise of Skywalker gave us the bare bones version of. And who better to be the antagonist, with more screentime and development, than his old commanding officer as part of the surviving First Order remnant.
The Return of the Sing.
Isn’t it annoying when a new character is introduced and it’s mentioned how they killed off an existing badass character offscreen to show that they are even more of a badass than them but you much prefer the unceremoniously killed character to the new one? In Solo, Tobias Beckett is said to have killed, or at least pushed from a high place, bounty hunter Aurra Sing, and of all the people the writers could have mentioned why did it have to be Aurra?! Going just by the movies, Aurra Sing had a tiny cameo in The Phantom Menace. It was The Clone Wars that greatly developed the character. After Jango’s death, she took Boba Fett under her wing and was a mother to him for a short time, helping, if not forcing him on, his path of vengeance against the Jedi. She’s dangerous, treacherous, kinda-sexy, and, most of all, very cool. I’d easily believe she could, somehow, survive Beckett’s fateful push and return for future storytelling. Not just because she’s cool but also because she fits. The Book of Boba Fett is set to feature a range of bounty hunters from Boba’s past and there are few he has a more complex and interesting past with than Aurra Sing.
Keep Mace Windu Dead!
As the second season of The Mandalorian drew to a close, speculation was rife around which Jedi would come to Grogu’s aid. The obvious answer was the correct one: Luke Skywalker. It made perfect sense. But one nominee seemed to get more love than the others and continues to have fans rally for their potential return. It is, of course, Mace Windu, who we last saw, one-handed, being blasted by Force Lightning and flying/falling through Coruscant. Some cool photoshops of an old, scarred Mace fed the fire and now people are desperate to hear he, somehow, survived the Jedi purge. I am not one of those people. Mace Windu is, and should forever remain, dead.
I enjoy Mace in the prequels, from his snazzy lightsaber to his incorrect opinions about everything. Even more so in The Clone Wars when he becomes the symbol of the Jedi Order losing its way. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him again before his death, like in a flashback in Obi-Wan Kenobi, but definitely not after his death. His demise means so much that to retcon it would lessen the impact of Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side and the destruction of the Jedi. After being conflicted for years over his power in the Force and place in the Jedi, Anakin choosing to stop Mace killing Palpatine was his ultimate moment of choice which made him a slave to the Dark Side. Mace surviving that makes Anakin’s decision much less dramatic and meaningful. Mace’s fall is the literal symbol of the fall of the Jedi, his death allowing Palpatine to activate Order 66 a few minutes afterwards, so his survival would destroy the symbolism and metaphor. The Jedi Purge itself becomes less impactful with the knowledge that more and more Jedi survived, especially another member of the Council.
Which characters do you want to see, somehow, return and who should stay dead? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.