Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduced Rey’s dad, who was later confirmed to be a failed Palpatine clone – so why did the Emperor let him live?
A Star Wars tie-in has explained that not only is Rey’s father a failed Palpatine clone – the Emperor also allowed him to live – even though the clone ultimately failed to serve his primary purpose. Introduced in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey’s father being a clone of Emperor Palpatine puts into focus the ethical implications of cloning being a common technology in the Star Wars universe, which is further explored in Obi-Wan Kenobi through the post-war experiences of Clone Wars veterans. Moreover, although viewers had been told she was a nobody, The Rise of Skywalker revealed Rey’s real parentage, or at least did so in part, as the 2019 movie confirmed Rey is the granddaughter of Palpatine. The Rise of Skywalker briefly shows her parents – played by Jodie Comer and Billy Howle – leaving her behind on Jakku, in the hopes of keeping her out of the Emperor’s evil clutches. In turn, this explains Rey’s connection to the Force.
Of course, that wasn’t the full story. Various Star Wars books and comics have expanded upon The Rise of Skywalker since its release and explained plot holes, answered questions, and generally tried to deepen the story, and Rey’s parentage is no different. In The Rise of Skywalker‘s novelization, written by Rae Carson, it’s revealed that Rey’s father is a failed Palpatine clone. He was initially created as a vessel to house the Sith Lord but proved incapable of doing so.
Palpatine had many failed clones, largely because it was extremely difficult for any vessel to contain his incredible raw power over the dark side. However, Rey’s father is at least somewhat unique, insofar as he was allowed to live. Even though the novelization describes him as “a useless, powerless failure,” the “not-quite-identical clone” did live on, and eventually fathered Rey. Palpatine is well known for his foresight and planning, and it seems this case was no different. The Emperor’s reason for allowing his failed clone son to live was very much in the hope he’d become the dad to someone like Rey later down the line, as Palpatine explains in Secrets of the Sith, a book written from the in-universe perspective of the Sith Lord:
“The lone subject that survived the cloning process lacked any connection to the Force. I rejected this useless creature, but I chose to let it live. Even if this “son” was undeserving of my legacy, I surmised that the Palpatine blood rushing through its veins might somebody become useful. As always, my theory would soon prove correct…”
Palpatine Let Rey’s Father Live To Prolong His Bloodline
This explanation for Palpatine’s clone son being allowed to live does make a lot of sense. Without it, the idea of Palpatine not tying up such a big loose end and just letting a failed clone wander free not only seems uncharacteristically careless, but also devoid of his usual cruelty, and so him letting it happen in the hope of someone much more powerful to come along fits more with the kind of scheming ways audiences are used to from the Emperor. It’s also fitting that Palpatine would allow his failed clone son to live for such purposes, deeming him harmless but potentially useful, given this own offspring would then prove his final downfall. Star Wars has a long history of underdog victories and those no one suspects being heroes, with the Sith in particular guilty of overlooking anyone not obviously powerful; in this case, while it did produce a potential heir for Palpatine, it also brought about his death and the Sith’s end.
As it stands, little else has been revealed about Rey’s parents, but there is a large part of their timeline that’s unknown prior to what’s shown in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That’s something Star Wars tie-ins could continue to explore – one book scheduled for release in 2022 will follow Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian on the hunt of Ochi of Bestoon, the assassin who killed Rey’s parents, so that could potentially have more reveals about them. And if not, at least one mystery about Palpatine’s failed clone son, and why he was allowed to become Rey’s father, has been cleared up.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Shows The Empire Is Not Kind To Its Retired Clone Soldiers
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series following the Jedi after Order 66, further expands the discussion on the ethics of cloning technology in a scene where Obi-Wan finds a Clone Wars veteran begging in the streets. On the sketchy planet of Daiyu, Obi-Wan is at a loss for where to start looking for Leia Organa. Frustrated, Obi-Wan mutters to himself, seemingly addressing his former master Qui-Gon Jin. As soon as Obi-Wan says, “If ever I needed guidance, Master, it’s now,” he hears a beggar asking for credits. In one of the darker Obi-Wan Kenobi easter eggs, the beggar is revealed to be a former clone trooper, asking strangers for credits on the dangerous streets of Daiyu, abandoned and forgotten by the Empire he once served with his life. Moreover, the veteran’s blue armor indicates that he was a lieutenant in the Empire’s Clone Army. This scene is a stark reminder that the Empire considers all clones to be expendable, even the high-ranking ones.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker aren’t alone in exploring the experiences of clones after Order 66, as Star Wars: The Bad Batch dives even deeper into how the Empire casually uses and discards clones – especially if they have something unique to offer. This is particularly true for the defective clone Omega, whose DNA is revealed to be identical to Jango Fett, making her the potential source of a new and genetically superior Clone Army post-Clone Wars. While Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s clone trooper finally shows the tragic fate of likely thousands of forgotten Clone Wars veterans, The Bad Batch‘s Omega reveals that the Empire will do anything to get the upper hand, including creating more ill-fated generations of clones – the same reason Palpatine gave for creating Rey’s father. Although Rey’s father being a Palpatine clone makes him the most dangerous and valuable, he’s essentially no different from Omega or even the clone veterans begging in the streets. In the eyes of the Empire, all clones are equally expendable – a theme that’s likely to be further explored in future Star Wars stories.
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