Given how little we learn about his resurrection and what exactly his deal is in the movie, there has been a lot of talk about the mysteries of Emperor Palpatine since we saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, in our fervour to find out answers for Darth Sidious, we’ve been overlooking an even bigger plothole. Namely, who the heck are the villain’s legion of loyalists, those hooded weirdos depicted as worshipping Palpatine in his temple on the planet Exegol?
As has become typical, tie-in material has helped clarify things here that were left muddy in Episode IX. TROS‘s Visual Dictionary explains that these loyalists are known as the Sith Eternal, a vast and powerful cult. Though Palpatine is their leader, he actually owes them a debt of gratitude as it is they who revived him after his death in Return of the Jedi. We don’t know exactly how they did this, but it was some combination of “technology and the occult.”
They’re also responsible for constructing the Emperor’s legion of planet-killing Star Destroyers. Technically classified as Xyston-class ships, the fleet was built by slave labor but designed by shipwrights and engineers found among the Sith Eternal’s number. As for the raw materials needed, some of the cultists are board members on the Sienar-Jaemus and Kuat-Entralla shipyards.
This is perhaps the most fascinating revelation about the Sith Eternal that better helps us understand who they are. Though the film paints them as creepy henchman perhaps native to Exegol, the book reveals that they’re actually the group is actually made up of some very affluent and important members of galactic society. This portrays them as something much more real and unfortunately familiar to our world.
Remember, the Sith Eternal were able to hide their entire operation from even the highest echelons of the First Order. These are some seriously evil and very nearly successful people. It’ll be interesting to see whether any future Star Wars media picks up and further explores the ideas discussed in this Visual Dictionary – if not Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker itself.