The following post and video contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — kind of, since we’re trying to figure out something wasn’t actually in the movie itself based on our knowledge of arcane Star Wars lore. Does that count as a spoiler? Who knows.

“No one’s ever really gone,” Luke Skywalker said in Star Wars: The Last JediAnd he was right! Because in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine returns, despite the fact that everyone saw him die at the end of Return of the Jedi more than 30 years ago.

Rather than make Palpatine’s return the plot of The Rise of Skywalker, his resurrection actually happens off-screen before the movie begins. And after a few quick lines of dialogue mostly cribbed from Revenge of the Sith, the movie just moves on from the whole he-was-dead thing. After that, it never provides a clear explanation for exactly how he pulled this off.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

So how did Palpatine return to the galaxy far, far away? This video by ScreenCrush’s Ryan Arey breaks down our the most logical answer for that question, using the little information actually presented in the film, plus a whole lot of knowledge of Star Wars comics and games and novels. Watch it here:

If you liked this video about how Emperor Palpatine returned in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, check out other videos, including our suggested viewing order for the full Star Wars franchise, the coolest Rise of Skywalker Easter eggs, and our theories about the true origin of The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda. Plus, there’s tons more over at ScreenCrush’s YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to catch all our future episodes. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.

Gallery — Our Favorite Rise of Skywalker Easter Eggs: