"Peace is a lie; there is only passion.
Though passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me."
--The Code of the Sith
Friends, I realized something last night: although we have vastly different preferences as to the continuation of the Star Wars saga past Return of the Jedi, we do have one thing in common: in both timelines, Emperor Palpatine--Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith--transcends death by transferring his essence into cloned bodies. I've never seen The Rise of Skywalker, but since everyone in my life knows I'm the biggest Star Wars geek in any room, somehow I always end up finding out what happens in the new films, whether I asked for it or not. I've also been told that supplemental materials have confirmed that Sidious is indeed a clone in that film. In the EU, in the Dark Empire comics, Sidious has been producing clones on himself on the planet Byss, and he uses the ancient Sith technique of essence transfer to imput his disembodied consciousness into one clone at a time. He finds that the clones are highly susceptible to dark side degradation and so they deteriorate at a much faster rate than did his birth body, so he finds he must transfer his essence more quickly than he originally anticipated, meaning he will soon run out of clones. This looming threat becomes all the more impending when Luke destroys the remainder of the clones, at which point Sidious tries (unsuccessfully) to transfer his consciousness into baby Anakin Solo. (Fun fact: this plot actually came from George Lucas himself. Originally, the plan for Dark Empire was to have someone masquerading around in a Darth Vader costume pretending to be Vader, returned from exile to claim the Empire for himself as Palpatine's heir. Lucas didn't like this idea and instead told them to find a way to bring the Emperor back from the dead.)
What is fascinating is that, retroactively, Dark Empire ties in perfectly with Sidious' line in Revenge of the Sith about cheating death. And, of course, The Rise of Skywalker does the same, only with this scene expressly in mind.
This leads me to my next point, which has to do with a character and concept that also belong to both canons (and were George Lucas' creations): Darth Bane and the Rule of Two. While I don't know the story of Bane in the new canon or if it differs at all, I can tell you about Bane in the EU: In a nutshell, he came to believe that the nature of the Sith--where ultimate power for the self is the main ambition--was the root cause of the Sith's infighting from their inception and the reason why they never were able to achieve their goal of destroying the Jedi. As such, Bane believed that he had to destroy the Sith and create them anew, with the Rule of Two instituted, stating that there can only be two Sith at any one time--a master and an apprentice--and that it was the master's duty to teach the apprentice all he knew, and for the apprentice to slay the master once he surpassed him and to take an apprentice for himself. In this way, the Sith would be preserved until they were powerful enough to destroy the Jedi, which is what we see come to fruition a thousand years later in the prequels.
Here is the crux of what I wanted to discuss: Bane and Sidious had vastly different philosophies when it came to the end goal of the Rule of Two. Bane believed that it was a farce for one Sith Lord to put his own desires above that of the Sith Order, because that was the root cause of the Sith constantly destroying each other since their inception. According to Bane, the Sith must abide by the Rule of Two forever, with the master imparting all of his knowledge to the apprentice with the expectation that he would be replaced one day, thus keeping the Sith strong and making them increasingly more powerful as time went on. This would conceivably continue even after the Sith achieved their ultimate goal of destroying the Jedi and ruling the galaxy. Bane believed that, should any Sith return to the old ways and desire ultimate power for himself instead of for the Order, it would mean the destruction of the Sith.
Sidious, on the other hand, was different. While he seems to have believed very strongly in the Rule of Two (at least in the EU), it seems he only considered it an excellent placeholder until the Sith achieved what he believed was their ultimate goal: not the destruction of the Jedi (that was step one), but ultimate power in one Sith Lord and the ability to defy death. Death was the one thing that loomed over every Sith Lord's head in pursuit of ultimate power, and the Sith (at least in the EU) had employed numerous methods to defy it, each either ending in disaster or in eternal pain and suffering, as was the case with the Sith ghosts who anchored themselves to the corporeal universe. To Sidious, the Rule of Two was a temporary fix, in place until it could be replaced with what he called the Rule of One: a single all-powerful, immortal Sith Lord ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. Sidious believed he would be that Sith Lord, the seal of all who came before, which he nearly was.
I am certain that Darth Sidious had lots of respect and veneration for Darth Bane and his teachings, but as a learned and discerning man, I am sure he didn't agree with everything and would be quick to criticize Bane on what he perceived to be his faults. It can be inferred that Sidious agreed with the ancient philosophies, that the Sith's end goal was ultimate power for the self, with egotism being the cornerstone of all Sith teachings. In that respect, I have to say that I would agree with Sidious rather than Bane. The latter, while wise to realize the cause of the constant civil wars holding the Sith back, took his altruism a bit too far, to the point where he may have abandoned the very heart of the Code of the Sith.
What do you think? Where do you stand on this issue? Do you agree more with Bane or Sidious, and why?
Also, this thread is not necessarily to discuss whether or not you think the Emperor coming back was a good idea. While I can't speak for The Rise of Skywalker, I can say that Dark Empire is a bit of a mixed bag for me. When I re-read it last year, it seemed better than it did all those years ago. Essentially, I believe that in the hands of the right writer, any concept--no matter how fanboyish--can be made beautiful. Dark Empire definitely has something to it, though it does come off as very rough-drafty. I think that if an EU writer were to revisit the story in the form of a novel or two, it could be amazing.