Now that it’s only a few weeks from release, the marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in full-on blitz mode. Three new TV spots have dropped this week, and one of them included a shot that has sent fans into waves of speculation. We’ve seen part of this scene before: It’s the one we’ve seen of Rey, Poe, Finn, C-3PO and Chewbacca crossing grassy, rolling hills, seemingly on a quest to find something or someplace. It’s always ended with them looking out over a churning sea at what appears to be the shattered remains of a Death Star.

But in this TV spot, a new shot was added, one of Rey holding up a strange dagger:

To be fair, it was in an earlier trailer, but it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment that none but the most eagle-eyed Star Wars fans would have spotted, or someone going frame-by-frame through the footage. Regardless, the TV spot has fans talking, because it could confirm a fan theory that’s been floating around for a few months now about the dagger. There have been rumblings for a while that the Resistance would discover an ancient artifact that would help them, more specifically, a Sith dagger would play an important role in defeating Palpatine. Could the theory be true? Could this be the dagger? And, more importantly…what the hell is the dagger?

Some Think It’s The Dagger Of Mortis

What is the Dagger of Mortis? Also called the Mortis Dagger, it’s a mystical weapon that first appeared in the Clone Wars TV series. Forged and held in the realm of Mortis by the Father, an ancient and powerful Force wielder, the dagger was capable of controlling his equally powerful children, Daughter and Son, who represented the light and dark sides of the Force, respectively. The greatest threat of the dagger is that it could kill his immortal children – if it were used to kill the Father himself, it would rob his children of their immortality. Thus, using the dagger as a means of keeping them in check, Father kept balance in the Force for ages. When his health started to fade, he went in search of a worthy successor, eventually finding Anakin Skywalker and guiding the young Jedi Knight to Mortis to test his abilities. After Anakin passed all of Father’s tests, the powerful being was convinced Anakin was the next Chosen One, the one meant to bring true balance to the Force once and for all.

However, the Son found out about his father’s plan and attempted to sway Anakin to the dark side of the Force. This forced the Daughter to team up with Obi-Wan Kenobi and steal the dagger in an attempt to gain control of the Son. Things, as they tend to do, went awry: The Son stole the dagger and killed Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, in the process. When he tried to kill his father next, his sister got in the way and he accidentally killed her instead. Taking advantage of how distraught the Son was, the Father stole the dagger and turned it on himself to put the Son down for good, robbing his son of immortality by killing himself. This allowed Anakin Skywalker to deliver a fatal wound to the Son with his lightsaber. Balance came back to the Force and the entire realm of Mortis, including the dagger, disappeared in a blinding white flash.

Okay, SO. Now you know what the Dagger of Mortis is. But that leads us to the greater question…

What Does The Dagger Of Mortis Have To Do With Palpatine?

When the first trailer for Rise of Skywalker dropped, the biggest reveal nothing but a few seconds of Palpatine laughing directly after a bit of voiceover from Luke Skywalker explaining that no one is ever really gone. It pretty much confirmed for fans that, yeah, Sith Lord Palpatine is – somehow – very much alive. Which is something of a head-scratcher, seeing as how Darth Vader killed him to save his son, Luke Skywalker, all the way back in Return of the Jedi.

But if anyone in Star Wars could figure out a way to become immortal, it’s Palpatine. The Force needs both the dark and the light to be balanced, but Palpatine goes beyond dark. He is a black blot of chaos even within the dark side, partly due to the fact he’s seemingly unlocked the secrets of immortality. In Revenge of the Sith, he attempted to lure Anakin Skywalker to the dark side by telling him the story of Darth Plagueis, the one Sith who learned how to conquer death, hinting that he had also learned the secret to immortality. It makes sense that if you were faced with vanquishing an immortal being, you’d want to find a dagger with the power to do just that, right? The dagger Rey holds in the trailer and TV spot, if it is indeed the Dagger of Mortis, can end Palpatine once and for all.

It dovetails nicely with a fan theory that’s been floating around out there.

Kylo Ren Is Actually Possessed By Plagueis, a.k.a. Palpatine

Kylo Ren in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' (Courtesy: Lucasfilm)

Kylo Ren in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ (Courtesy: Lucasfilm)

So, how did Palpatine discover the secret to immortality in the first place? Turns out there is an ancient and lost Sith practice that can effectively make a Sith immortal. It ties into a fan theory I wrote about a while back: That Kylo Ren is actually possessed by the spirit of Darth Plagueis himself.

See, while the Jedi have the ability to maintain their consciousness and become Force ghosts after death instead of dissipating into the Force, the Sith have another means of continuing on, a process known as “transfer essence.” It’s an extremely difficult feat, hence being extremely rare and one accomplished by only the most powerful Sith throughout history. Also known as “essence transfer,” it is the ability of a Sith to project their consciousness into another living creature, or, in a pinch, into inanimate objects until they can find a new host. They Horcrux themselves, basically. The theory bounced around by fans purports that it’s been Darth Plagueis all along, that the first Sith to discover immortality transferred his consciousness into his apprentice, Darth Palpatine. Plagueis was left without a host body for a while when Darth Vader unexpectedly turned on Palpatine and killed him, but eventually moved on to his new host, Snoke. I believe it’s also entirely possible that Plagueis actually died and it’s been Palpatine who has been body-hopping since then, having learned the secret of essence transfer from his former master. Whoever it is, they then passed from Snoke to Kylo Ren, explaining why Kylo took over the First Order at the end of The Last Jedi after asking Rey to help him burn it down.

Personally, I’m not 100% sure I buy that explanation as there are far simpler ones to explain Kylo taking control of the First Order he wants to burn down. For starters, Kylo has been portrayed from the start as being volatile and emotional, prone to fits of extreme passion and anger. And what sets off a guy with a hair trigger faster than a woman rejecting him? Rey firmly turned him down when he asked her to join them and turn on both the Resistance and the First Order, then left him. It’s not difficult to imagine a guy as volatile as Kylo Ren might have the urge to hurt and destroy her for what he would see as a betrayal. He wants to dismantle it all and build an empire from the ashes, and that means taking down the Resistance. If Rey happens to be one of them, too bad. In his eyes, she made her choice. Second, it’s easier to accomplish huge goals like Kylo has if you have the might of a huge and powerful army like the First Order at your command. It makes sense that he’d stay with the First Order, especially if he can use it to do his bidding as he sees fit. It’s a much more fitting explanation than him being possessed.

Still, it’s always possible, so I believe the dagger, if it is indeed the Dagger of Mortis, will be used in one of two ways:

The Dagger Will Find And End Whoever Palpatine Resides In

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) battle in the rain in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ (Courtesy: Lucasfilm)

Here’s the first way the Dagger of Mortis might come into play: One, from the beginning of their arc, Rey and Kylo have had a kind of fated, star-crossed lovers vibe going on, with everything hinting that they were destined to bring balance to the Force and be two halves of a whole. Thus far, we’ve been thinking that she and Kylo might tear it all down and build a new world that allows for gray. But it’s entirely possible that while Rey’s destiny is to bring balance to the Force, she’s meant to accomplish it by being the one to kill Plagueis – or Palpatine, as the trailer seems to indicate – once and for all. She will represent neither light nor dark, but true balance and the dagger will lead her to fulfill that destiny by killing the possessed Kylo Ren, vanquishing the unnatural blot that is Palpatine for good.

Or – here’s the second possibility – if we reject the idea that Kylo Ren is possessed by Palpatine, the dagger can be used to kill the Sith Lord in another way. I won’t dispute that Palpatine is somehow either still alive or has found a way to make himself immortal – that much is clear from the trailer. But in that same trailer, it established that Team Rey was looking at the remains of a Death Star, and we know (since Disney confirmed it) that it’s the Death Star from Return of the Jedi – a.k.a. where Palpatine’s body should be. It’s entirely possible that arguably the most powerful Sith Lord in history could find a way to keep his body from decomposing, entirely possible he survived being thrown into the Death Star’s reactor by flinging his consciousness outside of his body. Either way, he’s still alive, but using the Dagger of Mortis to kill his preserved or resurrected body would kill him as effectively as he would be if he were possessing Kylo Ren.

There are so many possibilities raised for how the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga will come to a close, and we can spend a hundred more hours speculating about it – that’s part of the fun, no? Either way, it’s become clear that that dagger will play an important role in bringing about the end of it all, however it goes down.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters on December 20th. Get tickets here.

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