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Leaked Rise Of Skywalker Images Reveal Major Storyline

A Redditor may have spoiled the heck out of one of the biggest movies of the year.

A post from Josh_Den_of_Nerds shared images, obtained from an unnamed source, purported to be stills from the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. If they're genuine, they may confirm a long-held fan theory about Kylo Ren — and they certainly seem to give away elements of the film's climax.

Before we continue, a couple of things should be noted. First, we won't be showing you these images, but only describing what they depict. There's a good reason for this: we would prefer not to get slapped with a takedown order from Lucasfilm parent company Disney, like everyone who has posted these images apparently has been.

Second, in case you're not great at connecting dots, the fact that the House of Mouse has been all over anyone attempting to share these images certainly seems to bolster the case for their authenticity. In light of that, you should probably be aware that we might be heading into serious spoiler territory for Rise of Skywalker from this point forward.

Still on board? Great! Buckle up, because this leak suggests a pretty insane climax to Rise of Skywalker and, therefore, the nine-film Skywalker Saga as a whole.

What do the leaked Rise of Skywalker images show?

You... you saw that spoiler warning above, right? Just making sure. Off we go.

The first image shows Rey, lightsaber in hand, facing off against Emperor Palpatine, who is standing atop his massive throne of stone shooting huge volleys of his trademark force lightning into the sky. This isn't the most spoiler-y image; we all had a pretty good idea that Rey would go up against ol' Palps (as we hear he likes to be called) at some point, but the potential spoiler lies not in what's included in the image, but what isn't.

When we briefly saw what we assumed to be Palpatine in the final trailer for Rise of Skywalker, he was seen only from behind, and he appeared to be hooked up to some kind of huge apparatus — one which was speculated to be keeping him alive. This seemed to lend credence to the "he didn't actually die" theory of Palpatine's return; that rather than coming back to life through some mystical or Force-assisted means, this theory goes, Palpatine (say it with us) didn't actually die when he was chucked into the abyss by Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker at the conclusion of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

This image, however, throws cold water on that theory — for in it, Palpatine looks pretty much the same as he did the last time we saw him (only this time, of course, he's not getting chucked into the abyss). Make of that what you will, but it certainly seems to suggest that Palpatine did in fact manage to resurrect himself somehow, rather than being kept alive by artificial means.

It's the second image, though, that's truly provocative, as simple as it is. It shows Rey and Kylo Ren, side by side, looking like they're getting ready to throw down against a common adversary — preparing to Snoke somebody, if you will. In and of itself, this isn't particularly Earth-shaking; it's the color of Kylo's lightsaber that really tells the story. It's blue. Kylo Ren is wielding a blue lightsaber.

On the surface, this would appear to indicate that the baddie has officially switched sides — but this might not be entirely accurate. He may very well have been on the same side all along, just not the one we thought he was on.

What could the leaked images mean for Rise of Skywalker's plot?

To be sure, the connection between Rey and Kylo (or "Reylo" as the shippers like to call them) is an odd one. They communicate telepathically, they fight, they team up for a common purpose, they fight again — heck, even that final trailer shows them destroying Darth Vader's old helmet together, although in that shot, Kylo is wearing his freaky helmet and wielding his standard red, hilted lightsaber.

But it still confirms that the pair will once again have to work together, and if the leaked image is genuine, it lends a heck of a lot credence to a popular fan theory that's been circulating ever since shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens: that Kylo Ren has, in effect, been a double agent this entire time.

Basically, the theory posits that Kylo allowed himself to be recruited into the First Order so that he could quash the re-emergence of the Dark Side of the Force from within. Even his most shocking act — the murder of his father, Han Solo — makes more sense if you look at it in this light; it was an act that had to be carried out, so that Kylo could complete his journey to the Dark Side and solidify his cover. In fact, the final conversation between father and son takes on a whole new meaning if you rewatch that scene with this theory in mind.

We've always been a pretty big fan of the idea, and again, the fact that Disney jumped all over these images the minute they began to show up online leads us to believe that they are in fact genuine — although if you'll indulge us in a little conspiracy mongering, it could also be that that's exactly what Mickey wants you to think.

Consider that one of the Mouse House's other famous subsidiaries, Marvel Studios, has gone to great lengths to deceive audiences about plot points of upcoming films, going so far as to actually include scenes in trailers that don't actually show up in the films — phony, phony scenes that sometimes obscure significant plot points.

Pre-release speculation around Rise of Skywalker has been as intense as you'd expect for the conclusion of a four decade-spanning, nine-film series, and — stay with us here — it just could be that Disney leaked these images, let their implications marinate for a bit, and promptly started yanking them down as soon as people started to speculate as to their meaning. All for the purpose of muddying up the waters with misinformation so that the film's true climax is less likely to be guessed at.

Is it likely? No, not at all. Is it possible? Of course it is. We're talking about the final chapter of one of the biggest cinematic sagas of all time, and thanks to the marketing campaigns for the last couple Avengers movies, we already know that Mickey doesn't mess around when it comes to such things.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits the big screen on December 20.