Written by robotical712
Palpatine is the focus of the fandom right now, but there are hints there is something much worse than the Emperor waiting in the shadows.
Into the Unknown
The teaser for The Rise of Skywalker was finally shown to the world at Celebration and left the fandom with something completely unexpected: Palpatine will be in the movie. While it’s not clear what form his appearance will take, at the very least the influence of the late Emperor on the Skywalkers remains. No doubt TRoS will in part focus on the Skywalker family escaping his shadow once and for all. However, there are repeated hints in Canon of there being something far more ancient and destructive.
The Emperor is a being of pure evil and his plans went far beyond merely ruling the galaxy. In Tarkin we learn his goal of achieving power over reality itself:
And he would not allow himself to be sidetracked from his goal of unlocking the secrets many of the Sith Masters before him had sought: the means to harness the powers of the dark side to reshape reality itself; in effect, to fashion a universe of his own creation. Not mere immortality of the sort Plagueis had lusted after, but influence of the ultimate sort.Luceno, James. Star Wars: Tarkin. Kindle Locations 4579-4582
We further see him attempting to expand his power in Rebels when Ezra and Ahsoka prevent him from accessing the World Between Worlds. It would seem then that Palpatine is the ultimate threat. If the Emperor returned, he could resume his efforts to unlock the secrets of unlocking reality. Surely he must be the ultimate threat and his defeat the endpoint for the franchise. Yet, in Tarkin come our first hints there is something else out there:
Sidious muted the feed once more, steepled his fingers, and brought them to his lips. During his meditations he had tried without success to trace a snaking current of the dark side to its source. What had it been trying to communicate to him?
Luceno, James. Star Wars: Tarkin
As of the events of Tarkin (about 14 BBY), the Emperor has not determined where the source lies. By Aftermath (several months after Endor), he seems to have? determined it if one goes by his Sith advisor, Yupe Tashu:
“No Sith remain,” Tashu says. “And the lone Jedi that exists-the son of Anakin Skywalker-possesses an untouchable soul. At least for now. We must instead move toward the dark side. Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our maps was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and women beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds. We must follow them. Retreat from the galaxy. Go out beyond the veil of stars. We must seek the source of the dark side like a man looking for a wellspring of water.
Star Wars: Aftermath Pg. 114
In that section we have the first mention of a ‘source of the dark side’. It is this ‘source of the dark side’ that is the true threat.
What Lies in the Dark?
“The danger of the past is not past, but sleeps in an egg. When the egg cracks, it will threaten the galaxy entire.
-Ancient ProphecyGray, Claudia. Master and Apprentice: Pg 133.
What is this source of the Dark Side? It’s not really clear, but it’s location in the Unknown Regions suggests it’s nothing good:
For decades, these computers have been plotting a journey. Outside the known galaxy is an unexplored infinity, Palpatine explained, one closed off by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger.Empire’s End: Kindle Locations 5961-5962
The journey through the Unknown Regions has been harrowing. Taking short hyperspace jumps through the chaos has been like navigating a dangerous maze at full speed. But the sentinel assured her the path was safe. They skirted superstorms and saw strange creatures out there in the blackness of the void. They lost system power when a magnetic burst of mysterious origin cascaded through space—but it was only for a few hours…Empire’s End: Kindle Locations 6649-6652
It’s highly likely what Palpatine considers the source of the dark side is the cause of the chaos in the Unknown Regions. Another hint at there being something much worse out there comes in Vader 2017 #24:
While these could be dismissed as the rantings of a madman (which Momin definitely is), in the context of everything else that has been revealed, they’re worth considering. Is the source of the dark side an entity or has the Force itself been twisted somehow? Perhaps released and then sealed in ages long past? Whatever it is, it would seem Palpatine is but the tip of the iceberg.