WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you are reading past this point you either have already seen the film or don’t care about spoilers. You have been warned.
If you were like me, then you probably thought that the death of “not so Supreme Leader Snoke” was incredibly premature. Now at first, when I saw Kylo’s betrayal I thought to myself, “This can’t be real. That can’t be all. I mean Snoke was doing all this badassery with the Force. Not to mention, he’s supposed to be the major bad guy, right?” While the Kylo Ren + Rey tag team fight was happening, I couldn’t help but to keep looking at Snoke’s body to see any sign of movement. He had to show some sign of life. To no avail, he laid there lifeless and motionless.
I couldn’t believe it. Had director/writer Rian Johnson been so adamant in turning the Star Wars cinematic formula upside so much that he literally killed what appeared to be the main villain of the trilogy? Before The Last Jedi debuted, Rian Johnson had this to say about Snoke,
“We got the whole story of Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels, but in the original films he’s exactly what he needs to be, which is just ‘The Emperor’… “He’s [Snoke] a dark force: the scary thing behind the thing. That was entirely how I approached Snoke. I wasn’t interested in explaining where he came from or telling his history, except where it serves this story.”
Obviously Rian wasn’t interested in setting up anything about Snoke’s future either. Or did he? Could it be that Rian Johnson may have pulled one of the biggest Jedi Mind tricks on the entire film audience? I think so, and I’m going to present to you my film theory explaining why I believe Snoke isn’t dead at all.
Snoke’s State of Mind
In The Last Jedi, after speaking to General Hux, Kylo Ren enters when Snoke says,
“You wonder why I keep a rabid cur in such a place of power? “
This could easily be a matter of foreshadowing and misdirection. (Which is nothing new in this film.) The audience could assume that the “rabid cur” is General Hux. Now upon a second viewing, I can’t recall observing General Hux being “rabid”. I can, however, easily see that in Kylo Ren. It’s far more than likely that Snoke was referring to Kylo as being the “rabid cur in such a place of power”. That’s significant because the following line that Snoke states,
“A cur’s weakness, properly manipulated, can be a sharp tool.”
Now does anyone really assume that Snoke believes General Hux is going to make for a sharp tool? Sure, he has a part to play, but it’ll be minor at best. It’s more reasonable to assume Snoke was referring to Kylo. Kylo has already been manipulated, and with all his “raw, untamed power” he could make for a great tool for Snoke.
Snoke had been telling Kylo since The Force Awakens that his training wasn’t complete. Traditionally with the dark side, that training is going to include some event or action that makes the user fully embrace the dark side. Kylo Ren thought that entailed killing his own father, Han Solo. Snoke told him that even in killing Han Solo, it left Kylo unbalanced and conflicted.
So maybe killing one’s father or loved one isn’t the true way to embrace the Dark Side of the Force. Maybe you instead have to kill someone you truly hate. In one of the final acts of The Last Jedi, Rose drops a heavy Star Wars Life lesson by saying “That’s how we’re going to win. Not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.” If the Light side focuses on saving and preserving what they love, is it unreasonable to believe that the Dark Side should destroy what they hate?
What if the old ways of embracing the dark side were done with? What if Snoke had transcended the tired old rules of his predecessors? We’ve seen Darth Vader kill his own master. It would seem to be a poor trend for the Dark Side to continue. Find a powerful apprentice, train them up, and then let your guard down only to be killed in the process. Are we really to believe that Snoke hadn’t figured out that pattern in all these years? Maybe, he thought to himself that rather than forcing a powerful apprentice to embrace the dark side, it would be much wiser to have that apprentice simply prove their unwavering loyalty instead.
Snoke would be the best one to know how to test Kylo since he’s an expert at pushing Kylo’s buttons after all. In order to manipulate Kylo into that “sharp tool”, Snoke has to test Kylo’s loyalty without Kylo even knowing it.
So how do you test Kylo’s true convictions and loyalty? Snoke can’t predict the future, and giving Kylo direct commands won’t necessarily push Kylo away from his internal conflict. The Supreme Leader would have to make Kylo make a choice of his own, or at least believe he did in the process of that choice. Snoke would have to do something beyond what we’ve known previous dark side users have done in the cinematic franchise. In order to truly see where his conflicted apprentice’s allegiance lies, he would have to do some really creative double reverse psychology.
Snoke is incredibly intentional with what he says. Especially when it’s in Kylo’s presence. When Snoke is done Force pushing Rey around, and the light saber falls to Kylo’s feet, Kylo looks up at Snoke. At this moment, we the audience, can tell that Kylo’s made a decision. As a matter of fact, Snoke confirms it with his senses. He says to Kylo,
“Where there was conflict, I NOW sense resolve. Where there was weakness…strength. Complete your training and fulfil your destiny!”
Snoke knows that Kylo’s made a decision and is teetering towards the dark side. As I suggested earlier, Snoke’s state of mind has a different way to embracing the dark side. We know that traditionally, the destiny of any dark side apprentice is to eventually kill their master. Snoke is literally egging Kylo on to do that very thing! Remember, the key point to understand here is that Kylo isn’t really deciding between whether to kill Rey or not. The decision is whether Kylo can kill what he hates. Snoke’s next couple of lines tell us more though. He says,
“You think you can turn him? Pathetic child. I cannot be betrayed. I cannot be beaten. I’ve seen his mind. I see his EVERY intent.”
Snoke can sense Kylo’s hatred mounting. Keep in mind that Kylo killing his own master wouldn’t actually be a betrayal. A true betrayal would be if Kylo turned to the Light side. That’s why Snoke is so confident. Having his apprentice embrace the dark side is exactly what he wants. If it’s according to Snoke’s master plan, then he’s also right when he gloats that “I cannot be beaten”. And watch this, Snoke is even more ambiguous in his taunting when he says,
YESSS. I see him turning the light saber to strike true. And now, foolish child. He ignites it, and kills his true enemy!
Not ONCE has Snoke commanded Kylo to literally kill Rey. Yeah, he said she must die here or there. But he never says to Kylo, “Kill this foolish child”. Snoke purposely left it open ended hoping that his powerful apprentice would have the hatred in his heart build up so much that he would kill his “true enemy”. Remember for a dark side user, your true enemy is who you hate. With Kylo killing his “truly hated enemy”, Snoke’s plan is falling exactly into place. His apprentice is no long conflicted. Oh and best of all, Snoke’s still alive to enjoy the fruits of his evil labor.
We know that Snoke had some scary abilities with the Force. His usage of the Force could extend over long distances as we saw in the case of Gen. Hux being force grabbed and choked. You could also imply that Snoke can use the Force via long distance such as when he sensed Ben Solo’s power and later infiltrated his mind at a young age.
In The Force Awakens, we began to find out rather quickly that Rey was quite the natural with the Force. She was able to rival Kylo Ren who also had displayed impressive feats with the Force. When met face to face with Rey, Snoke completely owned her. He smacked her upside her head with a light saber, and was able to extract Luke’s location through her mind. (A feat that Kylo Ren failed at when he tried to previously interrogate her.)
Similar to the Emperor Palpatine, who was able to cloak his presence among the counsel of Jedi, Snoke appeared to exert similar abilities. Through all of his manipulations of Kylo Ren, Snoke was able to hide his 2nd greatest ability with the Force. (We’ll get to Snoke’s greatest ability in a second.) Snoke’s 2nd greatness ability came via what I’d like to call his “Force Messenger” powers. In the Last Jedi, Snoke admits that he was the one to bridge the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. Neither Kylo nor Rey had any clue as to how or why it was happening. Snoke’s ability to connect Rey and Kylo through this “Force Messenger” was so powerful that it transcended physical space. Recall that when the connection was closed between Kylo and Rey, Kylo literally had the water on him from Rey’s location.
Snoke’s Greatest Power
One thing The Last Jedi has taught us is that we don’t know jack about the Force. That leaves open a lot of opportunities to utilize the Force from the side of Light and Darkness. I believe that Snoke pulled a similar Mind Trick/Force Projection that Luke pulled on everyone else toward the end of the movie. What if all this time, he pulled a “Force Simulation” on everyone! (Stop rolling your eyes and hear me out.) We don’t know how powerful Snoke truly is, so let’s just theorize that he’s pretty powerful and has enough endurance to pull this off.
Snoke could have pulled a Force Projection so great that it had everyone fooled. (You know, since he’s been fooling people for a while now anyway.) By pulling this feat, Snoke would be able to really get Kylo to make a true choice. If Kylo was capable of killing his own master then he would have finally completed his training and embraced the dark side. Rey was never Kylo’s test. It was whether or not Kylo had what it took to kill his own master and seize power. That is the mark of a committed dark side user!
All of this could work in Snoke’s favor. Going back to Snoke’s remark about a “sharp tool”, Snoke would be a true puppeteer if he gave Kylo the illusion of being in control. By letting Kylo think that he’s the true Supreme Leader, Snoke can see just how powerful Kylo can become when given the opportunity to rule. The difference here is that previous Sith or Dark Side masters never lived to see their apprentice ascend so high.
Wait, You Need More Proof?
Okay fine. We know that this franchise is all about misdirection. What better “gotcha” would there be to make everyone, including you the audience, believe that Snoke was dead? Plus, if Snoke had orchestrated his own fake death all this time, it would be perfectly inline with his character seeing as though he’s no stranger to pulling the strings in the background. So if this theory proves to be true, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise or a stretch.
But forget that. You want a little more proof. Let’s reflect on Luke’s Jedi Projection in The Last Jedi. You can see that when he was fighting Kylo Ren, Luke’s feet never turn the salty ground red. (Look back and notice that Kylo’s foot does.) During their battle, Kylo struck Luke with his light saber the first time, it appeared to leave a scathing cut. That is, until the jig was up and Kylo came closer to stab Luke.
Back up a bit and recall when Luke also was able to touch and physically give Han Solo’s pair of dice to Leia. We can at least hypothesize from this that some elements of this ability can be physically tangible…at least for a time. And that may be where the key piece of evidence lies; In the dice!
Luke gave Leia those die, but they were part of the Force Projection. Notice in the film, that when Luke finally becomes one with the Force and disappears, those die are still present! They don’t fade away until AFTER Kylo touches them. Could it be that physical contact is necessary to disrupt these Force Projections? Especially after the Force user has died or become one with the Force?
Now take another look back at Snoke’s body. At no point did anyone physically touch his body. All we see is a severed corps. Even when Gen. Hux was examining the scene, he never touched Snoke’s body. Who’s to say that Snoke isn’t in some distant location, sitting Indian style, running his own grand Force Projection?
All in all, I think Snoke is still running the show. I don’t know if I’m completely sold on Kylo being the new big bad guy. I do think that having Snoke make Kylo believe he is in charge is a devilish trick. One trick so bad that it may give Kylo the opportunity to fulfill Rey’s vision of Kylo turning back to the light. Who wouldn’t mind seeing a Rey & Kylo vs Snoke fight anyway?
What do you think about this Film Theory? Does it hold any weight? Let me know in the comments below.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Spoiler-Free review
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Spoiler Talk
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