Saturday, December 21, 2019

About Snoke and THE RISE OF SKYWALKER...

WARNING:  This post deals with matters pertaining to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which hit theaters less than 48 hours ago.  There WILL be spoilers openly discussed so if you aren't one to have the experience of seeing the movie for yourself ruined for you (take the hint: go see it, now now now!) don't read what I'm about to write.  It is ONLY for those who have already seen The Rise of Skywalker and want to discuss a fairly major element of that movie and the entire "sequel" trilogy as a whole.

No, seriously.  I mean it.  Stop reading if you don't want The Rise of Skywalker spoiled for you.

Still here?

Okay, let it be on your own head.  Here we go...

Let's talk about Snoke.  The late Supreme Leader of the First Order who was infamously bisected by his main boy Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.  And if your reaction was anything like mine during that opening night screening, you probably saw Snoke's upper torso crumple onto the floor and right as the lightsaber lands in Rey's hand you were thinking "NOW what?!  Where is this going?!"

Snoke's death was the last thing we were expecting.  I think in our collective mind we knew Snoke was going to be the ultimate baddie of the sequel trilogy and maybe, somehow, the master nemesis of the entire Star Wars saga from The Phantom Menace on through (that was my expectation anyway).  Instead we had those expectations subverted by Rian Johnson.  Maybe that's why there's so much disdain for The Last Jedi: many wanted it to go the way they demanded it go.  But I digress...

Very early in The Rise of Skywalker Kylo Ren uses a Sith artifact to locate Exegol, a lost planet of the Sith.  Seems that Palpatine's voice broadcasting from a pirate radio station has spooked the galaxy.  Kylo wants to shut it down so he goes looking for the source.  He finds Palpatine: more than a mere clone, less than the man he had been when we last saw him in Return of the Jedi.  And Palpatine greets Kylo with "Snoke has taught you well."

Kylo declares that he killed Snoke and took his place.  Palpatine responds by revealing some canned Snokes floating in big jars, driving the point that Snoke had been a created being all along that had been used by Palpatine.

Heh.  Okay.  Not what many of us were expecting.  I could accept that.  Maybe.

The thing is, Snoke being created by Palpatine doesn't make any sense.

It doesn't jibe whatsoever with established canon. Not one bit.

The precise details of Snoke's life have not been divulged but we are aware of some things.  That he watched the fall of the Republic from afar is one of them (The Force Awakens novelization).  That Snoke was apparently sensed by Palpatine shortly before the Battle of Endor (a number of sources).  That Snoke had at least one other apprentice before Kylo Ren.  That Snoke was fascinated by the Light Side of the Force just as he was about the Dark Side (does that sound like any Sith to you?).  That Snoke apparently had encountered Luke Skywalker before.  That Snoke had long been a collector of arcane lore and artifacts (The Last Jedi novelization).  That the Imperials who became the First Order would have perished without Snoke finding them and guiding them into the Unknown Regions where he "unexpectedly" became their Supreme Leader.  That Snoke's twisted and deformed body came about because of "injuries from battle" as revealed by Snoke portrayer Andy Serkis..

None of these and more allow for any margin other than Snoke already existing before the events of The Phantom Menace and possibly much further back than that.  Snoke is already ancient and not even in the at-times ridiculous nature of Star Wars lore can someone get retro-actively cloned.

Chronologically, the numbers just don't add up.  The history doesn't work out.

And yet, Palpatine more than just knows about Snoke.  He also has clones of Snoke in his possession.

So here's my own take, no doubt one of a jillion and a half floating around already.  It's how it's worked out in my head based on what we've come to know:

I believe that Snoke was indeed his own person.  For most of his existence anyway.  He must have been.  It's the only way to reconcile his history (what little we know of it) with the officially established canon lore.  Snoke really was out there all along, watching the Republic wane and fall and seeing the Empire rise in its place.

It is a classic trope of evil: that it can never truly create.  It can only corrupt.  Consider the works of Tolkien for a moment.  The orcs weren't created out of whole cloth.  They had originally been Elves, captured by Morgoth then tortured and twisted and bred into an obscenity of life in service to shadow.  And corruption is the number-one weapon of Palpatine's arsenal.  He corrupted and manipulate the Republic.  He corrupted the creation of the clone army.  He corrupted Anakin.  He tried to corrupt Luke.  As now seen in The Rise of Skywalker he tried and failed to corrupt his own granddaughter.

For Palpatine to create Snoke as a meat puppet doesn't fit his modus operandi.  It kinda violates it, to be honest.

Palpatine never created anything under his own power.  But he often did take something that already existed, and then polluted it with his own dark schemes.

For that reason alone, I can't buy the notion that Palpatine just created Snoke from scratch.  As the clones of the Army of the Republic derived from the template of one man, so too was Snoke (if that really was a clone all along) generated from someone who lived and breathed of his own accord.  And that's the best that Palpatine could have done with Snoke.  So if Palpatine did clone Snoke, it happened sometime between the end of the Empire during that thirty-years interval between the Battle of Endor and the events of The Force Awakens.

There is another possibility: that Palpatine had clones of Snoke made but for whatever reason didn't use them.  And so that was "Snoke Prime" that Kylo Ren cut to pieces.

Which lends itself to an interesting theory: that Snoke - if he was a force of evil unto himself - was corrupted by Palpatine.  Maybe without even knowing it.  The most powerful wielder of the Dark Side at the time of The Force Awakens, himself being a puppet on a string with no idea whatsoever that he was being manipulated.  And suddenly Palpatine really does become the ultimate "man behind the curtain", plotting wheels within wheels of schemes that none but he can grasp.

Which, in my mind, makes Palpatine a far more dangerous and formidable enemy than anything we had suspected he could have been capable of.

So yeah: Snoke already existed long before Palpatine.  He found and warped Ben Solo into becoming Kylo Ren.  Snoke however was being played with by Palpatine during the era of the First Order.  And when Snoke was no longer needed, Palpatine maniuplated Kylo into killing Snoke.  Snoke was crushed by his true secret master, just as Han Solo warned Ben that he would be crushed by Snoke.

What's with the Snoke clones then?  Who knows.  Backup puppets?  Something further to play Kylo's mind with?  Darth Sidious/Palpatine has lied before in order to get what he wants.  Who's to say he's not lying when he spoke of Snoke to Kylo Ren?

Or maybe it's none of these at all.  Maybe it's not supposed to be.

Perhaps it is merely nothing more or less than one more mystery from the Star Wars saga, that we will eternally be debating and dissecting and having heated arguments over, before shaking hands as fans and acknowledging that we'll never get a straight answer that satisfies us completely.

In that case, then The Rise of Skywalker indeed failed to tie up all the knots.  It gave us a whole new one to unravel.  We aren't going to solve this one.  But that's fine.  It's okay.  Because what is life without mysteries that we will never understand?

If so, then The Rise of Skywalker truly is a perfect capstone of what has come before in epic tale of the Skywalker family.

It is, in every way, a film worthy of Star Wars.

6 comments:

JTT said...

Interesting thoughts. Also think about this. Palpy barely created a new body for himself. I don't think he could make a whole new person like Snoke.

Anonymous said...

Youre forgetting that Palpatine wanted and needed Rey alive. Snoke wanted her dead. More proof that Palpatine didnt fully control Snoke.

Vaughn X said...

Off subject, I didnt think it necessary for Rey to take the Skywalker name at the end. Nor was the title "Rise of Skywalker " very appropriate. I still loved the final episode.

Solomon Grundy said...

I watched TRoS for 3rd time yesterday. Palpatine doesn't say he created Snoke. He says "I made Snoke." That could mean lots of things where Palpatine is concerned. Not necessary that he literally created Snoke. Also the Snoke clones were undamaged.

Aaron G said...

Very good article. I concur: Snoke was guided and shaped by the Story Group yet the "final product" in TROS doesn't follow their canon whatsoever. Some things were getting established perfectly: Palpatine's contingency plan etc. TROS followed through on those but it dumped out Snoke. Does Story Group even know what they're doing?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's Snoke who is alive and using a clone of Palpatine as HIS puppet. That's why there are the Snoke clones, so Snoke always has a body to jump into. The real Palpatine meanwhile is still dead from ROTJ. Makes you think doesn't it?