Now that we’ve all seen The Force Awakens and have begun to digest it all, there are a number of lingering, unanswered questions for us to ponder over the next year and a half until Episode 8 opens. Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on a theory I’ve been developing for some time now about one of those questions. Read on for more…
One of the most mysterious new characters introduced in The Force Awakens is, of course, Supreme Leader Snoke. At first glance, of course, the character could be mistaken for a simple replacement for Emperor Palpatine. He is, indeed, very much as the Emperor was when we first met him in The Empire Strikes Back – a withered old creature who clearly wields a great deal of power and influence over the movie’s villains, and who also is aware of the Force and keenly aware of the fact that it runs so strongly in the Skywalker family. He already has one Skywalker in his thall, and wants to destroy any other members of the family who might oppose him.
But there are already some differences that we can see between the two. First of all, Snoke seems to be far more calculating than the Emperor (who, as we learned in Return of the Jedi, was more of a classic, scenery-chewing mustache twirler whose fatal flaw was, as Luke Skywalker pointed out, his own overconfidence.) Snoke, on the other hand, seems more like he’s focused on a long game of some kind. We haven’t gotten a lot of hard evidence of this yet, of course, but he certainly took the destruction of the Starkiller Base in stride at the end of TFA.
The other difference, and possibly the more important one, is that, whereas the Emperor appeared as a very old man, Snoke looks far more like either a mummified humanoid – or perhaps somebody with a body that is still only partly formed.
It is this latter possibility that I’d like to delve into here.
As I mentioned in my review of The Force Awakens, I get the impression that Snoke may have a completely different goal than Kylo Ren and the First Order believe him to have. His rather dispassionate reaction to the loss of Starkiller Base would appear to lend support to this. So, what DOES Supreme Leader Snoke want?
One of the first things that struck me about Snoke’s appearance when I saw TFA on opening day was that he appeared to have the same massive head wound scar that we saw on Darth Vader when he had Luke remove his mask at the end of ROTJ. Now, this could just be a coincidence, but what if it isn’t? Why would Snoke share a scar with a man who has been dead for over three decades?
Looking a little closer, it also appears that the left side of Snoke’s face is also scarred in a manner that’s more than a little reminiscent of the scars we saw on Vader’s unmasked face.
“So, whaddya sayin’ there, pallie? That Snoke is Darth Vader? Come onnnn!”
No, Snoke isn’t Darth Vader. At least that’s not the theory I’m cobbling together here. But I think Darth Vader could conceivably play a part in why Snoke looks the way he does.
Let me cut right to it. I suspect (and I could very easily be wrong about this) that Snoke is a very, VERY old being who was able to retain his identity and consciousness after death, and who is now in the process of assembling a new body from the Force energy of dead Force users.
As we saw in TFA, Kylo Ren has the burnt remains of Darth Vader’s helmet, obviously recovered from the ashes of his funeral pyre on Endor. And there’s his mentor, Snoke, sporting scars that look very much like those that we saw beneath Vader’s helmet when it was finally removed just before his death.
Could Snoke have somehow, through some arcane Force power, connected with and absorbed some sort of residual Force energy from the helmet that Darth Vader wore for all those years? And, furthermore, could Snoke have used that energy to generate part of his current physical form?
Many have speculated that Snoke is in fact Darth Plagueis, the Sith lord Palpatine speaks of to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. Plagueis, according to Palpatine, had tapped deeply enough into the dark side of the Force that he had gained the power to prevent people from dying. It is also very strongly implied, of course, that he was Palpatine’s master, and that it was Palpatine himself who ended up murdering Plagueis in his sleep. This would certainly seem to dovetail with the notion that Snoke has not only survived death but is also creating a new physical body for himself.
I don’t think this is necessarily who Snoke is, though. In fact, I don’t get the impression that Snoke is even a Sith in the first place. For one thing, Kylo Ren isn’t a Sith. He is, as we’ve learned, a member (possibly the leader?) of a group called the Knights of Ren. More importantly, the tie-in books associated with The Force Awakens, including Alan Dean Foster’s novel, indicate that one of the reasons that Snoke chose Kylo Ren as his apprentice is the fact that he embodies a balance of both the dark AND the light sides of the Force. This, to me, doesn’t sound like the person who trained and was ultimately killed by Palpatine.
My theory is that whoever and whatever Snoke is, he is hundreds, and more likely thousands of years old. He may even predate the millennia-long struggle between the Sith and the Jedi. He may have died long ago and is now creating a new body for himself, or (and I think this is more likely) he has quietly been maintaining whatever body he started with all those years ago, by periodically locating a physical artifact that was of particular importance to a now-dead Force user.
I don’t believe this is limited to dark side users, by the way. If it were, I don’t think that the fact that Kylo Ren has both the light and dark sides in him would be of such interest to Snoke. Because, I also suspect that his plan for Kylo Ren is to train him in the Force, and then to absorb his energy too – not just from an artifact of his, but from his body (after he’s dead, or possibly even while he still lives.)
Certainly, this would explain why he has Kylo Ren and the First Order focusing so much effort on finding and killing Luke Skywalker. Not just because Luke poses a threat to them, but because Snoke wants to absorb Luke’s Force energy.
If there is anything to this little theory of mine, Snoke may look very different by the time he is finally defeated at the end of Episode 9 (as of course he must be.) It could also explain why Snoke is the only TFA character who was always intended to be rendered in CGI. (Maz Kanata was only done in CGI because the production ran out of time to create a costume or puppet version of her, though that was the original plan.) A CGI Snoke means that his appearance can easily be changed to incorporate visual elements of any other character whose Force energy he might absorb.
As I said, I could very easily be completely off base on all of this. We really don’t have much information about Snoke to work with, and there could be something entirely different happening there. And I also think the whole concept is a helluva lot like Voldemort in the Harry Potter stories (so if this IS what Kennedy and company have in mind, I think they need to be very careful to write it in such a way as to clearly differentiate the two.) But I think it’s at least possible that what Snoke is up to is nothing less than immortality fueled by scavenging Force energy from dead Jedi and Sith.
It’d certainly be a different take on the classic Star Wars villain whose primary motivation is something as piddling as galactic domination!