Star Wars: The Last Jedi is undeniably a commercial and critical success but one that has unexpectedly proven to be quite divisive in the Star Wars fan community. While some have praised Rian Johnson’s film for its risk-taking and heartfelt thematic underpinnings, others have labelled it one of the worst Star Wars movies ever and a disgrace to the franchise.
Warning: Major SPOILERS below
One scene in particular that has proven controversial is the sudden demise of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). The powerful, Force-wielding villain was ostensibly set up as the new trilogy’s version of Emperor Palpatine and many fans spent the last two years discussing theories about Snoke’s true identity. As such, some were put off by The Last Jedi’s decision to kill Snoke off without revealing much in the way of new information about the character.
During a recent Q&A with EW, writer-director Rian Johnson addressed Snoke’s death and how he came to the decision to have Kylo Ren kill his master and replace him as head of the First Order. According to Johnson, the decision was made not so much to downplay Snoke but to give Kylo Ren a more interesting dynamic with Rey and a more important position heading into Episode IX.
Here’s what Johnson had to say on the matter, via EW:
“When I was working on the character of Kylo, I came to a place where I thought the most interesting thing would be to knock the shaky foundation out from under him at the beginning of this movie…By the end of this film, he’s gone from being a wannabe Vader to someone who is standing on his own feet as a complex villain taking the reins.”
“But then the question is: What place would Snoke have at the end of that?…That made me realize the most interesting thing would be to eliminate that dynamic between the ‘emperor’ and pupil, so that all bets are off going into the next one. That also led to the possibility of this dramatic turn in the middle, which could also be a really powerful connection point between Kylo and Rey.”
From a character development perspective, it’s hard to deny that killing Snoke and taking his place represents a big turning point for Kylo but what about the decision to not fill in the gaps in Snoke’s backstory? Johnson also had something to add on that front and even addressed the popular theory that Snoke is actually Darth Plagueis, the Sith Lord who trained Darth Sidious and was later killed (or so we’re led to believe) by his apprentice:
“It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis…It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on…and I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis!”
What do you think? Does Johnson’s explanation make sense or would you rather have had The Last Jedi tell you more about Snoke before killing him off? We’ll likely learn more about the character’s origins in some form of related media down the road, so there’s always a chance that Snoke was Darth Plagueis (though now that he’s dead, that doesn’t really seem to matter all that much).