Snoke's Relationship To Kylo Was Mainly An Attack On Luke
With his death in The Last Jedi, Snoke became a key part in Kylo Ren's continued tumble towards the dark side, although the novelization suggests that the Supreme Leader's real focus was never on his young apprentice, but his uncle. Snoke's main goal was galactic domination, and he viewed Luke Skywalker as the only obstacle. This was made clear in The Force Awakens where he stated finding BB-8 and the map to Skywalker was more about stopping the Resistance finding the last Jedi than getting to Luke explicitly.
This is really where Ben Solo came in. As teased in the novel, Snoke set out to confuse Luke's path, ensnaring his family to ensure Luke's destruction - and Ben was a prime target. It's stated that not only was Luke's nephew his most gifted student, Ben was the reason he tried to restart the Jedi in the first place; the combination of the boy's potential and danger captivated Luke to rebuild the Order, an investment that goes some way to explaining why he first tried to kill the boy, then went into self-imposed exile after his turn.
Read More: Is Snoke The FIRST Jedi?
Snoke manipulated Ben, exploiting his feelings of inadequacy and abandonment - including Leia's guilt and desperation to contain the darkness within her child - to manipulate the Jedi-in-training. He began to see potential in the Force user because of his bloodline and took him as an apprentice, but there are heavy suggestions of doubt: book Snoke goes deeper into how he doesn't feel his student truly is "heir apparent to Lord Vader" and his distaste for the Kylo Ren affectations goes deeper. Not just finding the mask childish, he views Ben calling himself "Kylo Ren" as more forced wish fulfillment than reality, a shield to his true personality and underlying sentimental streak. It's also stated Snoke doesn't have a legion of trained Force users - it's just him and Kylo - which again suggests the Knights of Ren and Kylo's supposed mastery of them is all posturing on Ben Solo's part.
Again, this manages to focus the mystery of Snoke more clearly on the events of The Last Jedi as they are presented, rather than leaving a myriad of unanswered questions about the far past. The built-up suggestion that this was more about Luke than Kylo is definitely underlying all their interactions in the film, but it's more pronounced here, making Ben's decision to kill Snoke and go deeper into the dark all the more ironic. The novel doesn't shy away from suggesting - as did the film - that Kylo Ren is irredeemable, but it makes the inherent tragedy of it all more prominent. Snoke despises his fanboy nature - the cosplay mask, the collecting of Vader's artifacts, the assumed name and acolytes - but that eventually bubbles over to reveal a greater darkness than the root of Darth Vader.
While there's no Snoke info dump moment in The Last Jedi novelization, the combined info presents a clear narrative. He assumed leadership of the fractured Empire, transforming it into his cult-ish First Order, then he turned Ben Solo as a means to pacify Luke Skywalker, only for his curiosity and subsequent bullying of the Jedi now known as Kylo Ren to subdue him. Many secrets still no doubt remain, but the mystery is definitely less intense.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019