Very mild spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi sees the return of Supreme Leader Snoke, although don't expect to learn too much of his backstory. When Star Wars was successfully revived with The Force Awakens, one of the biggest questions raised by the fandom was "what happened?" As in, how did the galaxy get turned back into a war zone after the Empire was seemingly defeated in 1983's Return of the Jedi? In the new setting of The Force Awakens, the Galactic Empire was replaced by the similar First Order, and the figure in charge, the Emperor Palpatine role, was now held by a new character, Supreme Leader Snoke.
But who is this Snoke, and how did he turn the remnants of the Empire into the unstoppable war machine that is The First Order? In Episode VII, he was only ever seen as a hologram, but it's clear that Han Solo and General Leia know who he is, and they know he's responsible for corrupting their son, Ben, and turning him into Kylo Ren. Beyond that, however, little was known about the enigmatic figure, including his actual appearance. Perhaps there was a little bit of Wizard of Oz "man behind the curtain" action at play?
Snoke Is Just Snoke (This Page)
Snoke is Just Snoke
As revealed in the advertising for The Last Jedi, Snoke's appearance in The Force Awakens was not a ruse, a smokescreen, or some other trick; he's not hiding a secret identity or otherwise hiding his true form... So much for your "Snoke is Lobot" theory!
Snoke appears in the flesh in The Last Jedi, and his appearance is exactly the same as his hologram, though the CGI is thankfully much more convincing this time around, and his glistening golden robe is a bold fashion choice which pays off with effortless style and audacious gravitas.
Without spoiling anything from the movie, Snoke's backstory, as well as that of the First Order, remains a mystery in The Last Jedi. While there is plenty of background information doled out in exposition and even flashbacks (a first for the series), the lingering secret of Snoke's ascension is a troubling quibble which should have been addressed by now. The Last Jedi takes pride in subverting audience expectations at nearly every turn, but the way it fails to deliver on any semblance of backstory for Snoke and The First Order is strange. It's not exactly a misstep, but it's certainly worth noting as an essential checkbox which remains noticeably unchecked.
The Many Unanswered Questions About Snoke
By the time the credits roll on The Last Jedi, the galaxy far, far away is bigger than ever, and many (but not all!) mysteries are resolved, with new questions rising to take their place. However, the secret behind Snoke and The First Order remains. Who is he? When did he discover his connection to The Force? How did he he got so disfigured? Does he have Jedi training? How did he became strong enough in The Force to turn Ben Solo to the Dark Side? How does he know Luke? Like Han and Leia in Episode VII, Luke articulates his awareness of Snoke and his devious ways, but all-important context remains frustratingly elusive.
There are so many questions pertaining to Snoke and his place as the ultimate harbinger of evil in the galaxy, but none of them are truly answered in Episode VIII. He's as mysterious as Darth Vader was in A New Hope; a powerful villain with an unknown origin, an unknown motivation, and tentatively unexplored connections to the heroes of the franchise. For now, it seems as though the rise of Snoke and his seemingly unchallenged galactic conquest will have to wait until 2019's Episode IX... Or will it?
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019