The Last Jedi Doesn't Disprove the Darth Plagueis Snoke Theory
One of the most controversial decisions made with Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the shocking death of Supreme Leader Snoke. Leading up to the movie, Snoke was one of the most theorized aspects of the movie, and not just with the Plagueis theory. He was the leader of the First Order, the Master of Kylo Ren, was powerful in the Force, and fans didn't know who he was or where he was from, and assumed those answers would be a big reveal in either The Last Jedi or Star Wars: Episode IX.
A million fan theories cried out and were suddenly silenced when Kylo Ren turned his saber on Snoke, brutally and unceremoniously cutting him in half. If Snoke was someone important, he wouldn't have been killed off like that, right? Well, if the Plagueis theory was true all along, then it's already making the assumption that he saved himself from dying at least once. Why not again?
Going back to Palpatine's speech to Anakin in Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith, he seems pretty confident that he killed Plagueis years before the prequel trilogy. But as we come to see decades later, during the Battle of Endor, his overconfidence was his undoing, and that overconfidence could have led him to wrongly believe Plagueis was dead. Snoke bears the signs of severe injury and looks more like a corpse than he does a living person. If Plagueis was indeed able to survive the assassination attempt by Palpatine and flee to the Unknown Regions only to return years later as Snoke to retake the galaxy, then why would Kylo Ren chopping him in half be any more of a hindrance?
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that Snoke is Plagueis, but the fact that he's seemingly killed off in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not one of them. In fact, in a movie full of subversions, killing the Star Wars saga's biggest villain would only be the perfect way to set-up his grand reveal in the series finale.
Snoke as Darth Plagueis Could Be Star Wars 9's Best Villain
Star Wars: Episode IX is being billed as the "final installment of the Skywalker saga" and will seemingly be the end of the Star Wars story as we know it, with future stories being told through spin-offs, or unrelated franchises, like the ones being developed by Rian Johnson or Benioff and Weiss.
If that's the case, then a version of Star Wars: Episode IX that merely provides closure for Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren could be really anti-climactic when compared to the previous 6 movie arc. If it's truly the culmination of the Skywalker saga, then shouldn't it involve the very being that conjured the Anakin Skywalker into existence by tampering with midi-chlorians?
The prophecy of the Chosen One says he will bring balance to the Force, but exactly what that means has never been clear. The Jedi don't even know what it means for the Force to be out of balance, how the Chosen One will bring balance to the Force, or if there even is a Chosen One. As Yoda himself finally admits in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith "a prophecy that misread could have been." There's a pretty strong argument that if Plagueis had the ability to manipulate life through the midi-chlorians, then the Skywalkers themselves could be the cause of the Force being out of balance. They are powerful in the Force, but also an anomaly to the natural order of the universe.
After the prequels reframed the Star Wars saga from being about Luke Skywalker and the "return of the Jedi" into the story of Anakin Skywalker presumed as Chosen One, falling to the dark side, but returning in his last moments to bring an end to the rule of the Sith, the sequels can once again reframe it into a new, even larger context about the balance of the Force and the entire Skywalker bloodline. Destroying the Sith can't bring balance to the Force, ending the Jedi as Luke wanted to won't bring balance to the Force, but ending the Skywalker lineage, and also eliminating the being that brought them into existence, just might. And who better to be responsible for returning balance to the Force when they're gone than someone not of an unnatural bloodline, Rey. The daughter of "filthy junk traders."
Based on the conflicted arc established for Kylo, it's easy to see him coming to the realization that this is his true purpose. Driven to let the past die, he could sacrifice himself to destroy Plagueis, bringing a final end to the Sith, the Skywalker lineage, and restoring balance to the Force, leaving Rey to carry on, rebuilding the new Jedi Order.
It's not a flawless theory. It gets messy with the question of who the Chosen One actually is, requires an abundance of prequel era lore less educated audiences, and could be seen as even more subversive than Star Wars: The Last Jedi by not only challenging assumptions made about the prequel trilogy, but questioning the interpretation of the entire Skywalker story to this point by positioning them as the inherent source of imbalance. Besides, Plagueis, while it's not specified in canon, was traditionally depicted as a Muun in Star Wars Legends material. Snoke's species isn't specified, and he bears a minor resemblance to a Muun, but their characteristically skinny and long faces easily rule him out. Given, it's an easy enough retcon for the purpose of throwing people off the trail, as depicting him as a Muun would be a dead giveaway.
There's also the issue of introducing the entire franchise's true villain in the final act of a 9 part story, although Palpatine's original introduction happened in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi after little more than a small tease in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Palpatine's description of "the tragedy of Darth Plagueis" (which has become a bit of a meme) could be seen as enough backstory for, so it's not entirely out of form.
Regardless, Star Wars: Episode IX has a lot to wrap up. It doesn't just have to resolve the conflict of the Resistance and First Order and resolve character arcs for the new characters, but also give some sort of thematic weight that makes it a satisfactory conclusion to not just the sequel trilogy, but all 9 Star Wars episodes. Darth Plagueis certainly isn't the only way to make that happen, but it is the most obvious.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019