WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Supreme Leader Snoke may look like a new emperor, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi proves he's a Darth Vader superfan. Not that he would ever admit it, since Snoke's emphasis on pageantry, theatricality, and mysticism are the foundation of his authority. A point driven home when The Last Jedi shifts from a hologram Snoke to the real one, seated in his First Order throne aboard a colossal vessel.
As difficult as it may be to look away from his disfigured face, and pull your attention off of Andy Serkis's chilling performance, the longtime fans of Star Wars must... if they wish to see Snoke's personal connection to Darth Vader. The leader is no Sith, and Kylo Ren is a bad apprentice by the time the movie ends. But an easy to miss Easter Eggs continues Vader's presence in the series into The Last Jedi. Even if his mind, his mask, and his lightsaber seem lost for good.
As the movie's story comes to a head, Snoke invokes Darth Vader directly as the kind of faithful apprentice Snoke hoped he would find in Kylo Ren, heir apparent to the last living Sith Lord. Ironically, Kylo Ren turned out to be just that - including Anakin Skywalker's undying compassion and pull towards the light. But the Skywalker grandson isn't the only piece of Vader in the room.
Fans will want to keep an eye out for the gold ring on Snoke's left hand. It fits with the rest of his opulence, but it's no ordinary trinket. For starters, the gold is engraved with images of the Four Sages of Dwartii: controversial figures of philosophy that date back to the early Republic. The four - Sistros, Faya, Yanjon, and Braata - were more popular among Sith than Jedi, favoring thought over morality and encouraging exploration of the Dark Side of the Force. The fact that Chancellor Palpatine had large golden statues of the Dwartii cast in gold for his Coruscant office communicates the malice often associated with them.
But it's the stone placed inside the ring that links Snoke to Darth Vader.
As revealed in Star Wars The Last Jedi: A Visual Dictionary, the black stone in Snoke's ring is obsidian taken from the volcanic stone beneath Darth Vader's castle. The castle which, after years of being referenced as a scrapped idea in Ralph McQuarrie's concept art, made its debut in Rogue One. Fans didn't get to see much more than Vader's bacta tank and smokey "intimidation chamber" in that film, but it's more than just a souvenir.
Going by the mythology of the extended universe, Vader's castle was constructed on top of an ancient Sith cave on the planet Mustafar. It isn't clear exactly why that planet came to be known as "the place Jedi go to die," but the blanket of evil remains. It was the place where Vader meditated to keep the Dark Side flowing through him. And decades later, it's no coincidence Snoke is keeping that legacy alive.
A small detail among plenty other Easter Eggs in the movie, but one that diehard fans will want to catch on repeat viewings.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017