Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced the galaxy to its latest threat: Supreme Leader Snoke. The leader of the First Order, he corrupted Ben Solo (better known as Kylo Ren) right under the nose of one of the most powerful Jedis in the known universe, his uncle, Luke Skywalker. Clearly, Snoke is no pushover. However, despite his Darth Sidious-like manipulation of the Force, as well as the galaxy at large, Snoke actor Andy Serkis recently affirmed he isn’t a member of the Sith Order.
An ancient enemy of the Jedi, the Sith used the Force as a means to power (as opposed to the Jedi, who sought peaceful coexistence with the universe through it). A millennium before the movies, Darth Bane established the Rule of Two, a doctrine which asserted there can only be a master and an apprentice – a dogma followed by Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, presumed to be the last of the Order. But just because the Supreme Leader isn't a Sith doesn't mean he's slouch; as Serkis asserted he's more powerful than Vader and his master – although he might mean politically rather than in the Force (a bold statement either way).
If Snoke is a potent dark side user and isn’t a Sith Lord, what exactly is he?
A Sith Cultist or Offshoot
The Sith roamed the galaxy from end to end over thousands of years, always expanding their influence. Their teachings hung around, too, despite the Jedi Order's best efforts, especially in remote and lightly traveled regions like the Outer Rim and the Unknown Regions – a relatively unexplored region of the galaxy beyond the Outer Rim. At least in the EU, this meant there were more than a handful of splinter groups and cults hiding in the hyperspace shadows. If Snoke isn’t a Sith, he could have fallen out with the Order, or he might have belonged to a fragment, such as Legends’ cultists the Sorcerers of Tund. They weren’t true dark siders but did worship mystified version of the Force known as “The Unity.”
Another possibility: Snoke could have ties to a group like the Prophets of the Dark Side, who split with the Sith after Darth Bane instituted the Rule of Two. These dark side acolytes fled to the Outer Rim and could have easily spread into the Unknown Regions over the years. Curiously, Emperor Palpatine eventually brought them into his fold.
Read More: Is Snoke From The Unknown Regions?
It's also possible Snoke had once allied himself with a group like the One Sith from the EU comic storyline Star Wars: Legends. As with the Prophets, they disagreed with Bane's Rule of Two. With a dark side fraternal order, the Knights of Ren, Snoke clearly isn’t into limiting his followers. This happened around the same time period in the Legends continuity as Snoke rose in the official canon, so at the very least it's a cool parallel.
There are deeper echoes than that too. During the same era as the One Sith, a Sith/Jedi adept named Vergere also changed the course of galactic history. Although clouded by her dark side tendencies, she believed the Force as a continuum, rather than static like the Jedi or Sith. She corrupted a young Jedi named Jacen Solo, leading to his eventual conversion to the dark side; a strong Kylo Ren analog. Obviously, these are two separate continuities, but the storyline’s deeper examination of the Force echoes the sequel trilogy’s grayer sentiments.
Still, a Sith splinter group might too close to home for Rian Johnson and Lucasfilm, who are trying (to a degree) to differentiate the original and sequel trilogies.
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