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– by Campbell Clark

UPDATED to include comments from director Rian Johnson’s comments to Uproxx.

It’s fair to say we have never seen a fan base as divided as we are seeing with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, people love it, others hate it. The debate has raged since the movie’s release and if you want to join in the battle of wills, you can certainly do that here.

RELATED – (Spoilers) Why Star Wars The Last Jedi Is Dividing Fans

One of the more contentious points seems to be in the way Johnson handled one key character in the movie.

Warning, if you have not yet watched The Last Jedi then come back when you have, as there are heavy (SPOILERS) below:

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Rian Johnson certainly subverted expectations when he chose to have Kylo Ren sneakily slice Snoke in two halves about mid-way through the movie. Snoke went from being the Supreme Leader of the First Order into the supreme bear rug in Kylo Ren’s new throne room.

Now writer/director Rian Johnson has weighed in with his explanation for why this made sense to his story in an interview with EW:

“When I was working on the character of Kylo, I came to a place where I thought the most interesting thing would be to knock the shaky foundation out from under him at the beginning of this movie. By the end of this film, he’s gone from being a wannabe Vader to someone who is standing on his own feet as a complex villain taking the reins.”

“[I thought it would be] a really good setup going into the next movie. But then the question is: What place would Snoke have at the end of that? That made me realize the most interesting thing would be to eliminate that dynamic between the ‘emperor’ and pupil, so that all bets are off going into the next one. That also led to the possibility of this dramatic turn in the middle, which could also be a really powerful connection point between Kylo and Rey.”

So what about all the fan’s disappointed that their theories were basically moot?

 “I do think it’s interesting. I never want to poo-poo the fans coming up with theories. It’s part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan. If there is a place for it in another story, I hope it gets told.”

And the director goes on to say why for him, it didn’t feel right to do deep into Snoke’s backstory in this movie:

“It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis.”

“It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on.”

By the way, Johnson also added, “And I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis.”

In addition, when asked by Uproxx if his move to kill Snoke came from his not knowing what Snoke’s overall plan was, Johnson said:

“Um, no, yeah, that’s not really the driving force behind it. But I did definitely think the notion behind this movie, for me, from the start, was to evolve Kylo into a complicated, more solid villain. I guess ‘villain,’ for lack of a better word. But someone who takes the reins and steps up and is no longer just pretending to be Vader, but has become his own version of a formidable force. And going into Episode IX, that’s the strongest launching pad. That’s where you want to put your money down. And if you’re dealing with a superior of his, that just seemed less interesting to me than clearing the deck so Kylo can be the main guy. And it gives an opportunity for a big, dramatic beat that’s really interesting and we get to have some fun with him.”

So there you have the thinking behind this twist from the man who wrote and directed it. Some people will be happy with this explanation and agree with it, some people will not and be furious, and as such, the debate will carry on. Let us know what you thought below?

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SOURCE: EW

  • Kronx

    There is a lot of parallelism in the film, so Snoke’s ending makes sense given Luke’s ending.

    • 2 Left Thumbs

      I was wondering about something there!
      Kylo is warned that as he grew stronger, an opposition from the light would rise up to counter him.

      So with this literal idea of balance in the force – was Luke supposed to be Snoke’s opposite? So when Snoke died, Luke’s time became numbered? Either he needed to die, or someone else needed to take Snoke’s place?

      • I think that’s what he was going for

      • Jake Speed

        Seems like it.
        The old guard is gone. It is Rey and Kylo’s story now.

  • Kratos

    hey rian…what exactly was the motivation for the red guardians to attack rey and kylo– AFTER– snoke was killed?? i don’t remember the guards and flying monkeys still wanting to kill dorothy and co. after she killed the wicked witch.

    • 2 Left Thumbs

      I had no problem with that. The Red Guards are with Snoke AND the First Order. Kylo had just openly taken sides with the Rebellion, even if it was just for the moment. They had no way of knowing his deeper motivations of burning down the Jedi/Sith. All they saw was a room with 2 young Jedi who where against them.

      • Kratos

        something that would/could have been awesome and would have at least given us a much more expanded sense of just how fucking badass snoke is…would have been snoke deflecting or dodging the saber as it ignited to cut him in half….then taking luke’s old saber while producing one of his own…then in a pure rage taking on kylo and rey at the same time WITH the red guards assisting…maybe still ultimately ending with him getting killed along with the all the guards….something like that would have also solidified just how shit hot rey and kylo are in their abilities.

        • Jake Speed

          Boring.

          This was totally unexpected. When is the last time a Star Wars surprised you.

          • Kratos

            i was surprised by how shitty TLJ was.

  • Film Fillet

    “It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis.”

    Has he seen his own movie? Every-time it gets to a point that has some traction, it cuts away…

    • Kratos

      no shit. he could’ve given a 30-second speech about how he’s the reconstituted head of jango fett and it would have at least been something

      • Nattown

        Or how he became so damn strong under the nose of Luke Skywalker.

    • I think for me I can see why at that particular moment a reveal would have been no good. However Johnson could have had Luke discuss him with Rey, or have Kylo discuss it with Hux or Snoke directly before hand.

      Is there any point to JJ telling us anything about the Supreme Leader now in 9?

      • Mad Barchetta

        Well, not saying there’s a point, but JJ is already responsible for the quite pointless: “My name is… KHAN.” Half the audience didn’t understand that reveal, and certainly the characters in the scene should have responded with a collective “Who?” A fan-service inspired Plagueis reveal would have had about the same impact.

        Meanwhile, the OT diminished Vader in the RoTJ by bringing in the Emperor as the real Big Bad, shifting the focus of the first two films from fighting Vader to trying to save Vader. With no Snoke, Ren becomes the Big Bad, rather than being diminished in favor of another Bigger Bad, like his grandfather was. Changes the dynamic a bit, which I like.

        So, in the end, will it be a mission to stop AND rescue Ren, or is that door completely shut, making him no longer the kind of guy you save, but the kind of guy you stop?

        • Madara7

          I agree the move makes Ren the ‘Big Bad’ for now and that’s a good thing, now the ‘however’.

          The most disappointing aspect of it all is how much this trilogy is now disconnected from the narrative of the first two trilogy’s and other SW content. Sure, the heroes are being given their send-offs and new ones are picking up the torch, but chapters 7-9 have completely jettisoned a major element that’s dominated the story up to this point… and that’s Palpatine as the main antagonist.

          Look at it this way, there’s 12+ hours of content between the Prequels and OT, and dozens of more hours from the canonical CG cartoons, all with him as the main villain. Then… in the final 6 hours or the last ‘2%’ of the totality of the Skywalker saga… they basically ignore he ever existed and supplant him with an out-of-the-blue dark side force wielder that barely lasts a movie and a half.

          The whole thing seems… out of balance… no pun intended.

          • Mad Barchetta

            Interesting thought. But then, I have to think of that as undermining the victory achieved by Luke and Anakin in RotJ. It’s been over 20 years since I read the first few novels that continued their story, and I wasn’t very fond of the idea that Palpatine continued on through clones. I think I would have much preferred that they move on to new threats, rather than seeming like the battle against him would just continue on and on like an old cartoon where the heroes never really vanquish the bad guys.

            In many ways, I guess we could think of TFA and TLJ as actually continuing his influence in some way, as the First Order really reflects what he created with the Empire and the continued existence of Dark Force users, although I notice that the word Sith hasn’t really been used in reference to Snoke and Ren. Not sure if that is intentional. In many ways, I would think that the simultaneous deaths of Palatine and Vader could have signaled the end of the Sith as an organized group. Unless they kept some books hidden away somewhere, too. 🙂

          • Madara7

            I think the existence of a super duper deathstar in starkiller base did a pretty good job of negating the heroes previous victories, particularly rogue ones cast who all died for the deathstar plans. Also, the fact the Republic never rose to be a formidable force, and were reduced to a small clutch of people after two skirmishes, does the same. But that’s a separate set of issues.

            All they had to do is have Snoke further humiliate Kylo by referring to his last apprentice.
            Snoke: ‘Take that ridiculous thing off, my last apprentice rose to become emperor of the galaxy! And brought the Jedis ‘chosen one’ to heel, as a crippled enforcer! What have you accomplished?!’
            Kylo:’ that cripple destroyed your apprentice and his ’empire”
            Snoke: ” Silence! It was Luke Skywalker! He stole everything from me! I was to rise a 100 years from now, fully restored, to find the galaxy once again ruled by Sith. He’s forced my return, and to salvage it all, I must see to his destruction, now! ‘

            Tada! No Palpatine clones, no 20 minutes of exposition, just some connective sinew for novelizations to play off of in a few short lines of dialogue, and bridge the trilogies and all other content together. It’s a big universe, there’s room and time enough for new heroes/villains in new trilogies, just finish >this saga< using all the basic elements that came before.

          • Mad Barchetta

            “I think the existence of a super duper deathstar in starkiller base did a pretty good job of negating the heroes previous victories, particularly rogue ones cast who all died for the deathstar plans.” – So a rebuilt Republic and, approximately, 25-30 years of peace before the First Order arrived doesn’t count as a victory because after all that time war came again? So, do you also believe that there were no victories after WWI and WWII because other wars followed them?

            The Republic’s government was destroyed when the planet was destroyed. I wouldn’t really call that a skirmish.

            Interesting idea for Snoke, but I feel no great need to have another 3 movies focusing on the same villains.

          • Madara7

            ” So a rebuilt Republic and, approximately, 25-30 years of peace before the First Order arrived doesn’t count as a victory because after all that time war came again? So, do you also believe that there were no victories after WWI and WWII because other wars followed them?”

            This is a good question which I’ll address but it doesn’t really address my point; that’s my fault as I should have been more specific in regards to what ‘victory’ was negated for the heroes. I’m saying that they re-used the same macguffin, a suped up version, that retroactively diminishes the previous macguffin and all the related drama around it.

            The Deathstar carried infinitely more narrative weight because of how much story and content was devoted to setting it up (prequels + CG cartoons + rogue one etc) despite being decidedly less destructive.

            What it really negates is the narrative impact of the OTs victories over that similar macguffin, and the literal sacrifice of an entire cast of characters to ultimately destroy it in RO. It’s story-telling 101, by any measure, it’s simply bad, unimaginative writing. Shame they couldn’t get the janitor to spill the beans for the first death stars weak point like they did Starkiller base, would’ve saved a lot of lives.

            Now to your question; I see the fall of the empire and the resultant peace as a separate matter, since it hinged more on the death of the emperor himself and turning Vader back to the light. The only problem going into the new trilogy is that we don’t really get to see anything tangible that illustrates the prosperity that ensued over that 20-30 year span. Han and Leia had a baby and he grew to adulthood who then went bananas and they kinda separated aaand… that’s… it.

            Luke made an off hand remark of there being ‘balance’ for a few years, that’s nice I guess. Kids are languishing in indentured servitude on a lavish Casino planet filled with war profiteers, and they’re in desperate need of inspiration for a better life… did that just pop up in the last 5 years of a faultering new Republic? I haven’t a clue, but it paints a muddy picture of just what was accomplished in that time since the fall of the empire.

            What’s more, in a setting involving an interstellar society, that one capital world be destroyed should not suddenly reduce that side to a ragtag bunch of rebels.

            Turning Vader and killing the emperor had infinitely more impact than destroying Coruscant ever would have, as an example. The writers knew this too, which is why they mention in passing that the Republic fleets were destroyed as well…. how convenient.

            All of it accomplished by a tiny renamed Imperial remnant that showed no signs of occupying any other space outside of Starkiller base, unlike the massive separatist movement showcased in the prequels, or the subsequent empire, or the hundreds of other worlds that should constitute the new republic, minus one or two capital worlds. But hey, good thing they still somehow managed to develop a new WMD ten times the size of the Deathstar that sucks stars dry and is orders of magnitude more destructive, >in secret<.

            Had the Republic entered a new conflict, either within itself or from an all new threat, that might've gone over better. As it is… it's just the empire with a name swap. Speaking of which, if you want an all new villain, you've been shortchanged. They are different in name only, in substance they're carbon copies of what came before. It's almost insulting… go ahead and form the narrative connection for God's sake… Snoke literally looks and sounds like Palpatine's senior… refraining from doing so does not make for unique or new villains.

            In any case, straining to find corollaries to real world circumstances or historical events doesn't really help absolve the writers, these problems are here to stay; hopefully they'll be somewhat offset by positive or well-thought out story developments going into ep 9.

          • Madara7

            Oops, response got nuked as spam, let me try to tighten it up:

            My fault, should’ve been more specific about which ‘victory’ was negated when discussing TFA’s re-use of the super weapon macguffin. Starkiller base retroactively diminishes the successful destruction of the Deathstar(s) and the challenge it posed to the heroes. Tons of canon was dedicated to setting up the Deathstar as a threat, only for it to be overwritten by a far superior weapon with no such set up. It’s story-telling 101; it is simply bad, unimaginative writing.

            Now to your question; I see the fall of the empire and resultant peace as a separate matter.
            It hinged more on the death of the Emperor himself and turning Vader to the light side.
            This was negated by failing to show tangible evidence of the supposed peace that ensued for 30 years. Han and Leia had a baby who grew up and went bananas and they separate… that’s it.

            As for the Republic capital world being destroyed, this should not have reduced an interstellar ‘nation’ comprised of thousands of worlds to a scrappy rebellion. If Coruscant had been destroyed, but the Emperor, Vader, and their war machine were left unscathed.. the Empire would still be around (hell, they technically are!). The writers knew this, which is why they have it mentioned in passing that the Republic fleets were also destroyed… how convenient.

            All of it accomplished by a tiny renamed Imperial remnant that showed no signs of occupying any other space outside of Starkiller base. But hey, good thing they still somehow managed to develop a new WMD that gulps stars and is far more destructive, >in secret<.

            Had the Republic entered a new conflict, either within itself or from an all new threat, that might've gone over better. As it is… it's just the empire with a name swap. Speaking of which, if you want an all new villain, you've been shortchanged. All the antagonists are different in name only, in substance they're carbon copies of what came before, you even drew up the parallels in an earlier comment. It's almost insulting… Snoke literally looks and sounds like Palpatine's senior… go ahead and form the narrative connection for God's sake. Refraining from doing so does not make for unique or new villains.

            Hopefully these problems will be somewhat offset by positive or well-thought out story developments going into ep 9.

          • Mad Barchetta

            You make some good points. As most folks already noted, the FO is really just a redressed Empire, and barely so! And more Sith to battle, regardless of new names or different temperaments, aren’t especially different than what came before. That’s something this series has tied itself to: that the ultimate battles are decided by Jedi and Sith fighting one another. So, similarities are nearly impossible to avoid.

            But, at least we do get different individuals. While Vader was cold and calculating (unlike his former self as Anakin), Ren is all passion and temper tantrums. He actually is more like young Anakin, taken to an extreme. Snoke is bolder and more openly arrogant that the quietly mocking and confident Palpatine. Interesting to note that neither of our Dark Force wielders has used the title “Darth.” Are they actually Sith in the traditional sense? Or did they abandon most of the Sith ways, and are just simple force users turned to the Dark Side?

            And, yeah, it’s a bit of a contrivance that the (apparently) entire Republic fleet was destroyed in one shot. Wouldn’t at least SOME of those ships be out on missions somewhere else? Maybe they were…maybe “entire” is a misstatement and some other ships survived to eventually link up with the resistance. But those particular plot points are issues with TFA, not TLJ.

            At the same time, I find it hard to separate the end of the Empire and the restoration of the Republic. One clearly begets the other, or at least I think the storytellers have meant for us to see it that way.
            And, if we’re honest with ourselves, TFA begins very similarly to ANH; in both cases we’re told about how a formerly peaceful government is gone or going and a dangerous military power has taken or is taking over. We didn’t see any tangible evidence of the former Republic in ANH either, but we accepted the idea of a rebellion against an Empire that destroyed the former Republic. And I would say the Empire never displayed much more, or maybe even as much, military hardware as the First Order. To me, the FO fleet was rather impressive, between Snoke’s flagship and the Dreadnaught. I think “tiny” is overstating things a bit.

            It might have been nice to see the rebuilt Republic, showing the hard-won fruits of the labors of Luke, Han and Leia. It would have certainly been a bit of a different starting point. Or not. The Republic was at its height in the prequels. It fell more in a political sense than in a big war or battle, but we saw it fall. But again, Johnson had to pick up the threads left him by Abrams, so again the issue is really more about TFA.

            Don’t know if it will be good for the story that the trilogy will be ended by Abrams, but at least the guy who set this table will also be the one tasked to clean it up in the end. Sounds fair to me!

          • Madara7

            The theme that’s evident in TLJ in particular is that they’re going to move past the Sith/Jedi labels to some extent. I’m ok with this, so long as they don’t go off and make it all about how everything is relative and there really isn’t any good or bad. I doubt Disney would do that, so it’s clearly going to be about Kylo being bad regardless of what he calls himself, and Rey bringing him down for the sake of good.

            Where I don’t agree is in saying ANH and TFA are the same in how they presented the ‘current state of affairs’, or that it’s ok for it to be the same in that regard. First, ANH has the benefit of being the very first entry ever, no previous baggage to contend with. Second, TFA is the opposite, it has to contend with all the narrative momentum and canon built up to it, it cannot get the same pass.

            The only thing that suggests the First Order is a formidable force at the start (besides the shiny new WMD) is TFA’s opening crawl, mostly in that it says Leia is leading a ‘resistance’. A faction in real power, or caught in a civil war, wouldn’t call itself a resistance unless it’s on the weaker side. So then… was there really any peace at all? When did they go from new Republic proper to ‘Resistance’? It just screams ‘boy did we celebrate prematurely at the end of ROTJ or what’.

            Rian just doubled down on this aspect of what Abrams established, TLJs crawl begins by saying the Republic is devastated and the First Order reigns. That’s all folks! It’s like the heroes can’t be heroes unless they’re the underdogs and it’s do or die.

      • Kronx

        Snoke’s identity is important in explaining why Ben listened to him and got corrupted in the first place. In that sense it should factor into 9.

        That’s really the big question. Why would Ben listen to a stranger instead of Luke? Why did he idolize Darth Vader when he surely knew Luke brought him back to the light?

        • Barrett Jay

          I think it’d be interesting flavor. But ultimately his true turn came from Luke’s moment of weakness, making him feel betrayed and lost. He idolized Vader as a father figure he never felt he had. (I know Luke said ‘Snoke had turned his heart’ but I think the point is supposed to be that Luke was wrong about that being certain)

  • CrystalClearTruth

    It would have mattered if Snoke was actually a villian. He was window dressing at best. Why Snoke was even a CG character is beyond me. Kylo Ren had a character arc? Pretty flat-line arc. He’s still an immature pouty punk. The movie was a total mess.

    • 2 Left Thumbs

      No character arc?
      He started as a try-hard little kid, attempting to be the new Vadar, living under the thumb of Snoke. He was also divided, but trying to give himself fully to the darkside.

      Throughout the movie he was continually being pulled closer to the light. He killed Snoke, and tried to align with Rey. In his eyes he wasn’t the villain there! When Rey rejected him, he fully committed to The First Order, becoming a leader. It remains to be seen if he also fully committed to the darkside at that point. He tried to kill Luke, so chances are there is little light left in him.

      I felt like his character arc is one of the best parts of the film! It is so dense, yet all makes perfect sense. Every motivation of his character is totally understandable.

      • CrystalClearTruth

        He’s about as interesting as watching dry paint dry – yes dry paint.

        • 2 Left Thumbs

          I guess that is just a personal preference thing. I think Driver is an incredible actor, and has added so much depth to this character!
          Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the film.

          • CrystalClearTruth

            Not personal preference at all. Many, many others have the same reaction that is based on fact. Sorry, you are delusional man-child.

          • Jake Speed

            No, because a lot of people agree with you, doesn’t mean it’s still isn’t personal preference.
            A lot of people like Coke, does that mean that because I like coke that isn’t personal preference?
            This is a ridiculous argument. He like’s Kylo, as do I.
            He is the first villain motivated by personal inclination rather than Light/Dark nonsense.
            He wants to remake the universe in his personal image. That is very interesting to me…but hey, that’s just personal preference.

          • 2 Left Thumbs

            I think you misunderstand “personal preference”. If a lot of people agree with you, that doesn’t suddenly make you correct. It just means that you share the same preference.

            It is not a “fact” that Kylo Ren is a good or bad villain. It is completely subjective. You could try to convince me with evidence to support your opinion. But since it is a PREFERENCE, you cannot call it fact.

            I am fascinated by how divisive this film has been. People are allowed to like or dislike a film, and I like hearing both arguments. But it’s people like you who are so blinded by some kind of Jedi-bible-humping fanboy nonsense that are killing the franchise – not Rian Johnson.

          • CrystalClearTruth

            just shut up, you pretentious fucker

          • 2 Left Thumbs

            Sorry if I came across that way, I would actually like to hear your opinion on the movie! I liked the result we got because it was unexpected! But I can appreciate how killing off the supposed “big bad” would disappoint people.

            I have an honest question for you. What would you have liked to see for Snoke and Kylo in this movie? Was there a particular fan theory that you liked, and wanted to see play out?

          • Madara7

            I’ll answer that, I doubt he will ;p.

            I stated this in another message above, but I’ll reiterate it here; killing Snoke off kills any chance of connecting him to the main antagonistic force that’s dominated not only the prequels and OT, but all the CG cartoons, literally dozens of hours of content with Palpatine as the main bad guy.

            If Snoke were the main villain of Rian’s next trilogy that’s supposed to be Skywalker free, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. This is episodes 7-9 though.. if Ben Solo had no blood relation to Anakin… or the OT characters weren’t involved… what connection do these final chapters have to say… Ep 1? These are the closing chapters no less, and the main villain for 98% of the Skywalker’s saga, who practically set everything in motion… is completely ignored.

            So, to answer your question, I would like to have heard a cool, clever and well-written connection between Snoke and Palpatine, revealed in Snokes own words. If in the end Kylo still offs him quickly, that’d be ok. As it is, the opportunity is gone.

      • Kronx

        What’s funny is that at one point, Kylo and Luke both want the same thing.

  • TheOct8pus

    I enjoyed the slicing of Snoke. It gave birth to one of the most awesome villainous duos in the Star Wars canon: Kylo and Hux. Those two make an amazing couple: bickering, getting in each other’s ways… when Kylo threatens him, Hux mumbles sarcastically. I look forward to seeing more of those two. They should do a short spin-off in the vein of the Odd Couple

    • JustAnotherOpinion

      Or, Married With Children.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    Hyperspace Kamikaze or GTFO!!!

  • David E

    Snoke is just like Rey. A nobody that became somebody.

  • ElephantLeg

    I think it’d be interesting flavor. But ultimately his true turn came from Luke’s moment of weakness, making him feel betrayed and lost. He idolized Vader as a father figure he never felt he had. (I know Luke said ‘Snoke had turned his heart’ but I think the point is supposed to be that Luke was wrong about that being certain)

  • SaiyanHeretic