Since there are clearly not enough theories about who Supreme Leader Snoke is, I will throw my hat in the ring and propose a theory for his origins. Although we do not know much about Snoke, any theory must, at the very least, fit with what we do know about the mysterious leader of the First Order. So, here is what we do know…
What We Know About Snoke
Snoke is Very Old
According to The Force Awakens novelization, the Supreme Leader is at least eligible for Medicare:
“Kylo Ren, I watched the Empire rise, and then fall.”
“The hood of the dark robe he wore was down, leaving visible a pink, pale face so aged it verged on translucence.”
Given how old Snoke seems to be, the denials by Pablo Hidalgo that Snoke is Darth Plagueis, and the fact that Andy Serkis (the actor who plays Snoke) said that “he’s a new character in this universe,” it appears that the Supreme Leader is not a character that we already know.
Snoke is from the Unknown Regions and is Connected to the Origins of the Force
“The Emperor was convinced that something waited for him out there – some origin of the Force, some dark presence formed of malevolent substance.”
Given that the First Order formed in the unknown regions of space and Snoke is the head of this organization, it is reasonable to conclude that the “dark presence” Palpatine sensed was indeed Snoke. If this is the case and the Emperor’s senses are to be believed, then we also know that Snoke is somehow connected to the origins of the force.
This argument is bolstered by the fact that the First Jedi Temple (where we find Luke at the end of The Force Awakens) is likely located on a planet in the unknown regions. We know this is likely the case because in The Force Awakens movie, C-3PO says that the small piece of the map that leads to Luke “matches no charted system on record.” Since most of the galaxy is charted except the unknown regions, it is likely that the First Jedi Temple is in the unknown regions.
Snoke Appreciates Both the Dark and Light Sides of the Force
In The Force Awakens novelization, Kylo Ren says he is strong because of Snoke’s teachings, but the Supreme Leader says it is more than that:
“It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side – and the light.”
Clearly, Snoke seems to appreciate that being taught the light side of the force gives even a dark side user certain advantages. This is an opinion that was also echoed by then Chancellor Palpatine when he revealed himself as a Sith Lord to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith:
“If one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects…If you wish to become a complete, wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the force.”
Snoke Has Been Severely Damaged/Injured
This is made clear in The Force Awakens novelization, and is self-evident from his appearance in the film:
“Poorly reconstructed, the broken nose added to the asymmetry of the damaged visage.”
Snoke Completely Rejects Personal Attachments
In The Force Awakens novelization, Snoke blames the fall of the Empire on Darth Vader’s “sentiment” for his son. According to Snoke, “had the father killed the son – the Empire would have prevailed.”
Besides rejecting personal attachments to enemies of the dark side, it is strongly hinted that Snoke also has no lasting love for his apprentice, Kylo Ren. In The Force Awakens novelization, Han says this to his son:
“Snoke’s using you for your power, manipulating your abilities. When he’s gotten everything he wants out of you, he’ll crush you. Toss you aside. You know it’s true.”
Furthermore, the line after this in the script for The Force Awakens is: “Somehow, he does know it.”
It seems that Snoke does not intend to honor the Sith tradition of accepting that apprentices will one day kill their masters when they become stronger. Sith Lords like Palpatine believed that this was a legitimate practice because it would allow the Sith to become stronger over time by eliminating those that were weak. That Snoke might reject this Sith view is not surprising, as Pablo Hidalgo has said “there were no Sith in The Force Awakens.”
Who Could Snoke Be?
Given what we know about Snoke, who might he be? Although there are infinite possibilities, I would like to suggest that he could be the ancient rogue Jedi that broke away from the Jedi Order and founded the Sith thousands of years before the events of the prequel trilogy.
How Snoke Being the Original Founder of the Sith Fits with the Evidence
- Snoke Being Old and a New Character: Since the Sith were founded thousands of years before the events of the prequels, Snoke would be extremely old and a new character if he turned out to be the founder of the Sith.
- Snoke is Connected to the Origins of the Force and is from the Unknown Regions: Since “origin” refers to the place or time where something begins, certainly Snoke being the founder of the Sith would associate him with the “origins of the force.” If Snoke was the first living being to wield the dark side of the force with skill, then, in a way, the origins of the dark side in the physical universe can be traced back to him. Moreover, if the First Jedi Temple was in the unknown regions and the Sith were founded thousands and thousands of years ago, then it is not too much of a stretch to think that Snoke was trained and grew up in the unknown regions.
- Snoke Appreciates Both the Dark and Light Sides of the Force: If Snoke originally started as a Jedi before turning to the dark side, then he would be intimately familiar with how knowledge of the light side increases ones power. For example, in the words of Grand Admiral Thrawn, “to defeat an enemy you must know them.” Additionally, learning the ways of the light side would give dark side users skills that they might not acquire otherwise. For example, Palpatine had to use compassion to tempt Anakin to join the dark side, and this is much more a Jedi characteristic than a Sith one.
- Snoke Has Been Severely Damaged/Injured: Remember, the Rule of Two (that is, there can only be two Sith Lords at one time) was created by Darth Bane because Sith could not refrain from killing each other. Therefore, it is quite possible that Snoke received his terrible injuries from the very students he trained to become Sith. Perhaps Snoke was incredibly powerful and was only defeated by the combined efforts of dozens of his own students. If this is the case, then Snoke may have “reconstructed” himself by using the force to influence the midi-chlorians that make up life. This was a power that Darth Plagueis had according to Palpatine, but unlike Plagueis perhaps Snoke had the power to save himself from death, as well as others.
- Snoke Completely Rejects Personal Attachments: If Snoke was the founder of the Sith and was betrayed by his apprentices, then it would make sense that he would be extremely wary of personal attachments. In fact, perhaps what makes Snoke not a Sith today is that he completely rejects the idea of having an “order” of several relatively co-equal force-wielders. Instead, Snoke’s true goal may be to wipe out all of the Jedi and, eventually, all competing dark-side wielders like Kylo Ren. If Snoke has discovered the secret to immortality, then his goal may simply be to rule the galaxy alone for eternity.
Why Would Snoke Wait So Long to Make His Move?
One could legitimately question why Snoke would wait so long to get directly involved in core-world politics if he was indeed the ancient founder of the Sith. Doesn’t that make him cowardly? While this is one interpretation, I believe that waiting would be very smart for Snoke. Of the following 3 situations, the third prevents the least resistance for Snoke:
- Time of the Republic: Thousands of Jedis and two Sith
- Time of the Empire: At least two Jedi (Obi-Wan and Yoda) and two Sith (Vader and Palpatine)
- Fall of the Empire: One Jedi (Luke)
By waiting until the fall of the Empire, Snoke had the fewest amount of adversaries to deal with. Snoke was smart for waiting to make his move, not cowardly. A smart tactician lets their enemies kill each other, while they save their strength in the shadows.
What this Would Mean for The Last Jedi
If Snoke is indeed the ancient founder of the Sith, then what would that mean for The Last Jedi? I see at least three major implications. First, this would suggest that Luke may have gone searching for the First Jedi Temple in order to acquire information about Snoke’s history. If Snoke did indeed train at the First Jedi Temple, or if this was the main temple of the Jedi when Snoke founded the Sith order, then there might be information there about Snoke that could be used to defeat him. Since Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, has said that he wants there “to be a good reason” for Luke going away to the First Jedi Temple so that he is not perceived as a coward, this could provide that reason.
The second big implication of this theory is that it may help explain why Luke thinks “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” If the evil Snoke was born out of the Jedi Order, perhaps due to a flaw in the Jedi’s philosophy, then Luke may come to believe that the Jedi can never bring balance to the force. Certainly, Luke has seen first-hand the failures of the Jedi. For example, Darth Vader emerged out of the Jedi Order. Moreover, if Luke has talked to the force ghost of his father, then he will likely learn that Anakin turned to the dark side because the Jedi forbid him to have an open relationship with the woman he loved and did not provide him any comfort when he believed Padme was going to die in childbirth. In fact, Yoda’s advice was about as cold as you can be: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Another example is when Luke wants to leave his training with Yoda early to come to the rescue of his friends Han and Leia, but Yoda advises Luke that “if you honor what they fight for,” then you should sacrifice them for the greater cause. This cold advice, along with the fact that Yoda and Obi-Wan lied to Luke about the true identity of Darth Vader, could have easily caused Luke to turn to the dark side. Yoda makes this mistake a third time when he insists that Luke kill his father rather than try and turn him back to the light side. After all of these failings, Luke would not be crazy to think that the Jedi philosophy needs a major revision.
The third and final implication of this theory for The Last Jedi is that it might foreshadow Kylo’s eventual turn against his master. If Supreme Leader Snoke truly is only out for himself and has no intention of allowing Kylo to become a true rival to him, then Kylo may eventually learn of this betrayal and turn against the Supreme Leader.
Although there have been dozens of theories about who Snoke is, I believe that this theory fits the evidence better than many others. Additionally, I believe that this theory has extra credibility because it would be fairly easy to explain in a movie setting: Supreme Leader Snoke was an ancient Jedi who broke away from the Order and founded the Sith. Some other theories about Snoke being a physical manifestation of the dark side that was created by the force are very metaphysical and hard to explain. However, only time will tell whether I am right, or whether my Snoke theory sucks.