‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi': Rian Johnson Addresses That Climactic Snoke Scene

     December 17, 2017

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Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow below. If you haven’t seen the movie, turn back now.

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It’s a bit early to be calling favorite scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi but nevertheless, I have picked mine and they are a bit predictable. No sequence, other than arguably Rey’s reflective trip down the pit on Luke’s island, struck me as potently dramatic in the same way the scenes within Snoke’s throne room felt. Where the reds of the room and his guards reminded me of David Cronenberg‘s sanguine production design in Dead Ringers, Snoke himself made me think of the beginning of the transformation that the victims in John Carpenter‘s The Thing go through, his face seemingly splitting away from itself. With that badass yellow robe, the entire Snoke (Andy Serkis) look felt inspired, which is why I was pretty bummed when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) split him in half to save Rey (Daisy Ridley) and take his place as the supreme leader.

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Image via Lucasfilm

For other fans, Snoke’s sudden demise felt disappointing for far more absurd reasons, which is saying something. Since Snoke was first seen in The Force Awakens, hardcore fans of the character and the Star Wars canon have been dreaming up origin stories for the supreme leader that would place him as a contemporary of Darth Vader’s or even a teacher of his. We were privy to no such information, or much of any information, about Snoke in The Last Jedi, and plenty of audience members were not happy about this.

During a recent Q&A after an AMPAS screening with EW, director Rian Johnson addressed how he came to the conclusion to have Kylo Ren kill Snoke and take his place at the head of the First Order. From what Johnson says, the decision was made not so much to disregard Snoke but to give Kylo a more convincing and enthralling dynamic with Rey and his position in what he envisions as the new Empire.

Here’s what Johnson said via 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.”

 

“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.”

This all makes complete sense and opens the doors for J.J. Abrams and his creative team to take a steady grip onto the characters without having to think much about the mythology of where Rey, Kylo, Poe, and Finn came from in the beginning. Johnson went one step further, however, to discuss why he didn’t add in much of anything to describe where Snoke came from or his personal history:

“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…and I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis!”

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Image via Lucasfilm

The sad truth about franchises as popular and endlessly sprawling as Star Wars, especially when you consider all the canonized novels that have been written in this universe, is that each character is eventually expected to be fully explained in detail, as if they were a character in the Bible. It’s not sustainable in any realistic media environment, but I suspect the real wish of the obsessive Star Wars fans is that we would have full movies (if not trilogies) about every character’s origins, from Yoda and Obi-Wan to Darth Maul and Supreme Leader Snoke. And though I would like to have some idea about where Snoke came from and how his face got like that, I’m also more than happy to have him be dead and done with for all intents and purposes to clear the path for Kylo Ren to become a fully developed villain.

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