*The Last Jedi spoilers below*
Countless generations of Sith apprentices have gone on to kill their masters, and while Kylo Ren and his master, Supreme Leader Snoke, are never outright called “Sith,” the dynamic of Master-Apprentice wielding the dark side of the force and lessons of embracing hate are there. So even though the major theme of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is letting go of the past, Kylo Ren, in all of his pouty, broad-chested glory, continues in the long tradition of evil force-wielders killing his master. Everything is cyclical, and echoes of the past vibrate off each other in the Star Wars universe, even if The Last Jedi is perceived to muffle those blasts from the past.
There’s no shortage of fan outcry about the unceremonious slaying of Snoke, who had maybe ten total minutes of screen time over two films. Fans deservedly want to know about a character as powerful as Snoke, but like the tragedy of Darth Plagueis (it’s a story Kylo Ren would not know) shows that there is much irony among those who choose to tip the scales of evil. Snoke put the gears of change into motion, but will enjoy none of his work. His death is sudden, shocking, and leaves fans wanting more, but Johnson knew a speech full of Snoke backstory would grind the plot to a halt.
He told EW as much, saying: “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!”
It would be cool if he was Darth Plagueis, but then what would Kylo Ren do? That’s exactly why Snoke had to go — for the sake of Rey and Ren:
“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.”
It’s a totally reasonable explanation, even if fans feel like their emotions were played with over the last two years. If anything, the elimination of Snoke will lead to a potpourri of extended universe books, games, and any other type of media Disney can sell, so it’s not like this is the end of Snoke. And now we have Kylo Ren, primed for a shot at ruling the galaxy as he considers how his Ancestry.com results are filled with criminals, evil entities, and failed instructors.