Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who is Snoke?

No need for spoiler warnings here, because I won't be talking about any particular plot points in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Instead, I'll focus on an odd bit of background: Supreme Leader Snoke, head of the evil First Order.

The most pressing question concerning Snoke is who is he? The prequel trilogy dealt with several of the older characters in the original trilogy, including both of the major bad guys: Palpatine and Darth Vader. So, say what you want about the prequels (and plenty can be said about them), at least they didn't leave us hanging about who these guys were.

Snoke, on the other hand, is just sort of there, running the First Order. His name suggests ...

You know what? I'm going to pause this analysis for a bit to reflect on what a terrible, terrible name "Snoke" is. Snoke is no proper name for an Evil Overlord. An Evil Overlord name needs to be something Greco-Latinate like Sidious or Galactus or Thanos or Davros; or else something that sounds just plain evil like Morgoth or Voldemort. But Snoke? Snoke is the name you give to the comic relief character, or at best to the plucky sidekick. You do not name the Evil Overlord Snoke.

Where was I? Oh yeah, his name (which is, I must repeat, just terrible) doesn't suggest a Sith Lord, even though he seems to be a master of the Dark Side of the Force. Maybe he's just some bush league Force sensitive bad guy who happened to luck his way into the leadership of the First Order. Or ..

Or you may be familiar with a fan theory that was making the rounds a few months ago, arguing that Jar Jar Binks was the secret mastermind behind the rise of the Galactic Empire in the prequel trilogy. Is it possible that Darth Jar Jar is Snoke? True, Snoke looks nothing like Jar Jar, but bear in mind that we never actually see Snoke in the flesh. He's always just an image, a hologram issuing orders to Kylo Ren and General Hox, and images can be manipulated, or even created from scratch. The Darth Jar Jar theory suggests that Jar Jar always operates from behind the scenes, using Palpatine as a catspaw in the prequel trilogy (and presumably in the original trilogy as well). Creating a holographic alter ego to act as the face of the First Order would be completely in character for Darth Jar Jar.

In that case, maybe the name Snoke is Jar Jar's crowning achievement: giving the presumed evil mastermind a name that's even more ridiculous than his own.