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The following story contains MASSIVE spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, don't read a word until you have. Come back later, we'll be here.
For better or worse, Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes a lot of risks and makes a number of fairly surprising decisions. One of the biggest involved the mysterious character of Supreme Leader Snoke. We expected to learn more about the man in the new film, and somewhat shockingly, we really didn't. However, what's even more surprising is what did happen to Snoke. In a heated moment where Snoke ordered Kylo Ren to strike down Rey, Ren instead used the Force to ignite the Skywalker lightsaber, running it through Snoke's middle and killing him. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson explained to our own Eric Eisenberg, that the decision to kill off Snoke came as a necessary part of Kylo Ren's character arc. Johnson realized that after getting Ben Solo where he needed to be at the end of the film, there was no need for Snoke to continue. According to Johnson...
Fans were somewhat split on Kylo Ren following Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even as The Last Jedi opens Ren is still apt to throw temper tantrums. However, by the end, the character really does take control of the situation. At no point is this driven home more than when he kills Supreme Leader Snoke. The moment works on multiple levels as it, at first, gives the impression that Kylo Ren may have turned, uniting alongside Rey. It's not until after the pair has defeated Snoke's guards that we realize that Ren's decision to take out Snoke was for his own purposes, so that he might take control as the Supreme Leader.
It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Where Snoke came from exactly is one of the biggest questions that fans had coming out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and while it's still possible that we might get that answer in Episode IX, the fact that Snoke is dead greatly reduces that likelihood. That answer, like so many others in The Last Jedi, might simply be that it doesn't really matter.
The Force Awakens set us up for the possibility that people could die in this new trilogy, but we certainly didn't expect a character quite so new to be gone quite so soon. Of course, we know that Snoke was a powerful user of the Force, and we know that they don't always stay gone.
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There's one thing for sure, as Rian Johnson says. with Snoke gone, the possibilities for where things will go with Star Wars: Episode IX are a lot greater. Kylo Ren is an unpredictable character, and we can't imagine where things will go with him in charge.