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Warning: The following is just speculation about a rumor, a rumor that, if true, would constitute a SPOILER for Star Wars: Episode IX! So proceed with caution.
The calendar has turned to 2019 and that means we are now in the same calendar year that Star Wars: Episode IX releases and the Skywalker Saga comes to a close. Yet, despite some rumors that we would get a Christmas surprise in the form of the first trailer or a title, we enter 2019 still very much in the dark about what J.J. Abrams has in store for the conclusion of the sequel trilogy.
Nevertheless, rumors grow just as well in darkness as they do in light and there are plenty to ponder as we await our first details about this pivotal film. So grab a handful of Crait's finest salt as we dive in to another intriguing rumor about Star Wars: Episode IX.
Last year, actor Andy Serkis, who played Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had to pull out of a scheduled appearance at Keystone Comic-Con in Pennsylvania. This led to the speculation that, like Billy Dee Williams before him, Andy Serkis cancelled his convention appearance at the last minute because of production requirements, specifically that he needed to be on set for Star Wars: Episode IX.
That alone is enough to set off speculation about Andy Serkis' Snoke showing up in Episode IX but there is another supposed leak that adds a little extra fuel to this particular fire. According to Express, the leak is that director J.J. Abrams will be answering some of the questions that were ignored by Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi. Specifically, Disney and J.J. Abrams are trying to figure out a way to include Snoke's identity and explain who he is in the film.
This would obviously be a huge deal following Star Wars: The Last Jedi where Snoke's story seemed to come to a pretty definitive end when his apprentice Kylo Ren gave him the same treatment Obi-Wan gave Darth Maul and bisected the villain. And unlike the Son of Dathomir, Snoke appeared pretty down for the count with his tongue hanging out of his lifeless corpse.
There are several ways to look at this rumor, examining the possibility that we will see Snoke in Star Wars: Episode IX and how that might happen. First, let's consider the most obvious way he could show up.
This new trilogy has incorporated memories and flashbacks into the Star Wars films and because of Snoke's death, they provide the most likely avenue through which we could see Andy Serkis' character again. There is still so much we don't know about Snoke: who he is; where he came from; how he rose to power; how Han and Leia knew about him; and how he influenced Ben. A flashback could fill in some of that backstory and satisfy fan demands.
Yet it's difficult to know how such a flashback would further the story beyond just fan service. This film only has so much time to wrap up not only the trilogy that began in 2015, but also the Saga that began in 1977. We obviously don't know the story yet, but contributing time to Snoke and his origin could be seen as an unnecessary detour that takes away from the characters that should be the focus of this film.
Not to mention the fact that Kylo Ren has been set up as the main antagonist of Episode IX, so to flashback to Snoke, who punked Kylo in front of people on a regular basis, could take away from the story trying to make Kylo a menacing villain, a feat that is already tenuous at best.
So if Snoke is to show up, the most likely way is via flashback and that would provide an opportunity for J.J. Abrams to, as the rumor says, answer the unanswered questions from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, specifically who Snoke is.
Whether you agree with it or not, the answer Rian Johnson gave in The Last Jedi to the 'Who is Snoke?' question is that it doesn't matter. The middle chapter in this trilogy essentially shifted the focus entirely from Luke and Snoke to Rey and Kylo Ren and there is an argument to be made that focusing on Snoke at all in the next film is a step backward.
However, we have heard that J.J. Abrams is trying to fix Star Wars issues in Episode IX and it is quite possible that he and Lucasfilm consider the discarding of the Snoke storyline as 'an issue.' J.J. Abrams did what he is famous for in The Force Awakens. He posed a question, and it may be that he still wants to answer it.
It seems likely that, just like Rey's parentage, J.J. Abrams had a different answer in mind to who Snoke is other than what we got in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But even if that's true, I'm not sure that he will bother trying to incorporate that now. If Lucasfilm had an arc planned for this whole trilogy in the first place, then maybe, but now it could just seem like a shoehorned thing that's included to satisfy upset fans.
Star Wars: Episode IX can tell us the answer to 'Who is Snoke?', but why does the answer matter if he's dead?
If this were the middle chapter in the trilogy, the answer might offer clues about what is to come, but it's not. Presumably there won't be an Episode X, XI and XII at all and definitely not in the near future. There isn't a Snoke-centric spinoff on the way as far as we know, either. So who cares if Snoke is not his real name or he came from the unknown regions and he's not the only threat out there; that doesn't set up anything because this is the end. Beyond just a bit of fan service, the only reason to tell audiences about Snoke from a story perspective is if the answer serves some purpose and still matters even after his death.
With nothing after Star Wars: Episode IX to set up, the only way for the answer to matter is if the truth means something to us, specifically if Snoke's origin or identity is something that is already established in canon. The identity of Qi'ra and Dryden Voss' superior only mattered because it was Darth Maul. A similar situation would have to take place, I believe, to justify J.J. Abrams including Snoke's identity.
There were countless guesses about Snoke's identity thrown out before Star War: The Last Jedi but the one that would matter, that would blow away fans and unite all three trilogies as Episode IX has been speculated to do, is if Snoke is Darth Plagueis.
If J.J. Abrams reveals that Snoke was indeed Darth Plagueis the Wise, it matters because he's someone we've heard about but never seen. That Sith lord was famed for his mastery of death, able to prevent others from dying. Whether he could prevent himself from dying isn't established canon but J.J. Abrams could make it so. If Snoke survived whatever the heck left that gash in his dome, surely he could come back from being cut in half. And if he did come back, that would explain how we could see him in the film and why Andy Serkis needed to skip a convention appearance.
Snoke could come back to life in Episode IX and pose a huge and intimidating threat as a villain who can't be killed. Even if he doesn't return, perhaps part of the film is preventing him from doing so in a Lord of the Rings/Sauron-esque quest to keep Plagueis from returning to the land of the living and spreading evil across the galaxy.
Still, a third act Plagueis bomb is a lot of weight for this film to carry, making it seem difficult to pull off from a story perspective and thus less likely. Just the same, if we are going to see Snoke in Star Wars: Episode IX and J.J. Abrams is going to explain his identity, there has to be a very good reason for doing so.
So what do you think? Will we see Snoke in Episode IX? Let us know in the poll below. Star Wars: Episode IX blasts into theaters on December 20. Now... how about a trailer, Disney?