I’ve been thinking about why the idea, that TLJ didn’t answer questions like “where does Snoke come from?” is important to me in the overall appreciation, or lack thereof of the ST to me, and possibly others. My answer is, that providing answers like that provides meaning both in the context of what came before, but perhaps even more importantly to the future final installment of the nine part saga. What do I mean by this? Let me explain…
The ST is a soft reboot of sorts. ROTJ ended with a seemingly final victory at the battle of Endor, where freedom is restored to the galaxy, Anakin Skywalker is redeemed, and Luke is to pass on what he has learned. In TFA and particulary in TLJ that hard fought victory is mostly undone both on a personal and on a large scale level. In of itself this is not necessarily an issue, although the fact that the galaxy at large regresses back to an OT type conflict between a small rebel force and a large tyranny does not provide an original and/or natural progression of the story in my view, but that’s not the issue, I want to address here. The issue I want to raise, is one of meaning. What is the meaning of the victory at Endor, and by extension what will the meaning be of the supposed final victory at the end of the future episode IX? If the victory at the end of episode IX is to have any meaning for me, I need to get a sense of why our classic heroes failed to deliver a lasting peace, and why I should have faith in a positive outcome this time around. For this scenario to work in my mind, Snoke needs to be an anomaly, a unique individual, who through his great talents and power combined with some unique circumstances was able to destroy everything our heroes fought for, and corrupt their off-spring. It’s not enough for Snoke to be some random Force user who just happens to undo the outcome of the OT for the purpose of franchise extension. If that’s the case, what’s to stop some other powerful Force user from just undoing the victory of the next generation of heroes? If a major victory is to have any meaning, it should not just be wiped out of existence mostly off-screen with the explanation, that some random evil dude was somehow able to reverse three films worth of plot development, and secure the services of Darth Vader Jr. For me that does not provide a convincing overarching narrative. In my view it not only weakens the journey of the heroes of the OT, but the journey of the ST characters as well. Johnson has stated about Snoke:
“What I knew was that in this film, similar to with the Emperor in the original trilogy, it’s just not what this story is about. And the Emperor in the original trilogy, you know nothing about him. Because you don’t have to! It’s not what it’s about.”
This argument would be fine, if the ST stood on its own, and was presented as largely being simply a reimagening of the OT, a remake of sorts, but it is not. It is meant to be a continuation of a larger story, where Snoke is apparently the linchpin between the alleged victory at the end of the OT, and the tragedy witnessed in the ST. After seeing TLJ that linchpin turns out to be little more than Scotch tape.