Star Wars: The Last Jedi is arguably the most controversial film in the entirety of the Skywalker Saga. But when it comes right down to it, there are a number of distinctive features that undermined director Rian Johnson’s attempt at subverting expectations and writing a suspenseful narrative.
One of these involved Snoke’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren in the climactic sequence of the second act. For nearly two years, fans of that galaxy far, far away had come up with all sorts of different theories as to who the Supreme Leader was, but The Force Awaken‘s successor ultimately went through an abrupt shift to teach viewers a lesson in storytelling, one that necessitated the big bad’s premature demise. Though in the end, audiences felt more cheated than intrigued.
Of course, the fandom and the critics have held extensive discourse over Johnson’s middle act ever since its premiere in December 2017, but the topic of the filmmaker’s disputed decisions still manages to resurface every now and again. And as you’d imagine, the most recent one concerns the story’s ever so mysterious villain.
Speaking with writer Sariah Wilson, the director discussed why he went down that particular road with Snoke, noting that the question of his identity was “fundamentally uninteresting” to him and that continuing the plot as it had been presented would’ve just repeated the Original Trilogy.
I asked Rian Johnson, given that there were no outlines or direction given to him, who he thought Snoke was. I shared with him my hope before TROS that he would turn out to be Darth Plagueis (especially since people returning from the dead in SW is a feature, not a bug).
— Sariah Wilson (@sariahwilson) March 24, 2021
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Alas, J.J. Abrams didn’t take advantage of this opportunity to explore Ben Solo as the main villain in The Rise of Skywalker and instead opted to resurrect Palpatine, essentially redoing the originals in a way that Johnson purposefully wished to avoid in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Still, the fact that both movies remain divisive to this day goes a long way to prove that the issue underlying the Sequel Trilogy is bigger than anything the two directors could’ve done to remedy it.