Kylo Ren is no longer a pretender to the throne – he’s the newfound Supreme Leader.
Once the credits rolled on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Snoke’s legacy had been cut in two – quite literally, we might add – the man formerly known as Ben Solo had seized control of the First Order.
It’s an arc that tees up a potentially devastating showdown in Episode IX, as Rey and Kylo Ren are all but destined to meet one final (?) time. But in order to clear a path for what will be a definitive, earth-shaking moment in Lucasfilm’s current trilogy, Rian Johnson needed to kill off Supreme Leader Snoke. And he did so in the most remarkable (and stylish!) way possible, as Rey and Kylo temporarily set aside their differences to dispatch Snoke’s elite, Praetorian Guards.
Well, I don’t know about ‘red herring’. But he is definitely… Snoke’s place in this movie came about largely from me figuring out Kylo’s arc, what Kylo’s arc was going to be in this movie. In my mind what I wanted to do with Kylo was to take him and basically knock out the kind of shaky foundation from under his feet, and build him by he end of the movie into someone who’s standing up as a credible, but complex villain. He’s taken the reins, basically. He’s no longer a Vader pretender. He’s somebody who actually is going to be going into the next movie [as] someone who’s taken control and taken the reins of everything.
With Snoke ostensibly out of the picture, Driver’s antagonist is no longer beholden to an Emperor-like figure, and we simply can’t wait to see a Kylo Ren drunk with power. He’s temperamental at the best of times, so there’s no telling what J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio (Justice League) have up their collective sleeves for Episode IX.
Closer to home, here’s what Rian Johnson told IGN about the decision to free Kylo of his Snoke-shaped shackles:
That led very quickly to that idea. Because then you get to… okay, you have Kylo there at the end, what is Snoke’s place in all this? And do you really want Kylo to be that but with an Emperor figure over him? And if it is that, then suddenly your options are much more familiar going into the next movie.
In closing, Johnson added:
So it led to this notion of okay, so that means we’re going to have this dramatic moment where Snoke goes [dies] and that means that Kylo can then ascend, actually ascend. And then that means that all bets are off for the next movie and we can’t go into it with assumptions of what’s going to happen, because we’ve taken away the familiar element, which I think is powerful.
And we couldn’t agree more. This Star Wars trilogy is all about phasing out the old characters (see: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia) in favor of the new generation, and Snoke’s death allows Episode IX to place a laser focus on its primary duo: Rey and Kylo Ren.