To cheat death is a power only one has achieved: Getting serious about Plagueis

There is probably no theory about The Force Awakens that has garnered more controversy than the theory that Snoke is Darth Plagueis. In this spoiler-fueled speculation piece, I’ll take a critical, serious look at what we know of canon, and what we know of TFA and see if this even makes any sense.

Tragedy

The scene from RotS where Palpatine tells Anakin of the “Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise” sits perhaps as the crowning jewel of the PT. This scene added more interesting lore to the history of the Sith than any other. This scene is comparable to the classic moment where Obi Wan introduces Luke the the concept of the Force in ANH and tells him tales of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. If you like the Star Wars Ring Theory, which I certainly do, then this scene is in fact meant to parallel that scene from ANH, but as a darker, spookier, mirror-image:

PalpatineAnakinobiWanLuke

The interesting thing is both the story from Obi Wan and the story from Palpatine have a part where someone is killed by an apprentice Force-user. Obi Wan describes Darth Vader killing Anakin. Palpatine describes Plagueis’ apprentice killing Plagueis. Both examples are in a sense disingenuous, Darth Vader was once Anakin and the killing was metaphorical, while Palpatine was the apprentice he was talking about. So the similarities of these scenes are extensive:

Revenge of the Sith A New Hope
Palpatine tells Anakin a story of Sith lore Obi Wan tells Luke a story of Jedi lore
In the story, Plagueis’ apprentice murders Plagueis In the story, Darth Vader murders Anakin
In reality, Plagueis’ apprentice is really Palpatine In reality, Darth Vader is really Anakin
Did Plagueis really die? will he be “reborn”? Anakin didn’t really die, but was “reborn” in RotJ

There’s even another parallel. Obi Wan told Luke about his father, and it is widely believed that Palpatine is referring to Anakin’s immaculate conception when describing Plagueis’ ability to create life with the midicholorians; hence, the audience get’s the hint that Plagueis is sort of Anakin’s father. Therefore, both stories are about the listener’s father’s death. Now given that Obi Wan’s story didn’t tell the whole story, is it possible that Palpatine’s story wasn’t the whole story? If Plagueis is reborn, the two scenes become near perfect rhymes. The importance of this scene in the saga is the reason why I don’t buy for a second that Larry Kasdan doesn’t know who Plagueis is (notice how John Boyega whispers to him “Plagueis”) and JJ even says he is joking (at 38:00):

Certainly if John Boyega knows, then Kasdan knows. So while JJ also confirms the idea that Rey doesn’t have Plagueis’ staff (more on this below), nothing rejects the notion of Plagueis being in the film some other way.

Part of the reason why I’m interested in this lately is because John Campea, the guy from Collider, has recently said that he is 100% of the view that Plagueis is Snoke. People are asking him about it on twitter. He said in another video it’s because he’s seen a leaked photo of Snoke’s action figure, and his wife works for Hasbro! When I put these together, I couldn’t help but take notice. Here is a video where he says that he buys into the theory that Snoke is Plagueis, but it isn’t the same one’s I mentioned above, but trust me they’re on youtube:

We recently got a new piece of news from MakingStarWars validating the idea that Rey does not have Plagueis’ staff. I personally agree with this and I think it’s consistent with other news we’ve heard. For example, in the MSW plot synopsis, Rey is shown to be disgusted by lightsabers, and doesn’t even want Luke’s lightsaber at a point in the film. If we look at the Plagueis action figure:

reyStaffPlagueis

We see that Plagueis’ staff has a lightsaber built in. Hence I don’t think Rey would want it. We discussed this point, and the idea that Rey has an “electrostaff” in a previous post here on SBM: “Forgot about Rey”. Also, if we want to compare the two staffs, they are totally different. Rey’s is symmetric, Plagueis’ is not.

So this is fine, but does it absolutely also reject the notion that Plagueis is Snoke? We have to concede it doesn’t as these two are not related.

On August 13th, we got this tweeted image from Serkis:

Serkis_with_staff

Now, while it is certainly possible this is for another movie, but given the timing, I assume this is for Star Wars. So this, doesn’t guarantee anything, but it does get one thinking. Could be a red herring of course, but Serkis does appear to be using Plaugueis’ weapon of choice. With that said, a lot of people use staffs in TFA. In the end, it is difficult to conclude anything from this photo.

One of the biggest arguments against Snoke being Plagueis is the fact that Plagueis is dead. However, while this argument would work for any other character, it doesn’t work for Plagueis. His whole schtick was cheating death. We know this from RotS, which is canon. He could use the midichlorians to create life, and he could save people from dying. He learned the ability to “cheat death” and he was the only one that achieved that power according to Palpatine. From the wookieepedia page, we have:

Obsessed with eternal life, he experimented with ways to cheat death and create new life from the midi-chlorians.

He wrote some manuscripts called “The Science of Creating Life” and had topics such as “Perpetual Life”, “Sith Spirits” and “Transcending Death”. Admittedly, this would be considered Legends at this point, but so would most of what we know about Plagueis other than the scene from RotS. The canon version might not be too far off. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time of someone not saying the “whole truth” about someone dying (Recall the parallels with Obi wan above).

Let’s jump back in time and look at one of the first reports from StarWarsUnderworld from their “sources” on “Uber”  (what Serkis’ character was calledback when we didn’t have Snoke’s name):

Andy Serkis’ character basically looks like an old man, zombie like, almost risen from the dead.

So Snoke looks like a zombie risen from the dead. Doesn’t take too much to see the connection to Plagueis there. There are other rumors of reptilian qualities to Snoke. That said, this was concept art, and may not be the final version. Hard to say what this implies because we don’t know Plagueis’ actual species in the new canon. In Legends, he is of course “Muun”. But with the new canon, this could change. A zombie-like Muun might actually look reptilian for all I know anyway.

We don’t have any pictures of Snoke. The closest thing might be this old concept art:

reyPlagueis

But it is true that we don’t know for sure that this is legit, and we don’t know if it is Snoke. It might have been an early concept of Kylo. I will say that it certainly looks a lot like Plagueis. This comparison has been going around the web for a while:

PlagueisSnoke

Then we have the idea that JJ said that Kylo isn’t a Sith. Well, if you go back to the original statement, he only said Kylo, he didnt say Snoke isn’t a Sith. With that said, if Snoke is a Sith, we have other problems. This would negate the end of RotJ when the Sith are supposed to all be killed. This was the sacrifice of Anakin, and ultimately the reason why he fulfills the prophecy of the Chosen One bringing balance to the Force. However, even if Snoke is Plagueis, we don’t know that he is still a Sith.  Plagueis could have denounced his membership to the Sith once he was betrayed by Darth Sidious. If he did this, and sought to be an independent Dark Side user, then this wouldn’t reject the rule of two, and Anakin would still destroy the Sith. This is pure speculation, but it is at least a way it could happen without spoiling anything.

Now let’s take it back. Way back. Back to a report from Making Star Wars in February 2014. Actually, a lot of this still holds up, other than Kylo being aristocratic. Let’s keep in mind, this story comes from an unverified rumor, a post from “Kyle” on the Cantina forums that claimed to know about Adam Driver’s character. A lot about Kylo’s motivations, and him being neither Sith nor Inquisitor, seems to be consistent with what we know, or at least it seems plausible that an early version of the story could have been like this. What strikes me is that in it, Kylo is said to be hearing voices. In this post, Kyle says that the real bad guy pops up at the end. I can’t help but envision a scenario where Plagueis succeeded in becoming a “Sith Spirit” like he was trying to do, and was communicating to Kylo from the netherworld vaderHelmet(or the Sith equivilant). Under this scenario, throughout the movie, Plagueis would be trying to get back to his body and rise from the dead, and communicates to Kylo through the Force. Kylo perhaps is helping him achieve this. I think it’s a tantalizing theory. I don’t see anything that we know about the plot synopsis that contradicts it. As you can see, it weaves together a lot of other rumors and some of the canon, and it helps perfect the mirroring between perhaps the two most significant scenes in the OT and the PT.

In the end, there is no choice but to claim that it is still too early to tell. They’ve done an excellent job of locking down info on Snoke.  Even if all of this is true, we may not even know who this is in TFA. It may not be revealed until VIII or IX, or may not even be explicitly spelled out for the audience. It may be only hinted at. Definitely fun to speculate about.

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