After seeing the film more than once, many people started picking up on clues sprinkled throughout The Last Jedi. That is, the significance of this one didn’t become apparent to me until at least the second viewing and after a few discussions. Let’s take a look at this scene here today, spoilers and speculation below.
Footsteps, and more specifically the lack of noise produced by Luke’s footsteps, are definitely a clue provided during Skywalker’s major scene at the end.
It’s actually one of many clues, along with the lack of exposed red soil, to the fact that Luke isn’t really there, but is a Force-projection. But is there perhaps more significance to this? Where else have we seen quiet footsteps or lack thereof?
When going through The Art of The Last Jedi and The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary I was surprised to notice a couple of mentions of Snoke’s slippers. It turns out that there was concept art for the slippers:
You’ll notice the quote about the cut line in the movie about the slippers. So at one point in the movie, there was even dialogue prepared, that may have described why Snoke wears them. There were also physical slippers made that were shown in the Visual Dictionary, here:
It’s possible that these shoes were made for the Snoke puppet that was on set, but probably not in the actual film. There was even a video with Rian Johnson talking with sound mixer David Parker and joking about the sound of footsteps in a spaceship:
So I’m building all this up to just say that there was a lot of work and forethought that went into Snoke’s slippers. The slippers went from design, to model, to film, and the sound of these slippers was probably something that was thought about.
One of the cooler theories out there I’ve seen about this was from Star Wars Theory. According to Star Wars Theory, the footsteps of Snoke’s slippers are seen only once, and they make loud thuds like boots. The sound they make is very different from the expectation given that slippers are known for being very quiet. So why would they make loud thuds given that they clearly put a lot of thought into the sound and look of Snoke’s shoes? Because it is also a subtle clue, just like Luke’s footsteps.
Could it be that Snoke’s slippers play the same role as Luke’s footsteps on Crait? Could it be that Snoke wasn’t really in the throneroom, and that he was there as a Force-projection all along? Could he have been “behind the curtain”? Even if the loud thud above isn’t true, if Snoke is a Force-projection, he’d want to wear slippers to conceal that fact. The theory that Snoke didn’t die and was a projection has been discussed all over the place, including SWT, here, here and here. I’m not sure who was first, but I’ll give them all a little credit.
There are a lot of other clues. Snoke never actually touches anyone else, but uses the Force to defend himself, such as hitting Rey over the head with his saber and lifting her up. Nobody actually touched Snoke’s body when it fell to the ground. Snoke looked younger than his hologram, similar to how Luke looked younger as a Force-projection.
Why would they do this? Well, it would be Snoke’s way of testing Kylo to see if he would kill his master and has truly gone to the dark side.
To me, it’s really intriguing. We build up all these concepts related to Force-projection, and there are little clues about it that only become obvious upon repeated viewings. It would be a fantastic twist in the next one to reveal that in fact Snoke isn’t gone, but was projecting himself all along. Imagine–Snoke arrives to confront our heroes only to vanish before their eyes. It would establish what would later be revealed in the film–Snoke’s power to create Force-projections of others (Rey and Kylo) gives him the power to project himself. It would give fans the final battle with Snoke that many fans wanted in Episode IX, and raise the stakes one last time before the end of the trilogy, and come as a huge twist that forces us to revisit TLJ. Remember Rian is a tricky film-maker, and could very well pull a trick like this.
The theory is not without problems. There is some benefit with clearing Snoke out of the way, so that Kylo can be the main bad guy in Episode IX. This allows for a more dramatic and personal conflict with just Kylo and Rey, making the movie better, and that’s probably why Rian did it. The other problem with the Force-projection theory is that we have to believe that he is so powerful that he could survive something that killed Luke. It’s possible, given Snoke’s “limitless resources.” A pretty serious flaw in this theory is the fact that the Force-lightning pretty clearly comes from Snoke’s hand, as seen in this video.
How could that be a Force-projection?
Either way, it’s an intriguing opportunity. Let’s see if they take it.