Being a new and ongoing series wherein CSW host and presenter Brian holds forth on news of the day, idle thoughts, and such like.
Fan Theories, part the First
If You Ignore Everything We Know About A Character, Anything Is Possible.
As a frequenter of the internet, one might say, I encounter the usual run of the mill news stories which we all see from time to time: updates on casting, photos from film locations, book reviews, comic book scans, etc. But as a true student of the internet, particularly in the Star Wars category of news, I happen upon some of the lesser known and perhaps less well supported theories of the direction the Star Wars films are taking. This week I will share with you some of my (least) favourite fan theories, which you may have seen yourself.
Since we first saw stills of Supreme Leader Snoke well before The Force Awakens even aired, we’ve all be speculating on his origin. Who is he? Where is he from? What’s the deal with his brutal head wound? And one of the most pervasive and persistent theories I have seen out there is that he is Darth Plagueis. Now I’m the first to say that I do not have any more intel on this than do most, but I will lay claim to a certain appreciation of the Sith lineage, and somewhat more insight to the character of Palpatine and his history than many have. And given that, I must say that the “Snoke is Plagueis” theory strikes me as the worst kind of tripe. No disrespect intended. But tripe nonetheless.
For those unfamiliar, Darth Plagueis was Palpatine’s Sith Master. The one who inducted Palpatine to the Sith order, who jointly concocted the plan to exterminate the Jedi with Palpatine, and who intended to rule the Galaxy alongside Palpatine. We are introduced to him first in the dialogue of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In a rather famous exchange between Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and young Anakin Skywalker, Palpatine tells Skywalker the “Tragedy of Plagueis the Wise.” You may recall the scene. That’s all we knew of Plagueis for some time. The film came out in 2005. But in 2012, we saw the publication of the novel Darth Plagueis, by the inimitable James Luceno. In this novel, we meet a young Palpatine, still in college, and we see his induction to the Dark Side, ending literally on the eve of his being named Supreme Chancellor. Not coincidentally, the novel also ends on the ascension of Palpatine to Sith Master, by murdering Darth Plagueis. I will spare you a full synopsis of the novel, as you should absolutely read it for yourself, even taking into account that the novel is no longer canon, having barely missed the cutoff for the new Disney canon. Luceno is a brilliant author, and the book is a deep investigation into the Sith lineage and philosophy.
Which brings us to the theory that Snoke is Darth Plagueis, and the aforementioned cow’s stomach. Let us for a moment set aside that Plagueis’ eponymous novel is Legend. For Snoke to be Plagueis requires that we believe two things about two very powerful Sith.
- Plagueis is a coward, afraid to conflict with his former Apprentice
- Palpatine is a fool, unable to sense his former Master’s presence through the Force
Because for Plagueis to have been alive all this time means that he was aware of the rise of the Galactic Empire and the ascension of his Apprentice to Emperor. That means that the great Darth Plagueis, who found this ambitious, powerful, yet untrained boy, and forged him into the mighty Darth Sidious, was betrayed by him and saw him rule the Galaxy for decades, enacting the plan that they had concocted together. This means that Darth Plagueis, rather than seeking vengeance for the betrayal (and, let’s face it, his own death) of his apprentice, he was content to lie low and just relax while his Apprentice ruled in what he would only have considered his rightful place. This is not consistent with anything we know about the character from the novel.
And it would also require Palpatine to be an easily duped fool. Depending on which account you believe, Palpatine either murdered his master in his sleep (Episode III dialogue) or suffocated him after getting him drunk and telekinetically deactivating his respirator (Darth Plagueis novel). In either case, for Palpatine to have not noticed Plagueis was not actually dead would be the height of ignorance and weakness in the Force. On par with the Jedi not noticing that Palpatine was the Sith Lord they were seeking, while meeting with him every day. This, too, is not consistent with anything we know about the character from any source. Palpatine is, at all times throughout the films and novels, above all aware of what is happening. It is only seconds before his death that anything escapes his foresight and understanding.
Now, that said, we do know that the novel is not canonical any longer, but that makes its own argument. Plagueis is mentioned only twice in the film. He is barely a character. We know from the novel he is a Muun named Hego Damask, and that he is the head of the Intergalactic Banking Clan. But that’s more than we are given in the new canon. All we have is a name, and a cause of death. Why would such a trivial character from the Prequels become the pivotal antagonist of the entire new trilogy? And perhaps beyond? Palpatine was the overarching villain of eight films (Episodes I-VI, The Clone Wars, Rogue One) and three television shows (Clone Wars, The Clone Wars, Rebels). Will Snoke be any less persistent of a villain? Perhaps. As an Imperial Loyalist, I think it will be hard to surpass him in any case, but it doesn’t make sense for a studio in the process of rekindling a generation’s love for a franchise to make their new Big Bad an ancillary character from one of the Prequels.
And none of that is even taking into account Pablo Hidalgo’s not-at-all-unclear last word on the subject, from a twitter chat in May of 2016.
“I said Sidious killed Plagueis. He killed him. Killed. As in “to kill”. Like, there was killing.”
Thanks for reading this inaugural episode of Imperial Dispatch. Brian Karasek can be found discussing Star Wars on channelstarwars.com, both YouTube and Podcasts. Find us on iTunes and subscribe on YouTube!