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We look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and ponder who is behind it all

June 16th, 2016 by Walter Laufer Comments

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Let’s be honest: we sort of know how Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will unfold. Against all the odds, the band of rebels will successfully steal the plans to the Empire’s Death Star and we know what happens when they do.

Though, at another level, Rogue One won’t be just a standalone movie, but will widen our view of the Star Wars universe (continues).

Snoke in the Shadows? 2nd Draft

Seeing the profile of an Imperial Class Star Destroyer (Mark One) – the type of ship that crawled across the screen for the first time in STAR WARS in 1978 – immediately I was struck at the detail, right down to its distinctive communications array in the middle of the bridge tower. For the keen eyed, we see the Mark Two – an improved version – at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back; perhaps this is the geeky thing about such detail that I have always loved about Star Wars. It reveals a lived in universe. A galaxy where people and things don’t remain static but change and develop.

The anticipated release in December will unveil many more characters to the ensemble that we have grown to know. However, unconsciously it may also provide more clues to the events and characters of The Force Awakens and its subsequent chapters.

In a much earlier article, posted just after the first short teaser of the The Force Awakens was released, I had speculated upon the events immediately after the Battle of Endor and the death of Emperor Palpatine.

In the teaser trailer for Rogue One, one shot struck me (as it has for many online) as very significant even though it was very brief. Near the end of the less than two minute teaser we got a glimpse an Imperial chamber flanked by two red clad

Imperial Royal Guards and a black hooded figure dressed in black kneeling before a white radiant pod, venting vapour. Some speculate that this may be Vader, or perhaps Emperor. But as we know Palpatine doesn’t bend the knee to anyone.

Only the apprentice would kneel before their master (continues).


It’s a long shot, but if it is Palpatine genuflecting, then it could only be his master, Darth Plagueis. If so, is this the weakened Master, held in some containment field by Dark Side energies? However, Pablo Hidalgo, keeper of Star Wars mythos at Lucasfilm, recently confirmed in a reply to tweet said that Snoke was not Sith, so the idea that Snoke is Darth Plagueis in the conventional sense is unlikely. I did say it was a long shot…

Another possibility, a more realistic one, is that this is some other yet unseen character privileged enough to enter into this particular chamber; and consequently why this specific glancing shot is so intriguing.

It is different from a throne room filled with toadies or a conference room filled with admirals. It is a restricted space, an intimate one; one reserved for those with the highest security clearance. This is in this smoke-filled space that conversation remains allusive and secret. A place where one is secure to let one’s guard down. A place where one would expose oneself. Vader’s meditation pod on his Super Star Destroyer comes to mind (continues).

vader helmet

In other words, only those who know the true identity of Palpatine as the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, would have admittance.

Recently some have suggested that Snoke was himself an Imperial Royal Guard, Force sensitive and trained in some aspects of Sithlore and therefore close to the Emperor. But proximity to the Emperor is not sufficient to garner the intense loyalty of such commanders as General Hux. Proximity is not enough, one must have access to power and knowledge.

Like the Wizard of Oz, could Snoke be obscuring his actual size and vulnerability?

We have to remember in the Star Wars universe during the time of the Galactic Empire there is no YouTube or webcams or internet as such. The galaxy wide Holonet had been restricted for military communication alone during the Clone Wars.

Open communication beyond individual worlds is limited and definitely not unmonitored. News reporting would be heavily censored or at the very least filled with innate news controlled by the Imperial Press Corps. In such an environment, few would be able grasp the big picture of what is actually going on. Knowledge would be power.


This seems to be the scope of Ben Mendelssohn’s white uniformed character; complete with cape. Very likely he is a high ranking member of the ubiquitous Imperial Security Bureau – the Empire’s secret police – and tasked with compartmentalising information regarding Tarkin’s super weapon. Like Grand Moff Tarkin, his character would have access to the big galactic picture.

Snoke in the Shadows? 2nd Draft

Could we see the actor Guy Henry playing Grand Moff Tarkin?

Some are suggesting he is Snoke. To be honest, the identity of Snoke is the clincher for everyone. However, I am inclined to think that Snoke wouldn’t draw attention to himself. Sadly, Mendelssohn’s character though appearing the main protagonist in Rogue One is likely to suffer the wrath of Darth Vader, who will personally take charge of damage control.

If I was asked to speculate as to the identity of Snoke, I am inclined (to want) to imagine that he may have a deliberately small role in Rogue One.

If he does, I would hope he is already one of Palpatine’s inner circle, possibly a figure on the Imperial Ruling Council.

Snoke in the Shadows? 2nd Draft

According to the Star Wars Databank, the ultimate fate of Janus Greejatus, on the left, is unknown, unlike Sim Aloo, in the middle, who is believed to have perished with the Emperor Like the Imperial Royal Guard, he would be force sensitive, skilled and adept with the powers of the Dark Side. However, unlike a member of the Emperor’s bodyguard, as a member of Palpatine’s inner circle he would have both proximity, knowledge and power.

But ever aware of the precarious nature of power, he would seldom stay in the light too long, anxious not outshine anyone, preferring to rule from the shadows.

As one of Palpatine’s closest advisors who survived the destruction of the second Death Star, he would be understood as being “one degree of separation” from the Emperor himself and so a very visible sign of continuity with the shattered Empire. In this respect he would have the immediate respect of the hardliners in the Old Empire after the Battle of Jakku.

Additionally, as one who had access to the highest levels of Imperial government, he would command unprecedented access to both financial and material assets as well as the vast trove of archived data from across the known galaxy. He would be aware of the location of uncharted planetary systems in the Unknown Regions and where the Empire had secret facilities and hidden infrastructure. For example, Jakku, site of the decisive battle that supposedly ended the war with the Alliance, was also the location of a secret Imperial weapons facility.

(Which begs the question, why did the Imperial fleet make their last stand there? Were they drawing a line, as if to say ‘go no further’? Like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, was the Old Empire creating an armistice as a deliberate pause in hostilities for strategic reasons?)

Snoke, if it is indeed Snoke, would have a truly galactic grasp of the big picture, but let’s hope that, despite the denials, he gets a little part in Rogue One.


Having lived in both in Austria & Italy for the skiing & fresh air, Walter now prefers to keep a low profile. Enjoys Sudoku, Sci-Fi, boardgames and cheeseburgers. Allergic to cats.