Star Wars: The Last Jedi expanded the lore of the franchise in big ways, especially how the Force can be used. However, one of the biggest changes that the film might have made is about the Sith and the dark side of the Force.
In the official art book for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there is an interesting concept art that shows Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a state of meditation while an ominous-looking hooded figure with red aura looked on.
This never made it to the final cut for unknown reasons. However, the popular Star Wars watcher and YouTuber Star Wars Theory believes that it would have introduced an interesting possibility that could carry over to Star Wars: Episode 9 and affect the story and the characters in massive ways.
The impression is that whatever it is looming over Luke was a Force ghost from the dark side. It is to be pointed out that in the official Star Wars canon, the Sith cannot transform themselves into Force ghosts because they cannot keep their consciousness beyond death.
Since a lot of unprecedented Force abilities and feats were showcased in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars Theory speculates that this could have been one of the changes originally envisioned for the sequel.
Taking this concept to another level, Star Wars watcher and YouTuber Bastion of Kuul suggested the possibility that this Force ghost is Snoke, who contacted Luke immediately after his death to let him know that there is no way for the Resistance to survive this time now that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has unlocked his full dark side potential. Then again, this concept art was scrapped for a reason, and that reason might be Snoke.
It is to be noted that much about Snoke is unknown, except that he definitely is not a Sith, as indicated in the official Star Wars: The Last Jedi visual dictionary. The last of that kind was Darth Vader, and his death marked the end of the evil order.
Based on that concept art, Disney and director Rian Johnson might have originally planned to make canon the idea that Sith can be Force ghosts but settled on making Snoke a powerful dark side user and not a Sith so as to prevent a much greater shift in the Star Wars mythology that would be difficult to get around.
After all, this is a major Force rule that has been at play for the longest time in the saga. The plans to bring about Sith ghosts in Star Wars: The Clone Wars were called off to keep this rule intact.
This could be partly why all the new official Star Wars: The Last Jedi printed material is being released, in which Snoke is always described as a non-Sith master of the Force.
Taking the concept that the Sith are unable to become Force ghosts, but Snoke could, if this was the case, this makes it seem that the former First Order supreme leader may be a Jedi but not just any Jedi.
Despite the fact that he was killed in one stroke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there remains a belief that Snoke is not as weak as he was shown in the movie and that it is actually the other way around.
For this, fans consult the Star Wars: The Last Jedi visual dictionary, which provides a closer look at the mural on Ahch-To that bears the image of what the book describes as “the Prime Jedi, the first in the Order, in a state of meditation and balance.”
The image and the understanding about the Prime Jedi seem to connect to Snoke the most. For starters, Star Wars Theory emphasizes its resemblance to the villain and how the person appears to be split at the center.
When viewed in a literal sense, it shows that the individual was cracked through the middle of the head as something escaped from within him. This may be what happened to Snoke, hence the massive gash on his head.
Also, Snoke appears to be familiar with the most well-kept secrets about the Force. On the official Star Wars website, he is described as a “seeker of arcane lore,” so he was likely knowledgeable with things that no other or only a few were aware of, such as other uses of the Force.
The character is also very keen about the “balance” in the Force, stressing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that Rey is Kylo Ren’s counterpart in the light and that she rises to power as his apprentice does.
If Snoke is the Prime Jedi, it is possible for him to return in Star Wars: Episode 9 as a Force ghost. After all, Luke is expected to return in the same form to help Rey (Daisy Ridley) with her training.
To take this possibility another step further, it is speculated that while Snoke died like a wimp in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it was his intention all along.
He would not mind biting the dust anyway since Force ghosts are extremely powerful, as shown in Yoda’s scene in the film, where he summoned a lightning strike to burn the Force tree down.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi made it seem that Force ghosts are not as detached from the living world as fans initially thought. That said, it is speculated that Snoke wanted his apprentice to kill him to reach this new level of power.
It is important to note, however, that becoming a Force ghost is actually a power for the light side because, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson emphasized in an interview with LA Times, of their selflessness.
“I think that would be interesting. We haven’t seen them in the movies as far as I can remember. But that would be really interesting considering the dark side is about self-preservation, trying to find immortality, and the notion that the light side actually got to it through selflessness — what would the dark side version of that look like? There’s so much cool [stuff] to think about if you’re willing to open your head a little bit!”
This means that even if Snoke is the Prime Jedi and has a history of serving the light, all of it was not for a selfless reason. Unless he found a way to get around that using his secret knowledge of the Force, preserving his consciousness might be quite the challenge.
Then again, the image on the Star Wars: The Last Jedi visual dictionary does not tell the whole story but only gives a peek at what the movie could have ended up showcasing.
What is really happening in the concept art is still unknown. That hooded figure might simply be just a vision, not a Force ghost. It is not even made clear if Luke was aware of its presence or perhaps it was Luke who conjured or summoned it.
While it was cut from the movie, which means it does not have any bearing on the story, there is always a possibility for it to be reused, perhaps on Star Wars: Episode 9 if it makes sense in the film.
For now, nothing is confirmed yet. It is hoped that Snoke will be back in some way, shape or form in Star Wars: Episode 9 as there are still a lot of unanswered questions left after he met his doom in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.