Director and writer Rian Johnson spoke about his decision to make such a drastic move in the movie, taking out one of the most enigmatic characters in the sequel trilogy.
Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.
At one point in the film, Kylo Ren presents Rey to his master, Supreme Leader Snoke. The leader of the First Order commands his apprentice to fulfill his destiny by striking Rey down with his lightsaber.
Instead, Kylo uses the force to ignite a lightsaber at Snoke's side, cutting the villain in half.
Johnson revealed to SlashFilm that his reasons for killing off Snoke in this installment was in service of the former Ben Solo's story, putting him in a place we've yet to see in a Star Wars film.
"Kylo’s arc in this movie, besides his relationship with Rey, I saw as the big arc for Kylo breaking down this kind of unstable foundation that he’s on and then building him to where by the end of the film he’s no longer just a Vader wannabe," said Johnson. "But he’s stepped into his own as kind of a quote-unquote villain, but a complicated villain that you understand, right?
"So with that in mind, the idea that Kylo would get to that place by the end of it led me to think, well, then what is Snoke’s place at the end? And does that work with him just kneeling before Snoke at the end? No. If Kylo’s gotta get to a place of actual power the ultimate expression of that would be him ascending beyond his master."
Killing off Snoke was certainly an unexpected move in the film, one that clearly angered a lot of fans who expected answers about the character. But instead it propels Kylo's narrative in a new direction.
"It was thinking about Kylo’s path, thinking about where I wanted him to be at the end of the movie to set him up for the next film. And thinking okay, that means we’re gonna clear away this slightly more familiar dynamic of the Emperor and the pupil," Johnson said. "Clear the boards from that, and then that’s much more exciting going into [Episode IX], the notion of now we just have Kylo as the one that they have to deal with. You can no longer take a rational guess at how the Snoke-Kylo thing is gonna play out in the next movie."
While fans might be upset at the development, it certainly wipes the slate for Star Wars: Episode IX, which can go in many different directions now that Kylo Ren is the Supreme Leader.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters everywhere.