Appropriately, The Force Awakens relaunched the Star Wars franchise with some new mysteries. One of the big ones being who is this Snoke character and what is his connection to the Force?
The movie itself doesn’t say much about who Snoke is. But he has some control of the Force and seduced Kylo Ren to the Dark Side. It’s clear that he’s not a Sith like Emperor Palpatine or Darth Vader, but a whole new type of Dark Side user.
The new Star Wars novel Aftermath: Life Debt introduces a character who many believe is an earlier version of Snoke. The Star Wars Post lays out a great case for why Gallius Rax is Snoke. Going along with this theory and looking at some clues from the first Aftermath novel could fill in more about where Snoke’s tie to the Dark Side.
In Aftermath, during a conversation between some of the remaining leaders of the Empire, Tashu, who at one point served as advisor to The Emperor, says they must look Palpatine’s beliefs for inspiration:
We must instead move toward the dark side. Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our maps was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and women beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds.
In Life Debt, Palpatine was doing some excavation on Jakku, home to Galli, later Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. Galli stows away on a ship departing Jakku and meets Palpatine, who tells him:
You will go back to Jakku. The spot there in the dirt where my droids were operating is precious. Not just to me, but to the galaxy at large…It is significant. It was significant a thousand years ago and it will be significant again. You will go back there and you will monitor my droids excavating the ground. Then I will send more droids and they will build something there below the ground.
And where was Jakku?
It lies at the margins of the Western Reaches, flung so far into the galaxy [Admiral Rae Sloane is] not really sure if they’re even in the galaxy anymore. The system is close to Unknown Space—the uncharted end of the galaxy, beyond which lurk terrible nebula storms and gravity wells. Those who have tried to traverse the space outside the galaxy have never returned, though distorted, half-missing communications have come back—messages warning of geomagnetic anomalies and slashing plasma winds.
Putting the two books together a case can be made that the power on Jakku preceded the Sith. That it came from whatever was outside the galaxy that gave the Dark Side its power. And because he was so close to it through his formative years, Galli/Rax learned this power himself.
If Palpatine did teach Galli (in the book, he refers to the boy as a friend) some of the ways of the Dark Side, it’s possible that Galli combined these teachings with what he learned from whatever was on Jakku (or outside the Galaxy). It would be these teachings combined: the ways of the Sith and the ancient secrets of the Dark Side to present the galaxy with a new, evolved Dark Side threat.
Personally, I like the idea of an extra-galactic threat. They messed it up in the old Legends canon (“Oh, they just sense the Force at a different frequency”), but it seems as if now, the Star Wars Story Group is planning these things out and not making them up as they go along.
Of course, if Rax isn’t Snoke than this is all just a crazy theory. But there are plenty of those to go around.