Star Wars fan problem #489: Sometimes, I'll be just going about my daily life, minding my own business when it hits me. What do we know about The First Order, really? Who's in charge? What do they want? I don't like this uncertainty. The Force Awakens introduces Kylo Ren as the in-the-trenches bad guy, like Darth Vader was before him. Ren is young, emotional, and doing the bidding of others. Some fans are wondering if Sith Lord Darth Plagueis, whose story Senator Palpatine told Anakin as a cautionary tale in Revenge Of The Sith, could possibly be in the Order's higher ranks. Very little is known about who Darth Plagueis is in the Star Wars mythology, except that he's apparently very powerful.
Perhaps he's one of Ren's masters? One teeny, tiny problem with that theory: Darth Plagueis is dead. In Sith, Palpatine tells Anakin "the tragedy of Darth Plagueis, The Wise." The senator (and secret Sith) reads Anakin's weakness perfectly and plays brilliantly on his greatest fears. It's loss that Anakin contemplates with near-maniacal obsession. So Palpatine claims that on the Dark Side, Anakin will never need to feel it. It's not power over people that Anakin begins to want first. It's power over death. And if Palpatine is to be believed, Plagueis achieved that.
It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the Dark Side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.
And if that isn't the hook, line, and sinker to pull Anakin over to his side, I don't know what is. Palpatine goes on to say that Plagueis became consumed with losing his power. He taught everything he knew to his apprentice. The apprentice killed him in his sleep for his troubles. Of course, that apprentice is Darth Sidious, Palpatine himself. But that's a tidbit he doesn't share with young Skywalker.
Palpatine/Sidious is later killed by his own apprentice in Return Of The Jedi, when Anakin Skywalker turns back to the light just in time to save his son. But what does death mean to two characters who can possibly create or recreate life? A fan theory on the rise is that Supreme Leader Snoke is a deceased Sith Lord resurrected, whether that's Sidious, Plagueis, or even Maul. ComicBookMovie.com presents some evidence to support the Plagueis theory in the form of a shared musical theme. The site submits that the piece of John Williams music that soundtrack's Snoke's appearances in The Force Awakens is suspiciously similar to the piece that plays behind Palpatine storytime in Revenge Of The Sith.
Drawing parallels is a favorite pastime of internet fandom, but the inclination to connect all threads in The Force Awakens to previous Star Wars episodes could lead fans on a wild goose chase or two. The evil adventures of Darth Plagueis and his apprentice Sidious are expanded upon in a couple of Star Wars novels, but Disney has declared those to be outside "canon." Therefore, the only real information about Plagueis that's relevant to the movies is a single scene in the third prequel. It's entirely possible that the legend of Plageuis will only ever have served to woo Anakin to the Dark Side and to establish Palpatine as a really bad guy, even among Sith Lords.
(There's also a popular theory that Jar Jar Binks is Plagueis reincarnated, but I'm not touching it.)
Personally, I'd prefer Supreme Leader Snoke to be an original character instead of a recycled one. The new Star Wars era should be able to stand on its own, without relying on easter eggs from past films to keep fans excited and engaged.
Image: Walt Disney Studios