By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for Life Debt: Aftermath (Star Wars)
Life Debt: Aftermath (Star Wars) is the second novel in the Aftermath trilogy. It follows the adventures of Norra, Temmin, Sinjir, and crew as they go on a secret and unsanctioned mission to help Han Solo and Chewbacca free the Wookie world of Kashyyyk. While that is happening, the largest faction of the splintered Empire is plotting its own war against the New Republic. This Empire is openly led by Grand Admiral Rae Sloane but behind the scenes, Sloane is being manipulated by Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. It is Rax whom I believe will eventually be revealed as Supreme Leader Snoke, the head of the First Order.
The story of Gallius Rax is unfolding so there’s still plenty to learn about his life prior to the time after the Battle of Endor. What little we do know, however, is intriguing. He was born on Jakku in 35 BBY and lived as a slave for the first 12 years of his life. He met Emperor Palpatine after stowing away on his ship, the Imperialis (according to Wookieepedia, this was the end of his time as a slave, which would have been 23 BBY. If true, Palpatine was introducing himself as the Emperor before the Republic even fell). The boy was given two choices: die quickly or set out on the path Palpatine sensed for him. Choosing to ally himself with the man, Palpatine declared that he and Gallius would be on a first-name basis saying, “An Emperor must have friends, after all.”
Work For the Empire
Rax’s first job for Palpatine came immediately after their initial meeting. The boy was sent back to Jakku to guard a site being dug up by a team of droids. Palpatine described the site as “precious” and “significant.” We don’t know what was being dug up, but we know from other canon sources that Palpatine was sending research teams to planets on the far edges of known space to discover the source of his powers. He told Rax to kill people who got too close to the site if he must.
Rax’s name first showed up in Imperial records in 15 BBY. He joined the Imperial Navy at the age of 20 and was assigned the rank of commander, which was exceedingly high for his age and experience (assuming the Star Wars universe follows the same ranking pattern, it’s impossibly high for our world too). From the start of his career, Rax reported directly to Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Wullf Yularen, who perished on the first Death Star. After that, Rax began reporting directly Emperor Palpatine. His operations were conducted mostly in the Outer Rim, again where Palpatine thought he could discover the secret to his power. Rax was a decorated officer, earning awards such as the Hero of the Galactic Empire, Nova Star, Medal of Service, Galactic War on Insurgency, and the Emperor’s Will Medal. It’s unknown how he earned these medals.
After the Battle of Endor
After the Battle of Endor, Rax took it upon himself to rebuild the fractured Empire. He began feeding intelligence to the New Republic under the guise of a spy codenamed “Operator.” He did this as a way to purge the Empire of those whose loyalty he found wavering or those he considered to be competition for his place in the new order. Because of this, the intelligence he fed to the New Republic was legitimate and resulted in the deaths of admirals and moffs that could challenge his own ascent to power.
After a number of his competitors were killed or captured by the New Republic on Akiva, Rax made a power play and established the Shadow Council, which consisted of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and Brendol Hux, the father of General Armitage Hux of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He ruled the strongest faction of the Empire from behind the scenes while Sloane served as its face. He used Sloane and the Shadow Council to further strengthen his position in the new Empire. This culminated in a Liberation Day attack on the New Republic that injured Chancellor Mon Mothma and killed many others.
Is Gallius Rax Supreme Leader Snoke
What we know about Supreme Leader Snoke is actually less than we know about Gallius Rax. According to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization, which is canon, Snoke witnessed the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire. He’s very old and is knowledgeable in the history of the Force. He’s a calculating and reserved military leader who usually remains calm as events unfold, only losing his temper at a failure of Kylo Ren and General Hux. Like Rax, Snoke seems to prefer ruling from behind the scenes while others like Ren and Hux do his heavy lifting.
Like Snoke, Rax also witnessed the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire. He met Palpatine at an early age and became a close confidant of the Emperor. He was in a unique position to learn first-hand how the Empire functioned and why it fell. This is interesting because of how Snoke, mostly in the TFA novelization, spoke with a seemingly first-hand intimacy about how Vader was seduced by sentimentality, leading to the destruction of Palpatine. Rax’s career as an intelligence officer would have made him adept at recruiting and manipulating people to act according to his wishes, much the way Snoke seduced Kylo Ren to the dark side of the Force and manipulated him into betraying his family and the new Jedi Order.
Finally, Rax’s time spent searching uncharted space for the source of Palpatine’s power could have given him an immense knowledge of the Force, just like Snoke has. We don’t yet know if Rax is Force-sensitive, but to be fair we don’t know for sure that Snoke is either. People assume he is, and it would make sense since he’s training Kylo Ren, but we haven’t actually witnessed him using the Force. If Rax is Snoke, then Ren’s training could come from whatever knowledge Rax gained from his time working for Palpatine (or Rax and Snoke could be Force-sensitive and it clears up what could potentially be a confusing plot). Whatever Rax learned could also explain why he’s so interested in Ren’s potential in the light and dark side of the Force.
Why I Want Gallius Rax to be Supreme Leader Snoke
The Aftermath trilogy is part of a Lucasfilm publishing initiative meant to connect the previous Star Wars films with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s telling the story of how we got from Return of the Jedi to where we are today. If that is the goal of the Aftermath trilogy, then it would make sense that a character important to the new trilogy like Snoke would be born out of these novels. I also love the idea that the Aftermath trilogy, and the rest of the works in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative are important enough to inform the films. These shouldn’t be works that we read and forget about; they should make an impact that stays with us as we continue to enjoy the unfolding story of the Skywalker saga.
Thanks for reading!