The "Star Wars: Aftermath" trilogy, which are novels that were published to bridge the gap between the events in “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” has mostly been met with lackluster reviews. However, the books do offer valuable information that completely reinvents the “Star Wars” canon.
The books, written by Chuck Wedig, mentioned heroes from the original trilogy such as Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, briefly. But just like the new film, it centers around new heroes and an evil empire dealing with its downfall.
However, many who have read the novels, are taking a gander at one character in particular who is much more than he lets on to be in the books. Known only as The Operator, the mysterious, unnamed Imperial Admiral, is the one whom Admiral Rae Sloane takes her orders from.
This dark and mysterious man controlling many decisions behind the scenes of other powerful leaders seems to have a lot in common with another character we got to meet in “The Force Awakens” – Supreme Leader Snoke.
A discussion on Reddit has started about the theories on who The Operator could be. At some point they settled on Snoke as their main guess, then followed by others who think he might be a new version of a character from the “Thrawn Trilogy,” which is a series of books about the saga, but no longer considered part of the canon.
According to the observers, the parallelism is strong enough between The Operator and Snoke to set the case that they are the same person. Perhaps “The Operator” is not directly named as the Supreme Leader of the First Order because they want to build the suspense for a grand reveal.
Let's take a look at the evidence:
The Empire In The Eyes of Snoke
Supreme Leader Snoke believed that Vader was weak because of his redemption from the Dark side. He also believed that the Empire, which Palpatine ruled, was flawed. His contempt for the Empire was clearly shown in the novelization for “The Force Awakens” when he shares his thoughts with his apprentice, Kylo Ren.
He believed that sentiment and weakness brought down the Empire – not poor strategy or arrogance, although the Empire had plenty of that too.
Similarly, The Operator in “Aftermath” is described as fiercely loyal to the Empire, but silently loathes what he believes are weaknesses. In fact, he welcomes the downfall of Palpatine and Darth Vader at the hands of Luke Skywalker because it allows the opportunity for the Empire to rise up again even greater than before.
"The Empire became this...ugly, inelegant machine. Crude and inefficient. We needed to be broken into pieces. We needed to get rid of those who want to see that old machine churning ineluctably forward. It's time for something better. Something new. An Empire worthy of the galaxy it will rule,” The Operator says in an incredibly telling passage in the book.
A Puppet Master In The Shadows
Although Wendig's book never names The Operator as the man that Rae is with at the end of the novels, many believe he is the same – and he is also identified as such by Wookiepedia according according to a Redditor.
This puppet master is built up in the novel as one with a plan to fill in the hole left by the power struggle between the remaining high ranking Imperials on the planet Akiva. Many who have read the books believe that this puppet master was playing a game of chess to set himself up as the new leader, and perhaps even the founder of the First Order.
Although the book readers had hoped their speculations about The Operator being Snoke would be answered in “The Force Awakens,” still not much was revealed in the movie about the leader of the First Order.
However, Snoke will clearly have a bigger role to play in “Episode VIII” when his training of Kylo Ren is “completed” as he declared at the end of “The Force Awakens." Perhaps he may even reveal that it was he who's operating from the shadows in the shambles of the Empire the whole time, so he could make it reborn as the First Order.