That’s exactly the distinction I was making. I don’t see any logical plot inconsistencies created by Snoke’s death. There are unanswered questions, of course, but none I can see that reduce the plot to nonsense. What do you reckon I’m missing? What makes his death a “plot hole” – as opposed to just a creative choice you disliked because it wasted a villain for no good reason and skated past questions that you would have liked an answer to?
I do agree, btw, that some of the other disjunctures between TFA and TLJ count as plot holes. But as I said upthread, if I let plot holes ruin Star Wars movies for me, I wouldn’t be a fan even of the original trilogy, let alone the plot-hole festival that is the prequels.
My point is that Snoke had been given basically no meaningful character traits before his death scene. In terms of his characterization, all we had were “visual signifiers of evil” – you know, the cadaverous face and body, the scars, the hazy darkness of the throne room where he does his sinister holographic overlord schtick. You misunderstand if you think I’m arguing that that makes him an abstract concept (a la Mother!, of all things?) rather than a thinly sketched blockbuster movie villain.
Let me take one last stab at articulating my perspective, and then I’ll get off the merry-go-round.
Snoke lived and died as a character sketch rather than a fleshed-out villain. If he’d remained a core villain to the end of the story without ever being better fleshed out (as, for my go-to example, most MCU villains do) that would be poor writing. So yes, fleshing him out in TLJ and Episode 9 would have been one way of writing the saga well. As I said above, I wasn’t expecting them to achieve it. Coming out of TFA, I figured Snoke was just going to be a predictable Palpatine retread.
But fleshing out a sketch isn’t the only option writers have. It’s bad writing to try to flesh out all your sketches; some characters should remain vivid sketches, because they’re secondary or tertiary characters in a story focused on someone else. Black Panther, for top-of-my-head example, has a sketch-villain in Ulysses Klaue whose role in the story is to set up the much more compelling Killmonger.
We all came into TLJ expecting it to begin fleshing Snoke out, revealing his mysteries, etc. Instead, the authors chose the other route – leaving Snoke forever as a sketch, a crucial figure in Kylo Ren’s backstory and development, rather than a character to be explored in depth. (At least for those who, like me, don’t plan to read the novelizations and other books that will inevitably try to fill in every gap in the canon.) I don’t think that was badly done at all.
And as I already said above, I think it’s more than just a surprise for surprise’s sake. Of couse, if you find Kylo uninteresting (as many do), then you’re less likely to appreciate how it develops him and brings him front and center. But I think Kylo’s a timely villain, and more interesting (in his humanity, his history, his relationships) than Snoke was ever likely to be.
As for credible threat, Kylo comes to the verge of winning Rey over, in that moment where Snoke’s death has opened up the heady possibility of changing the rules. Forget the megalomaniacs with planet-killing space stations: every Star Wars movie is ultimately about those stakes – about whether and how the Light Side can be seduced to the Dark Side. That’s the most important ground where battles for the galaxy are lost (in the prequels) or won (in the originals). And by offering a “third way” Kylo almost won it, in a markedly different way from either the mythic father-son dynamic of the OT or the woodenly implausible romantic love of the PT. What else can I say? I think it’s great.