Kylo Ren is incredibly powerful with plenty of stormtroopers serving under him, yet he answers to Snoke.

If Snoke is indeed mortal, why would he answer to him?

Yes I know Solo said:

"It was Snoke who turned our son to the dark side."

Implying of course that Snoke was powerful, but how powerful?

On Wookieepedia, they state:

"Snoke was a Force-sensitive male individual who served as the Supreme Leader of the First Order approximately thirty years after the Battle of Endor. He had a distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure. Snoke was a powerful figure, skilled with the dark side of the Force, who had trained the Force-sensitive Kylo Ren and at least one other apprentice."

He trained him, yet we never knew of his initial power, or any power in The Force Awakens at least. Kylo could just have been equals with him.

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    This question could easily be spun to be "Why does Vader answer to the Emporer?" The power is implied, or maybe Kylo is waiting for the chance to strike at snoke? – CBredlow Jan 8 '16 at 0:23
  • Fine. I'll make that as well, I'll see if I get similar results. – Foreboding Jan 8 '16 at 0:24
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    I'm a REALLY good programmer, but I still answer to my boss. Who knows, maybe one day I might beat her in a Lightsaber duel and take her position. – Möoz Jan 8 '16 at 0:47
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    I don't know that Kylo Ren has "plenty of stormtroopers serving under him". The troopers serve the First Order, not Kylo. In fact, they seem to answer more directly to Captain Phasma and General Hux than to Kylo Ren. Hux in particular seems to be of equal or similar rank to Kylo Ren, and doesn't particularly seem to like him... – Andres F. Jan 8 '16 at 3:21
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    The answer to this question is that Snoke is to Ren as Palpatine is to Vader. Same dynamic: same Force time, same Force channel. – Ihor Sypko Jan 11 '16 at 19:13

UPDATE 12/2017 - bonus facts from TLJ

Additionally, from The Last Jedi, we see that Snoke is clearly far superior to Kylo Ren in Force use. For example,

he managed to mind-link (and seemingly physically link, as Kylo Ren has drops of rain from Ahch-to on his hand) Rey and Ren via the Force between galactic distances. That's a power that clearly is missing from Ren's arsenal as he didn't guess that it could have been Snoke doing it and is puzzled as to how they got linked.

Also, in "The Force Hits a Snooze Buttons", we see Snoke effortlessly force-lighting-throw Kylo Ren across the room with contempt and seemingly little effort when he's annoyed with his failure.

Also, Kylo Ren seems to be about equal to Rey (both in theory and in actual practice when they fought mentally and physically on Starkiller Base in TFA); yet

Snoke effortlessly bashes about Rey when she's brought to him.

Kylo could just have been equals with him

Not even remotely likely.

  • Kylo Ren knows Snoke can crush him, himself. From WGA script:

    Snoke is using you for your power.
    When he gets what he wants, he'll crush you -- you know it's true.
    Kylo hesitates. Somehow, he does know it.

    Note that this isn't even Ren saying "I know" - that could be a lie or whatever. It's the narrator saying he knows.

    At this point, I think we can close this answer. But let's go for more points for bonus round:

  • Snoke tells General Hux that Kylo Ren needs further training when he orders him picked up after a fight with Rey on Starkiller Base.

    Leave the base at once and come to me with Kylo Ren.
    It is time to complete his training.

  • Snoke implies that he could get into Rey's head. by holographic connection. After Kylo Ren failed. And Ren acknowledges it (from WGA script)

    Supreme Leader. I can get the map from the girl. I just need your guidance.
    If what you say about this girl is true, bring her to me.

  • Snoke is the one who trained Kylo Ren. So, he knows everything Kylo Ren does about Dark Side, and - being old enough to have witnessed Galactic Empire rise - presumably a lot more.

Kylo Ren is incredibly powerful with plenty of storm troopers serving under him

This is not a correct assumption either, sorry.

  • The Stormtroopers serve First Order and Snoke (that is stressed several times in prequel book "Before the Awakening", in the Finn part). Example quote from Phasma (there's more where that came from :)

    “A real stormtrooper has no room for sympathy,” Phasma told him. “A real stormtrooper is the extension of the First Order, of Supreme Leader Snoke’s will, nothing less. Do you think the Supreme Leader would have hesitated, FN-2187?”
    “No, Captain.”

  • The stormtroopers report to General Hux (what with him being a General), and Kylo Ren has no military rank that we know of in canon. This is covered in Visual Dicionary, mostly, but also clear from various film dialog, e.g. about soldier performance on Jakku.

    This is covered in Visual Dictionary's Kylo Ren's page:

    "outside the formal command structure of the First Order."

    This seems to - intentionally - directly parallel Episode IV, with Snoke being Emperor, who has two underlings: Tarkin (running the military) and Vader (doing special, Dark-Side-Apprentice-type, assignments). Some troops might report to the Apprentice for the duration of the assignment, but they don't serve "him", they serve the Empire/First Order.

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    I thought the 'bring her to me' was for an in person meeting, not over the hologram. It kind of mirrored Emperor telling Vader to bring Luke to him. – Jeremy French Jan 8 '16 at 0:41
  • @JeremyFrench - Given that Ren left to get the girl from her cell (only to discover Rey ran off) right after that, I don't think that's the case. But it's not 100% impossible. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 8 '16 at 0:43
  • There's also a quote in the novelization, when Ren has paralyzed Rey, that explicitly says Kylo Ren "wasn't authorized to give orders in the field" (the wording might be slightly different, but that is the gist of the sentence). – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jan 8 '16 at 4:20
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    @DVK I'm with Jeremy on this one. We don't know he was intending to bring her to Snoke immediately (as opposed to just having another crack at breaking her first). And if he was, why couldn't it have been physically? Kylo has his shuttle, and possibly control of the Finalizer as well. He doesn't need to hang around while Hux drains the sun. :) – Renegade Princess Jan 8 '16 at 6:24
  • Yeah, I definitely think "bring her to this room where my hologram is projected" is a dubious interpretation of "bring her to me". The other points here are more than enough to establish Snoke's power over Ren without that assumption. (Actually, the fact that an untrained Rey overpowered Kylo in person, but Kylo is eager to bring her to Snoke anyway, shows Kylo's belief in Snoke's overwhelming power.) – recognizer Jan 8 '16 at 22:42

There are a number of reasons.

First is the practical. Ren may have troopers serving under him, but they serve the First Order, which is lead by Snoke. Ren may inspire fear in his underlings, but not respect or loyalty. So he would have to stage a coup single handed.

Second is that he does not want to (yet). Snoke is a leader but also a mentor, Ren wishes to learn more from him. Which he can't do if he over throws him.

The third is that Snoke would never let this happen. He has manipulated Ren for a long time. He works hard to maintain his position of authority and to make Ren think that he is an ally. He is very sensitive to any hint of betrayal . He knows what happened with Vader, we doesn't want the same thing to happen to him.

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    Snoke. Not Snork – zipquincy Jan 8 '16 at 0:34
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    fixed, though I prefer Snork. – Jeremy French Jan 8 '16 at 0:37
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    I vote Snort. Very appropriate given the sneezable name of Luke's planet. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 8 '16 at 0:38
  • The fourth is that the stormtrooper's immediate chain of command seems to be first Phasma and then Hux, not Kylo. Also, +1 for Snork. I definitely prefer Snork. – Andres F. Jan 8 '16 at 3:24

I think the best explanation comes from Darth Vader in RotJ:

You don't know the power of the Dark Side. I must obey my master.

What I gather from this is what could be the highest price of serving the Dark Side of the Force: Your free will becomes subordinate to whomever is stronger in the Dark Side than you are, and the only way to escape this (as Vader did) is to turn away from the Dark Side entirely.

You will notice that while those who are powerful in the Dark Side can toss their Light-Sided opponents around like rag dolls (as we see with both Sideous vs. Yoda and Snoke vs. Rey), they cannot compel their obedience.

Yes, Dark Side masters have a tendency to get bumped off by their apprentices a lot (in fact, it's happened to every one of whom we've heard); but that's when the master's attention has been directed somewhere else.

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