My Take on the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: The Force Awakens
After doing my best to make sense of a jumbled mess with rewriting The Rise of Skywalker and getting to exercise some creative neurons with rewriting The Last Jedi, I have full freedom at last, now that the time has come to make my own version of The Force Awakens.
Being unfettered by the abominations that were actually released, my intentions with this post will be different than they were for the previous two. I will still aim to come up with a satisfying and coherent plot that respects the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy with sensible progression and character development, of course, but the basis for the progression will be building from Return of the Jedi after a thirty-year gap rather than following what was established earlier in the sequel trilogy. Additionally, as I did for my alternative The Last Jedi, I will identify some open plot threads to be addressed in the two theoretical sequels and give some broad strokes on what might be done with them.
As I have said before, it is no secret that the actual The Force Awakens drew significant inspiration, to put it mildly, from the original trilogy in general and from A New Hope in particular. Unlike my take on The Last Jedi, I will not be sticking to that formula. While I believe that there was pressure from Disney executives on J.J. Abrams to make a “safe” movie for original trilogy fans, just as I was willing to kill Rey in my alternative The Rise of Skywalker, I am not going to worry about what influence Disney had over the movie for my own work. Frankly, if there was any previous Star Wars movie that should be used as a framework for a fresh attempt at The Force Awakens, it should have been The Phantom Menace anyway, since that is the only one that introduced a new conflict after a period of prolonged peace under a non-tyrannical galactic government. However, while I am fond of that movie (it is my second-favorite Star Wars movie, behind The Empire Strikes Back), I would prefer to take my chances striking out on my own instead.
As before, when I speak about “canon”, I am referring only to the original and prequel trilogies, and I do not have perfect memories of them; if I had any oversights, misinterpretations, or other mistakes, I would like to hear about them so that I can revise this post accordingly. Unlike my previous posts in this miniseries, I will be mindful of the difference between a Dark-side Force-user and an actual Sith for this post because the Sith were destroyed by Anakin (per the prophecy) and so it will be a point of importance in the narrative that the main antagonist faction will be led by a Dark-side Jedi, not a Sith.
With all of that out of the way, it is time to give my take on The Force Awakens. Before getting into any plot details, here are my thoughts for what would have happened in the galaxy after the fall of the Empire and where to start on a plot for a new trilogy. For the sake of not pulling names out of the ether, I will use some names for characters and locations originating in the sequel trilogy, but the actual characters/locations themselves will not be bound strictly to their depictions in those movies.
THE MATTER OF GENRE
In my opinion, one of the reasons for the mismatch in expectations between George Lucas and original trilogy fans when it came to The Phantom Menace was because of the shift from the original trilogy’s science-fantasy to the prequel trilogy’s science-fiction. Personally, while I liked all six of the pre-Disney movies, I never saw Star Wars as a top-level franchise of science-fiction because it was not on the same level as Dune or Gundam in terms of modeling socio-political relationships in a manner befitting speculative fiction (as I seem to mention in every one of these rewrite posts). I do not mean this as an insult to Star Wars; A New Hope was inspired by serial pulp adventure shorts, not the works of Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov; but rather as a non-judgmental statement that the socio-political structure of the setting was not grounded in meshing well with science-fiction (this made their presentation adjacent to the prequels’ science-fiction elements like the midi-chlorians a questionable choice, but I digress). Simply put, neither the Empire nor its preceding Republic had the hierarchy and force-projection necessary to exert meaningful authority on a galactic scale. The fact that that was a key piece of the plot for prequels does not excuse the existence of such an obvious critical gap when viewed from a science-fiction perspective.
Thus, I will approach my alternative The Force Awakens from a science-fantasy perspective. The obstacles set before the protagonists will represent explorations of their characters and internal conflicts rather than explorations of the greater setting. While the plot will certainly be driven by sensible cause and effect, the socio-political impacts of plot events will err towards idealism and broad strokes rather than realism and detailed nuance. And while there will be a rational grounding for the setting at large, there is room for more bombast and flair in the focal characters and institutions.
THE MATTER OF STORY STRUCTURE
Both the original and prequel trilogies follow a broad formula of having the first movie mark out the groundwork of the setting, the second movie increase tension by showcasing the capabilities of the antagonists, and then the third movie wrapping up events with an emotionally-charged climax, all while still having each movie work as its own self-contained story. This is nothing revolutionary, of course, being a standard three-act story structure layered on top of three separate individual stories, but it is worth keeping the fundamentals in mind when putting a project together on a mostly-blank canvas.
Thus, one of the primary goals for The Force Awakens has to be establishing the state of the galaxy along with the major factions that will guide the course of events going forward. This being a core Star Wars trilogy, the latter is all but mandated to be a conflict between Force-users on the Light and Dark sides, even though each will be only the leading arms of larger institutions (the Republic and the Separatists in the prequels or the Rebel Alliance and the Empire in the original trilogy, respectively). The former will be discussed more in the following section, though if this was going to end up becoming an actual movie, it would be worth further thought to determine how much information is necessary to provide adequate context for this movie and how much could be deferred to later installments in the trilogy.
THE MATTER OF THE STATE OF THE GALAXY
As I touched on in my take on The Last Jedi, one of the failings of The Force Awakens was not providing any real details for what happened in between Return of the Jedi and its own beginning to explain why the Republic is impotent, why the Resistance exists as a separate but explicitly state-sponsored military faction, and how the First Order was able to amass the power to build a planet-popping planet. That the following two movies in the trilogy did nothing to address any of that was an absolute travesty.
In my mind, the fall of the Empire would lead to reinstating a Senate-led Republic, albeit one with a more militant disposition than the Senate in the prequel movies since many positions would likely be filled with members of the Rebel Alliance, at least at first. Assuming the Republic carries on most of the governing procedures from the Empire aside from the dispersed leadership, it would presumably be a fairly smooth and swift transition, with the Rebel Alliance serving as the armed forces until a formal military could be put in place.
Since I am erring towards a science-fantasy approach, I think filling in all the details of further politics in the time since Return of the Jedi does not need to be settled upfront. It is enough to start things off during a period of peace under the Republic, with the antagonists poised to start causing trouble.
THE MATTER OF MAGIC
In terms of both the Force and technology, I think that the precedents set in the original and prequel trilogies provided more than enough to make a compelling story. As such, I have no intentions of bringing up sudden advances in technology nor new Force powers.
That said, since I have the benefit of hindsight on what the actual sequel movies did allowing me to preemptively obstruct bad ideas, I would want to establish two simple rules for Force ghosts. Namely, Force ghosts are presented to the audience for convenience while actually being perceived by only the character(s) seeing/hearing them, and communing with a Force ghost requires the living person to have had a personal bond with whoever they are communing with while that person was alive. Since the Force ghost is not actually in the world, it cannot cause physical effects; like bonking someone on the head, interacting directly with objects in any capacity, or calling down lightning; but they can still hold actual conversations and provide new information to whoever hears them. This is consistent with their representations in the original trilogy, and it would at least be a measure against some of the stupidities of the actual sequel trilogy. The actual exposition to do that is too much into the details for the scope of this post, but I wanted to mention it as a minor goal to help respect the legacy of the existing movies.
THE MATTER OF THE TRUTH ABOUT ANAKIN SKYWALKER/DARTH VADER
As of Return of the Jedi’s ending, only Luke and Leia clearly knew about Darth Vader being their father, Han was the only other person who knew they were siblings, and only Luke knew that Anakin was given a ceremonial Jedi funeral. Given how most of the galaxy would view Darth Vader, I expect those are secrets that they have kept (while Leia and Luke being related may seem small in a vacuum, Han should be savvy enough to recognize the political impact of either Luke being a long-lost prince or Leia not being a native-born princess). Leia would have shared with Han that neither she nor Luke was aware of their relation prior to the events of Return of the Jedi when he got around to questioning their kiss in The Empire Strikes Back, but I do not think she would have gone on to clarify that that made her the daughter of Darth Vader.
THE MATTER OF LUKE SKYWALKER
Perhaps more than anyone else, Luke has to be treated properly for a core movie trilogy set after Return of the Jedi to feel right. At the same time, there is the plain reality that Mark Hamill was in his mid-sixties when The Force Awakens was filmed, so it would not be reasonable for him to portray a frontline warrior of good as he was in the original trilogy, though I could imagine him still being a stellar pilot. Like Yoda in the prequels or Obi-Wan in A New Hope, he would still be capable of brief bursts of heightened performance, but sustained effort would be unreasonable.
The natural progression from Return of the Jedi would be for Luke to start a new Jedi order, training them to be the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy as they had been at the start of The Phantom Menace. The obvious question, then, is would Luke bring back the practice of starting their training from a very young age, or would he be open to a later start, as he had? I would go with the former; while he was a special case, Luke had ample experience with what can happen when a Force-user goes to the Dark side, and the Force ghosts that he knew would all likely mention that Anakin’s attachment to his mother played a significant part in his fall.
Given how only thirty years has passed since Return of the Jedi, the new Jedi order will still be rather small. Luke will be the lone Master, with two young-adult Knights (his adopted daughter Rey Skywalker and his nephew Ben Organa-Solo) who each have a pair of early-teenage Padawans. Due to their low numbers, the Republic’s conventional militaries will still be the main bodies handling peacekeeping and legal disputes, but the Jedi are starting to get involved as a special force working directly with, yet independent of, Supreme Chancellor Leia Organa.
As far as Luke’s actual character goes, he will show some more restraint and maturity than he did in Return of the Jedi, but he will still be a confident and benevolent idealist. Even though he will not be afraid to put himself in jeopardy if needed, he will be in more of a backseat role as a mentor eager to see his Knights step up and stand on their own while he looks after their Padawans. Regarding his personal life, reestablishing the Jedi order and overseeing their development took up too much time to spare for any romantic pursuits, but Luke will still be close with Leia, Han, and Chewbacca, and he will have a warm camaraderie with Lando as the two people who blew up Death Stars.
THE MATTER OF LEIA ORGANA
Leia was the only one of the original trilogy’s main cast with significant political experience (Lando was the next closest, and being the ruler of Cloud City does not measure up against being the princess of a planet and a former member of the Imperial Senate), so it makes sense for Leia to have become the most involved with political life in the Republic. She had a major hand in reestablishing the Senate after the fall of the Empire, where she was granted a seat as Senator of Alderaan. Most other members of the Senate had meant it as a ceremonial gesture, but when the time came to select a new Supreme Chancellor, it was hard for anyone to rally significant support against one of the former Rebel Alliance’s leaders.
Leia’s rule has been mostly peaceful, especially once she could give her full focus to her work after Ben was old enough to be taken for training with Luke. While she is capable of putting on a polite front when dealing with other Republic officials, Leia is still a feisty spitfire at heart with an unbreakable will. She did receive some Force training from Luke, but it was only enough to learn the basics of reading emotions and sensing the presences of people important to her; her commitment to the Republic never allowed time for more intensive training. Though she and Han never married formally, their ongoing relationship is no secret, and their son inherited both family names.
THE MATTER OF HAN SOLO
Once the fall of the Empire let him step down from being a general, Han retained too much of his freewheeling wanderlust and brash nature to take up political life, opting instead to set up a self-owned shipping company, though that is mostly just for show. He makes a point of spending time with Leia when her schedule allows and otherwise helps Chewbacca with freeing Wookiees and other enslaved beings on remote planets where the galactic government has less impact than underground syndicates.
In terms of his personality, Han will still tend to resist expressing his feelings openly except in the company of old friends, with whom his close relationships put him more at ease. While Luke will act as a formal mentor for the new protagonists, Han will be more of a cool old friend (despite one of them being his actual son), helping them navigate the seedy side of their investigation and trying to keep them from getting in over their heads. Han will also have some relatively minor old injuries, such as new scars or a minor but persistent limp, hinting that he continued to have adventures in the time after Return of the Jedi while Lando, Leia, and Luke all shifted to more peaceful lives.
I have heard that Harrison Ford agreed to reprise the role of Han Solo only on the condition that the character was killed in The Force Awakens, so I will fulfill that death wish during the climax.
THE MATTER OF CHEWBACCA
I can imagine two obvious uses for Chewbacca: where Han goes, Chewbacca goes with him, even if it is a matter of Han wanting to free slaves out of respect for Chewbacca’s past; or Chewbacca stays with Leia, ostensibly as a bodyguard but subtextually as a close friend in the cold landscape of politics and symbolically as a reminder of Han’s feelings for her even when they are unable to be together. As someone who enjoyed Chewbacca’s OOC Is Serious Business moments in the original trilogy (such as recovering from his emotional outbursts in The Empire Strikes Back and caressing Han affectionately in Return of the Jedi), I would want to put him in a position to show more of his character and so will go with the former.
That said, I would be on board with Chewbacca having been Leia’s personal bodyguard and unofficial confidant during Han’s absences until Chewbacca felt that Han was endangering himself too much to be left on his own. He will be present with Han at all times when they might be in danger until they get separated during the climax, and Chewbacca dealing with the guilt of not being there when Han was killed can be a part of his character for the theoretical sequels to this movie.
THE MATTER OF LANDO CALRISSIAN
Given that he came from Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back, it makes sense for Lando to have returned to the Outer Rim worlds after the fall of the Empire. I see him as General of the Outer Rim Fleet, a forward force maintaining peace beyond the Republic’s borders, where he still rides with the Millennium Falcon.
There is not much more I have to say about Lando for this movie. Covering the important history of the time gap, introducing the new protagonists, presenting a complete story, and giving audience-members enough of an emotional bond with Han for his death to carry impact without relying on nostalgia is a full load already, so while I could see some value in introducing Lando here, I would save him to be a featured character in the theoretical sequels.
THE MATTER OF DARTH MAUL
After I started to work on this post, I found out that there were plans from George Lucas to have a sequel trilogy with some similar set-ups to what I have here (most prominently, Luke restoring the Jedi order, Leia becoming Supreme Chancellor, and a criminal network antagonist faction), with Darth Maul and his Sith apprentice Darth Talon serving as the main antagonists directing resistance to Leia’s attempts at reuniting the galaxy under the Republic. I am not a fan of that idea for two reasons: bringing back Darth Maul cheapens Obi-Wan avenging Qui Gon’s death (unless it is done in such a way that Obi-Wan can finish the task, which cannot happen for a sequel to Return of the Jedi) and having any Sith survive the original trilogy undermines the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker restoring balance to the Force.
I am a fan of Darth Maul, and I think Ray Park’s performance in The Phantom Menace was very underappreciated by many Star Wars fans simply because he had very little dialogue. I would not mind a side story movie set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope about Darth Maul learning Obi-Wan is on Tatooine and seeking revenge (or actual movies set during the Clone Wars instead of just the television series), but that is beyond the scope of this post. As far as I am concerned here, Darth Maul is not part of the sequels.
THE MATTER OF REY SKYWALKER
A civil war orphan adopted by Luke shortly after Return of the Jedi, Rey was his second apprentice (after Ben) and one of his two current Jedi Knights. She has an awkward relationship with Luke, seeing him more as a teacher and mentor than as a father. She has a close platonic relationship with Ben, though some part of her is envious that he always seems to be ahead of her in other people’s eyes due to being slightly older.
Rey’s main motivation will be proving herself worthy of being a Jedi Knight, especially if she can do so independently. Her main internal conflicts will come from her fragile self-confidence, manifesting as being quick to feel disrespected and seeing offers of help as attempts at controlling her. Additionally, while she will not try to sabotage Ben intentionally, she will take the piss out of him when the opportunity to do so harmlessly presents itself.
THE MATTER OF BEN ORGANA-SOLO
Named in honor of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s cover identity, Ben is the son of Han and Leia and the second of Luke’s Jedi Knights. Although they are subdued in their interactions, he has warm relationships with both of his parents; Ben never grew attached to them as primary caregivers due to his Jedi upbringing, but he respects and appreciates their familial bonds. He feels closer to Luke, to a degree beyond seeing him as just a mentor, but he is careful to hide the depths of those feelings. He is close with Rey as well, with a tendency to be very protective of her behind her back despite her frequent attempts to wound his pride.
Ben’s main motivation will be getting Luke to show that he reciprocates Ben’s feelings (whether this is love or also includes an Oedipal lust component is left to the audience’s interpretation, both for target audience reasons and because even Ben himself is unsure what his boundaries are), to which end he tends to push himself subconsciously beyond safe limits to either accomplish great feats or be rescued by Luke. His main internal conflicts will come from his need for personal validation from Luke, manifesting as zealous faith in Luke’s teachings and rejecting praise from others. Additionally, his protective nature towards Rey is driven by his awareness of how much she means to Luke rather than coming from Ben’s own feelings for Rey, meaning he would be willing to leave her exposed if he could accomplish something Luke would value.
THE MATTER OF FINN
I had not thought about it until approaching what I would have done to bring Finn into this movie, but the other two main protagonists are both children from non-traditional families (Rey being adopted and Ben being raised primarily by his uncle rather than his parents), and I like that pattern for a movie aimed at inspiring young audiences while still being satisfying for adults (and so little wonder that the original and prequel trilogies both had similar situations for their protagonists). Thus, Finn is Lando’s estranged son, unbeknownst to either Finn or Lando themselves, who was raised by his now-dead mother in the criminal underworld. The antagonists are targeting him as part of their plots to undermine public support for the heroes of the Rebel Alliance. Finn will start out as a cold, reserved, and severe person, with his overall character arc through the trilogy being about learning to open up and trust others (as a reversal on Lando’s arc in the original trilogy being about proving others can trust him).
Finn’s main motivation will be securing his survival in a harsh and unforgiving society, though he will have a strong internal moral code that he refuses to compromise (with the commitment and willpower it takes for him to maintain that code being implied as the reason why he is resistant to Jedi mind tricks). His main internal conflicts will be his fears of abandonment and betrayal, hence his only real friend being his droid BB-8. Additionally, he will be inherently suspicious of the Jedi and the Republic as a whole, seeing their ideals and promises as something alien to his personal existence.
THE MATTER OF SNOKE
Throughout the original and prequel movies, it has been a consistent axiom that all people are part of the Force and have the potential to use it, albeit needing training to realize their full potential. Thus, I believe it would still be reasonable to take the same approach for Snoke here as I did in The Last Jedi and make him a naturally-talented Force-user who fell to the Dark side because of his hatred for both the Empire and the Republic. However, in the interest of doing something different, I will avoid both that and the other obvious option of Snoke being Darth Plagueis in disguise.
Instead, I would have Snoke be a former Jedi Knight who attained that rank shortly before the rise of the Empire. During the galactic massacre of the Jedi under Order 66, he was severely wounded but managed to survive. Driven to the Dark side by his fear and anger over that event, he started out trying to uncover which Jedi had become Darth Vader, but it was not long before he lost that drive in favor of exploiting his Force abilities to pull together an underworld empire of his own built on a vast network of blackmail and espionage. As he nears the end of his life, however, his old passion has been reignited. While he frames the actions as being intended to show that the so-called heroes of the Rebel Alliance are just people no better than his subordinates, his real desire is to learn who Darth Vader was and seek some measure of vengeance for having been denied the life that he had wanted.
THE MATTER OF POE DAMERON
Poe is a former Rebel Alliance technician who was taken captive at the battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back and jailed indefinitely. Following the fall of the Empire, he was enslaved and passed through many owners before ending up with Snoke, who recognized his potential. Skilled enough at computer hacking to rival a droid and armed with a sympathetic history to hide his true allegiance, Poe became one of Snoke’s top intelligence-gatherers and personnel traffickers.
Poe’s main motivation will be seeking revenge on the former Rebel Alliance leadership for abandoning him at Hoth and leaving him to rot in prison. Though he is capable of putting on a charming façade, the act tends to falter when reminded of key figures in the former Rebel Alliance, causing his seething resentment to show through. He is meant to be a Foil for Rey, the war orphan who wants to be noticed for her skills and who has an aversion to being controlled.
Since the majority of The Force Awakens will be focused on the Jedis’ investigation leading them to joining with Finn and protecting him from Snoke’s organization, Poe will make only a minor appearance during an early scene in Coruscant, with an expanded role in the theoretical sequels.
THE MATTER OF PHASMA
Phasma is the child of a family who helped nurse Snoke back to good health after Order 66, but she has no memories of her parents as Snoke had sacrificed them to buy time to escape an Imperial patrol that nearly found him when she was very young (a few years before A New Hope); thus, she sees Snoke as her father. She is his apprentice but tends to act independently to enforce his will, similar to Darth Vader’s role in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Because Snoke’s injuries left him compromised physically, Phasma has learned most of her combat techniques from records recovered by Poe, leaving her with a fighting style that lacks refinement but takes good advantage of her overpowering physique.
Phasma’s main motivation will be doing whatever Snoke wants her to do or whatever she thinks would best please him; she is a psychotic devotee of the Jedi who raised and trained her by himself and has no shortage of self-confidence. While she prefers to take opponents down openly so that they may serve as an example to others, she has no qualms about relying on stealth or trickery when blatant displays would risk undesirable consequences. She is meant to be a Foil for Ben, the Force-user with three parents who yearns to be loved by the mentor for whom he has a fanatic devotion.
THE MATTER OF ARMITAGE HUX
Armitage never wanted for much in his life, whether as the child of a planetary governor under the Empire or as one of the youngest members of the Senate after restrictions against legacy Imperials were relaxed. However, what he had has never been enough for him, either, and his ambition is matched only by the ruthlessness hidden behind his prim demeanor. No stranger to backroom deals and actual cutthroat politics, Armitage’s professional association with Snoke has been mutually beneficial.
Armitage’s main motivation will be acquiring more prestige, with the role of Supreme Chancellor as his ultimate goal. He is adept at covering his illicit tracks, maintaining plausible deniability, and networking with anyone who he views as a potential asset, so the other Senators mostly regard him as a harmless social butterfly. He is meant to be a Foil for Finn, the long-lost son of a Rebel-turned-Republic leader who just wants to survive, who has a strong moral compass, who is being targeted by Snoke’s organization, and who is very hesitant to make interpersonal bonds.
Since the majority of The Force Awakens will be focused on the Jedis’ investigation leading them to joining with Finn and protecting him from Snoke’s organization, Armitage will make only a minor appearance during an early scene in Coruscant, with an expanded role in the theoretical sequels.
THE MATTER OF MAZ KANATA
Long-lived, eccentric aliens who are viewed as fonts of ancient history and wisdom are great. However, it is important for Maz to fill that role without seeming like a simple replacement for Yoda, especially since the real Yoda can still communicate with Luke as a Force ghost. Changing her demeanor from a wise matron to a tactless interrogator who collects knowledge like a hoarder would go a good way towards addressing that.
I would introduce her as being an Outer Rim historian who the protagonists speak with to learn the political landscape of the planet where most of their investigation will take place. While she will be responsible for setting the Jedis on the path towards the conflict for this movie, her real purpose in the trilogy will be to connect the dots between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in the second movie as a political weapon for the antagonists to use against Leia while also functioning as a source of conflict for Ben.
THE MATTERS OF R2-D2, C-3PO, AND BB-8
When looking at the original and prequel trilogies as a whole, R2-D2 and C-3PO are key parts of the cast, both in the narrative for their unique skillsets and in the metanarrative for their levity and tabula rasa nature. However, it makes sense for them to stick with original trilogy characters (C-3PO with Leia for interpretations during political discussions and R2-D2 with Luke for maintenance and operation of his spacecrafts). I would keep them in the movie in those roles, but there will also be Finn’s BB-8, serving as both a surveillance tool and Finn’s lone trusted companion.
With all that out of the way, I can get to the opening text crawl. For reference, here is what the actual movie had to say:
Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.
With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts….
It is difficult to express just how terrible that opening crawl was. Luke’s disappearance did not receive an exclamation point, the First Order was teleported into existence just because the text said so, no explanation was ever given for why the Republic and the Resistance were separate bodies, no explanation was ever given for why Luke was thought to be a crucial player on either side of the conflict, no explanation was ever given for why a lone pilot was sent on a covert mission to recover the most valuable possible information that the Resistance was aware of, and even the “clue to Luke’s whereabouts” was a misleading description, considering it was a literal map to Luke’s location (which, of course, never receives any backstory because bad movies expect plot devices to be accepted without question). Fortunately, this was the last time I had to look at any of those abominable sequel trilogy opening text crawls, so let me cast it aside and move on to better things:
It is a moment of celebration across the NEW REPUBLIC. Supreme Chancellor Leia Organa has signed a treaty to merge with the last remnants of the fallen Galactic Empire.
As guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and two Jedi Knights, his adopted daughter Rey Skywalker and his nephew Ben Organa-Solo, have arrived on Coruscant for a ceremony celebrating the momentous occasion.
While leaving the spaceport, however, Luke feels a disturbance in the Force, like a shadow gathering beyond the Republic’s domain….
I think this does a reasonable job of filling in the time gap and giving new-comers to the franchise the critical information to understand the state of the galaxy. The launching point could probably use more tension, but perhaps it is reasonable for a threat building in a time of peace. In any case, it is good enough for rough draft purposes.
As before, I will just make an outline from here. The level of detail will be close to what I did for The Last Jedi, but I will include some camera directions since I missed doing them.
A band of ruffians is herding terrified civilians together in a scene illuminated by a burning village.
Pan around the chaos before settling on a makeshift dais of debris, atop which two robed and cowled figures stand.
One figure makes a beckoning motion; a civilian is brought onto the dais and forced to kneel.
The figure raises their arms, activates a blue lightsaber, and starts to swing it downward.
Cut to Luke stumbling slightly as he, Rey, Ben, and R2-D2 leave the spaceport.
Ben asks if something is wrong. Luke says he felt a disturbance in the Force. Rey shows confidence that they will handle it.
References to some past adventures, including having pacified a terrorist cell that the Outer Rim Fleet had struggled to deal with.
Luke says the difference this time is that the Knights are ready to handle the problem for themselves while he watches over their Padawans.
The Knights protest (Rey wants her Padawans with her to continue their training and Ben wants Luke with him to see his performance firsthand), and Luke says they can talk more about it after he sees his sister.
Cut to a view over C-3PO’s shoulder that pans to show Leia speaking with some Senators, including Armitage.
They congratulate her on signing the final treaty. Leia deflects that her signature would not have meant anything without the corresponding signature on behalf of the last former-Imperial planet holding out on joining the Republic.
After some more small talk, the Senators leave, letting Leia and C-3PO have a brief exchange.
The Jedi arrive and exchange greetings. Ben is notably more formal than Leia.
Leia thanks them for their parts in helping with reunification.
Luke says he felt some darkness in the Outer Rim.
Leia mentions Han should be arriving soon, so he can ferry them after the ceremony. Meanwhile, she will contact Lando to provide further support, in case they need any.
Finn is sitting in an alley looking out at a bustling market, tapping a crude knife against his thigh.
Finn has a hushed conversation with BB-8, vocalizing non-sequitur thoughts independent of the droid’s reactions before finally deciding one will do.
Hiding the knife up his sleeve, he and BB-8 walk out into the crowd. At a subtle signal from Finn, BB-8 veers into a rich person’s path, causing them to stumble into Finn.
Finn catches the person and helps them regain their footing while he admonishes the droid.
After walking a little further, Finn breaks into a different alley and takes shelter. He pulls out the currency he stole and gazes at it with reluctant resignation.
On Coruscant, the reunification ceremony is underway. Leia and Han are standing together, with the three Jedi in a loose cordon behind them.
Zoom the view out. As the noise of the ceremony grows quieter, a conversation overlays it, and the view shifts to show Poe watching through a remote camera display while speaking with a small hologram of the robed and cowled figures from the opening.
Poe is seething at the display, but Snoke coaxes him to calm down for the moment.
Snoke asks if their contacts are present.
Poe makes the display move until it settles on the Senators who were speaking with Leia earlier. Poe says he has sight of them and can set something up in the surveillance systems to keep a record of what they get up to in public.
Snoke says to keep him informed of any oddities in their movements and that they can start making their moves once the Jedi leave the planet.
The three Jedi, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and four Padawans get onto a spaceship.
Han complains facetiously about Leia being too busy to see him, but the joke falls flat on Ben.
Chewbacca dispels the awkwardness by asking Luke about the trip.
Luke says he felt something from out around the Outer Rim.
Han says he knows someone they can talk to for information, if they are willing to pay.
Rey says money should be no object, to which Han replies that Maz does not take payments in credits.
In a sinister chamber, Phasma kneels before Snoke, both with their cowls down for the first time.
Phasma says she has learned where the general’s son should be and will mobilize with a cell to capture him.
Snoke warns her to be cautious because the false Jedi have left Coruscant.
Han’s ship docks with an ancient capital ship.
The three Jedi depart. Han wishes them good luck.
An alien majordomo meets them and agrees to take them to Maz.
After Luke explains what he wants to know, Maz says they must offer her secrets before she will tell them anything.
Pan to show the three Jedi’s faces, weighing thoughts. After hesitating, Luke says that he and Leia are siblings. Ben shows subdued shock, while Rey shows no reaction.
Maz says a morsel like that will go a long way. She says an underworld boss has been consolidating power recently, the sort of person who would believe there is more to the world than simply what can be seen.
Luke asks if she means the boss is a Sith, but Maz is noncommittal, saying only that the boss’s operatives have been asking questions lately that will lead them to Jakku.
Finn is walking down a path at dusk, huddled into himself, with BB-8 trailing.
Finn sees someone being mugged. After a moment of hesitation, he slinks up behind the mugger and puts a knife to their throat until they agree to run off.
The victim thanks Finn, but Finn points his knife at the victim and asks if there is any reward for the rescue.
The victim offers a pack of death sticks. Finn kicks them away and tells the victim to get out of his sight.
BB-8 makes droid noises, and Finn promises not to get involved next time.
Han’s ship arrives at a space station orbiting Jakku.
Luke says he will wait with the Padawans and R2-D2 while Rey and Ben descend to investigate.
Han says he and Chewbacca will also go along, just to make sure the Knights do not get into too much trouble.
Montage of Rey and Ben confronting various ruffians, ending with Han paying off a bartender and walking them out when they draw the ire of a whole cantina, emerging in the market from Finn’s first scene.
Han says that he promised not to tell them what to do, but seeing as they are exhausting good will with the obvious criminals, he would start talking to people who are trying too hard not to get noticed to find more leads.
Han points out a few examples, one of which is Finn.
Ben gets a look on his face when he sees Finn and goes to speak with him.
Zoom onto Finn, who notices Ben’s approach, mutters that he knew he should have learned to stop getting involved, and breaks into a run.
After a short chase that leaves Han and Chewbacca behind, Rey uses a Force push to trip Finn, allowing Ben to catch him.
Linger on a distant shot while Rey walks towards Ben and Finn, who are both babbling to figure out the other’s intentions.
Phasma pounces from the side, sending Rey sprawling.
Ben releases Finn and draws his lightsaber.
Ben slashes at Phasma’s arm, only for Phasma to block it with her own blue lightsaber and then Force push Ben away while he is surprised.
Phasma fights with both Knights, keeping both on the defensive until Han arrives and takes a shot at her.
Phasma deflects the shot back at Han before disengaging to escape, giving Han a minor injury.
Ben, Rey, Han, and Chewbacca find a room to regroup in.
Han waves off their ministrations until Chewbacca starts tending to him.
Ben and Rey have a hologram call with Luke to say what happened.
Ben mentions that he felt no anger or hate from the Force-user. It was almost like his sparring sessions with Rey.
Luke asks about the Force-user’s fighting style and say he will check with Yoda if that means anything.
Aboard the space station, Luke meditates to commune with Yoda.
Yoda asks if Luke has felt the shroud of the Dark side.
Luke says he is still feeling something wrong in the Force, but it is different from what he felt with his father or Palpatine.
Back in the room, Rey says they should be going after the Force-user and Ben argues back that finding the man again might lead them to her.
Zoom out through a window to Finn sitting in an alley, looking towards the building while talking with BB-8.
Finn says that he knows they are trouble, but something about what happened did not feel like it had to do with anything else he had been involved in, and that makes him nervous.
Finn slinks over and tries to eavesdrop through the window.
In the background of the shot while he is moving, Phasma and some ruffians will also start moving closer.
While Ben tries to argue that he has seniority and Rey tries to argue that she is the better decision-maker, Han says that the decision was made for them as he reaches out the window and grabs Finn.
After being hauled into the room and bringing BB-8 with him, Finn tries to explain that he has no idea who the woman from earlier was.
They ask Finn what he knows about any criminal boss on the planet, but he shrugs it off as Jakku being a big planet.
Rey tries a Jedi mind trick on Finn, but it fails.
The conversation is interrupted by a knock at the door.
Phasma enters, nonplussed when the Knights draw their lightsabers, and says that she is only interested in Finn.
Finn asks why him, to which Phasma asks back if he knows his father. Finn says he does not, and Phasma replies that she will take him to his father. Ben says he will not let her take Finn. Finn shows visible confusion at the statement.
Phasma gives a shout as she draws her lightsaber, signaling the ruffians to rush in to try kidnapping Finn.
There is a running fight between the protagonists try escaping to the spaceport without letting Finn be captured.
At the spaceport, Han alerts security to Phasma and the ruffians, giving the protagonists a chance to pull ahead.
Phasma mind tricks the security forces into letting them through, but the protagonists pulled away enough to get into their ship before she can catch up again.
The protagonists lift off, heading for the space station.
Phasma gets into a fighter ship and chases after them.
Chewbacca and Rey take over flying while Han and Ben move to gunner positions. Rey sends a message to Luke that they are being pursued and have the person that the Force-user was after on-board.
The two ships weave around other traffic, with Han remarking that the Imperials he fought were easier to hit than her and Phasma landing some shots on their engines, slowing their flight.
Luke arrives in an X-wing to help.
Phasma changes tactics to shooting at the gunner locations, but Luke proves to be too much and she disengages.
Follow the camera along with her final parting shot as it hits Han’s location.
Cut to Leia in a Senate meeting, stopping mid-sentence with a look of shock on her face.
Luke’s X-wing escorts the other ship into the space station.
After they dock, Luke consoles Chewbacca while the others look on solemnly.
Rey is depressed, Finn is withdrawn, and Ben is stoically focused on Finn.
Luke comes over to Finn and says that he must have been important, so they will rendezvous with the Outer Rim fleet to protect him until they can figure out why the Force-user was after him.
Cue John Williams end credits music
A Downer Ending is certainly unusual for Star Wars, with the only previous example being Revenge of the Sith, but I think it is a reasonable choice here. The antagonists are starting from a position of weakness, so it would not feel right to give them some big army or military space station that can be defeated to give the protagonists a clear victory while still keeping the chief antagonists around. At the same time, something major is necessary to sell the antagonists as credible threats. When Harrison Ford’s desire to have Han killed is also added in (which would have to happen at the climax to give that the gravitas that it deserves), it all fits together nicely.
The following plot threads are left for development and resolution in the theoretical sequels:
The Republic steps up its military presence along its borders, inciting resentment in the neighboring star systems
Finn rejects Lando and opts to build a relationship with Ben instead
Poe delivers information from the Jedi archives to Maz, giving her the information to piece together that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader
Armitage reveals the Skywalker/Vader connection publicly, using it to discredit the Jedi order and gain public approval
When confronted by Ben and Rey about his father, Luke tries to justify keeping it secret on the grounds that Anakin was redeemed in his final moments, which causes a rift between the Jedi Knights as Ben has his worldview shaken
Leia tries to defend the Jedi, but enough Senators are willing to seize the opportunity that she is removed as Supreme Chancellor to overrule her
The Jedi are forced into exile, with Ben (and Finn) separating from Luke and Rey to act on their own
Leia is assassinated between movies to account for Carrie Fisher’s death
Snoke moves to take over the Jedi order, claiming to be an original Jedi who was untainted by Darth Vader’s touch
Ben and Finn work together to eliminate Poe, discovering his illicit connections to several Senators (including Armitage) who are then ousted
Luke and Rey confront and overcome Snoke and Phasma, restoring the Jedi order
Finn accepts Lando as his father
Ben reconciles with Luke
The ideas for the theoretical sequels could use further refining and fleshing out, obviously, but I think there is enough here to show potential for the overall trilogy, so I am content to consider this a reasonable place to leave it.
To anyone who read through any or all of these posts, I thank you for your time and would welcome you to share your thoughts in the comments, whether on what I had to say, on what you would have done differently, on places where you believe I was harsher on the actual movies than I should have been, or any other relevant topic. This was a fun project, and I am happy that I was able to find some enjoyment in relation to a set of movies that failed to give me any pleasure themselves.