My Take on the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: The Rise of Skywalker
I cannot recall any movies ever making me as mad as the Star Wars sequel trilogy did, and I am not even a big Star Wars fan. It is not just that they had objectively flawed plots, that they went out of their way to contradict previously established canon, or that they were basically retreads of past movies with the barest paint job added on top yet lacking any semblance of their substance, but that they did all of that without giving viewers anything worthwhile to make up for it. They were bad movies that were brought into existence for no other reason than to generate revenue from name recognition and exploiting nostalgia, devoid of any actual artistic vision. That does not mean some people cannot still have enjoyed them; I like Commando despite it not being anything special; but just because someone enjoyed watching a car crash does not mean that the drivers do not deserve to be criticized for it nonetheless.
My intention with this series of posts is to go through each movie and say what I would have done to provide a satisfying and coherent plot with sensible progression and character development while respecting what had come before. It is not my intention to write a whole different trilogy; the changes that I make to The Rise of Skywalker will assume that The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi existed as they did while the changes I make to those will ignore whatever I have to say for The Rise of Skywalker. I am imagining myself as the lead writer for each movie in the context under which they were made, partly as a challenge to myself but mostly to demonstrate just how far short the actual writing fell from what it could have been. As it has been stated by Rian Johnson (writer/director for The Last Jedi) that there was no overarching plan for the trilogy that he had to follow when he took over after The Force Awakens, I do not feel beholden to any grand plans either.
For the most part, my intention is to come up with a movie that can work as both a satisfying, self-contained experience and as a sequel to what came before without simply repeating the original trilogy. Due to how much the actual movies ignored the whole of that second part, this will require disregarding much of what they did with their plots. Some of the divergences will be substantial (such as not bringing Emperor Palpatine back to life or not writing a whole movie plot around chaining MacGuffin Fetch Quests), but I will still try to instill some sense of continuation rather than outright Retconning the parts I did not like as the actual movies did. While I have strong criticisms about many of the changes to legacy characters, perhaps trying to respect those changes while working on The Rise of Skywalker will help me to appreciate some hidden qualities that I had overlooked (and I can indulge in breaking free of those bonds when I redo the earlier movies).
As a side note, when I speak about “canon”, I am referring only to the three movie 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.
As another side note, I will use “Jedi” and “Sith” to also mean Light-side Force-user and Dark-side Force-user, respectively. I know there are other aspects that go into Jedi and Sith, but for the sake of brevity, I think it will be clear from context when I am using those terms for the institutions or for a source of power.
With all of that out of the way, I shall go through the movies in reverse order of release, so this post will kick things off with The Rise of Skywalker. Before getting into any plot details, here are my thoughts for what to do with the major characters and lingering issues from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
THE MATTER OF REY
There is no denying that the first two movies presented Rey as a Mary Sue. She has no real development, suffers no losses, is trusted if not respected and desired by everyone, is not shown to have any personality flaws or errors in judgment, and is skilled at everything she attempts despite often lacking any background justification. However, there are two threads that can be picked at: her feelings towards Kylo Ren and the revelation from Kylo Ren that she comes from nothing (even though neither of those threads mattered at the end of The Force Awakens, but The Last Jedi treated them as being important, so that is the hand I have to play).
Had it not been for her happy participation in slaughtering First Order soldiers during the battle on Crait, it would have been easy to have her break emotionally from the revelation and turn her into a manipulated puppet for Kylo Ren until Finn is able to snap her out of it. Unfortunately, much as Finn never stops to reflect on the moral implications of killing brainwashed child soldiers when fighting against the First Order, her sociopathic glee is canon (as far as fixing The Rise of Skywalker is concerned), so I have to take a different route.
She should go on pretending to be a good little soldier outwardly in her continued support of the Resistance, while showing glimpses of her new festering bitterness towards Kylo Ren for ruining the romantic fantasy she had held that her parents were important. This will complicate matters for the Resistance in the middle part of the movie (where she will oppose allying with Kylo Ren), leading to the loss of Finn (the only character among the Resistance who she has any significant attachment to). This causes her to gain insight about the duality of light and dark in people, to apologize to Luke for second-guessing his wariness about Kylo Ren (tying in with Poe’s arc from The Last Jedi about learning to temper excitement and decisiveness with respect for experience and the greater picture, if I take a very generous view of his interactions with Leia and Holdo in that movie), and to ultimately ally with Kylo Ren, or rather Ben Solo, to bring down the remains of the First Order.
Given full creative control, I would have Rey die at the climax. Disney would probably balk at that, but as they have no control over my blog, that is the way the plot will go on here. It fits with her messianic archetype of being Too Good for This Sinful Earth and adds a cost to Ben’s redemption.
THE MATTER OF KYLO REN
Perhaps the most compelling interpretation one can have for Kylo Ren through the first two movies of the sequel trilogy is that, despite his attempts to become the new Darth Vader, he is actually a reflection of Luke Skywalker; he is impulsive, emotional, has moments of triumph and failure alike, longs for a grand adventure based on an incomplete understanding of the Jedi in general and Anakin Skywalker (or rather Darth Vader, in Kylo Ren’s case) in particular, and fails twice to complete his training before the death of his instructor, but where Luke was motivated to be a hero out of his sense of goodness once his family obligations were removed, Kylo Ren is motivated by a lust for power and a desire to establish his own legacy as a figure to be respected and feared. So, where does he go from here?
Looking at it from the metanarrative fantasy perspective, Anakin goes from a flawed Jedi to the paragon of Sith before his love for his son redeems him, and Luke is solidly a Jedi to start before descending into a depressed loser in The Last Jedi. Kylo Ren starts out as a childish loser, so the sensible conclusion for him is to find his way to being a Jedi (forming the other half of the Skywalker cycle when taken in combination with Luke).
Taunted by the potential threat he feels from the messages of the late Emperor Palpatine, Kylo Ren should unwittingly foment a schism in the First Order between those loyal to him (the Knights of Ren and maybe a handful of soldiers) and those loyal to Hux (everyone else, including the leadership). This leads to Kylo Ren’s faction being forced out of the First Order and going to the Resistance with an offer of alliance in return for taking Rey as an apprentice (a chance to both gain more power and accomplish something that even Darth Vader never achieved). However, Rey rejects his offer violently (due to still being hurt by the revelation from The Last Jedi, as mentioned above), forcing Kylo Ren to flee. He is embarrassed by the ordeal but forced to reflect on why she reacted as she did (showing some growth and maturity). In doing so, he comes to understand that he has been a figurehead since turning to the Dark side, used by Snoke for who his parents were rather than for his own worth (hence Snoke holding his training hostage for access to Rey), and so finds a suitably dramatic way to cast off being Kylo Ren to be reborn as Ben Solo.
When Rey dies, Ben will struggle in blind rage for a moment before finding tranquility as a true Jedi would and prevailing (somewhat mirroring Luke prevailing by refusing to kill Darth Vader despite reasonable cause in Return of the Jedi). In memory of her sacrifice and as a means of atoning for the pain that he caused to Han, Luke, and Leia, Ben will found the Skywalker order, the Jedi of a new age (hence the title).
THE MATTER OF FINN
Alas, poor Finn, we knew him well for having an intriguing character concept that got wasted on shouting other people’s names and being useless after the first half hour or so of the trilogy (except for when he happened to work on whatever death machine the First Order was using this time so he could give the Resistance exposition). The Force Awakens had obviously hinted at him being Force-sensitive, but since The Last Jedi tossed that aside for a toxic relationship with a character who was clearly a First Order undercover agent, let us work from there to start. Swayed towards mercy by his conflicted feelings for Rose despite her treachery, Finn will object to executing her as a traitor and sees to it that she is merely exiled on some planet.
After Rey rejects Kylo Ren’s proposal, Finn has a conversation with Poe where he expressed doubts about the Resistance’s chances of accomplishing anything. Poe tries to buoy his spirits, leading Finn to take an aggressive role in their raid of the Canto Bight vaults. During the ensuing fight, Rey can only watch helplessly as Finn sacrifices himself to save her from the anti-Force device, leading to her development for the final act of the movie.
I went back and forth on who should die between Rey, Kylo Ren, and Finn. When I get to rewriting The Last Jedi, I will probably change things such that Rey ends up being a Decoy Protagonist for Finn (with Luke as his mentor), but with how hard that movie pushed Rey and Kylo Ren as the main characters, I have to cast Finn aside here.
THE MATTER OF HUX
In The Force Awakens, Hux was presented as a (mostly) competent and threatening commander. In The Last Jedi, he was the focus of abuse by Snoke and Kylo Ren. As such, it seems natural that he would develop a grudge against Force-users, blaming them for his fall in order to protect his pride. In addition to having covert agents spreading messages claiming to be Palpatine returned to distract Kylo Ren, Hux recovers a hyperspace tracker from the remains of the Supremacy’s fleet. Capitalizing on that success in comparison to Kylo Ren’s failure to protect Snoke, complete lack of results in tracking down Luke, and selfish use of the First Order for his own childish whims, Hux pulls off a coup to oust Kylo Ren and assume command of the First Order.
During the middle of the movie, Hux’s plan is laid bare: to bring true order to the galaxy, the First Order needs a weapon capable to executing surgical strikes to eliminate Force-users. In that pursuit, he has been overseeing efforts by the technological divisions of the First Order to develop droids capable of fighting Force-users, something modeled after the cybernetic parts of General Grievous and equipped with personal shields like the droideka along with sonic emitters (or some other devices) capable of disrupting the concentration necessary to use the Force without inflicting enough pain to fuel Dark-side Force-users (based on his observations of Kylo Ren). The Resistance’s raid on Canto Bight will coincide with First Order soldiers doing the same in attempt to collect lost lightsabers. They will have a portable version of the anti-Force device, which neutralizes Rey’s abilities, and they would have killed her had it not been for Finn’s sacrifice.
As Rey and Kylo Ren have their epiphany moments, Hux is approached by the defecting Knight of Ren with the remains of Anakin’s lightsaber; Hux accepts the gift before executing the Knight as a traitor and propagandizing the incident as thwarting an assassination attempt.
The climax of the movie will be a fleet battle between the First Order and the Resistance during which Poe is able to get a boarding party of Rey and Ben (along with the other Knights of Ren and some Resistance soldiers) onto Hux’s star destroyer. Hux traps the pair in a room with a completed anti-Force droid, which kills Rey with Anakin’s lightsaber. However, Ben is able to overcome it and ends up killing Hux, marking the end of the First Order due to the loss of their leadership.
THE MATTER OF POE DAMERON
Honestly, so much is necessary to salvage Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, and Hux that I question how much space will be available to provide any meaningful sense of stakes (I am not happy with just Lando’s speech, below) and still set time aside for pacing, let alone for doing anything notable with Poe. He felt pretty complete by the end of The Last Jedi anyway (having learned his “lesson” to overcome the flaws holding him back from being a good leader, as dumb as the delivery of that lesson might have been from an objective perspective), so I am content leave him with more of static role here. He will certainly have a spotlight moment to grieve for Finn’s death (with the audience free to make what they will regarding the nature of their relationship), and he can take prominence as the main secondary character in the Resistance by acting as their ace pilot (assisted by Lando and Chewbacca) during the climactic ship battle. Beyond that, though, I think his part needs to be sacrificed for the overall story.
THE MATTER OF LEIA
Given that Carrie Fisher died shortly after the release of The Last Jedi, the only respectful way to handle Leia is to have a funeral for her to open the film.
THE MATTER OF LUKE SKYWALKER
Trying to salvage a legacy character whose reputation was ruined before being killed off is no small task, and unfortunately, I cannot just edit away The Last Jedi for the purposes of fixing The Rise of Skywalker. The best I can do is taking a cue from Mark Hamill’s multiple interview statements that a Jedi would not just give up, especially one who had been as hopeful and optimistic as Luke.
Since Force ghosts can interact only with Jedi (as described later) and there are no Jedi after Luke’s death, Luke will be absent from the early parts of the movie. However, once Rey has her awakening after Finn’s death, Luke can start manifesting for her as a voice (similar to how Obi-Wan did for Luke in A New Hope), and likewise for Kylo Ren after he goes back to being Ben Solo, since both will be on the path towards becoming Jedi at that point. He acknowledges his mistakes, saying that the peace that followed the Empire’s fall led to him delving too deeply into the absolutes of Light and Dark as his father and the Jedi past had, which blinded him to the greater understanding that people should have for one another. There are great evils like the darkness he felt around Palpatine, and there are great goods like the love he and Anakin shared in the end, but for most people, those are passing states that flow together. When he said it was time for the Jedi to end, he meant the zealotry of their dedication to Light or Dark, and that he trusts Rey and Ben to create a new order who embrace that duality and use it to foster greater connections with each other rather than dividing them into Light and Dark.
Yes, I am pretty much stealing the anti-hate message from Universal Century Gundam of bringing Oldtypes and Newtypes together for a better tomorrow and adapting it to Star Wars. Squeezing Luke into the mold of Amuro Rey is not the best thing that could have been done for the sequel trilogy, but it is a better way of handling him than the Jake Skywalker effect that the actual movies did.
Also, the secrets of interplanetary spectral projection can die with Luke because the Force does not need constant feature creep.
THE MATTER OF SNOKE
Snoke was probably the best example of wasted potential in the sequel trilogy, and I cannot do much about him for now since I am respecting the existence of The Last Jedi for the purposes of this post and treating him as Actually A Doombot without any foreshadowing is just weak writing. Aside from relevant mentions for fleshing out the motivations of Kylo Ren and Hux, I will leave Snoke out of this movie.
Similar to Luke’s spectral projections, the secrets of Force Facetime can die with Snoke.
THE MATTER OF MAZ
A character cannot say, “A good question, for another time,” in the first movie of a planned trilogy and then never find that other time (unless angering the audience is the point, I suppose). As much as I hate her for trying to be more-Yoda-than-Yoda, I suppose Maz is a sensible person for the Resistance to contact in the early parts of the movie to help Rey find a new lightsaber. She tells them that Anakin’s had been recovered by a Cloud City scavenger crew employed by Lando, who gave it to her for safekeeping (as a precaution against a Sith rising and taking out what was left of the Jedi, as Lando would have been aware happened before, establishing Lando as the one legacy character in these sequels who actually learns from past mistakes). Lando had mentioned to Maz that she was not the only person he was entrusting with a stray lightsaber, so she directs the Resistance to get in touch with him back on Cloud City.
I realize this would be two movies in a row where Maz’s whole role is to tell people to go to another place, but (a) it makes sense for Lando to have done his part for the Republic from his old place (much like it made sense for Jabba to always be on Tatooine in the original and prequel trilogies), (b) Maz laying low to avoid incurring further damage from the First Order would be a fair course of action for her, and (c) I do not care to do more with Maz than having her direct the protagonists to a better character.
THE MATTER OF CHEWBACCA
The first priority for Chewbacca is to give him a moment of grief for Leia (likewise for C-3PO and R2-D2). Aside from that, I think it is fine for Chewbacca to not have a prominent role as long as he is not reduced to just being a living accessory for the new protagonists. He will certainly go to meet Lando and go on the Resistance’s subsequent raid of the Canto Bight vaults, and I think he would be a good choice to get Rey out of there after Finn’s death. For the final confrontation, though, he will stay on the Millennium Falcon as Poe’s co-pilot, and he will have a heartfelt reunion with Ben afterwards where he will forgive Ben for killing Han.
THE MATTER OF PALPATINE
Palpatine is dead. The messages are a ploy orchestrated by Hux to distract Kylo Ren and undermine his authority over the First Order.
THE MATTER OF THE KNIGHTS OF REN
I am taking the obvious approach and making these the students who left Luke to follow Kylo Ren. Their individual identities will not matter because there is too much for this movie to do already.
THE MATTER OF REPUBLIC VS EMPIRE/FIRST ORDER
A common, and entirely valid, complaint about the sequel trilogy is that they never established any reasonable details for what happened in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens to hamstring the Republic and allow the First Order to not only form but reach levels of power unseen by even the Empire. With the other former Rebel leaders all dead by now, it falls on Lando to give that explanation. Without getting caught up in writing the exact dialogue, he gives an Infodump like, “We were all too close to the action when we took down the Empire; hell, I had to fly as fast as I could to not blow myself up along with their Death Star; so we all thought the whole galaxy would’ve been sick of being stomped on, too. It didn’t cross our minds that so many people were happy giving up their freedom so that the Empire could think for them. We didn’t know that it wasn’t good enough to just keep the Empire’s people out of the Republic’s top positions, that we also had to look out for people who didn’t know what to do with themselves after the Empire was gone. The Republic was broken from the inside before it even started, so it was just a matter of time before they’d fall apart once anyone like the First Order showed up to take over being responsible for the people again. When we beat them this time, we’ll need to bridge that gap, to convince the people that the Republic can give them the lives they want, but hey, we can worry about that after we’ve gotten rid of the First Order.”
I think that gives a reasonable framework for what happened without either diving too deeply into political theory or taking too long adding context for movies past (the fact that this whole matter is still so muddled after the first two movies is a damning indictment of their failures, but I digress), and it also ties in with the ideas of fostering understanding and willing unity that I am leaning on for rebuilding Rey/Kylo Ren/Luke. I think a free-spirited gambler with a heart of gold having had a blind spot for the pro-authoritarian tendencies in many people outside of his immediate contacts is reasonable, and it is a more sensible reason for why the First Order is able to rise after Return of the Jedi and reign despite losing Starkiller Base than anything the actual movies provide.
Does this integrate well with the First Order’s obsession about finding Luke during the previous movies? No, but I am willing to frame that as a personal failing of Snoke in part of Hux’s general stance against Force-users having (or perceiving themselves as having) outsized effects on the state of affairs, i.e. Luke’s presence or absence didn’t really affect the First Order but Snoke assumed it must because Luke was the last Jedi and so suppressed the First Order for no good reason.
THE MATTER OF SCANNING FOR THE MILLENNIUM FALCON
The Force Awakens essentially made it stupid to ever use the Millennium Falcon as something that can operate covertly, which is a very curious thing to do for a smuggler’s ship. The best I can offer here is that the Resistance are so desperately low on ships that they have no choice but to keep using it.
THE MATTER OF THOSE BOMBERS
Off the top of my head, I think the infamous bombers only show up during the opening sequence of The Last Jedi. Thus, I am content to let them have been antiques used out of desperation because nothing better was available at the Resistance base that the First Order was assaulting when the movie began. Give that explanation in a throwaway line, and let us never speak of them again.
THE MATTER OF HYPERSPACE TRACKING
Of all the things in The Last Jedi that changed canon, this might be the least problematic. Tracking spaceships was possible before (albeit requiring a tracker to be attached to the ship in question), so having the First Order improve that technology is plausible, particularly if the improved form is limited to needing a star destroyer or larger ship to provide whatever energy and supporting systems it needs to work (yes, that is a shot at the opening chase in The Rise of Skywalker). I would not push for this to be a core element to the plot, but Hux having spearheaded an initiative that recovered an intact hyperspace tracker from the remains of the fleet in The Last Jedi can be part of why he is looked at with respect. Accepting this as canon alongside Starkiller Base also helps with integrating technological prowess into the First Order’s portfolio, which fits with them developing an anti-Force droid.
THE MATTER OF HYPERSPACE RAMMING
Holdo waited as long as she could for the other Resistance ships to move away before ramming into the Supremacy, and there was clearly a delayed effect that took out many of the other ships in the First Order fleet. Putting those together, this issue can be addressed with a throwaway line that the shockwave from hyperspace ramming is unpredictable and doing it in proximity to other allied ships is as likely to take them out as it is the opposition. It is not the most satisfying explanation since there remains the question of using a fleet of AI-operated crafts to do it (and trying to introduce some kind of anti-droid EMP seems likely to screw over how ship navigation works in Star Wars as a whole), but I am trying to work with what The Last Jedi dumped on my lap for this one.
THE MATTER OF FORCE GHOSTS
One of the most notable differences in the remastered versions of the original trilogy is replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen for the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Putting that together with all of the other Force ghosts in the movies being Jedi and only ever interacting with other Jedi (I am counting Luke’s spectral projection in The Last Jedi as something different from a Force ghost), it stands to reason that (a) only Jedi may become Force ghosts, (b) only Jedi can see Force ghosts, and (c) whether Force ghosts truly exist as autonomous entities or merely as figments of the Force exerting influence on still-living Jedi is ambiguous. Thus, whether Yoda actually called down lightning from beyond the grave or prompted Luke to do so subconsciously in a moment of emotional turmoil is left as an intentional gap for the audience to ponder on as a symbolic parallel to how the memories of deceased people can live on and continue to influence others (again, I know this is not the best explanation, but The Last Jedi made a mess of canon in so many ways [to say nothing about its ridiculous violations of basic physics, like having arcing mortar-style weapons work in space] that one movie cannot fix them all while still working as its own movie).
THE MATTER OF BEING FORCE-SENSITIVE
Anakin, Luke, Leia, and Rey (and arguably Finn) are all precedents for a person growing up unaware of being Force-sensitive, and both Leia and Rey managed to manifest explicit displays of the Force without training (granted, Leia’s moment at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is ambiguous as to if she did anything or just received a signal from Luke, but going with the former helps me out here). Thus, the child on Canto Bight at the end of The Last Jedi was a reminder that the Force can and will continue regardless of the state of the Jedi order. The Resistance will pick that child up as part of a raid on Canto Bight’s vaults, and he will end up becoming the first of Ben’s disciples in the Skywalker order (yes, ahead of even the surviving Knights of Ren, since I feel that is necessary for metanarrative purposes when it comes to respecting The Last Jedi's existence), but nothing further is needed on that front because there is so much ground for this movie to cover already.
THE MATTER OF ANAKIN’S LIGHTSABER
Due to the destruction of Anakin’s lightsaber during The Last Jedi, the first mission that we see Rey participate in will be tracking down a new lightsaber in the vaults of Canto Bight. The remains of this one will be stolen by a Knight of Ren during Kylo Ren’s initial proposal who defects back to Hux’s faction, taking this relic as an offering. It will be repaired for use by Hux’s anti-Force droid.
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:
The dead speak! The galaxy has heard a mysterious broadcast, a threat of REVENGE in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE.
GENERAL LEIA ORGANA dispatches secret agents to gather intelligence, while REY, the last hope of the Jedi, trains for battle against the diabolical FIRST ORDER.
Meanwhile, Supreme Leader KYLO REN rages in search of the phantom Emperor, determined to destroy any threat to his power….
Looking over all of the opening text crawls, there is a general pattern of a concise statement to set the tone followed by (typically) three sentences to explain the present state of things, with the last one ending in an ellipsis that continues straight into the movie’s opening scene. There may also be semirandom capitalization thrown in, usually but not always highlighting key people or factions.
Chaos rises! Following the destruction of the Republic’s capital planets, other worlds have been haphazardly swearing fealty to the FIRST ORDER or turning to their own preservation, fracturing past alliances and crippling trade.
At Supreme Leader Kylo Ren’s command, the First Order is scouring the galaxy for the origins of a mysterious broadcast, a threat from beyond the grave in the voice of the late Emperor Palpatine. Despite the protests of General Hux, the Supreme Leader listens to no counsel, causing many to question his ability to lead them into the future.
Meanwhile, the RESISTANCE survivors fled from Crait on the Millennium Falcon, only to find themselves facing a new loss….
It is slightly longer than usual, and the flow between the second and third sentences is janky, but those are the consequences of the insufficient contextualization from the previous two movies (and a natural result of everything that I am writing here being a rough draft because I am not spending the time to work this stuff out for professional release).
As I have no plans to develop a full script, I will just make an outline from here. I might revisit it in the future if this post draws attention, but for now, I think this is more than enough for something that I am doing on a whim.
The Resistance is having a funeral for Leia.
After an overall establishing shot, the camera zooms in on Chewbacca, with C-3PO and R2-D2 nearby, lingering as he makes some mournful growls.
Slow pan to Poe, Finn, and Rose, with some other Resistance members around them. Finn asks what comes next. Poe says the body should be taken to the Millennium Falcon’s medical bay after everyone disperses so they can find out what happened.
Rose flinches into an expression of concern just before the camera cuts away.
Cut to Rey watching from the Falcon’s cockpit. BB-8 enters slowly and beeps; she responds that of course she is upset about Leia’s death, but that is not the only thing on her mind.
Rey looks down at the broken remains of Anakin’s lightsaber. BB-8 beeps, and Rey says that she does not know how to repair it either, so she will need to find a new one in order to stand against Kylo Ren, the man who took away both her biological and adoptive parents.
The First Order is having a leadership meeting. More seats around the table are empty than occupied.
As a recording in Palpatine’s voice finishes playing, Kylo Ren whines angrily that they have made no progress in finding out who is sending the broadcasts.
Hux starts to say that they should have higher priorities than chasing the ghosts of the past Empire but is Force-choked as he mentions Darth Vader.
Another officer points out that Kylo Ren cannot afford to lose more generals, at which point Kylo Ren releases Hux and mutters that Hux is lucky to have been given such a high position by Snoke.
Hux responds that, despite his lack of the Force, he earned his position with the success of Starkiller Base and his oversight of the hyperspace tracker development before segueing into mentioning that, much as he has dispatched a recovery team to search the remains of the Supremacy’s fleet for any intact trackers, he can organize a team to look into the source of the broadcasts.
Kylo Ren dismisses Hux’s offer and says he will take it under the responsibilities of the Knights of Ren instead.
Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8, and Rose are in a room of the Falcon waiting nervously for the results of Leia’s autopsy.
Finn mentions Rey has been distant lately, as if she was not even there when they pillaged a First Order supply ship after escaping from Crait, and asks if anything is wrong.
Rey says that she has been thinking about what happened aboard the Supremacy and what she can do to defeat Kylo Ren the next time they meet.
Rose mentions they barely have enough resources to look after themselves, let alone thinking about fighting the First Order. Poe agrees and says he has been thinking about who can help them resupply now that they do not have the Republic’s support.
A Resistance doctor enters and says that Leia died from a toxin. The equipment needs more time to search through its databases for the exact source, so he suggests that everyone be scanned in the meantime to make sure nobody else is being poisoned.
Montage of scanning people one by one, with close-ups of their expressions (similar to the blood testing scene in The Thing).
Rey is distracted, Poe is serious but not outwardly concerned, Finn is nervous and muttering to reassure himself, Rose is shut off and anxious, and Chewbacca is Chewbacca.
The doctor suggests everyone look after their own food preparation while he scans the rest of the Resistance and reviews the results, adding that there are few enough people left that they can do that for themselves.
Cut to Hux meeting with some of the First Order leaders from scene 2. Hux pressing a button on a remote, causing a low droning note to play for the rest of the scene. After everyone puts on expressions of physical discomfort, he apologizes for the inconvenience but says it is necessary for them to start getting used to that effect.
Hux says that he had joined the First Order to take away the worries of the people by bringing peace and security to the galaxy instead of relying on the Republic’s mediators to coax people into an endless string of compromises until they have lost all sense of who they used to be. Despite agreeing with Snoke’s vision, the former Supreme Leader’s obsession with the Force made the First Order waste half of its resources on a pointless chase after one man who was not going to singlehandedly alter their rule. Now, Kylo Ren is repeating that same mistake, and the overgrown child lacks any real vision to make up for it.
A few others chime in with their doubts about chasing after the source of the obviously-fake broadcasts. They voice concerns that they are eroding their support, both internally and externally, as the lack of results will drive Kylo Ren into taking more extreme actions.
One mentions that they are helpless against a Force-user, to which Hux replies by motioning at the remote and saying that emitters are being installed through more of the ship as they speak and that he has scientists working on something further. With a little more time, they will take back control of the First Order, erase the remnants of the Resistance, and guide the galaxy to a new age free from the tyranny of the Force.
Rey, Finn, and Poe contact Maz. Rey says she needs another lightsaber to confront Kylo Ren.
Maz explains that she had gotten Anakin’s lightsaber from Lando and says that he would know where any others he had recovered might be.
After the call ends, the Resistance doctor enters and says the medical equipment identified the toxin as Haysian ore. He starts to says that Poe also had traces in his system when Finn runs off, chased by everyone else.
Finn finds Rose and confronts her, demanding to see her medallion. She resists at first, but as the others arrive, she relents and hands it to him. Finn examines the medallion and then draws a blaster on Rose, saying that one of the edges was shaved recently.
Rose is revealed to be a covert agent for the First Order. Though they brand her a traitor, Finn argues for her to be exiled rather than killed. The current state of the Resistance must be known to the First Order already, and she did not hear their plans for where to go next, so killing her would just add blood on their hands without making them any safer. They should just leave her behind, scatter as intended, and regroup when they are ready to face the First Order.
Finn finishes by saying that, no matter how much they hate her, executing her will not help them protect what they love.
Kylo Ren approaches Hux on their star destroyer’s bridge, accompanied by the Knights of Ren.
Kylo Ren expresses frustrations that Hux has not done more to support his search for the broadcast’s source, wasting resources instead on the pursuit of science projects without the approval of the Supreme Leader.
Hux says that the First Order needs real leadership, not smoke and mirrors, and that the broadcasts pose no real threat to their power because there is no proof that they are anything more than a hoax.
Kylo Ren starts to Force-choke Hux again, saying that he no longer sees the value in keeping a general who lacks faith in the Supreme Leader.
Close-up on Hux’s head as he struggles to breathe, then zoom out to show one of his arm spasms drops the remote from his sleeve into his hand.
The droning note from scene 4 plays on the bridge, and Hux is released from the Force-choke. As Kylo Ren and the Knights hold their heads, Hux says he agrees that the First Order needs a leader who inspires faith in their cause, which is why he is taking command. He orders the Knights of Ren to detain Kylo Ren, and when they hesitate, he orders the soldiers on the bridge to detain all of them.
The Knights grab Kylo Ren, and they fight their way out of the bridge collectively. The droning note spreads into the halls of the star destroyer, growing louder as they make a hasty retreat to the nearest hangar.
Some veterans from the assault on Jakku rally around the Knights of Ren, and the lot of them escape on a support craft.
As they prepare to jump to hyperspace, Kylo Ren says he knows where to go for more power beyond even what his grandfather had.
Cut to Rey’s profile before panning around for a view through the Falcon’s cockpit to reveal the end of a hyperspace jump coming out in view of Bespin.
As they approach the planet, a transmission from the surface asks them to state their purpose. Chewbacca speaks a few growls, and the transmission directs them to land at Cloud City.
Lando meets them at the landing pad. He says that he is glad to see some familiar faces after all the effort it has taken to hide his involvement with the Resistance from the First Order’s patrols ever since the fall of the Republic, and he asks how Leia is. Chewbacca responds, and the two of them hug.
Cut to everyone sitting in a formal room. Poe expresses disbelief at how poorly things have gone for the Resistance after he had thought destroying Starkiller Base would turn the tide of the war, and Lando gives his infodump on how the First Order rose.
Throughout the exchange, Rey is clearly distracted and sitting a bit removed from everyone else.
After the exposition, Rey asks where they can get her a new lightsaber.
Lando says the nearest one he knows is held by a casino owner on Canto Bight who keeps one in his vaults as a vanity piece.
Poe asks Finn if he had not just gone there a few weeks ago, but Finn brushes it off.
Rey snaps to attention suddenly and readies her staff, saying that they might not need to go that far.
Hux is speaking with a scientist in some droid laboratory on his star destroyer.
Hux says that the Force-user disruption device worked well, though he had not expected to field test it so soon. He asks how the rest of the project’s development is going.
The scientist thanks Hux for the footage from Kylo Ren’s “duel” with Luke, as it has given them some insights that their archival recordings lacked. They were able to find some design details from research on the old Separatist army’s droids, but putting everything together will take some more time. They have a prototype mostly ready but need more time to ensure all of the systems will work together, so it will take a few more days to complete testing, especially with the latest weapon upgrades needing extra care to avoid collateral damage.
During the exchanger, monitors around/behind the scientist flash brief images of close-ups of droideka, General Grievous, and lightsabers amidst other images of Clone War-era droid details and past fights involving Force-users that were witnessed by either the Empire or the First Order.
A messenger knocks at Hux’s door and says they have tracked Kylo Ren’s escape vessel to Bespin.
Hux laughs it off as Kylo Ren running off to some Outer Rim backwater after realizing the First Order was too much for him to handle by himself. Hux says they have little to worry about as long as their mole is keeping on eye on things.
Kylo Ren and his followers are being led down a hall by a couple of Lando’s servants. They stop outside of a door, the servants say she is inside, and Kylo Ren mind-tricks them into making sure nobody else comes this way.
Kylo Ren shouts to Rey that he has come to talk, not to fight.
Switch perspective into the room. Poe asks how they were found, and Finn says bitterly that he has an idea. Before he can explain, Rey growls that she will kill Kylo Ren with her bare hands if she has to and opens the door.
Rey tries to use the Force on him, and Kylo Ren responds in kind, causing a stalemate (similar to Anakin vs Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith). While they grimace from the effort, Lando suggests that Rey back down because Kylo Ren did not bring enough back-up for a full assault.
As their stalemate continues, Kylo Ren explains that he has been kicked out of the First Order and is willing to ally with the Resistance to fight against them, offering his strength and the Knights of Ren in return for tutoring Rey.
Rey relents and takes out the pieces of Anakin’s lightsaber. She says this is what happened the last time Kylo Ren asked her to join him, accuses him of blinding her with his devious charms when she thought there was some good in him, and says she can see now that he is just a disease who has done nothing but destroy the people who she looked up to.
Kylo Ren says he cannot change the past but they can reshape the future, together.
Rey tries to scatter the Knights of Ren with a Force-thrust, but they all put up a hand to throw her off balance instead, and a fight breaks out. Poe, Finn, and Lando try to provide supporting fire while Rey and Chewbacca engage in melee. Kylo Ren grabs an improvised weapon from the room rather than using his lightsaber.
During a bind, Kylo Ren says that he can show Rey how to harness her anger to grow stronger, and maybe she can help him heal his past wounds in return. She does not hesitate to break their bind and strike him in the face, staggering him, but is prevented from finishing him when a Knight of Ren tackles her.
Chewbacca breaks the neck of a Knight engaged with him, prompting Kylo Ren to realize they are outmatched and call for a retreat.
Rey tries to pursue, but Finn grabs her shoulder and says to just forget about Kylo Ren for now because, without the First Order, he is nobody.
As Kylo Ren and his followers force their way through a crowd to get back to their ship, one of the Knights of Ren separates from them. The camera shows their ship taking off and then pans to the Knight pulling on the garb of a dead bystander before revealing that he has the remains of Anakin’s lightsaber.
Cut back to Poe asking Finn what he had meant about having an idea how they were found. Finn says Kylo Ren probably tapped into First Order surveillance systems scanning for the Millennium Falcon.
Lando shrugs it off as something to learn from and offers to lend them a different ship while he and the old droids distract the First Order with the Falcon in the process of making contact with other allies of the Resistance.
They agree on a place to meet again after some time to decide what comes next.
Kylo Ren is talking to himself, staring at his (inactive) lightsaber while the Knights fly the ship.
He does not understand where he went wrong, why Rey is still so caught up in the past. He came from a storied lineage, and it has brought him nothing but heartbreak and pressure, so she should be happy to be free of that burden.
Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, and BB-8 are landing on Canto Bight on a ship borrowed from Lando.
As they exit the ship and take in a view over the race track, Finn despairs that nothing they have done seems to have made any difference, whether blowing up Starkiller Base or freeing the animals.
Poe says they always have another chance to set things right as long as they are still alive.
Finn hustles over to a casino employee to check that they can park where they landed, who complains that he is as rude as the First Order.
Poe separates to make a distraction (Finn asks him to kidnap some slave children when he is finished with that) while the others find a terminal that BB-8 can connect to. The droid brings up a map of the casino and shows the security system detects someone in an unmapped area that Lando had mentioned as the vault’s location.
The group goes to the vault, encountering no resistance and noticing signs of fighting along the way. When they reach the vault, they see a group of First Order stormtroopers with an officer approaching the lightsaber’s display.
Rey Force-pulls the lightsaber to herself and rushing in as she activates it.
The officer pushes a remote button, and she stumbles to her knees. The officer gloats that they are not to be trifled with now that the cancer of Kylo Ren has been excised and orders the troopers to execute the lot of them, starting with Rey.
Finn throws himself in front of Rey and takes a fatal shot. Rey freezes, so Chewbacca grabs her and runs out.
Cut to Poe standing outside by their ship when he hears alarms going off. Chewbacca runs out of the casino carrying Rey, with BB-8 following. Poe tries to ask what happened, but Chewbacca just growls while running into the ship, and Poe agrees they can talk later before ducking in to take off.
Cut back and forth between Rey and Kylo Ren considering turning their lightsabers on themselves.
During the cuts, Poe has an outburst of grief, with BB-8 comforting him, while the Knights of Ren continue flying their ship stoically.
After some self-pity, Kylo Ren stops and realizes how telling Rey affected her, even if he did not kill them himself. His blind pursuit of power lead to him repeating his own traumas on countless others, and for what? For Snoke to just use him as a way of getting to Rey and pitting them against each other for the prize of being Snoke’s apprentice? Now that he is free of Snoke, why does he continue to follow that path?
After some self-pity, Rey stops and realizes that Finn was a former stormtrooper, taken as a child and programmed from birth to be loyal to the First Order, yet he broke free of that to save her while she had been focused on giving in to her hatred for Kylo Ren. If she had taken a calmer approach, maybe Finn would still be alive. Does that make her any less of a Sith than Kylo Ren? And even if not, what does that say about her judgment of Luke’s moment of hesitation when she had been ready to kill him, too?
Kylo Ren stands and declares that he casting off that name since it was just another tool that Snoke used to take advantage of him. From now on, he is Ben Solo, and he walks his own path.
Rey apologizes to Luke, saying that she now has some understanding of what it takes to find the goodness hidden in someone and how easy it is to succumb of evil.
Luke’s voice speaks to both, telling them that if they really mean what they are saying, they need to go to some location other than the planned meeting point with Lando. Both call out for their respective pilots to do so.
Hux is in the hangar of his star destroyer as a small transport is landing.
Hux boards it with a pair of guards to meet with the missing Knight of Ren. He takes the broken lightsaber, shoots the Knight, and orders the guards to wipe any surveillance equipment on the craft so that they can finally replace that tiresome fake Palpatine broadcast with news of Supreme Leader Hux thwarting an assassination attempt by the cowardly traitor Kylo Ren.
The protagonists’ ship lands on a planet.
Rey tells the others to stay in the ship while she heads out, following the draw of the Force.
Rey and Ben come face-to-face. Rey draws and activates her new lightsaber, prompting Ben to do the same, but Luke appears between them to diffuse the situation.
Luke gives his speech on striving for understanding rather than absolutes, concluding that whatever matters they have to settle can wait until the First Order is dealt with.
Rey and Ben agree, shaking hands hesitantly.
Ben says he expects the First Order is keeping tabs on both his ship and the Millennium Falcon, so bringing them together should draw a response from Hux.
Rey says when they are expecting to meet Lando and suggests meeting near Jakku a few days later. They exchange “may the Force be with you”s.
Rey returns to her ship and is surprised when the Force-sensitive boy from Canto Bight asks who the old man was.
The Millennium Falcon reunites with the borrowed ship.
Lando mentions that he found some Outer Rim worlds willing to send fleets in support of the Resistance, especially with the First Order preoccupied with reasserting control elsewhere.
Led by Poe, Lando, and Rey, they decide to go ahead with meeting Ben and assaulting the Hux’s fleet.
Hux is informed that the Millennium Falcon and Ben’s stolen ship are both at an asteroid field near Jakku. He gives a grandiose speech about crushing them personally and moves to engage.
As the star destroyers come out of hyperspace, they launch TIE fighters. The Falcon evades, but Ben’s stolen ship is destroyed immediately.
Cut to inside the Falcon, showing Ben and the Knights of Ren watching alongside the Resistance as the Outer Rim fleet pours out of the asteroid field to engage the TIE fighters.
Ben points out Hux’s star destroyer for Poe and Lando to fly by. As they do, Chewbacca releases a boarding pod carrying Rey, Ben, the Knights, and some Resistance soldiers.
Ben directs the Knights to lead the Resistance soldiers in capturing the bridge while he and Rey go to Hux’s private quarters, hoping to find the controls for the anti-Force emitters.
After a cut to the battle in space shows the Resistance is slowly being overwhelmed, cut back to Rey and Ben cutting through the door to Hux’s quarters. A skeletal droid steps out of an alcove and assaults them with the anti-Force sound. They try deflecting shots from its blasters, but the ricochets are absorbed by its personal shield.
Hux appears on a monitor and taunts them for their predictability.
Rey spies an opening and tries to strike, but she is cut down first when a third arm lashes out with Anakin’s lightsaber.
As a fourth arm extends to pick up Rey’s lightsaber for its own use, Ben recalls his Jedi training with Luke, putting aside his feelings to channel the Force. He has a dramatic fight with the droid where he comes out on top, then calmly Force-chokes Hux through the monitor just as the other fighters breach the bridge.
The Resistance soldiers set the star destroyer on a collision course with the rest of the fleet, and everyone heads for escape pods. Ben is carrying Rey’s body.
Cut back to the battle in space, where the star destroyer collision throws the First Order’s forces into disarray and allows the Resistance to win.
The Resistance is holding a funeral for Rey on Jakku.
Ben has a moment of tension with Chewbacca where he asks forgiveness for killing Han. Chewbacca punches the spot where he shot Ben, and then they hug.
After moments of mourning from everyone important, Ben takes the boy from Canto Bight aside. Ben says the Skywalker name ended with Luke, but the blood still lives in him, so he will bring back the name Skywalker as the Jedi of the future, starting with the boy.
Cue John Williams end credits music.
Not the best script by any means, but as a rough draft built on basic intuition and minimal review, I feel fine with it. Having my hands tied by trying to maintain continuity with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi felt very restrictive due to what those two movies were like, so coming up with something coherent was all I aimed for. A real script would also need consideration for timing/pacing and development of actual dialogue, but that is beyond my purposes.
Next time, I get some actual freedom to have fun with rewriting The Last Jedi!