I simply don’t understand how that NEED to make a strong OT-worthy Star Wars film has been lost, in the second freaking movie of the Trilogy.
When TFA came out, it was the first live-action Star Wars film since the Prequels. And the Prequels were thoroughly derided. What TFA needed to do, as a modern Star Wars film, was to reinvigorate the franchise and show that Star Wars could still be done well, with a respectful homage to the films that started it all and captured the hearts of so many fans. It needed new life.
After TFA proved that Star Wars was being treated well, and that George was no longer directly ruining it for everyone, the franchise could then continue in new and fresh ways. Granted, they could have created TLJ to be another typical adventure-fantasy-in-space, but that’s not what they did. They chose, now that they’ve got everyone’s attention, to turn expectations of the story on its head.
I could almost guarantee that if TLJ’s story beats exactly matched expectations of what people were speculating, many people would have accused the film of being predictable and boring.