A puppet being operated by the real villain?
But why have a dime store Palpatine if the plan all along was to use the real thing?
Because that’s how Palpatine operates. Masks, deceptions and lies. Snoke was just a more sophisticated version of wearing a hood and keeping his face in a strategically placed shadow.
That’s a nice in-universe explanation, but in reality it’s almost certain, that JJ intended for Snoke to be the big bad, and when RJ dispatched him, they had to bring back Palpatine in some form to up the ante. Had it been their intention to bring back Palpatine, they would logically have introduced him as the puppet master in a cameo at the end of TLJ. Additionally RJ clearly made TLJ with the intention to break free from what came before, whilst TROS seems to do the opposite promising a whole host of connections to the past.
I have to disagree with your interpretation of TLJ. That is the message that hermit Luke and Kylo Ren share. Both are proved wrong by the rest of the movie’s plot. The end of the movie is about embracing exactly what Luke said they didn’t need before Rey and Yoda brought him back to himself. And Kylo is trying desperately to be bad and be consumed by the dark side and yet he can’t seem to manage it. He’s trying to convince himself that he needs to destroy the past so he can be bad enough. But that is not RJ’s message in TLJ. Luke executes the very single handed battle with his lasersword against incredible odds and creates a legend, reminding Kylo and us that he will not be the last Jedi - meaning he is embracing the past and letting it carry forward. Quite the opposite of breaking free from what came before. And there is no hint that JJ is going to undo anything.
I disagree. TLJ spends most of its time deconstructing the mythology of Star Wars. It then reconstructs it in some form, but not by embracing the past. Luke’s last stand is not a reaffirmation of the reality of his legend in-universe, it is a ruse, which tells the audience, that legends and myths aren’t real, but they can serve a purpose when others choose to believe in them. This is in stark contrast to the OT, where the legend of Luke Skywalker is real in-universe. The Luke of the OT is the guy who really faces down the bad guys with his laser sword, whereas the Luke at the end of TLJ is an illusionist of sorts, intent on perpetuating a legend in-universe, while the viewer has been made aware it is all just smoke and mirrors.
This brings up the question of what Luke’s legend actually was, in universe, after the events of ROTJ.
Is Luke a Jedi and hero who can singlehandedly dispatch an AT-AT with a lightsaber and who blew up the Death Star, who defeated not only Vader but the Emperor in a single stroke? If so, I can see Luke wanting to distance himself from this story since it is rather deceptive.
Or is Luke in the minds of the people more of an aspirational figure whom they know is all-too human, and who only managed to topple an empire due to his compassion and loyalty helped by his powerful friends and family? This is a legend he would probably embrace but it isn’t as alluring to the everyday person so I would bet that most of the galaxy thinks of him as the Jedi superman.
So I think it’s very apt that Luke would act as an illusionist in embracing this admittedly false legend in TLJ. Luke doesn’t ultimately use the lightsaber to defeat his enemies, he throws it away in favor of a more compassionate, human approach. This is now lost to the galaxy in favor of his newly-affirmed legend of Jedi superman, and could be a sinister turn for his legacy and history.