I was thinking about radical reordering to the trilogy, and toying with the idea of having Palpatine’s return be a ‘sidequest’ of Snoke’s as part of Kylo’s training. Sort of ‘I’ve detected a rival Sith, go deal with them for me’. That way you could keep some of Palpatine without it being an unsatisfying attempt to put a capper on the Skywalker saga, and keep it framed as part of this new, different story. Does anyone have any thoughts about that?
That got me on to thinking about any other kind of radical restructures we might have available to us. And fundamentally, any such option needs to first ask the question: What arcs are sufficient to build a trilogy (or duology or whatever) around? And the problem with the sequel trilogy is, nearly nobody has a satisfying arc. To my mind you have:
A nobody gets dragged into a destiny, shows force proficiency, becomes Luke Skywalker’s hope for the future of the Jedi, develops a relationship with the conflicted Kylo Ren (who exploits her nothingness to gain her power), grows in power, tracks down and kills a half-reborn Palpatine (who she learns she was related to all along), nearly dies but is saved by Kylo, declares herself Skywalker. It’s our second-strongest arc but Palpatine comes out of nowhere and other than the revelation that she’s related to him, her defeat of him doesn’t contribute to her growth.
The legacy of Vader wishes to emulate him, gains power under Snoke, is conflicted by his killing of his father, develops a relationship with the suprisingly powerful Rey, kills Snoke to gain more power, is conflicted by his meeting fails to convince Rey to join him for evil, is conflicted by his relationship with Luke Skywalker, finds and submits to Palpatine, then turns to the light, gets nearly killed by Palpatine, then dies to kill an injured Rey.
It’s our strongest arc but Palpatine comes out of nowhere, and isn’t relevant to his character arc.
Taking the above two alone, the strongest story between them is that they meet each other, develop this awkward relationship, turn on Snoke (for different reasons), attempt to convince each other of their philosophies, then Kylo turns to the light, and they defeat Palpatine. But again, that Palpatine ending just isn’t satisfying. I feel like the Palpatine and Snoke kills should be punctual steps on their journey together, but which utimately end with them in conflict with one another. I’m trying to think of moments which could be used as the punctual final point of their story. There’s the moment when they fight and Rey appears to kill Kylo (before healing him). But that’s about where I can’t take the thought any further.
This has inspired me. Here is one very radical take… swap TLJ and TROS.
Episode 8: DUEL OF THE FATES (Apparently this was the initial name for 9)
Crawls establishes it has been several months since TLJ, in this the Republic military has fought a desperate campaign but without its core infrastructure been defeated and that Snoke rules the galaxy. Rey trains under a PTSD Luke while Kylo trains under Snoke to become a true Sith Lord.
The first twenty minutes or so should be of TLJ, to wrap up some plot threads. Luke has to be handled in a subtle manner. I don’t want to destroy TLJ’s themes, but we can’t introduce all of them unresolved here, so instead, I would make his sadness more fear of Rey turning evil. It could start with the scenes of Luke training Rey (having agreed to train off-camera) and then later having his “who are you?” speech that plants seeds of doubt in his mind.
Meanwhile, Kylo Ren should train under Snoke. I mentioned a couple of days earlier this fanfilm (https://youtu.be/owrmLeX20CY?t=95) I think it would be a huge help here for a symbolic training scene within his mind. Snoke should be completely redubbed to maximize the little screentime we have.
The big drive for the plot will be Rey and Kylo’s force skype. This gets the two characters emotionally attached: which is the crux for the trilogy. I think it would be really effective to plant Luke’s seeds of doubt towards Rey’s willingness to the darkness through her repeated failures, and THEN when he sees those two touching hands gets angry, and Rey leaves to rejoin the fight. Afterward, Luke gets his failure speech and realizes his mistakes.
Meanwhile, Snoke is pleased to see Kylo is near complete with his training, the only remaining mission is to go to Exogel, the ancient Sith Homeworld, but does not tell him what is there.
This is where TROS begins. We won’t see the Resistance up until now to feel isolated just like Rey was on Ach-To, but now the rest of the characters get to shine. Getting our big three together in the second installment will let them build off each other, so we care more about the challenges they go through in 9 (because most of these characters don’t really have arcs in TROS).
So Kylo goes to Exogel and learns Palpatine is just vibing. No “Snoke is a clone” speech: the two Sith Masters won’t reveal their relations until the third act. Kylo wants to kill Palpatine there, but he offers him a secret fleet of Imperial Era Star Destroyers (let’s remove the superweapons for simplicity). All he must do is bring Rey.
Rey and company go to Desert Planet, then to Ice Planet, (where we learn about Poe) and then the Star Destroyer break-in. No Rey Palpatine. Next, the Death Star II, and when Rey finally understands the dangers of the dark side runs off back to Luke. The TROS scenes on Ach-To could be adjusted by cutting in footage of alive Luke from TLJ, but with the same general audio about confronting your fear (unlike himself).
Palpatine plots his “Final Order” when Rey arrives, alone. The Resistance fleet arrives to take down the “Final Order” in a great battle, but there is no triumphant victory: they get wrecked and their fleet destroyed. When all seems lost, Rey reveals she’s brought help: Kylo, his lightsaber recolored red. The two work together to kill Palpatine (to duel of the fates), and kiss at the end.
Rey returns to Ach-To to complete her training. Meanwhile, Kylo returns to the (redubbed) Snoke. Snoke explains his pleased he could defeat his Palpatine clone, which he engineered purely as a right to passage. (This should hopefully connect the ST and avoid the “villain of the week” issue).
Episode 9: THE LAST SKYWALKER
In the past year, Rey and Kylo continue to speak, trying to turn the other to their respective branches of the force, but neither has succeeded. Meanwhile, the Resistance is down to one starship, and it would appear hope is lost in the galaxy.
The Last Jedi. Poe blows up the dreadnought and is demoted. Finn runs into Rose and they have their adventures (hopefully trimmed). Rey will have a few scenes, but less so than in TLJ because a good amount was already shown. Her parents will finally be explored here, so maybe the cave.
Rey and Kylo have a final force call where they talk about who will turn. Then she turns herself into the Supremacy. The two kill Snoke (which would be a big twist considering he’s the main bad guy of the trilogy to this point) but still cannot agree with each other.
We also learn Rey is a nobody, and this is later followed up with the Broom Boy near the end movie, so that theme stays intact. Another possible theme saved is Finn’s arc. He and Phasma will now be rivals for an entire trilogy, so their final fight will be more impactful. The deleted scene of him getting stormtroopers on his side might also complete his arc of (1. Leaving the FO; 2. Meeting other Deserters; 3. Inspiring others to desert).
Crait happens (keep in mind regular TLJ has been running through and we are now around the 2 hr mark). Luke makes his big reveal after a trilogy of buildup, buying the Resistance time and inspiring hope throughout the galaxy, while Rey saves her actual friends whom she has relationships with from TROS.
The final scenes will be Ben standing back at the Death Star II from the last movie, meeting Han, and rejecting the dark side. Then, the last scene of TROS, but with Ben added into the shot, suggesting the two are finally together on the light side.