Okay, okay… I’m spitballing here, it might sound crazy… but what if we’re approaching this backwards? What if the most straightforward way to sell Palpatine’s plan is to actually take him at his word at the end, and instead remove all traces of him wanting Rey dead?
Opening on Exogol: Palpatine offers the fleet “if you do as I ask.” Kylo, after a moment considering it, silently lowers his saber in agreement. Palpatine smiles menacingly to end the scene: a deal has been struck, but we the audience don’t know what. We can still guess, however, that it could be Rey-related, because Hal’s edit transitions right into Rey meditating.
Board room meeting now has a new context to it. When an officer asks Kylo what the Emperor wants, Kylo silences him immediately. We the audience don’t know what Kylo and the Emperor’s deal was, so we don’t know that Kylo’s outburst is unreasonable; on the contrary, we’re now more intrigued that Kylo is keeping this so secretive.
When Palpatine chastises Kylo after Pasaana, remove references to killing Rey. Full remaining dialog:
“Perhaps you have betrayed me. Do not make me turn my fleet against you.”
“I know where she’s going. She will never be a Jedi.”
“Make sure of it.”
We now know for certain, though we already suspected, that Kylo’s agreement involves Rey somehow. The threat, however, is still vague.
From here out, Kylo mentions twice aboard his ship on Kijimi that Palpatine tried to kill Rey as a kid, reveals that she’s a Palpatine, and suggests that they should team up instead. We think we get it now: not only is this the big reveal that Rey is a Palpatine, but it’s the big reveal of Kylo’s mission to kill her and finish the job.
After Endor, Palpatine says that Leia has ruined his plans. We assume this is because Kylo couldn’t kill her. But we’re still assuming wrong.
Finally, on Exegol, in a genuine third act twist, we learn the truth from Palpatine himself, unedited: he never wanted her dead, he wanted her here with him. The audience can now infer that bringing Rey to Exogol was Kylo’s true mission all along, and Kylo had lied to Rey about Palpatine trying to kill her as part of his attempt to manipulate her to his own ends, planning to betray Palpatine from the beginning. Even the times it seemed Kylo was genuinely trying to kill Rey, he was spiting the Emperor rather than serving him. And since Kylo must have actually known Palpatine’s true goal all along, as Ben he is now rushing back to Exogol because he knows Rey is playing into Palpatine’s hands.