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.
That’s the same idea that I’ve had: move the opening scene in The Rise of Skywalker to the very beginning of The Last Jedi, and have the whole “getting the wayfinder and finding Darth Sidious” thing be a part of Kylo’s training. We don’t get the bit where Sidious tells Kylo to kill Rey (since that is contradicted by him later revealing that he wants her alive) or the shot of the Star Destroyers rising from the ground.
After Sidious tells Kylo that “Rey is not who you expect”, we immediately cut to the opening Resistance evacuation scene where Billie Lourd says “Oh no” as a First Order fleet arrives above the atmosphere of D’Qar (no awkward shot of the camera zooming into the planet, since it’s jarring if we cut from the Kylo and Sidious scene to the shot of the camera zooming into the planet). Also remove the entire first throne room scene with Snoke and Kylo, since it would be confusing if we have Kylo meet Sidious before returning to get criticized and mocked by Snoke since he is continuing his training.