It’s no secret that I thought TROS was garbage. It’s painfully mediocre and unimaginative. I feel it’s a very poor note on which to end the entire saga. I honestly feel that the story is better served to end with TLJ, thematically if not plot-wise. If that film makes the point that “they blow you up today, you’ll blow them up tomorrow,” having the Emperor “somehow” return with the largest fleet ever and need to be defeated again painfully literally doesn’t help. TROS does nothing to counter the idea that these things ebb and flow, with no true finality. Even Anakin’s voiceover suggests Rey needs to restore the balance as he did, necessarily temporarily. While the story’s themes were closed out in TLJ, TROS can’t even be said to have resolved the lingering plot! The First Order is immediately dwarfed by Palpatine’s “Final Order” apparently developed independently. The whole threat needing to be resolved is dredged up wholesale for this movie.
I digress. As I said, I think a TFA-TLJ duology is greater in total than a TFA-TLJ-TROS trilogy. The only thing that would make that feel weird is the trilogy structure the audience expects. As an absolute minimum, all one would need to do is either do away with the opening crawls (and finding another way to set the story and political landscape up for TFA), or replace their “Episode” labels with something like “DUOLOGY TITLE - Part I - THE FORCE AWAKENS.”
However, I wonder what else could be done. Could bits and pieces of TROS be used anywhere? One idea would be to intercut star destroyers being taken down across the galaxy with Luke’s “I will not be the last Jedi” speech, or otherwise imply the First Order will be taken down by civilians rising up via an ending montage sequence, though still ending on broom boy.
Imagine this as a two-issue comic depicting Luke being sought out from exile and spending himself to reinvigorate hope in the galaxy. It’s not Episode VII or anything, just a story. It would be in keeping with at least TLJ to not even be totally sure it’s legit, but the archetypes would feel right. And it’d get around the problem of “okay but they would have made a trilogy.”