Sherlock’s recent comment for reference:
Solid ideas, RogueLeader. Regarding Rey and the “choice” Kylo gives her, I’d like to be able to emphasize that Kylo thinks the only way they’ll be strong enough to defeat Palpatine is if Rey goes to the Dark Side, just as he did. (“The Dark Side is more powerful!” and whatnot.) Subtextually, this would also be Kylo’s way of validating the choices he’s made this entire trilogy. (“If Rey joins me, and we defeat Palpatine, it will prove that I was right to go down this dark path.”)
So basically, you’d have Rey, who wants to kill Palpatine as a Jedi, but is constantly struggling to avoid slipping into the Dark Side throughout the film. You’d have Kylo, who also wants to defeat Palpatine, but wants to do it through the Dark Side. And you’d have Palpatine, who wants Rey to kill him using the Dark Side, so that she’ll be deep enough into the Dark Side that he can possess her and complete his resurrection.
The Quarters fight could be about Kylo saying “You need to accept it, Rey. This is the only way you’ll be strong enough to face Palpatine. Give in to the Dark Side.” “No!” (This would also, theoretically, come right after Rey’s Dark Side Dagger Vision, if that concept is still in the cards; so the whole scene would sort of revolve around this idea of Rey succumbing, rather than “This is the knife that killed your parents! Ain’t that kooky?”)
Structurally, Finn serves as the angel on Rey’s shoulder, trying to convince her of her goodness (“That doesn’t sound like you. Rey, I know you…”). Kylo is the devil, telling her that she has to submit in order to defeat Palpatine. But when he offers her his hand, she steps back, because she wants to believe that she can still save the day as a Jedi, and not as a Sith. (“I did want to take your hand. Ben’s hand.”) It’s not a clash of goals, but of means and ideologies.
When Kylo destroys the McGuffin in the Death Star, she’s not just mad because he’s made her whole quest pointless. She’s mad because the only way she can possibly get to Exegol now is by joining Kylo on the Dark Side. That doohickey was her only chance of finding Exegol on her own, as a Jedi. And Kylo’s destroyed that chance. You bastard, I’m gonna flippin’ murder you…
Kylo is also torn between the Light, represented by Leia, and the Dark, represented by Palpatine. Maybe Palpatine doesn’t want to possess Kylo because Leia’s influence is still too strong in him or something? (“I sense conflict in you still. You must prove yourself worthy of my Fleet.”)
Thus, Rey’s character arc in the film would supplement Kylo’s, and vice versa. They’d feed into each other and enhance each thematically.
I don’t know if any of this makes sense. My brain is kind of fried from working with the same few audio clips all night haha.
This is actually funny, Sherlock, because I started typing all of this before I read your comment, but we clearly were on the same wavelength tonight!
With all of this in mind, this is what I’m thinking now for a Rey Nobody edit where her parents don’t factor into the story:
Palpatine “tells” Kylo to kill Rey, not because he foresaw Rey killing him, but to make Kylo prove his worthiness. Which works well, since the theatrical film doesn’t say that Palpatine wants Rey dead because she’ll kill him. Maybe he could give Kylo more reasons why he is offering this to him. Basically implying that he has been grooming Kylo his whole life to take over.
Possible lines to Kylo:
Long have I waited, for you to come home…
I don’t have long…
My spirit is weak…
You wouldn’t necessarily need to add any lines, and it would still be on the same level of the theatrical film’s level of explanation.
When Rey has her vision during training, she sees flashes of the battle, her friends in danger, and herself on the Sith throne. Maybe this isn’t necessary, but you could add a shot of Kylo somewhere there with her. (I think you could potentially edit that BTS shot of Kylo in his chambers and make it look like he is on Exegol. Or maybe a different shot of Kylo on Exegol could be used.)
Kylo tells Rey that if the Resistance goes to Exegol, they will all die. She will fail. Again, Palpatine could kill Rey and the Resistance on his own, using his fleet and followers. He just wants Kylo to prove that he has fully embraced the Sith path (or just the dark side) by killing Rey, his “light”.
The flashbacks during the Force bond duel would be replaced with “flashforwards”. Swap the first flashback with shots of the Resistance/Finn/Poe losing the battle, and the second flashback with Finn and Poe “dying”.
Then, the hangar revelation would be something like this.
Kylo: Rey, I know the rest of (y)our story.
Rey: Tell me.
Kylo: I saw what we will become. We won’t just have power. We’ll have his power. We will kill Palpatine, and take the throne. I feel the pull to the light, and you, the darkness. What Palpatine doesn’t know is that we’re a Dyad in the Force, Rey. Two that are one. Together, nothing will stand in our way. You know what you need to do. You know.
Just to point out, I don’t think Kylo sees this as him taking the Sith mantle. He sees it as taking their power away and using it for his own new order. In the end, though, his opinion that he is different than the Sith might just be misguided. But it is important for him to say that since we see Rey on the Throne in the vision.
So at this point in the film, these are our characters’ choices as they’ve been presented to them:
Rey can either join Kylo Ren and kill Palpatine, or face Palpatine as a Jedi and fail. Kylo can either kill Rey to earn the fleet, or find a way to defeat Palpatine with Rey by his side.
While Kylo’s choices are pretty similar, the crucial difference is Rey. We know this is an important distinction to Kylo. But for Rey, her choices are starkly contrasted. No new information is necessarily revealed to Rey, like in other versions I’ve suggested. Instead, Kylo’s theatrical argument for joining him is basically elaborated on (Which I think is a strength, since the Kylo/Rey dynamic is the strongest aspect of the Sequel Trilogy.) Kylo tells Rey that she won’t be strong enough to defeat Palpatine, and he’ll kill her friends. It isn’t until she confronts Palpatine does he present the third option: kill me and become the next Sith Lord. And this would be shocking to Rey, and the audience, because we weren’t expecting Palpatine to make Rey this offer. With the Rey Palpatine version, it seemed obvious.
And I think this editing plan will work well. I’m trying to think this through, but I think with this option, you don’t have to change any of the interactions with Palpatine (outside of the Rey Palpatine stuff). Palpatine knowing, or not knowing, about the Dyad works either way. So does either placement of the “my spirit will pass into you” line. I think this version of the film stays pretty faithful with the movie’s theatrical logic, outside of the Rey Palpatine stuff. The solution wasn’t to focus more on the Palpatine plot, it was focus LESS on the Palpatine plot!
So, this is what we replace the exposition about Rey’s parents with. Rey’s dark seed isn’t her dark origins, it’s her innate connection to Kylo Ren. They influence each other, both positively and negatively. They are each other’s Shadows. Can she be a Jedi if she shares a bond with the evil Supreme Leader? This is Rey’s inner conflict.
EDIT: I’m sure some people will tell me, “Instead of RogueLeader, you should call yourself ObviousLeader.” I know, I know. Maybe I have been overthinking this whole thing, but that just happens when you spend too much time thinking about this movie. At least now that I thought this through myself, I know what direction to take the Force Bond Duel and the Hangar Scene now.