I think a big problem with the film and the new trilogy is a lack of a cohesive narrative arc. The seeds of it are there but they’re either misunderstood or completely ignored. The Force Awakens is about the still festering wounds of war. The Last Jedi is about rediscovering hope.
The Rise of Skywalker should be about reclamation and atonement. The Last Jedi set up the groundwork for potential conflict in this final film.
The Resistance is still looking for allies and trying to recruit a new force to fight the First Order.
Rey is training and grappling with the responsibility of being the new symbol of hope for the Resistance and the future of the Jedi. Kylo Ren is fighting to keep his tenuous hold on power, that’s threatened to be undermined by Hux and other powerful members of the First Order.
Poe is reckoning with his many mistakes cost lives and doubting that they have any support left in the galaxy. Finn is finding his own place in the Resistance and how best to protect those he loves.
TLJ set all this up, I'm just building on it.
The Resistance, struggling to find help and new fighters, find a surprising new ally in a mysterious spy in the First Order sending them information on where to find supplies, weapons, and secret prison camps with Resistance fighters and old rebels prisoners.
Tension runs high in the First Order as the construction of a new fleet of planet-killing ships is delayed again due to sabotage and the mysterious disappearances of the key personnel working on the project. A rumor spreads that the spy is a member of the senior leadership.
Cut everything to do with the "mysterious message," Kylo hunting people and chasing down the source of the signal. Put it in a dumpster and set it on fire.
Open with Poe and Finn’s getting the message from the First Order spy while on the run from the First Order. Same as it is in the film.
Keep the scene with Kylo and First Order command awkward, sweaty boardroom scene where they discuss the spy. Show the tension and that Kylo's hold over the First Order is fractured. How he has to use violence to keep them in line. Then show him fixing his mask so he can call in the Knights the Ren to back him up because even the knights' allegiance is conditional. He has no allies, no one he can trust. He is alone.
Which leads perfectly into Rey's training montage and her struggle to connect with the Jedi from the film. You can even have Kylo interrupt, but change the context. Make it seem to be by accident. Like his fear and rage is bleeding through the Force bond, affecting Rey's behavior Keep the same scenes with Rey and Leia from the film, but here’s where to use the existing women in the cast to fill in the gaps that Leia can’t because Carrie’s gone. Have MAZ talk to Rey. Sensing Rey's frustrated with not being able to connect with the Jedi.
Have Maz, with those eyes that saw a man on the run, see a girl who’s afraid, not because of a secret bloodline, but because she’s “nobody,” a scavenger unworthy of Luke's legacy. Have MAZ tell Rey there’s more to the Force than the Jedi and Sith.
Poe and Finn return to the Resistance Base to relay the information from the spy. Keep the scene where Poe and Rey fight.
"What did you do to my ship?"
"What did you do to my droid?” Make it a plot point that Poe wants Rey in the field and not wasting time training.
Then revel that Rey has given up on saving Ben. That she's planning to kill Kylo Ren, which is why she’s training so hard. The longer he stays alive the more people die. Poe knows about it, likely he and Finn are the only ones.
He tells her, "You're ready." She's not sure.
This secret between Rey and Poe can also be part of Poe still holding things back/trying to do things his way and establishes a connection with Rey beyond bickering. It also gives us insight into why Rey is afraid because she's ashamed.
Leia's training Rey, taking her under her wing unknown that Rey plans to kill her son. It feels like a betrayal.
Side note: Have Rey demonstrate her healing power by healing Poe’s blaster injury instead of some rando snake creature with zero plot importance.
I wanted to show how easily they could (and SHOULD HAVE) incorporated plot points from Resistance Reborn byRoanhorse Bexinto TROS. It's a fantastic book, I HIGHLY recommend reading it.
The Resistance needs fighters and it needs to spread its message. Most of all it needs to change tactics! This film should address the NEED for the old guard to learn from the new recruits, namely Poe needs to listen to Rose Tico.
The message from the spy has information on the location of labor/prison camps and lists of names. Resistance fighters and even old Rebellion veterans believed to be dead. Rose stands up in the meeting and insists they take ships and liberate the camps.
She speaks up and argues that they need to show people that the Resistance isn't just about flashy space battles. "Who are we fighting for if not these people?”
Still unconvinced, they split up. One team, lead by Rose (and the token white dude) go to liberate the camps and Poe leads a team to raid the supply depot (also in the spy's report) for weapons. There he encounters Zorii (Keri Russell) and her crew who are ripping off the depot.
Keep the same dialogue and implications that she's having to steal and run guns to pay off the debt Poe left her with when he left for the Resistance. They agree to work together to steal the weapons and split the take.
While they're in the facility Finn stops in his tracks...
sensing something, and using the Force Finn leads them to an unknown part of the base where they discover Jannah and the other defected stormtroopers imprisoned, awaiting recondition and/or execution. They free them, take the weapons and part ways with Zorii.
Meanwhile, Rose and Rey (I forgot to mention, she decided to go to liberate people) liberate the labor camp. Discovering it's not just prisoners of war, but farmers, traders, regular people stolen for slave labor for the First Order. Rey sees herself in these refugees.
The refugees see her lightsaber, assume she's a Jedi and begins to almost worship her. A woman calls her Skywalkers. Rey shakes her head. The woman’s confused and disappointed. This only pushes Rey deeper into self-doubt. She's nobody. A scavenger playing at being a Jedi.
Meanwhile, Finn is talking to Jannah, having a similar conversation as they did in the movie with some changes. He can do the “it’s a feeling” talk about the Force, in reference to finding her and the others. She can ask him why he joined the Resistance he can explain how initially reluctant to join the Resistance out of fear, but his friends helped him realize he wasn’t alone. Gave him a reason to fight. Jannah and the other stormtrooper’s presence reinforces that message, Finn isn't alone in being a former stormtrooper.
This can transition into Finn recruiting the defected stormtroopers into the Resistance. They get fighters and inside knowledge, like Finn had in TFA and TLJ, to help them fight the First Order. Plus, this fight is personal for these kids.
Finn's use of the Force to find Jannah and the others would make his abilities explicit, by showing him to being to use them instinctually just as Rey did in TFA.
Now, let's take a moment to talk about Kylo/Ben. Star Wars (films) has this strange magical logic when it comes to Force users embodying opposing sides of the Force, treating them as entirely different individuals rather than two sides of the same conflicted person.
I would make this division explicit in the film by making Ben Solo’s return a huge part of Kylo Ren’s arc in the story.
Because the spy in the First Order is Ben Solo.
The pressure of constant scrutiny Kylo Ren is under is exacerbated by the presence of a spy feeding secrets to the Resistance, and sabotaging important projects.
The cracks begin to show. Ren has nightmares about Luke, killing his father, and even Rey telling him he'll turn.
This conflict is what interrupts Rey's training session. The internal battle bleeding through the Force bond. Giving Rey insight into Ben's memories and nightmares.
Ren even begins to think it is Rey messing with him through their connection.
He confronts her, through the bond. Accuses her of trying to get to him. She’s confused and angry she tries to antagonize him into a fight. He tells her he can sense the dark in here. Hinting he knows she plans to kill him.
Tells her there is no resisting the Darkside. “Join me, rule beside me.” She refuses. “I offered you my hand once. You won’t refuse me again.” Blah blah. She rejects him and he ends up even more confused.
This moment can be scenes intercut with all the Resistance business.
Show Ren "wake up' in strange places on his command ship. He turns to find a fearful officer asking if he has a message he needs to transmit. Confused, Ren responds in Force-choking him.
Have it all culminate with the reveal that Ben is alive, inside of Kylo and he's been hijacking their body to spy for the Resistance.
This can be a great way to show that Kylo/Ben’s own self-loathing and insecurity is at the root of his conflict.
Have Ben mock the way Kylo (who is in full masked and Knights of Ren regalia) is dressed. Point out how he killed his father and that’s he’s too much of a coward to even face his mother. How Luke was right to try to kill him, that he proved Luke right with everything he's done.
If you want to go fun with it you could do a full-on Fight Club version where Kylo is kicking his own ass.
But I prefer Kylo Ren and Ben facing off in the reverse of the cave scene from Empire Strikes Back. Where Kylo is threatened by his light side coming back.
Ben losses the fight, dying at Kylo’s feet.
This is important to me to tie Kylo’s arc back in with Anakin. To give us insight into the internal conflict within someone who’s “gone to the Darkside.” To see what Luke saw in his father, the conflict made visible, tangible.
His internal struggle seemingly resolved Kylo Ren sends a signal using the same code Ben did as a spy for the Resistance and lures Rey into a trap in order to fight her one last time. Let the fight play out as it did in the movie, but make Rey’s motivations clear.
She believes she has to kill Kylo Ren to prove her validity as a Jedi. While Ren is fighting her to prove that he really did defeat Ben, by killing the only other person who’s made him feeling anything or push her to kill him to end his torment.
As Rey and Kylo fight.
Poe and Finn are across the galaxy liberating more stormtroopers/maybe taking out a children’s training camp.
One of the refugees who returned with Rose reported the location of the Resistance base to the First Order, to save his family.
Leia sends Rose off in a transport ship with the refugees. They know that Leia isn’t going to make it. Leia dies just as she lived fighting for what is right. Ideally, this would have been done when Carrie was alive but it could still be accomplished posthumously by utilizing the already existing cast of women Commander Larma D'Acy and Lieutenant Connix could do a lot to convey Leia’s orders to the rest of the Resistance forces and interact with Rose. This would be a great moment to have women interacting, talking about Leia and how important it is to respect her orders and carry on her legacy. This shows the new leadership of women raised by Leia taking up the mantel. Watch them each accepts Leia's hard call and do what needs to be done to save the people and the Resistance.
Give Larma D'Acy a brief exchange of goodbyes with her pilot wife. This makes their relationship more than just a kiss at the end of the film.
“We knew the risks.”
“That we did, my love.”
As everyone escapes, Leia holds off the First Order.
This can be done without Carrie directly in shots to communicate to the audience what Leia's doing. Like the First Order forces are trying to get into the base, anyone who gets too close the entrance is shot, with sharpshooter accuracy.
The body double shot in shadows should have been Leia standing up with a blaster in her hand, not laying down in her grave in service of a man’s character arc! Leia’s message should be about the importance of hope. Doing whatever it takes to ensure it stays alive.
If you want to do something big, Force-wise. You could have the Resistance ships being picked off by a First Order ship, and show a close-up Leia’s feeling their deaths. Again use the shadowy body double to show Leia reaching up. As the blast from the First Order ship’s canon is about to take out the transport Rose is on, but the shot inexplicable misses, shooting past them (they jump to lightspeed and getaway) to reach the base on the planet and blow it up, with all the First Order forces and Leia.
And this is another fan service thing, but I think it could also work.
MANY people feel Leia’s death. Poe, Finn, Rose, Lando, people across the galaxy stop midstep, touch their chest and look up at the sky.
They all feel it.
As all fans did.
A reversal of Obi-Wan feeling the death of thousands. Now thousands feel the death of hope. Then cut back to Rey and Kylo fighting. Same as in the film, Ren stops mid-fight, drops his lightsaber. Rey is so caught up in her rage and insecurity that she stabs him. Only after she’s stabbed Ren does she feel Leia’s death through the force and THAT breaks her.She’s lost Leia, lost Hope. And just murdered her son.
Ren is oddly satisfied, implying this was a suicide mission all along. “Light or dark, we’re all just killers in the end. Even you.” Ren utters his last words and begins to slip Rey grabs his hand, visible wracked with guilt Ren looks down at her holding his hand and dies with a smile.
She utters apologies and excuses. She didn’t mean, didn’t want. This isn't the triumphant battle she imaged, it's murder just like Ren said. She’s a murder.
She closes her eyes tries to heal him.
Ben, scar free, opens his eyes to find Rey laying across him. Grief-stricken, he lifts her muttering, “Not for me.”
He carries her back to her ship.
Now there’s a lot of ways they could do this scene.
I feel deeply that if Carrie had lived this would have been the movie where Ben finally had to face his mother. He’s avoided it for so long. Hell, Luke exiled himself on that island in part because he didn’t want to face Leia.
She’s the only person Kylo Ren/Ben Solo fears more than himself. Because all of his bravado he showed with Luke and excuses he gave his father would fall apart in the face of his mother.
Instead, I'm going to offer 2 options.
Option A: Ben and Han
The film does a decent job. Han even tells Ben that the cause that his mother believed in is still there. I would modify it a little by adding Ben saying “How can I? What I’ve done… it’s too late.”Han responds “Take it from someone who’s made a lot of mistakes. It’s never too late to do what is right.”
Subtly referencing Han’s 11th-hour arrival to save the day in A New Hope.
Option B)The one I prefer...
Ben walks away from Rey's ship, he begins to take off his armor, one piece at a time.
Another ship lands not too far away. It’s Lando, training a blaster on Ben. “If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that transmission was from your father.”
Ben says, “Good to know my (smugglers) cant isn't rusty.”
Lando looks at him closer, and slowly lowers his weapon. “Ben? Is it really you?” Ben breaks his lightsaber over his knee, dropping the pieces to the ground.
“I sure hope so.”
Now the climactic battle can be done a few ways. We could have Kylo Ren also send the Resistance, at the same time he lures Rey, a false tip to lead them into a trap or it’s a legit tip on the location of a facility where the planet killer ships are being built.
Poe decides they have the forces to take the fight to the First Order.
Either way, they could do the same thing as before. Send out the coordinates on all the Resistance and old Rebellion channels. Tell everyone that the time is now to take a stand and burn down the First Order.
Rey awakens in her ship alone. She’s confused and guilt-ridden. She has her conversation with the Luke force ghost, like in TROS. Rey feels she’s failed that she’s dark and unworthy. Leia’s dead and she murdered the last Skywalker.
Keep Luke’s speech about facing fears and have him get Rey to open herself up to the Force and when she does she sees Ben is alive and sneaking on to a First Order command ship.
Could even throw in Luke saying "no one is ever truly gone."
I would have a hilarious Force bond exchange where Ben is trying to climb around on the ship like Rey did in TFA.
She’s like “Ben, you’re alive.”
Ben’s like “kind of busy, could you call back?”She’s mad he left her behind and he tells her he was trying to keep her safe. Of course, she’s already flying to join him because she got the transmission from Poe and the others.
While Ben is sneaking around on the command ship he is caught by Hux.
“I knew it was you.”
“No, you didn’t.”
Ben punches Hux out and keeps running, leaving Hux’s unconscious body behind.
At some point, Ben runs into Poe, Finn, and Jannah. Poe is ready to kill him, but Ben tells him that he has the command codes to override and ground the entire fleet. It’s Finn who offers a hand to Ben, to help him up. “Let’s go.”Poe to Finn “How do you know you can trust him?” Finn replies, “I have a feeling.” Poe begrudgingly walks on.
Ben waits for a beat, then looks at Finn “You have a feeling?” Finn taps Ben's chest with his gun “Don’t make me regret not killing you.” Ben raises his hands. “Yes, sir.”The group gets caught by an officer (Maybe Hux) and a group of stormtroopers. The officer addresses Finn as FN 2187. Finn corrects him “My name is Finn.” Jannah steps forward. “I was TZ-1719, we were once like you all.” The officer shouts “Silence.” And is shot by a stormtrooper.
The stormtrooper then takes off her helmet “They said you were dead.” Jannah recognizes her friend/girlfriend and fellow recruit. The other stormtroopers look confused as Jannah and the helmetless trooper embrace.
Ben, standing next to Poe. “The spark that ignites the fire that burns down the First Order, seriously?” Poe sneers at him “Stay out of my head.” Ben chuckles. As Poe walks off he mutters “I hate that guy.” Ben calls back “The feeling’s mutual.”Rey and Ben could reunite for a quick moment as she joins the fight.
“Thanks to you.”
Rey’s about to say more when something in the distance explodes and they have to run.
Rose communicates with Poe. Tell him that they’re getting reports that people are fighting First Order ships and stormtroopers are abandoning their posts and changing sides.
Rose “Everywhere.”Oh yes, and Zorii returns, like in the film.
Jannah and Finn lead a squadron of defected stormtroopers in customized armor against a force of First Order stormtroopers ten times their size. The First Order stormtroopers either don’t shoot or miss on purpose because they don’t know how to process what they're seeing.
Ben gets cornered, surrounded by the knights of Ren. Because why not throw in a little fan service. They can have the same fight. Rey can give him the lightsaber through the bond. Or just show them fighting together, tossing the lightsaber and blaster back and forth.Rey and Ben split up. She hesitates at first, but he insists that she needs to get Finn and his people (stormtroopers) off the ship. He reassures her that he'll meet her at the ship. She goes to get the Falcon.
Once Ben gets to the command center he enters the kill codes and transmits it to every First Order ship in the galaxy. Leaving them dead in the water, easy pickings. Then he realizes the ship he is on is going to crash into the Resistance fighters battling on the ground.
Rey’s at the falcon waiting when Ben opens the bond to tell her he’s not coming. She wants to stay, but he tells her “no.”
“This,” he gestures around him to indicate the First Order, “is me. It's my responsibility. I have to fix this.”Rey says "Ben," like she's about to say more, but he stops her by saying,
Then he closes the bond.
This leaves it open to interpretation. Linking it to Han and Leia, because he's their kid. But never defining Rey and Ben's relationship as specifically romantic.
That's how you service all the fans. Sure shippers want a kiss, the potential is better than kiss and death.
Ben uses the Force to steer the command ship since all of its systems are shut down. Guiding it away from the Resistance fighters on the ground, while blood drips from his nose.
Everyone watches the ship go down. The ships explode and Rey screams.
Now, let me take a moment to address the giant floating Sith lord in the room.
If you HAD to do Palpatine. I mean, I have the systemic privilege to be in a room with Abrams and he has to listen to me and he’s like “but Jeanne Palpatine would be such a cool twist!” Here's how I would do it.
I would insist it makes sense, not just in the movie itself, but the continuity of the franchise. While I’m not a big fan of the prequel trilogy, one of the things I did like was how it showed us the small human man behind the curtain of the great and powerful Emperor.
Palpatine was a Sith lord, but the Force like politics was a tool he used to serve his ego and desire for power. As the very wisesyalmanspointed out to me, at the end of it all that power made him arrogant, made him believe that Luke would turn simply because he said so.THAT was Palpatine’s very human flaw, that led to his downfall.
So if I was forced to include Palpatine, I would take the notion of the Snoke cloning even further and make an even bigger play on General Hyde’s name and have the First Order/remnants of the Empire clone Palpatine to make him a Force using puppet they can control. Snoke, clone!Palp, and even recruiting Darth Vader’s grandson were about the same wealthy, fascist power-hungry humans trying to weaponize Force users for their own political ends is a great twist on Palpatine’s character arc.
The puppet master who used politics to gain power. Now he’s literally their puppet on strings. Which then links back into this entire war being not about forces of good and evil locked in an eternal battle. But about powerful people doing whatever it takes to stay in power.
It links back to Canto Bite in TLJ. We needed to see the casino. Needed to understand that those people's apathy and profiteering off the pain, death, and enslavement of others, are far more insidious and commonplace than dudes in robes talking about the Darkside of the Force.
I’d have Ben chase after Hyde, and do the whole command ship crash as mentioned up in the thread. Because that’s a mess he helped make and needs to clean up. While Rey faces off with the clone!Palpatine.
Rey defeats him by opening herself up to the other Jedi, now no longer fearing their judgment or her darkness. An orphan girl defeats one of the greatest sith lords in history. Not because she’s his daughter but because she accepts and loves herself.
I would keep the reunion scene between Finn, Poe, and Rey from the film. At the celebration, she introduces herself to someone like Lando, as Rey Skywalker. She sees Leia and Luke’s force ghosts (but no Ben, like in the film).
Cue the end credits.
Surprise end credit scene.
Open on a wretched hive of scum and villainy. A wealthy-looking human dude (could be Hux) enters a bar and sits down at a table opposite a masked figure. He says he is looking for a pilot to get him out of the start system.
The masked pilot, who has a distorted voice, agrees to take him. The human man pays in First Order credits (implying he’s a First Order officer or sympathizer on the run). The pilot shoots him dead where he sits. Then the pilot stands up, tosses a credit to the barkeep and walks away out the door.
We see the helmet drop to the ground and the pilot is revealed to be Ben Solo. He climbs onto a speeder and rides off into the distance, as twin suns slowly sink below the horizon.
That's how I would fix The Rise of Skywalker. Again thanks tonicabordersfor sponsoring this thread.