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My take on fixing the "Star Wars" Sequel Trilogy
I didn't hate the Star Wars sequels.
Yes, they had their flaws. Yes, they had plot points and character beats that I would have handled differently—but as far as I'm concerned, each of them had at least one satisfying moment that made them worth the ticket price. For me, though, that encapsulates their biggest problem: each of the three movies works individually as a fun sci-fi thriller—but collectively, they never really feel like three acts of a planned epic, nor do they feel like a wholly new chapter in the saga of Star Wars.
Most of my grievances with the sequels can be summed up in one simple sentence:
They feel more like an extended love letter to the Original Trilogy than a meaningful continuation of its story.
I love the original Star Wars trilogy as much as the next nerd—but if I wanted to relive my memories of those films, I'd dig out my old VHS tapes. If you're going to go to the trouble to reunite the original cast after three decades for three whole movies, you damn well better be prepared to bring something new to the table.
So what new ideas did the Sequel Trilogy bring to the table?
We got a handful of fun new characters, some poignant closure for the Original Trilogy's main cast, a few cool action sequences, a few new lightsaber designs, and a couple of moderately clever plot twists. For a two-hour reunion special, that wouldn't be a bad track record. For a whole new trilogy, though, I was hoping for something a little more ambitious.
Whatever else you might be able to say about the Star Wars prequels, they at least (mostly) succeeded in believably developing a brand new era in the saga's history. Execution aside, they have their own unique visual aesthetic and their own unique array of themes, and they draw from their own unique pool of historical allusions and genre motifs. In short: they add depth and richness to the Star Wars universe without being defined by the Original Trilogy, and they feel like their own unique creation.
Where the Original Trilogy takes inspiration from the chivalric romances of the Middle Ages, the Prequel Trilogy takes inspiration from Classical Greek tragedy. Where the Original Trilogy borrows imagery from America's romanticized memories of World War II and the American West, the Prequel Trilogy borrows imagery from the Fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Nazi Party. And where the Original Trilogy is ultimately the story of a hero's journey to vanquish evil, the Prequel Trilogy is the story of a hero's tragic fall from grace. One trilogy is about the triumph of Good, the other is about the allure of Evil. One features a captive princess, a charming pirate, and a noble peasant boy who inherits the sword of his knightly father; the other features chariot races, a battle in a gladiatorial arena, and a cunning tyrant who plots to turn a Republic into an Empire.
Compare the shambling, armored Darth Vader with the muscular, tattooed Darth Maul—one an aging man haunted by his past, the other a boldly swaggering warrior who evokes artistic depictions of Satan. Compare Luke Skywalker's authentically pockmarked X-Wing fighter and Han Solo's battered old freighter the Millennium Falcon with Anakin Skywalker's sleek, bright yellow N1 starfighter or Padme Amidala's gleaming, elegant royal starship. Compare the seedy Mos Eisley Cantina and the dimly-lit halls of the Death Star with the majestic underwater city of Otoh Gunga or the towering metal spires of Coruscant.
Just from images alone, it's abundantly clear that the two trilogies take place in two completely different eras, each with its own unique status quo. While I don't hate the sequels, I'm honestly hard-pressed to think of a single moment or image in the Sequel Trilogy that so clearly differentiates itself from the Original Trilogy. Instead of a bold vision of a new era, I see endless appeals to nostalgia.
In many ways, it hurts the Sequel Trilogy's world-building efforts when the films try to graft the imagery and staging of the Original Trilogy onto a new era of history with a new set of stakes. We're encouraged to view the First Order as a deadly serious threat on the level of the Galactic Empire, even though the story tells us that they're just a small band of fanatics hiding out in a secret base at the edge of the Galaxy. We're encouraged to view the Resistance as a heroic band of scrappy underdogs like the Rebel Alliance, even through the story tells us that they're a militia group covertly funded and armed by a galactic superpower.
It's hard to take the bad guys seriously when the filmmakers try to make the outer space equivalent of al-Qaeda look like the outer space equivalent of Nazi Germany. And it's hard to get invested in the heroes' struggles when the filmmakers try to make the outer space equivalent of the Contras (or the Mujahideen) look like the outer space equivalent of the French Resistance. And it's really hard to get immersed in the movie's world when we learn practically nothing about the New Republic—the new regime founded by the heroes of the Original Trilogy—before it's wiped from existence by the First Order.
But what if the filmmakers behind the Sequel Trilogy had fully committed to bringing Star Wars into a new era? What if the sequels did have their own unique themes, their own unique cultural reference points, and their own unique set of themes? What would they have looked like, and how could they have changed the movies?
Since the Original Trilogy (which began in the 1970s) drew so liberally from pop culture of the 1930s and the 1940s, what if the Sequel Trilogy had embraced the so-called "30-year cycle" of nostalgia and drawn from the 1980s—when the cyberpunk movement changed the face of science-fiction forever? What if they had committed to an artistic aesthetic inspired less by Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and more by Blade Runner and Neuromancer?
What if the Resistance wasn't just a re-skinned Rebel Alliance, and the First Order wasn't just a re-skinned Galactic Empire? And what if they had followed the logical progression from Classical Greek tragedy to Medieval chivalric romance, and taken inspiration from a different pool of literary works—like the plays of William Shakespeare?
Call me crazy, but I think the filmmakers might have actually had that last one in mind when they made the sequels, even if they didn't commit to it as fully as they could have. Note that the villain of the Sequel Trilogy is a troubled, introspective young man who dresses in black, has a vendetta against his uncle, frequently contemplates a helmet that resembles a skull, and even sees a vision of his dead father at one point.
Does that remind you of anybody?
Also note that The Last Jedi is (among other things) a story about a wise old sorcerer living in self-imposed exile on a remote island following a painful incident from his past, and about the precocious young woman who convinces him to face his demons and come to terms with old age. Intentionally or not, it has some rather striking parallels with Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Seriously, though: if the sequels had committed to their own artistic vision and truly shaken up the status quo of the Star Wars universe, what might they have looked like?
(cue the fanfare)
Luke Skywalker has vanished. For ten long years, whispered rumors of the legendary Jedi Knight's disappearance have echoed through the mighty New Republic's halls of power.
As an uneasy peace reigns over the galaxy, Skywalker's faithful followers await a sign of his return while the splintered remnants of the fallen Galactic Empire clash in the distant reaches of space.
Amid this age of unrest, a lone warrior embarks upon a pilgrimage to a lonely world, determined to seek out a mysterious clue that could lead to the hidden refuge of the last Jedi...
"I knew you'd come for me someday, Ren," Lor San Tekka says.
"You can't outrun the past, old man," Kylo Ren says. "I know that better than most."
As they stare each other down, Kylo's companions—the Knights of Ren—brandish their sharpened steel weapons. Behind them, six armored soldiers emerge from hiding behind rocky outcroppings, cocking their blasters as they advance on Lor San Tekka's simple dwelling. They wear the distinctive white armor of Imperial Stormtroopers, but the black markings on their helmets are noticeably different, and their armor is battered and chipped—the telltale signs of partisan soldiers who've been fighting a long guerrilla war.
"You know what I want," Kylo says.
At those words, Lor San Tekka's hand moves to his throat and brushes a simple metal necklace. At first glance, a round medallion appears to be hanging from his necklace—but upon closer inspection, the medallion is a computer chip.
"You aren't the first to go looking for him, son," Lor San Tekka says.
Kylo's hand goes to his blade. With a flourish, he ignites his red lightsaber, equipped with two smaller blades that form a cross-guard.
"I'll be the last," he says. "You can count on it."
With a flash of light, Kylo strikes Lor San Tekka down and snatches up his necklace. As Lor San Tekka's dead body falls to the ground, a cylindrical metal object tumbles out of the folds of his robe. It's a lightsaber, which clearly hasn't been ignited in years.
Behind Lor San Tekka's hut, we see numerous smaller huts. One by one, villagers poke their heads out of doorways, disturbed by the sudden noise. The implication is immediately clear: Lor San Tekka is a retired Jedi Knight living in isolation, and he has spent his twilight years watching over this peaceful village.
"Leave no witnesses," Kylo Ren orders his Stormtroopers.
At his command, the Stormtroopers open fire on the villagers, killing each one in sight. None of them appear to show any remorse—except one, whose hands tremble as he attempts to fire his weapon.
Within moments, Ren and his companions board his ship and depart the planet.
In this version, though, Jakku is not a desert planet covered in scrapyards. Instead, it's covered with bustling cities populated by creatures from every corner of the galaxy.
At the heart of Jakku's largest city, the skyline glows with holographic advertisements, the alleyways are crowded with hustlers and scammers, flying cars constantly zip and zoom through the night sky, and heavily armed police officers patrol every streetcorner. At the tops of gleaming steel skyscrapers, the city's wealthy elite look down upon the distant streets from luxurious penthouse apartments. Closer to the ground, music echoes and reverberates from packed nightclubs. But in the distant outskirts of the city, raggedly-dressed citizens take shelter from the elements in hastily-built shantytowns, picking through the grimy streets for valuable junk while circling police airships watch them from above.
On a holographic screen at the center of the city, a news broadcast announces that an Outer Rim world has fallen prey to yet another terrorist attack by Imperial loyalists, and the infamous "First Order" has claimed responsibility. But in the middle of the broadcast, the holographic feed suddenly cuts out—replaced by an image of a red bird with wings aloft, which suspiciously resembles the emblem of the old Rebel Alliance. As a hacker seizes control of the broadcast, a call echoes through the streets:
"The Sky-Walker Lives!"
Clearly agitated by the hacked broadcast, the black-uniformed police officers scan the streets for suspicious activity, their hands going to their pistols. Safely hidden in the shadows of an alleyway, a handsome dark-haired man smiles as he fumbles with a handheld computer. When he keys a simple command into the device, the news broadcast returns to normal.
Nearby, a young woman makes her way through the packed streets on the back of a hover-bike, stopping when she reaches a pawnshop. The pawnshop's owner—the grotesquely fat alien Unkar Plutt—trades her a meager portion of instant rations in exchange for a rucksack of machine parts, clearly scavenged from one of the countless trash dumps at the outskirts of the city. As the woman—Rey—hops back on her hover-bike and makes her way back to the shantytowns with her daily portion of food in hand, she notices the dark-haired man hiding in the alleyway.
For just one moment, their eyes meet.
"Is this really it?" one of the Knights asks. "Did we really find it this time?"
"We won't know until we decode it," Kylo says. "But the Oracle is confident. I don't question the Oracle."
As he speaks the phrase "The Oracle", Kylo is suddenly startled by a vision of a man staring straight at him. His head is bald, his skin is grotesquely withered, and half of his face is horrifically burned. Dressed in a thin robe, his pale limbs are long and distorted, and electrical wires run under his skin. When he speaks, his voice warbles and reverberates with electronic sounds.
"You have done well, Ren," the Oracle says. "But this is the start of a long journey. Skywalker lives—but his final day draws near."
With that, the Oracle vanishes, unseen and unheard by anyone else but Kylo.
"I've heard rumors," another Knight says. "They say some people in the Republic would sell their firstborns to get their hands on this thing."
As Finn overhears him, his eyes widen.
Though he doesn't speak a word, it's clear that Finn has grown weary of his years under Kylo Ren's command, and he knows that he'll never be able to live with himself if he participates in another massacre. He needs to leave the First Order—but membership in the group is for life, and the Knights of Ren would never let him go. And even if he could somehow escape the wrath of the First Order, the New Republic would never give him safe haven—unless he had something valuable to trade for his freedom.
Suddenly, the ship trembles as it strikes an asteroid while cruising along the spaceways. As one of the Knights of Ren holds Lor San Tekka's necklace, it suddenly tumbles from his hand and clatters to the ground—just a few feet away from Finn. As it glints in the light, Finn takes a step toward it.
In a moment, Finn's mind is made up: he dives for the necklace and snatches it up, then turns and runs, throwing a thermal detonator over his shoulder as he goes. As the detonator explodes, Kylo and his Knights dive for cover, and Finn runs as quickly as his feet will take him—headed for the hangar.
After a frantic chase through the halls of the spaceship with his fellow Stormtroopers in hot pursuit, Finn leaps aboard a starfighter and guns its engines, sending him hurtling through the darkness of space. Taking the controls of the starfighter, he whirls and dodges as Ren's ship turns its guns on him, only relaxing when it's far behind him.
Before him, a holographic computer screen beeps and whirs, reporting that a Republic world is within flying range. It's a densely populated planet called "Jakku".
"The legions of darkness awaited on all sides," she says, narrating. "But the heart of the Sky-Walker knew no fear! And when he raised his blade of blinding light, all the world trembled in his wake!"
Rey rolls her eyes, having long since grown cynical about tales of "The Sky-Walker".
"Why do you fill his head with such nonsense?" she mutters.
"Everyone needs a little hope, Rey," the old woman says. "I'd think you'd know that better than anyone."
As Rey parks her hover-bike and devours a meager serving of instant rations, she tinkers with a small droid, clearly built from spare parts scavenged from whatever junk she doesn't trade for food. The droid's body consists only of a rolling ball topped by a rotating head with one eye.
As the droid finally awakens and whirs to life, Rey smiles.
"Welcome to the world, BB-8," she says.
Desperate for safe haven, Finn sends a radio transmission to the surface of the planet.
"To whoever's listening: I've come to defect to the New Republic! And I've got information on—"
A transmission from the surface cuts him off abruptly.
"You've entered Republic territory bearing the identification markings of an Imperial loyalist! This is your only warning: turn back, or you will be shot down!"
"Please, listen to me!" Finn pleads. "I'm a defector from the First Order, and I have information!"
In a control station on the surface of Jakku, the Head of Planetary Security grows impatient.
"Shoot the bastard down!" he growls to his subordinates. "Don't let him into our orbit!"
At his order, the armed satellites fire—shearing off one of the wings of Finn's fighter and sending the ship into a downward spiral. He fights to keep it aloft and steady, but it's no use: the ship tumbles to the surface of Jakku, crashing in a deserted plain on the outskirts of the city.
As Finn climbs from the wreckage, Planetary Security officers descend on the crashed starfighter, riding atop hover-bikes. In the skies above, police airships circle Finn, blinding him with their searchlights.
Dazed, Finn holds up his hands in surrender, still pleading for his life.
"Listen: I've come from Eravana! I've got information straight from Kylo Ren!"
"Shut it!" one of the officers yells.
He strikes Finn with the butt of his blaster and forces him to his knees.
"Arrest me if you want, but listen to me! I have—"
"I don't care what you have!" the officer says. "And we're not arresting you. We don't waste jail cells on Imperial scum."
Lining up in a row, the officers train their blasters on Finn. With dawning horror, he realizes that they're going to summarily execute him.
"No... No, you can't do this!" Finn yells.
"Sorry, Imp," the officer says. "You gave up your rights when you put on that helmet."
Before they can fire, Finn dives backwards and manages to tackle one of the officers to the ground. In the ensuing struggle, he rips his blaster from his hands and fires at the other officers, wounding two of them. As the officers take cover and return fire, Finn makes a break for it and hops on one of the officers' parked hover-bikes, then guns the engines and tears off into the distance. Close behind, the police airships zoom after him, shooting at him from above.
Finn is now a deserter from the First Order and a wanted fugitive in the Republic—and nowhere on Jakku is safe.
As he approaches one tiny shack, someone pokes her head out and meets his gaze. It's Rey.
When Finn tells Rey that he's on the run from Planetary Security over a misunderstanding, Rey reluctantly agrees to give him shelter for the night. While they bond, both of them share details about their pasts.
Finn tells Rey that his parents were killed during the Galactic Civil War when his homeworld was caught in the middle of a battle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance; like countless other orphaned children, he was eventually captured and pressed into service as a child soldier by the Imperial loyalist group "The First Order" when they visited his ravaged world, preying on the desperate civilians as they tried to rebuild.
Rey tells Finn that she was abandoned in the slums of Jakku by her parents when she was too young to remember them; although she hasn't seen them since that day, she has long held out hope that they might eventually return to Jakku to reunite with her.
As Rey questions Finn about the chase that led him to Jakku, Finn shows her Lor San Tekka's necklace. As soon as Rey reaches out to touch it, she finds her mind flooded with images of a lonely island in an endless ocean, which seems strangely familiar.
"I don't know what's on it," Finn says. "But whatever it is, Kylo Ren killed a man in cold blood to get his hands on it."
Showing off her skill with computers and machinery, Rey examines the chip and soon realizes that it's encrypted. Although she isn't able to decrypt the entire chip, she decrypts enough to get a good understanding of what it is: it's a map, and it leads to some remote world deep in the Unknown Regions. And when she sees the emblem of the Rebel Alliance stamped on the necklace, understanding dawns on her face.
"What is it?" Finn asks. "What could Kylo Ren be that desperate to find?"
"Not what—who?" Rey says. "I think I might have an idea where this map leads..."
Ever since the mysterious disappearance of the legendary Jedi Master known as "Luke Skywalker", numerous theories and legends about his ultimate fate have sprung up, and some people in the galaxy have gone to drastic measures to find out what happened to him. On the streets of Jakku, it's rumored that some of the terrorist groups formed from the remnants of the Empire have been seeking to find Skywalker and kill him, while certain radical groups claim to uphold his ideology in the face of the Republic's oppression of the poor.
One underground group, known only as "The Resistance", regularly hacks news broadcasts in Jakku's central city, proclaiming news of "The Sky-Walker" and his glorious return. While some people in the New Republic have been quick to dismiss the Resistance as dangerous radicals, others see them as idealists who uphold the true values of the old Rebel Alliance—which the elites of the galaxy have been all too happy to cast aside.
"If this map really does lead right to Luke Skywalker, nobody would be more eager to find him than the Resistance," Rey says. "They're a rough bunch. But if you showed them this map, they might help you get off Jakku."
"But I'm a terrorist!" Finn says. "The Republic wants me dead!"
"I wouldn't worry about that," Rey tells him. "The Republic and the Resistance don't see eye-to-eye on most things."
When he orders his computer to search its databanks for information on the planet Eravana, the computer soon tells him that the world is believed to be the last known habitation of Lor San Tekka—a former Jedi initiate who was among the last people ever to see Luke Skywalker alive.
Upon learning this, the Head of Planetary Security immediately realizes that this case might be more complicated than he realized...
In a tense exchange, the Resistance members probe Finn about his past with the First Order, suspicious that he might be an undercover Planetary Security officer. One of the more overzealous members suspects that Finn and Rey can't be trusted to keep their location a secret, and proposes killing them before they can leave—but Poe, who takes a liking to the duo, comes to their defense. When Finn shows the group Lor San Tekka's map, though, the leader of the local Resistance chapter instantly realizes what it is, and realizes that it must be kept safe at all costs.
"We can't decode it here," she says. "But the Resistance has a safehouse on Takodana with everything you need. If we can get you there, we can find out where this map leads."
When the leader of the group asks for a volunteer to accompany Finn and Rey to Takodana, Poe steps forward. After making a brief call, the leader tells the trio that a pilot—one of the Resistance's long-time allies—will be waiting for them at the local spaceport within a few hours.
Before they can make their way to the spaceport, though, all hell breaks loose: a Planetary Security squad storms the nightclub with guns drawn, and the Resistance members scatter and run as they confiscate the map and handcuff Finn, Rey and Poe—although BB-8 narrowly manages to escape.
As the trio are hauled off to the local station and locked in separate cells, the Head of Planetary Security interrogates Finn about his mission to Eravana. At first, Finn holds out hope that he might be offered a deal if he tells the Head of Security about the map that he found on Eravana. Much to his surprise, though, the Head of Security already knows about the map—and he wants to know if it's the only copy.
"Tell me the truth," the Head of Security orders. "Who else knows about this map?"
Slowly, Finn realizes what's really going on: the Head of Security doesn't want to find Luke Skywalker—he wants to ensure that no one else knows where he is.
"Luke Skywalker was a dreamer and a revolutionary. But the time for dreamers and revolutionaries is long gone," the Head of Security says. "Sometimes, giving people hope can be a dangerous thing. When you tell people that anything's possible, they believe it. This Republic has stood on a razor's edge for a long time, and the only thing keeping it together is that the people know their place. If Luke Skywalker comes back, everything that we've built will fall apart."
When Finn refuses to answer any more questions, the Head of Security leaves his cell.
Meanwhile, a starfighter lands at the edge of the city—and Kylo Ren steps out, lightsaber in hand. He's tracked Finn to Jakku, and he wants the map back.
After a short trek to the center of the city, Kylo draws his lightsaber and storms the Planetary Security station where Finn, Rey and Poe are being held. Terrified officers draw their blasters and open fire, but he effortlessly slaughters everyone who stands in his way, mowing through rows of armed officers like a one-man army. Little by little, he makes his way to the cells at the center of the building.
Just in the nick of time, hope appears: BB-8 manages to slip through the guards and make his way to the cells after tailing the officers who arrested Finn, Rey and Poe. While the officers are distracted fighting Kylo, the droid uses his machine attachments to hack into the building's computer system and free the trio, who flee the building with BB-8 after taking the map from the evidence locker. Kylo finally catches up to them—just moments before they hop aboard a Planetary Security speeder and make a break for the spaceport, where their ride off of Jakku is waiting to pick them up.
In an intense high-speed chase sequence, Finn, Rey, Poe, and BB-8 tear through the heart of the city and the surrounding highways while Kylo chases them on a stolen hover-bike—acrobatically jumping from speeder to speeder and using his lightsaber to slice through anything (and anyone) that gets in his way. Finally, just when Kylo is moments away from catching up with them, the trio smash their way through a Planetary Security barricade as they reach the spaceport, where the Resistance's pilot is waiting for them at the end of a large hangar.
As blaster bolts fly, they reach pilot's ship at the end of the hangar, and the silhouette of a very familiar spaceship comes into view. It's the Millennium Falcon—and the pilot waiting to pick them up is none other than Han Solo! Thirty years after leading the Rebel Alliance to victory in the Battle of Endor, Han and his faithful first mate Chewbacca have gone underground once again, and they've joined up with the Resistance.
As Finn, Rey, Poe and BB-8 board the ship, Han orders them to strap in, and the Falcon prepares to take off. Moments before the ship soars into the skies of Jakku and breaks the atmosphere, Han brings the ship around and finds Kylo Ren standing in the middle of the hangar. As their eyes meet, something passes between them. Neither of them speaks a word, but it's immediately clear that they've seen each other before.
The moment quickly passes as the Falcon pulls away from the hangar and soars over the bustling city, making the jump to lightspeed moments later.
Han opens up about his past exploits with the Rebel Alliance and reveals that he once personally knew Luke Skywalker. He reveals that Kylo Ren was once his son Ben Solo, a former apprentice of Luke Skywalker who destroyed Luke's new Jedi Academy after going rogue and turning against his master. When they ask Han if he has any idea what might have happened to his old friend, Han insists that he doesn't know—but he strongly suspects that he went into self-imposed exile when the shame of his past failures became too much to bear. There's a persistent rumor that he went looking for the first Jedi Temple, and may still be living out his days there.
Upon reaching Takodana, the trio meet Han's estranged wife Leia Organa, who has similarly joined the Resistance in hopes of finding her long-lost brother. Their loyal droid servants R2-D2 and C-3PO are close by.
As the heroes set to work decoding the map, they gradually bond with Han and Leia, entranced by their war stories about their time with the Rebel Alliance. When Rey opens up about her past, Leia comforts her, telling her that she never knew her real parents either. When Finn tells Han and Leia that he served under Kylo Ren in the First Order, Han and Leia press him for details about their son—whom they haven't seen in years. Later, when the map is nearly decoded, Rey finds her mind flooded with images of the mysterious island yet again, but she still can't understand why it seems so familiar.
Just when the map is moments away from being decoded, though, all hell breaks loose again as the Resistance's safehouse is hit with a sudden orbital strike. The First Order has somehow followed Finn, Rey and Poe to Takodana, and Kylo Ren's starship is shelling the safehouse from orbit. Too late, Finn realizes why: the First Order secretly implanted a tracking device in his body when he joined the group, and they've been tracking him since he fled.
As Kylo and the Knights of Ren land on Takodana and swarm the Resistance safehouse with their squad of Stormtroopers, Rey is separated from her companions in the chaos as she tries to protect the map while the safehouse collapses around her. Unfortunately, Kylo manages to capture her and take the map, and he takes her into custody aboard his starship as the First Order flees back to their base off-planet.
Determined to atone for accidentally leading the First Order to Takodana, Finn volunteers to join an impromptu mission to rescue Rey and get the map back, promising the Resistance that he knows the location of Kylo Ren's private hideout on the planet Ilum. Poe agrees to accompany him on the rescue mission, while Han agrees to pilot the group to Ilum in the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca, faintly hoping that he might be able to convince his son to leave the First Order and return to his family.
On Ilum, where Kylo Ren and his followers maintain a base in an eerie abandoned castle, Kylo interrogates Rey for information on Luke Skywalker's whereabouts, sensing that she might know more about the legendary Jedi that she's letting on. Once again, Rey finds herself dogged by visions of the mysterious island, but still can't figure out where she's seen it.
Just like in the real version, Rey discovers her latent sensitivity to the Force while held in captivity, and she manages to use a Jedi mind trick to persuade one of the Stormtroopers to free her, just as Finn and his companions land in the Falcon and infiltrate the castle. Moments later, Han sees his son and calls out to him from a distance—using his birth name. As father and son are reunited for the first time in years, Han tries to convince Ben to resist the Oracle's manipulation and remember who he is, while Ben confesses that he feels lost and doesn't know if he has the strength to resist the Dark Side. Just as he's on the verge of handing over his lightsaber, though, Ben ignites the blade and stabs Han through the chest, killing him.
Here's where things change:
As Rey makes her escape from the castle, she accidentally stumbles upon Kylo's private chamber, which contains a shrine built to honor his grandfather Anakin Skywalker, the man once known as Darth Vader. The shrine includes Vader's burned and melted helmet, as well as Anakin's lightsaber, which was inherited by his son Luke.
Desperate for a weapon to defend herself, Rey grabs the lightsaber—moments before running straight into Kylo Ren.
Furious to see his grandfather's lightsaber in the hands of a lowly scavenger, Kylo ignites his own lightsaber and attacks Rey, while Rey ignites her stolen lightsaber and moves to defend herself. Much to her own surprise, she finds that she's able to hold her own against Ren, seemingly anticipating his moves before he makes them.
As Rey and Kylo's lengthy lightsaber battle moves to the exterior of the castle, Finn, Poe and Chewbacca finally see Rey from a distance, and they manage to distract Kylo by firing the Falcon's laser cannon at him, giving Rey just enough time to board the ship with the map and the lightsaber in hand.
At long last, the map is decoded, and the trio realize where it leads: the remote water-covered planet of Ahch-To, deep in the Unknown Regions.
When the trio return to the Resistance safehouse to regroup with a grieving Leia, Rey presents Leia with her brother's lightsaber—but much to her surprise, Leia tells her to keep it. Having sensed Rey's budding Force sensitivity, Leia knows that Rey could possibly be the first new Jedi in nearly a generation, and she urges her to make the journey to Ahch-To alone to seek training from Luke.
With a heavy heart, Rey bids farewell to Finn and Poe and boards the Falcon with Chewie and R2, bound for Ahch-To. As she breaches the atmosphere of the planet and soars over its vast oceans, she finds herself overcome by strange emotions as she reaches a small island, recognizing it as the island from her dreams. Upon landing, she makes her way up a steep, rocky hill, where a mysterious white-robed figure awaits, his bearded face obscured by a hood. When she presents her lightsaber to the mysterious figure, he removes his hood—revealing the face of Luke Skywalker.
Instead of living on a Tatooine-esque desert planet, Rey is a homeless woman who lives in a squalid shantytown on the outskirts of a sprawling planet-sized city. Instead of "Supreme Leader Snoke", Kylo Ren's mentor is a mysterious Dark Side adept known only as "The Oracle", who's kept on life support following a mysterious injury in his past. Instead of BB-8 transporting the MacGuffin á la R2-D2, Rey builds him from spare parts. Instead of simply deserting the First Order, Finn attempts to defect to the New Republic after stealing the map from Kylo Ren, but finds himself a wanted fugitive when the New Republic tries to kill him for his past crimes.
Instead of finding Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber in Maz Kanata's fortress, Rey finds it among Kylo Ren's possessions when she escapes his fortress at the climax of the story. Instead of ending with a rehash of the Death Star battle, the story ends with the heroes storming Kylo Ren's fortress to rescue Rey. And the New Republic is still intact by the end of the story, setting the stage for the First Order attacking its capital in the sequel.
I kissed a lot of frogs; In which I recount my past history of abusive exes for catharsis, triggers throughout. Warning, very long, with a happy ending
So, I had very little to go on of what is a good relationship, as my biofather and mom split before I was a year old. It was a case of "did she want to raise one baby or two" because he was a consummate alcoholic and couldn't be bothered to be a parent to his other three kids. My mom raised my middle brother and biofather skipped out on my oldest siblings when they were young. Mom found someone else to share her life with, and he was an amazing man, but his life was cut short by a tragic car accident, mere months after he came home from deployment overseas. I was still in elementary school when he died. After his death, mom never really dated. She would never find a man like him.
On to the last 15 years of my life... from age 14 to age 18 BF1: Warning, emotional and sexual abuse. I dated a guy for most of highschool. He was older than me by three years but had been held back once, so he was a junior when I was a freshman. He was considered a jock and hot, so yeah, cheerleader me was definitely going to date him. We will call him J. J was a sweet kid from a good and well to do family. We started dating the end of my freshman year and continued until after I graduated. J started out sweet, but after becoming comfortable with our relationship over time, he became pushy. He wanted to take our relationship past the point of merely holding hands and pecks on the lips. He was my first actual kiss... and it felt like my face was being molested by an octopus. It wasn't a pleasant experience. I met his family several times, and every single one of those times, they thankfully had rules in place that we had to be visible to them at all times. I never once saw his bedroom. He would come out to my house, and was fairly assertive in trying to break the same rules at my home. He never got the chance. Our house was surrounded by family homes, out in the country. Someone would come looking for us if they couldn't find us within sight. One day, close to the end of my sophomore year, he purposely parked in a known Dark spot on the property, I walked him to his car and he shoved me against it and tried to get his hand down my jeans while kissing me, like that octopus I mentioned. I wasn't having it and I told him to leave after I pushed him away from me. We split for a few weeks. Stupid highschool me took him back, thinking he learned a lesson. I was one of those good church girls who went every Sunday and I was also a member of the abstinence club in school. Yeah, we had one of those, complete with actual cards declaring our virginity. Yeesh. Creep factor. I lived in a southern baptist Bible Belt town. Well, we get back together and he was on his best behavior through my junior and high school years. We even went to my junior prom march together, but due to his age he couldn't attend prom. Oh well. He ends up buying me a promise ring that I wore for over a year. There were some red flags, but through rose colored glasses, all flags are red, right? Well, my senior prom rolls around. He's in college so he can't attend my prom. He was already 21 at that time. Well, I have to go by myself if I can't bring my date. So I did. I walked the aisle at grand march alone. That was an empowering experience for me, and little did I know, I would need that empowerment later. I leave grand march and J and I take my truck (yep. You guessed it. Country girl prom, country girl truck. Muddy and lifted. I was weird, but hey, I didn't wear camo to my prom!) to dinner. He starts getting touchy feely at dinner and I start feeling uncomfortable. You know that feeling when you think you can read the future? That was me. We get back to the truck so I can take him home and go to the dance, alone. He tells me in the truck that he paid for a hotel room... for us. We hadn't even discussed taking our relationship that way, he knew my thoughts on sex at the time. I wasn't cool with it. Instead of taking him up on the offer of the hotel room, I drove him to his house. Neither of his parents were home and he said "we can always do it here". I lost my ever loving mind. I told him to "get the fuck out of my truck, we are through" he clambers down out of the passenger side and he's crying. He wanted to make this special for me and I was ruining his surprise. I dumped him right then. I reached across, threw the promise ring at him, slammed my old gold trucks door hard in his face and left tire marks in front of his driveway. He texted me all night, so I called my mom and told her I was turning my phone off and why, that I was safe at the dance and would call her on my way home. Three weeks later I graduated with honors, and lo and behold, he shows up to my graduation party with his parents. He gifts me a rather expensive jewelry set in his favorite color. I still have them. I never wear them. His mom follows me into the barn and asks me why I dumped her son. I explained why. I always liked her. She had this look on her face like she was about to explode. She hugged me, said how sorry she was, that she never raised her son to be like that, and spun around and marched off to where he was eating pizza with my cousins. She snatched her then 22 year old son by the ear, dragged him to the car and blew up at him in the car, while her husband (I liked him too. He was nice, if a bit awkward) said his goodbyes to my family and I, and told me to keep the gifts they brought. They left. The last time I saw my ex, it was in the parking lot of the local stupid market, where he backed into a really nice newer sedan with his mom's car, too busy staring at me to pay attention to driving. I laughed maniacally, my sister and my mom were with me! He never was a very good driver either. We almost wrecked into an oncoming semi once with him driving, trying the move paul walker did in one of the fast and furious movies.
BF2/F1 Age 19 to 20 I stayed single for a while after J, when I met VC. VC was a stepson of one of my mom's coworkers. Cool right? Nah. He wasn't much to look at but he was romantic country boy, or so stupid 19 year old me thought. Again, he was older than me. And we started dating on his 21st birthday. He introduced me to a life of trouble. I was already joining the military and had my whole life ahead of me. I was goo goo eyed for this romantic guy, his family loved me oh so much. Yeah. We dated three months before he got me to take my clothes off. I was such an idiot. Little did I know, he had a type. That type was innocent, naive little virgins like me. I went to church with him. His church was all fire and brimstone and healing people by beating them with a bible until the demons came out. I wish I was kidding. VC pops the question after 9 months, right before I went to boot camp. I accepted. I give him the ring for safe keeping while I was away at basic and later. He wrote sporadic letters, and in one, he admitted to cheating on me. My friends in the service told me to dump his ass. I wasn't smart enough to heed their advice. I went home, discharged because of health concerns. Full vet status, now a VA patient. He shows up to get me from the bus station and couldn't even pick up my sea bag. Weakass. We went home and I got my ring back. The ring wasn't shiny anymore. It was dull, like it had been worn... daily. I overlooked it until he told me the girl he cheated on me with was pregnant. I asked him if he gave her my ring. He wouldn't give me a straight answer. This is the beginning of the next winter after boot. I flew off the handle. I left the house in a sweatshirt and jeans in below freezing temps. I walked across the train bridge and back, which was about two miles one way. I came back and the motherfucker had turned off the heat in the house, taken all of the blankets, my phone, my car keys, and locked himself in our bedroom. I slept, shivering, on the couch. Morning rolled around and he gets up, late as usual. He starts giving me a nasty attitude and I gave it right back. I went into the bedroom to grab my phone to call my mom to come get me. I had already tried leaving in my car. My car wouldn't turn over. He had removed the starter while I was gone away from the house! As I'm calling my mom, she hadn't picked up and I left a voicemail. He lunged for the phone and shoved me bodily into the entertainment center. It knocked the wind out of me and he took the chance to grab my phone and fling it into the kitchen. As I'm getting up, he knees me in the face. My lip is busted and I see blood. I vaguely remember getting up and socking him in the mouth before knocking him down and beating him enough to where he couldn't easily get to me. I grab the phone and I'm just hitting whatever buttons I can hit. It calls my best friend from the service. She in turn calls my mom who is already on her way. Mom gets there about twenty minutes later and I've already got my few belongings packed and waiting on the porch. I'm sobbing, he's moping and trying to make nice, that he didn't mean it. I thought my mom was going to obliterate him but he backed off. I had already flung the ring into the nearby waterway the night before. Goodbye bad memories. I dumped him in the beginning of the year. I found out I was pregnant with weeks later after I miscarried very early term. The doc thought it was from the stress and the fight. Additional testing ruled it may have contributed but I would have had a hard time staying pregnant anyway. He would text me still about once or twice a year until I changed my number. Then he found my Facebook and would message me. If I blocked him, he would make new accounts. That stopped when I got married because my lovely husband called him out on it and got him to leave me alone. Oh, and the girl he cheated on me with? It was his kid. He sent me a copy of the DNA report after the kid was born.
BF3/ fiancé 2 Age 21-22 I was single but had a friend with benefits for more than a year before I met G. G was an established career guy, and we ran in similar circles and we were both veterans. We hit it off nicely. I ended up losing my job and I was already engaged by November. Everything was great. I bought a used car, and G was helping to fix it and make it run. In December, the car died again. It was already ancient and I was working from home, and we lived in the city, so other than groceries, all of our errands were within walking distance. Within a few days of the car dying, I got a bomb drop. G's ex fiancée was pregnant and she didn't know who the dad was. He was freaking out bad. He only found out about this after her mug shot popped up on the news. She had been arrested for something to do with drugs and kids. He texts her mom, who told him all about the pregnancy and the due date. He told me the due date... and by simply counting back, I realized the reason he was freaking out. He thought he was the dad, and if he was, he would have been cheating on me, with her. It felt like deja vu. He swore to me he hadn't had sex with her since before we got together. His story started to change though, instead of months before us, it was the week before us, then it was the week we got together. I was disgusted, hurt, but I wanted to work through it. We lasted until a few months after his ex had the baby. He had began to sleep with his phone in his hand with a password on it. I knew he was hiding something. I took my engagement ring off to clean it and mysteriously lost it. I never did find it. We had already been fighting and his method of getting even with me was by ignoring me. I left the house and stayed at my moms for a while. We were together, but not together. He ignored me for two weeks straight and any conversations we had, he placed the blame on me, but swore he still loved me. I got sick of it and went to our shared house to get my belongings. The locks had been changed. I went back to my moms and I was pissed. I arranged a time to meet him after the weekend so I could get my stuff. I showed up at the time we agreed on. He wasn't home. By the mud room door outside there was another woman's shoes. He hadn't showed up in an hour after I texted him and he responded. I called the cops. It was legally my address but I couldn't get in. The cops stuck around for two hours. Mere minutes after they told me I had the right to break a window or the door in to make entry, G showed up, on his motorcycle, drunk. He ended up being cited for dui and had to give the keys to the officer. I was able to get my belongings, and while I was doing that, I found a much larger than I wear lacy black bra, panties, women's lotion (in scents I can't stand) and other such things in the bedroom and bathroom. He had already bagged up several of my items and put them outside. Including a wedding gown. It was raining. I even took the fish tank. I payed for it, I was keeping it. He ended up being caught through work, sleeping with his coworker. In all, he was caught sleeping with his ex, his preachers two sisters, three coworkers, one being male, and three other women claimed to have been sleeping with him as well. His cousin texted me a few weeks later to tell me she was glad that I had gotten away from him, and sent me a link, to an out of state police department jail page, with his name listed as the perp who beat his wife and threw her down the stairs. There's more stories on him, but this gives you an idea of how dumb I was. Less than a month after we broke up, he was engaged again to his ex. With my engagement ring. That was originally hers, come to find out from another cousin. They were afraid to tell me.
I ended up staying single until very late 2014 at this point, I was single for several years, went through college, and had a FWB. My FWB had secretly caught feelings for me and blew up when he realized why I hadn't been around. He was planning to propose without even letting me know that he felt some kind of way about me. I wasn't going to be the "main bitch" for him forever. I was growing a spine. I still care for FWB but not in that way. The reason he blew up? I found a guy who treated me like gold. We will call him A I'd been kind of dating him since mid 2014. I just thought he was nice and it was pleasant to have a guy be interested but not pushy. We started really dating and we clicked. He is older than me by a few years, and had been in an abusive marriage and was divorced. It was a messy divorce too, with his kids, which left him miserable. He went from being a depressed soul to lighting up if he saw me at work. He would do little things, like stop by my office and bring me coffee or lunch if he knew it was a busy day and I couldn't leave for lunch. Him showing up could turn my entire view on the day around. He lit up my office with his smile. Early 2016 we got engaged. Quietly, no big thing. After a while, we got pregnant: a planned pregnancy that we tried hard for, that we were told I had lost. Doctors told me to naturally go through with it and they would check later if a DNC was needed. A was heartbroken for the loss and for me. I was convinced I would never have kids. We learned a few weeks later that we had lost a twin but the surviving baby was viable if given the chance. I left my job by doctors orders for concern of survival of the pregnancy. We ended up moving the wedding up a full year, and having a small family wedding. The pregnancy stuck and we now have a perfect little baby boy. A is thrilled to have another child. We have been together now for 3+ years and never once have we had a fight. We talk through disagreements. He defended me against his murderous mother, who I have written about in JNMIL. My husband now is my idea of a perfect man. Hardworking, caring, supportive. I kissed a lot of frogs to find my prince.