I’ve made some substantial changes to Finn and Poe’s stories based on new information and other information I wasn’t aware of.
This is based on my full background theory.
The first act is an exploration and deconstruction of Luke as a legend. Rey has heard grandiose stories about his exploits and TFA built him up as a messiah. It’s with these expectations that Rey (and us) first encounter him.
Stage 1: Setup
The opening is tricky since TFA ended on a cliffhanger. Traditionally, all Star Wars movies open in space, but that can’t really be done for Ahch-To. With Finn still in a coma and Kylo en route to Snoke, it’s also unlikely to open with an attack on D’Qar. Given the tradition of opening with a Star Destroyer in the shot, he natural place to start is with Kylo going to Snoke. TLJ will likely follow tradition and pan down (or up) to a First Order Star Destroyer with Kylo’s shuttle emerging and going to Snoke’s Super Star Destroyer. There gold-robed Snoke will chew him out for his failure on Starkiller and tell him they need to find Luke and Rey quickly. Snoke will order Kylo to join the attack on the Resistance at D’Qar and to bring the map to him. Kylo probably throws a tantrum when he’s away from Snoke.
Next up is D’Qar. With Finn in a coma, he’s the perfect expy for reminding the audience of what happened in a movie many of them last saw two years ago. He also needs to be back on his feet so the rest of the movie’s action can happen. So, we’ll see Finn wake up, have a brief scene with Poe and get a quick recap of what happened and whats about to happen. Finn will naturally want to know about Rey, which nicely sets up the next scene. In the mean time, the rest of the Resistance is preparing to evacuate and many surviving ships from the New Republic have joined them. Admiral Holdo will appear and talk to Leia and then she and Poe will head to orbit.
Finally, we go to Ahch-To and watch what we’ve all been waiting two years for. As shown in the BTS reel, Luke does go to and accepts the lightsaber. He senses he knows her, but dismisses it as a delusion (1). Rey tells him she’s there on behalf of Leia and they need him. Shocking her, Luke hands back the lightsaber and tells her he can’t and walks away. Despite Rey’s pleas and arguments, Luke shuts himself in a hut, telling her to leave, and the main challenge will become apparent.
After the introduction to Ahch-To the plot will shift to defining the main conflict – Luke’s in despair. His statement that the Jedi must end will serve to underline just how defeated he feels.
Stage 2: New Situation
Frustrated and needing to regroup, Rey goes back to the Falcon. On her way, she notices a large sea creature menacing what appear to be a number of bird-like creatures and their nests. Feeling compelled to act, Rey intervenes and fends off the sea creature gaining the gratitude of the birds (Porgs). It turns out Luke has also witnessed her defense of the Porgs and she’s earned his grudging respect and curiosity. Luke tells her she can spend the night with him if she wants and he’ll try to explain, but she needs to leave afterwards. In the meantime, Chewie befriends the porgs.
On D’Qar, the Resistance is frantically trying to leave before the First Order arrives. With their location known, the First Order is going to waste no time attempting to wipe out the only remaining organized opposition to their domination of the galaxy. Leia will tell Finn Maz has contacted her and knows somone who could help them. She asks Finn to meet with her on behalf of the Resistance, but Finn will initially turn it down, wanting to find Rey and get away from the conflict. While waiting for a ship, Finn will meet Rose who is in awe of him. Surprised by the attention and not wanting to disappoint her, Finn plays along claiming he’s going on a mission from Leia. The First Order will arrive and institutes a blockade while the Dreadnought moves into position to punch through the shield and destroy the base. Finn and Rose procure a transport, but are unable to leave while the blockade is in place.
Poe, meanwhile, rallies the Resistance starfighter and bomber corps and plans to punch a whole in the blockade. The starfighters engage the FO’s fighters and protects the bombers as they head towards one of the blockading destroyers. Poe attempts an attack on the Dreadnought, but fails to get through the shields. In desperation, they attack one of the escorts and managed to disable it. Resistance transports manage to get through the hole with heavy losses. Finn and Rose join the exodus, frantically evading TIEs on the way, but make it to hyperspace and head towards Canto-Bight. While this is happening, Kylo will arrive (likely with friends) and infiltrate the base in search of the map. Leia and him see each other from a distance and share a look before events force them apart again. Kylo will succeed in obtaining the map and leave, but instead of returning to Snoke, he will head straight for Ahch-To. After he leaves, the FO dreadnaught gets in position and annhilates the base.
Plot Point 1: Change of Plans
Up to this point, Luke has been steadily humanized as a person. Now, an event will take place that fundamentally transforms his and Rey’s relationship. Towards the end of stage 2, Rey will experience a Forceback similar to the one at Maz’s castle showing the major events in Luke’s past from most recent to earliest (it’s possible Luke himself shows her it). The last part of the vision will be of the most painful event of Luke’s life – losing his daughter, Rey. The shot of Rey collapsing from the teaser is likely the immediate aftermath. The vision will also leave Rey thinking Kylo was the one to abandon her.
Act II: Confrontation
Where Rey approached Luke as a legend in Act 1, she now approaches him as her father.
Stage 3: Progress
The first stage of Act II will consist of the reunion of Rey with her father, Luke. It will be during this stage that an ecstatic Luke shows her what he’s learned about the Force and when the scene with Rey swinging her father’s old lightsaber (now passed to her) takes place. (2) It’s likely we’ll hear a bit about Rey’s mother as well. It will seem like Rey is getting everything she ever wanted and the goal of bringing Luke into the fight will appear within reach. Their reunion will be interrupted, however, when they sense Kylo and his friends arrive. Based on third party reports, it’s likely Kylo’s fighter is somehow brought down, while his comrades shuttle lands intact. Further, it appears the new arrivals attack the heroes, with Kylo going after Rey and his friends attacking Luke (who easily defeats them). This signals the arrival of the ‘turning point’.
(3) Rose and Finn arrive on Canto-Bight and set about finding where Maz is. First they try the Casino. Rose learns she’s at a local cafe, but Finn gets distracted by the excitement and manages to win big. Unfortunately, this insenses one of the players he has beaten who sends his henchmen after Finn. Rose and Finn make thier way to the racing stables and steal a horse. A chase ensues, but Rose manages to throw off the pursuit and they ride to the cafe where Maz is. Maz tells them a master slicer known as DJ might be willing to help the Resistance, but he’s currently held in the Canto-Bight jail. Rose and Finn manage to locate and break him out and he agrees to go with them. They reach DJ’s ship after shaking off Canto-Bight’s law enforcement.
Poe, Leia and Admiral Holdo discuss what to do next and their discussion gets increasingly heated. The admiral will likely favor an attack on the FO, while Leia and Poe will argue for finding a place to consolidate or to continue the fight. At some point they do engage the FO fleet and it results in the loss of Poe’s X-wing.
Midpoint: Turning Point
Kylo arrives, but is shot down and crash-lands. Luke tells Rey not to fight Kylo, but Rey is overcome by intense anger from what she thinks her cousin did to her and confident from her previous vision attacks him anyway. Kylo has his henchmen attack Luke, who easily dispatches them without a Lightsaber. In the mean time Kylo and Rey spar and she accuses him of taking her from her from Luke. Kylo tells her he didn’t abandon her, he tried to save her and Luke was the one who left her. This wrecks Rey’s concentration and Kylo manages to force her over a cliff and then runs. Luke is forced to rescue Rey (who never learned to swim) and let him get away.
Stage 4: Complications and Higher Stakes
Luke pulls Rey from the water and the two return to Luke’s hut, where Rey adopts her new look. (Symbolically, her submersion represents a baptism and the change in attire her transition to adulthood). The two go looking for Kylo (who possibly sets fire to the tree to get their attention). Knowing Kylo wants her alive, Luke allows Rey to be separated from him and Kylo takes the bait, cornering Rey in a cave (the waterfall scene with Kylo in the trailer). Luke appears, and easily subdues Kylo. They bring him back to the village and restrain him. Luke leaves Rey with him to save the temple. While Luke is away, Kylo starts talking to her about their respective pasts and shared heritage, eventually leading to Rey entering Kylo’s memories (aided by their blood-driven Force connection).
Rose contacts the resistance and learns they’re heading to Crait. Somehow the FO has learned of their location and Finn and Rose realize the Dreadnought has to be disabled. DJ says he can disable the ship’s main weapons, but needs them to get him a link inside the ship. the two make it aboard the ship and make their way to fire control. They’re able to give DJ the link he needs and he sabotages the weapon. On their way out, they’re discovered. In a running fight, they make it to a hanger bay and wreck many of the ships there. It looks like they’ll get away, but Phasma and a contingent of stormtroopers enter and engage them. Although they’re able to dispatch the stormtroopers with quick thinking, Phasma engages Finn in one on one melee combat. Phasma will probably gain the upper hand at some point, but forget about Rose, who distracts her long enough for Finn to recover. Finn takes off her arm and likely kills her.
The dispute between Poe, Leia and Holdo has come to a head and Holdo has Leia removed from the bridge (possibly imprisoned or confined to quarters). Realizing he needs to act now, Poe gathers loyal Resistance members and stages a mutiny, seizing the bridge. He has Leia released and leads the fleet to Crait.
Plot Point 2: Major Setback
In a second Forceback, Rey experiences Kylo’s memories in ascending chronological order. During it, she sees things from Kylo’s perspective, including the effects of her disappearance. She also sees one of her own memories – Luke leaving her on a desert planet. Crucially, she (and we) can’t tell which desert planet, but she assumes it’s Jakku. At the end of the vision, she sees her father in a very different light and it devastates her (3). Luke returns and she accuses him of abandoning her and the rest of his family. Unleashing years of grief and frustration, Luke loses control for a moment as he emotionally denies it and unleashes a massive display of the Force, wrecking the hut they’re in. Rey and Kylo are unharmed, but Rey is now terrified as well. Deciding her family wasn’t worth the fourteen years she spent waiting, she decides her real place is with her friends. Abandoning her family, as she believes they once abandoned her, she boards the Falcon and leaves her father and cousin behind. Overcome by emotion himself, Luke doesn’t try to stop her or Kylo from leaving soon after. Kylo has a chance to kill Luke, who’s too overcome by grief to defend himself, but can’t bring himself to do it. Kylo takes his dead companions’ shuttle and leaves Luke alone and stranded once again.
Act 3: Resolution
Stage 5: Final Push
Rey learns the Resistance is on Crait and heads there before the FO fleet arrives. She tells Leia bitterly that Luke isn’t coming. Leia, sensing her her niece’s distress, immediately leaves for Ahch-To herself. The FO fleet arrives and engages the orbiting fleet. Finn and Rose also escape the Dreadnought and head to Crait. The Dreadnought attempts to fire, but it misfires destroying the ship. The FO is forced to deploy ground forces. Severely outnumbered and outgunned, the Resistance sends its forces to meet the FO, using the bombers to create a screen from the dust. The battle begins and Rey assists in bringing down several walkers before seeing Kylo, who engages her.
On Ahch-To, Leia lands and finds a thoroughly dispirited Luke. During a brief conversation, Leia reminds him that she lost her son to the dark side, but he hasn’t lost Rey yet and still has a chance with her.
As a preface, it’s very difficult to see how the movie ends any other way than Rey going with Kylo. With Luke’s imminent return, Kylo returning empty handed would be an unmitigated disaster from Snoke’s perspective and make Kylo look not only completely ineffectual, but also more of a liability than asset. The villains would be on the back-foot going into IX.
The Resistance is putting up a brave, but futile fight. The FO’s firepower is overwhelming and they’re steadily pushed back or destroyed. Locked in a stalemate with Kylo, Rey offers herself in return for the lives of her friends. Shocked, Kylo agrees and orders the attack stopped. Kylo takes her lightsaber and Rey to a shuttle as Finn and Poe watch, stunned. As their shuttle lifts off, Hux, at Snoke’s urging orders the ground attack to resume, dismaying Kylo and panicking Rey. She calms however as she senses a powerful and familiar presence nearby.
Stage 6: Aftermath
As the FO presses its attack, a figure appears on the horizon. Figuring one person isn’t a threat, the FO troops ignore him until one of their walkers is impossibly picked up and thrown into another. The FO turns all of it’s weapons on the lone figure and begins firing. The figure, Luke, uses the Force to block and divert everything thrown at him as he methodically wrecks the FO forces without ever igniting his lightsaber. In the aftermath, the mood is somber. Luke turned the tide of the battle, but the Resistance’s losses are massive and the loss of Rey is a bitter blow. Content with his prize, Snoke withdraws and welcomes Rey as Kylo brings her to him.
The movie ends with Luke looking out of a ships window in a callback to ESB, a determined look on his face.
1: I think Luke’s initial inability to sense who she or dismissal of it is will be used to signal just how clouded his mind has become. He’s become unable to hear or believe what the Force is telling him.
2: My initial instinct was to place these before the Force vision, but Luke watching Rey and teaching her about what he’s learned about the Force is inconsistent with the despairing mood he apparently has in the beginning. It would also delay getting to the heart of the movie, which is Luke and Rey reuniting. Therefore, it makes more sense to expect it after the first Forceback.
3: If this seems to be throwing Luke under a bus, remember the characters are only acting based on their perceptions and what they know. Whether Luke is actually guilty of anything doesn’t matter; what matters is that Rey and Kylo think he is. IX will be where Rey (and we) get the full story.
1: Visiting the temple and what Luke learned there. Really not sure where this will go.
2: DJ’s fate after Rose and Finn infiltrate the Dreadnought.
3: Rose in Act 3.