"The Last Jedi" That Should Have Been

"The Last Jedi" is a terrible movie -- it is a big finger in the eye to every Star Wars fan, and to the franchise overall, poking fun at the stories, the characters, and the mythos that have been sustaining the franchise and its fans for 40 years. From literally throwing icons away to sloppy writing to poor pacing and plotting, the film is an illogical, uninspiring mess. Worse, it is a missed opportunity, squandering one of the great cliffhangers in movie history -- Luke receiving his lightsabre from Rey on a desolate, windswept island, his face contorted by emotion.

Here is the movie I would have written from that starting point. It's a first draft.

Open on Luke and Rey, his cyborg hand carefully gathering his father's and his old Jedi weapon in its grasp. Emotions resolve slowly into eyes locking with Rey's as he realizes that the Force, the power that unites all living things, has awoken, and is calling to him through this young woman and the gift she has delivered. It is now time for him to rally yet again. He and Rey speak, and he senses her power with the Force. His face as he turns away and inward makes it clear that he will reluctantly train her. He ensconces her in a hut and brings her some rations, as the sunlight fades. He tells her that training begins tomorrow, and that it will not be easy.

Meanwhile, Captain Phasma learns that Finn survived. She seeks (and gains) permission from Hux to pursue him. She takes a small squad out to where her spies said Finn was last seen, a planet where Maz Kanata was visiting to get supplies to rebuild her enterprise, Finn traveling with her as he recovered.

Kylo Ren is summoned by Supreme Leader Snoke, who mocks him for losing to Rey, an untrained girl, and who urges him to abandon his mask so that his scar, his source of shame, is on full display, a reminder of his weakness. Rather than becoming angry and lashing out, Ren leaves Snoke and calmly decides to defiantly don his mask. He now wears it in the presence of Snoke at all times.

Luke trains Rey. He learns to appreciate her natural gifts with the Force. Cool stuff happens.

Phasma and her squad quickly locate Finn, leading to a distress call from Maz Kanata to General Leia, who dispatches Poe and a squadron to help Maz and Finn escape. There is a skirmish, and Finn, Maz, and Poe and his squadron escape, but they have now revealed they are close by. Phasma alerts Hux that the Rebels are in the area, and can be located and destroyed.

Hux consults with Snoke, who wishes to destroy "the Skywalker girl and her Rebel scum" himself, and decides to lead the pursuit and attack. He does not include Kylo Ren in the decision, which proves to be a mistake, as Ren learns of the pursuit of his mother (Leia), angering him as he has his own mixed issues with the Skywalker clan. He stews beneath his mask, his emotions in turmoil. But he bides his time, showing new patience and menace as he matures. Snoke does not suspect, and even notes that Ren's mind is "strangely obscured these many days."

We return to Luke's island, to find Rey making rapid progress in her training, with Chewy and R2 impressed. R2 replays the training scene from Luke's early days when Luke was stung in the butt by a training droid, and there is a lot of warmth and humor in the group, a hope and optimism Luke has not felt in years. 

Rey finally gets Luke to reveal why he is a hermit on the island. It turns out that he retreated from the universe after Kylo Ren's betrayal to see if removing the weight of his light side of the Force would diminish the power of the Dark side -- a sacrifice to if not balance the Force, to at least make it less volatile so it caused less damage. After Ben's deception and attack at the Jedi training facility, Luke rejoined his wife, who was in hiding, and they fled to the island, leaving everything else of value behind. His wife died a few years later, heartbroken. With Rey telling him about Starkiller base, the First Order, and Ren, Luke sees his hopes were an illusion, and perhaps even selfish. When Rey mentions and describes Snoke, Luke's eyes harden, and he rises with renewed vigor, saying, "Then it was not finished."

Phasma and her squad lead Snoke and the First Order fleet to the rebels. Leia and Poe have retreated to their base on the salt planet. Luke communes with Leia, telling her he is coming. She has greater confidence in their chances, and this comes through in vague but unmistakable ways as the Rebels dig in. Finn has recovered fully, and is eager to confront Phasma again if it comes to that. Maz Kanata is given permission to flee before the battle begins in earnest. She barely makes it out, using a secret exit from the large bunker the Rebels are using as a fortress. She agrees to contact the Rebellion to send reinforcements.

On the other side of the galaxy, Rey and Luke and Chewie leave the island in the Falcon, and jump to lightspeed, on their way to engage the First Order and defend Leia. Luke has a faraway, fatalistic look in his eyes.

The Falcon drops out of lightspeed to find the First Order on the other side of the planet. They are undetected. Using a secure channel, Rey is able to talk with Finn, to let him know they are nearby. Finn mentions that there is a secret way into the base. Rey says they are not going to land on the planet, but rather board the First Order ships in orbit. She says Luke Skywalker is with her, and he has a plan.

The Rebels engage with First Order ground troops while Chewie steers the Falcon through the magnetosphere of the planet to surprise the flagship. He is able to come out beneath the ship, delivering Luke and Rey via escape pod into a vent that Luke uses his Force powers to open. Rey and Luke are now aboard the flagship. 

Kylo Ren senses the presence of his old master. Snoke is oddly blind to the presence of the Jedi master. Rey can sense Ren, but only in the vague Jedi way (as if sniffing prey). She and Luke share a knowing glance, but it turns out they were each sensing something different. Luke was sensing Snoke, and it becomes clear through an edit that they each have someone else in mind. Luke is after Snoke, Rey is seeking Kylo Ren.

On the planet, Phasma is leading the ground assault. Small Rebel ships designed to weaponize the planet's salty surface, blind the walkers and troops by dragging and flinging salt into the machinery and eyes of the First Order assault, are allowing the Rebels to take down a large portion of the invaders. Phasma is thrown free of a walker taken down by these small ships, and joins the First Order infantry to form a side assault meant to penetrate the Rebel's bunker from the side.

Rey and Luke wend their way through the flagship, using Jedi tricks to elude Stormtroopers. At one point, Rey motions down one corridor, and whispers, "He's down here." Luke looks at her with deadly earnest, and replies, "No, he's not. The one I seek lies ahead." Rey realizes they are on separate missions, and who he is after, and looks at him with shock, connected with his mind through the training. "He killed your father." Luke pauses. "I thought my father killed him, but I was wrong." Rey's eyes go wide. "Snoke?" Luke hisses, "Snoke. Palpatine. The Emperor. He has had many names. He's the twisted wreckage of a twisted soul. And he must be vanquished." Luke takes off, leaving Rey to consider what she just learned. She stares into the abyss for a moment, pulls herself together, and goes off after Ren. "I have a problem of my own to deal with."

Phasma and her troops make it into the Rebel bunker just as Finn sees the glint of Phasma's armor in the sunlight as he circles his speeder as he completes an attack. He radios to Leia to warn her. The Rebel troops scramble inside the bunker. Finn steers his ship to return to the bunker, as Poe urges him to stay on the attack. Exasperated, Poe gives up and redoubles his efforts to lead the small ship attack as Finn seeks Phasma.

Luke makes his way into Snoke's red chamber, the evil chuckle of Snoke greeting him as the red armored guards snap their weapons to attention. "We meet again, young Skywalker," Snoke wheezes. "It has been so long. Only now, I have Solo's son at my side." Luke stands calmly before Snoke. "Where is he, then?" Snoke frowns. "Perhaps Ben is not the ally you believe him to be," Luke says. "And I am now the elder Skywalker, not the callow youth you once knew. Whatever your plan, this will not go the way you think it will." Snoke cackles. "We shall see, Skywalker. We shall see." The guards begin to attack Luke, who uses Force pushes, his lightsabre, and his skills to begin to handle them with ease. Snoke surveys the scene, looks increasingly uncertain, and begins to retreat.

Rey and Ren are clearly seeking each other. They finally encounter one another in a dark, deserted corridor, their lightsabres springing to life in a way reminiscent of the Darth Vader/Obi-Wan duel in the first film. Ren's mask is off. They do not engage in a duel. "Luke is here," Rey tell Ren. "I know," he replies. "And he is going to help me gain more power again, I believe." "What do you mean?" Rey asks. "The time has come for me to prove my worthiness," Ren says. "Today is not our day, but it is mine. Ours will come. I suggest you rescue your new master while I do what I must." There is a pause of silence as some unspoken knowledge passes between the two. "Now!" Ren yells, and the two run off in separate directions, sabres lit.

Finn makes it back inside the Rebel stronghold, only to find it largely deserted, with only a few groaning survivors on the ground and the sound of a battle coming from deeper in the installation. He runs toward the sound, and rounding a corner, confronts Phasma, who is mopping up while her troops continue to pursue the Rebels. Leia lies concealed, wounded, in the shadows of a nook near Finn. "FN-2187. I was hoping to find you, you traitor. Today, your defection comes to an end," Phasma gloats, snapping her lightblade to activate its cutter beam. Leia steals a glance at Finn, and gives a weak smile and nod. Finn isn't clear what it means, but doesn't care. He picks up an abandoned lightblade, and engages Phasma. Suddenly, Phasma stumbles, grasping her throat in distress. Finn glances back where Leia was. She is standing, arm extended, and clearly causing Phasma's distress. Finn rears back and cuts Phasma down. Leia's arm drops, and she collapses on the ground.

Rey joins Luke in Snoke's chambers. Snoke is nowhere to be seen, and Luke is dealing with the last two guards. Rey takes one out, as Luke finishes off the other. Just then, a squadron of Stormtroopers seals them off from escape. Luke and Rey share a glance, both shrug, and turn to face the squadron, their lightsabres deflecting blaster rounds with ease as they move toward the exit.

Kylo Ren walks down a corridor, confidently. He dons his mask, his sabre still lit. He presses a hidden latch in a wall panel, and emerges into a secret chamber. Snoke is there, in a healing device. "My young apprentice," Snoke says, sensing his vulnerability. "I was hoping you'd come. Skywalker is here. His powers have increased. I will need your help to defeat him. Let us join forces once more and show him the power of the Dark Side." Kylo Ren breathes in the following silence. "The Dark Side's power is great. I feel it. It flows through me. But you cannot know my thoughts. Clearly, the Dark Side has abandoned you. But it has not abandoned me!" Ren says, attacking Snoke with his lightsabre. Snoke's lightning defense is feeble and easily resisted by Kylo Ren, who presses through it to drive his lightsabre through Snoke's chest, his mask pressing against Snoke's dying, twisted face.

Luke and Rey step over the last Stormtroopers, their armor still smoking, and begin to make their way to escape. Luke radios Chewie to come get them. As they round a corner, Ren steps forward, a smear of blood on the chrome of his mask, his lightsabre thrumming. Luke looks at Rey in alarm. "I have seen such unbridled power before. It didn't scare me enough then. I learned from my mistake. It doesn't scare me now." Luke lights his sabre, and turns toward Kylo Ren. "Ben, you killed my friend and your father. That is not acceptable behavior." Luke and Ren engage. Rey yells, "No!"

Finn carries General Leia to the medical bay. The troops who were fleeing have returned, and Poe radios to indicate that they are suffering losses and need help, as the First Order has sent reinforcements. The troops rush into the trenches and return to the land cannons, and the battle resumes.

Luke and Ren continue to fight, in what looks to be a stalemate. Rey joins Luke, and they begin to make progress against Kylo Ren. But he uses a trick move -- turning off his sabre, rushing Luke, tossing the sabre over Luke, sliding beneath Luke's swinging sabre, catching his own, turning it on, and striking a blow to Luke's back -- and gains the advantage. Luke is wounded, but not fatally, and Rey has to take the lead in the duel. She and Ren get into close quarters, and Rey tells him, "You have had your day today. You are now Supreme. I suggest you leave now, or you may not live long enough to enjoy it." Ren feels the power coming off Rey, blinks and flinches, pushes her away, drops his guard, and backs away. "We are more similar than you know," he says. "And we are not finished. This is not over." Kylo Ren backs around a corner and disappears. Luke looks up in distress. "Don't let him leave! He will do more harm than you know." Rey looks at him kindly. "Not if I can help it. But right now, we have to catch our ride out of here." She helps Luke up, and they hobble toward the vent where they came in. Before they leave, Luke uses his Force powers to release a set of mines in a nearby munitions locker, and the explosions begin to decimate the flagship. Alarms sound as Luke and Rey tumble down the ventilation shaft with fire at their backs. The Falcon swoops in just as they emerge, and they dangle from the lip of the port and drop into the Falcon as it departs.

Back on the planet, the First Order reinforcements are making headway. The battle is not going well. Suddenly, the Falcon swoops in, Rey manning the guns, and picking off targets at will. Poe is revitalized, and executes some trademark runs of his own. A Rebel commander shouts that Rebellion reinforcements are  on the way. The tide turns one last time, and the First Order troops are repelled. 

On board the First Order flagship, which is shaking from the explosions below, Hux is summoned before Kylo Ren, who is now in Snoke's seat as the Supreme Leader. "My lord, the invasion of the planet does not go well, and we must abandon ship. The Rebels are sending reinforcements. What should we do?" Kylo Ren removes his mask, and glares at Hux. "We will leave. Prepare the escape ships. We are fighting the war of the past. I have another plan, another way forward. One that will succeed. Prepare to leave. The next time we encounter the Rebels, they won't have a chance." The First Order fleet pulls away from the flagship as escape ships race away from the burning hulk, which explodes in a glorious display of destruction.

On the planet, Luke and Leia are side-by-side in the Rebel base's medical bay. They look at one another, and give brief smiles. "Ben is not coming back," Luke says after their smiles fade. "I know," Leia confirms. "He was lost to us a long time ago. But what he has become, that is what we must deal with. He is not finished. But he does not know your last secret." Luke shifts in his bed and grimaces in pain. "He senses it. And that may be our greatest advantage." The camera pulls back to show Rey leaning against the medical bay door, watching the exchange.

Roll credits.