EPISODE IX: Revolution Of The Force
(if you found this page from somewhere other than Facebook/Instagram and didn’t read my explainer, I did this because…I thought Rise Of Skywalker didn’t quite nail it, so against my better judgment, I wrote this alternate version! Please pardon the horrible formatting of this page.)
OPENING: Leia is dead. She died peacefully, in her sleep, after the huge battle at the end of TLJ. It’s in the opening crawl. (This way you didn’t have to force her pre-shot scenes into the movie – there’s more integrity.) The movie opens with her funeral. It starts slow. The remnants of the rebellion are broadcasting to the universe and trying to turn a military disaster into a propaganda victory: “Kylo Ren was defeated by Luke’s force projection, a nobody orphan peasant is a Jedi Master, and the force may be present in YOU! It’s time to rise up and revolt against the First Order!” Does anyone hear them?
Kylo Ren is obsessed with avenging his humiliation at the hands of Luke Skywalker, especially now that the whole galaxy is hearing about it. His motivation now: To become the most powerful Sith Lord ever. More powerful than Darth Vader, more powerful than Emperor Palpatine. Kylo Ren says the last bit several times, and commits atrocities throughout the galaxy. He’s also building some super weapon because this is Star Wars. It’s a race to beat him before he finishes it.
Finn has two motivations: One, he’s ready to lead an army into battle now that he defeated Captain Phasma. Two, he’s hot for Rey. But Rey isn’t hot for him, and in the exposition, they have The Talk and she friend zones him explicitly. He’s upset, but when she explains why – she feels something for Ben Solo inside Kylo Ren, still, and she believe he can be turned away from the Dark Side – Finn becomes furious. “This guy is destroying the universe and you have a damned crush on him?”
Rey: “This isn’t about your romantic feelings, this is bigger than that.”
Finn: “Are you even listening to yourself talk?!”
Rey is shaken – she knows he’s partially right. They part in anger, and he swears to go off and fight the battles that must be fought.
Things happen, there’s some drama, and then it begins: The rebels’ signal is heard, and rebellions begin throughout the galaxy. Now they have to split up onto some key planets in order to flip the switch/get the MacGuffin/etc etc defeat the First Order in order to keep the super weapon from being finished.
Poe, Chewbacca, and Maz Kanata go on one mission together. It’s the hardest one, a mission impossible. But Poe takes charge, and his story arc completes – he becomes a true leader, unconflicted. The fun with him (and he’s some comic relief) is always his relationship to women. Poe and Maz are constantly at it about strategy (she’s usually right, but he gets one big thing right and they end up mutually respecting each other), and the army he ends up leading has a lot of women warriors in it, with predictable consequences. A few are force sensitive, and Poe and Maz learn to deploy these people carefully. But in the end it gets serious: they are the ones who make the impossible possible, and Maz, Chewbacca and (especially) Poe all die heroically doing it. There was nothing left for these characters to do.
Rose, Lando Calrissian (he heard the distress call from the rebels), C3PO and R2D2 go to Canto Bight (Lando knows the place well and has it wired) and, after some bumps along the way, fulfill Rose’s prediction about burning the whole place to the ground, with help from the oppressed locals. There’s strategic value in it as well: they get some kind of awesome weaponry from a turncoat arms dealer. Lando sweet-talks his way through the whole thing…except with Rose, who he never quite figures out. They find the force sensitive children from the stable. They all survive.
Finn is a galactic legend and a propaganda goldmine: The Stormtrooper Who Rebelled. He goes from planet to planet, giving speeches, leading battles, becoming a leader. He’s still angry/passionate about Rey and he’s got something to prove. Eventually, he runs into – surprise, Captain Phasma isn’t dead! (In an ideal universe, they fought to a draw in TLJ, but…eh.) She has a crack battalion at her disposal and they wage a battle for all time, with a few force sensitive Rebel soldiers in the fray, all nobodies from nowhere (Finn can’t help but be moved by this, again, thinking of Rey). The climax: Phasma reveals her motivation (up until now she’s just a cruel baddie without one!): She takes off her mask to reveal a once beautiful woman now disfigured by battle. You feel compassion for her for a moment. She desires ORDER, gives a speech about how neither military nor society can exist without order. “It’s called the First ORDER for a reason! You think tearing everything down will be better, just because some things are unfair. It won’t be better! There will be chaos! And life will always be unfair!”
Finn’s big lines: “You’re wrong.” Pause. “We can do better than this.” Pause.
“And all of history is the story of REVOLUTION.”
And he finishes her once and for all.
Rey has accepted and embraced that she is a “no one”, as Kylo Ren said. But she is drawn to him still. “You’re nobody…but not to me” – those words ring in her ears. Rey and Kylo are still connected through the force. It wasn’t just Snoke doing it. It’s real.
So Kylo is behaving worse than ever, Rey is seen as a galactic heroine fighting against him, and yet…they remain connected. They love/hate each other. Much as Luke was not present in many of the big battles in Return Of The Jedi, Rey is separate from them here as well. Her journey is different now. She feels some shame for having feelings for someone doing such horrible things, and her faith that Kylo Ren will return back to Ben Solo is often shaken. But she presses on.
Finally, near the end, Kylo sees the galactic revolution gaining ground, and his weapon isn’t ready yet, and he panics. After one rant where he swears he’ll be more powerful than Palpatine, a voice is heard:
“Much to learn, you still have, young Kylo Ren”.
It’s NOT Yoda. It’s Palpatine as a force ghost. Kylo Ren has conjured him with his fear and anger. So we get the Emperor after all, but only near the end, and he’s still “dead” (bringing him back alive at the beginning was such a major problem with ROS).
The Emperor growls: “You will never be more powerful than me, but with my help, and only with my help, you can win the war and crush the Rebellion once and for all. I can’t do it myself. I can only do it through you. And you can only do it with me. Let me help you. Otherwise, you will lose.”
Kylo Ren is conflicted (Adam Driver shows us in some awesome acting) but ultimately consumed and lets the Emperor into his mind and force energy. The whole galaxy feels it in their respective battles on the ground – the Dark Side gains the upper hand.
Rey feels it acutely (kind of like a great disturbance in the force, as if a million voices suddenly cried out in terror…) and goes to find him for a final battle/meeting.
She finds him. Kylo Ren is mortified, knowing that she’s now in danger. “You shouldn’t be here, unless you’re going to join me. Please, just leave…”
Rey: “I’m here for you to join ME, finally. I know you want to, Ben. I can feel it. You don’t have to be this…monster…” Her voice trails off as she sees the Force Ghost of Palpatine, hovering closeby.
The Emperor senses the whole dynamic and tells Kylo Ren: “She is LYING to you. If you join her, you will lose everything, and you will die. Only if you kill her can you win the war, restore order to the galaxy, and fulfill your destiny.”
Kylo Ren attacks Rey with his lightsaber. They battle, but it’s odd. It’s slow. They are pulling their punches in the duel. She easily deflects his attacks. They don’t want to fight. “Stop this!” she pleads. “You can stop this!”
“Finish her!” screams Palpatine.
Their thrusts and parries slow further, in an odd, stilted dance. Rey allows a glimmer of hope to cross her face.
Kylo Ren can’t do it. He drops his saber and turns to Palpatine. “There must be another way.”
Palpatine: “Very well. Indeed, there is.”
And he commandeers Kylo Ren’s body and attacks Rey with force lightning. Kylo is stunned and frozen, helpless as the lightning flows through his involuntarily outstretched arms. Rey is fighting it off with her saber but, slowly, she is draining, and falls to her knees.
Then Force Ghosts Luke and Leia (yes, I know, this would take CGI, but hey we’ve come this far) appear, together, behind Rey. Kylo sees them. He is shaken, lightning coursing through him, Palpatine behind him, his mother in front of him.
Leia says to her son: “Ben. Ben. Let the past die.”
Kylo sheds a tear.
Leia tears up, and says, choking up: “Kill it if you have to.”
Rey is fallen and screaming, as Luke was in the final duel of Return Of The Jedi. Kylo Ren turns back to Palpatine, and back to Rey and Leia, and back again, as Vader did in the same ROTJ scene. Slowly and painfully, Ben Solo takes his long arms and starts bending them up…away from Rey…up further…and beings curling his fingers back towards himself.
The Emperor: “NO!!”
Ben Solo pushes his arms and fingers, inch by inch, until the force lightning is attacking himself. The lightning reflection moves back through his body and back at the Emperor’s force ghost. It goes on for an uncomfortably long time as they both suffer. Rey and Leia watch in horror, crying. Luke holds Leia as she sobs. The minor choral John Williams music – the high singing – from the end of the final battle of Revenge Of The Sith plays, and Ben Solo finally is able to point one of his arms backwards, and the force ghost of The Emperor is destroyed once and for all.
Ben falls to the ground, mortally wounded, face partially disfigured. Rey runs to him. They speak. They kiss. Ben smiles. And then dies. Force Ghost Luke and Leia hold each other steady.
Long, overhead shot of this whole scene at the end.
The galactic revolution succeeds. The First Order falls. In the ending scene, the victory celebration, Rey and Finn finally meet again. They recognize each other, and not a lot needs to be said. They hug, not romantically, but as fellow scarred veterans of a Great War. A war they survived, and won. A war in which they both did what they needed to do, for their own reasons.
Poe Dameron, Maz Kanata and Chewbacca are honored as fallen heroes. The medals are laid on them, posthumously. Yes, Chewie included. C3PO and R2D2 make lots of sad beeps.
Lando and Rose and all of the other surviving rebels watch Finn make a speech about a “new democratic era”, one that honors the spirit of the days before the Empire came into existence. Rey stands with a group of force-sensitive people from throughout the universe, including the kid from Canto Bight, all from humble beginnings, who vow to help protect the new democratic government.
The force ghosts of Luke and Leia show up, observe the ceremony, smile at Finn and Rey, and then walk away. And then they fade away. The Skywalker era is over.