An excerpt from my script review for Star Wars: Episode IX – Duel of the Fates which will be available 02/18/20:

2.) Plot Stability

This story suffered from the same major issue as the two others before it…

Why the hell are the Rebels still fighting the Empire?

Maybe it’s in the add-on books or comics, but to me this has always been a GIANT plot hole in Abrams’s trilogy.

Leia and Company WON in Return of the Jedi, but instead of restoring the Republic they just waited around for a new Empire to spring up?

That doesn’t make any sense!

It’s almost as if Disney brought Abrams onboard and said, “Avoid anything remotely similar to what happened in the Zahn books!”

When we, the fans, originally heard about this new trilogy, we longed to see a Republic rebuilding itself, Leia and Han settling down, remnants of the Empire plotting to regain control, and maybe even Luke getting married!

(My cousin, who up to Force Awakens had read every expanded Star Wars universe novel, regardless of how shitty, was very excited to see Luke training his force sensitive niece and nephew.)

But we didn’t get any of that.  We were treated to reboots of the original trilogy and a shitty Johnson fan fiction.

(Zing 3way!   Last Jedi was crap!)

The title of the franchise is appropriate, because that’s what this universe is apparently locked into, a constant war among the stars for everything and everyone.

For me, this “resistance” never worked because its only reason for being seemed so JJ Abrams’s story would work.

There is a need to establish that this is what confined the script and the writers did the best they could with what was presented before.

Palpatine vs. Tor Valum

My largest criticism of The Rise of Skywalker is the need to bring Palpatine back.

I overlooked it for the sake of the film, and enjoyed the movie overall, but I completely understand why this particular point turned some people off.

In The Duel of the Fates Kylo Ren is set on the path to learn from Tor Valum, a Sith who instructed Palpatine’s master.  This is almost a reverse Empire Strikes Back, and it was interesting to see Kylo Ren have a goal above and beyond catching Rey.

Unfortunately, and like Rise of Skywalker, anything cool that’s presented is quickly abandoned to get to the next big scene.

In this case, after Ren steals the life force of some poor animal, he easily kills Tor Valum because he needs to get to Mortis.

The Battle of Coruscant

For me, this was the shining beacon of hope that the final installment in the trilogy needed.

Instead of alien horses on star destroyers, we have war painted AT-STs and other old First Order tech, battling it out on the cityscape of Coruscant.

Finn still convinces his stormtrooper brethren to cast off their conditioning, we have the oppressed alien residents standing up to and overthrowing the First Order, AND…

We still get my big moment with Lando.

Shit, there’s even this truly emotional moment with Chewie throwing a dead R2 over his shoulder like he did C3PO in Empire.

 Rey vs. Ren

The whole world of Mortis plot was my least favorite.

Did I love the Ren/Rey “connection” in Rise of Skywalker?  Absolutely not, but for Mortis, there’s this whole buildup to…nothing.

Luke tells Rey she “must face him” (meaning Ren), hinting at a Return of the Jedi confrontation, but we’re essentially treated to another version of Luke fighting Ren a la Last Jedi only to have Rey come in, mumble “Ben”, and bingo boingo…both go to the Force.

What I did like about this was that the writers tried to incorporate something that was established in a related series with Mortis (in The Clone Wars) and that we can finally admit it’s okay to have a bit of a “balance” between light and dark, something that countless Jedi before Rey lived with and were chastised for.

The Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic originally came out for Xbox back in 2003.  It’s set 4,000 years before the original trilogy, involves Jedi fighting Sith, and has one of the most dedicated bunch of devotees short of the horror genre.

(Also led to an online MMORPG called Star Wars: The Old Republic which is still around.)

To include this “Old Republic” tech in your story is a giant nod in the right direction.  People want to see Star Wars stories set in this timeline, and this nod makes for a natural segway from a main film in a tent-pole trilogy.

Audiences become familiar with the idea the Old Republic, so if/when you launch a new related series or film, it won’t come out of left field.

Seemed like “win, win” for the Mouse and his corporate overlords.

Overall Thoughts

People keep asking the question, “Is this what we deserved instead of The Rise of Skywalker?”

My thoughts…no.

Neither was perfect.

The first half (give or take) was extremely enjoyable, giving us a Star Wars tone and setting we’re familiar with.

(I’m specifically reminded of the opening on Kuat, another location fans would be excited to see.)

My guess on what probably ultimately did this script in was how involved Leia was, and with Carrie Fisher’s passing, would have made this story difficult to film or require too much unrealistic looking CGI.

Finally, some of the “get out of jail” scenes felt too easy, like randomly finding a First Order Lootbox on the dreadnaught, or Finn’s quick speech that convinced an entire population to put their lives on the line.

These instances could have easily be revised in later version, however and were in no way deal breakers.

(And to Abrams’s credit, we didn’t have this redeeming scene in the script.)

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