The Editor Awakens

McQuarrie
Concept art for Star Wars, by Ralph McQuarrie

Admit it, Star Wars stinks. Sure, the original movie is a classic, and Empire Strikes Back is iconic. But Return of the Jedi hasn’t aged well. The prequel trilogy is a mess. And the sequel trilogy? Well, at least the prequels had a narrative arc. It was butchered, but it was there. The sequel trilogy doesn’t even have that (though it does look good).

George Lucas wasn’t looking to create a franchise that would span decades when he started writing the script that would be become Star Wars in the 1970s. He just wanted to make a fun space shoot-em-up. Then 1977 happened. Star Wars became an unhinged success. Of course, he would have been insane not to make a sequel. The only problem was, he didn’t have a story. Everything was hammered together as they went. Luke Skywalker was a grizzled war veteran in the early drafts of Star Wars. Early drafts of Empire didn’t even include the revelation (spoiler alert) that Darth Vader was Luke’s father.

This paste-and-glue approach wasn’t a huge problem at first, but every single movie has compounded the mistakes. Now we’ve got directors completely rethinking the story with every movie. Rey’s important. Rey’s not important. Snoke’s important. Snoke’s not important. There’s Luke lightsaber! What’s it doing in a bar? The narrative is a complete mess. Not a lick of it makes sense. What Star Wars as a franchise needed, and never got, was one solid write-through. A good edit.

So because nobody else seemed interested, I did it myself.

I’ve rewritten the plot for the nine-movie series. What follows is essentially a treatment, outlines for each story (the original trilogy is largely left intact). Now, it may not seem like it, but I actually tried to keep as much of the original stories as I could. I’m not one of these incels who hates Last Jedi because it’s got a female lead. I hate Last Jedi because nothing in it makes a lick of sense. So I’ve kept all the major characters, and all the major locations, and even some of the more useless plot points, like Luke’s lightsaber somehow being in Maz’s bar. This is important, I think, because it shows that all these movies could have been saved with better scripts.

First, let me highlight some things that are not in these stories. Force ghosts. Any reference to a chosen one. Midiclorians. Gungans. Count Dooko. A map to Luke Skywalker. Starkiller Base. Jedi floating through space without a suit. Light-speed Kamikaze runs. I actually like a concept Rian Johnson introduced in Last Jedi, that anybody can be a Jedi. This makes sense. The Force is universal, it is inside every living thing. Of course anybody can be a Jedi. It’s a much better idea than the terrible “chosen one” narrative in the prequels. But that good idea should not be introduced in the eighth movie. I’ve introduced that concept in the first movie, where it should be and where it becomes a framing device for who the Jedi really are. I’ve also included a new concept I made up, called Tir, which I think helps better explain how Jedi become Jedi.

I struggled for a while with a major problem: the reveal that Vader is Luke’s father. Given the existence of the prequel trilogy, if you’re going chronologically there’s absolutely no way to keep this plot point hidden from the audience until Vader tells Luke on the Cloud City. But the moment when Vader says “I am your father,” is one of the greatest plot twists in movie history. It must be preserved.

Then I figured, the hell with it, if we’re redoing this, let’s really redo it. So we’re going with the “Machete Order.” A New Hope is now Episode I. Empire is II. This way, you get the first two movies of the original trilogy, with that great twist, then the three prequel films, which fill in the story and explain everything about Vader, and then the conclusion in Return.

And, for the record, I had the idea years ago of Anakin using his Force abilities while still a slave long before the little kid in Last Jedi. I did not lift that idea.

Lastly, I’ve never read any of the novels, or watched the various animated series. If I’ve aped anything from them, it’s inadvertent.

Here is my concept for the entire, nine-movie series. I’ve kept as many titles as I thought reasonable, and rewrote the opening crawls for all but the original movies. All the names were created by the Star Wars Name Generator.

First Trilogy

Episode I
A New Hope

I’m not changing any of the crawls of the original movies, so no need to reproduce them here. Not too many changes here at all, really, but some key ones.

Luke is being raised under the name Luke Lars. When he sees the Leia recording, he just says “who is she?” He does not add “she’s beautiful.”

Star Wars issue 1
Yes, it’s mine, and yes, I paid 30 cents for it.

Obi-Wan is living on Tatooine under the name Rune Starfallen. When Luke and Ben meet, he acknowledges that he isn’t Rune, he’s Obi-Wan, but he doesn’t tell Luke who he really is. Obi-Wan does though, tell Luke all about the Jedi, and gives him that lightsaber, and begins to train him. He lies, and tells Luke that he can see the Force in Luke. From a certain point of view, this is true, but he’s leaving out a huge piece of the puzzle.

When Vader first tells Tarkin that he feels Obi-Wan’s presence, Tarkin is surprised. “Didn’t you kill him ages ago?” he asks. He did, but the feeling is too strong. Vader now realizes that Obi-Wan survived their battle, and he is back. Tarkin doubts his feelings.

Another small but important change. After the medal ceremony, Luke and Leia are talking. He’s still lamenting Ben’s death. He wants to become a Jedi. There doesn’t seem to be any way. Leia then brings up something. After she got the Death Star plans, her father gave her two people to contact: Obi-Wan – and a Jedi master named Yoda, who lived on a planet called Degobah. Maybe Luke should seek him out, she suggests.

Oh, and Han shoots first.

Episode II
The Empire Strikes Back 

Again, no major changes, but some key ones. When the Emperor contacts Vader, the conversation goes like this:

“Have you completed your search, Lord Vader?”

“The rebels are defeated, but the boy remains at large, my master.”

“I sense he survived.”

“I sense it too, my master.”

“He must be found.”

“Obi-Wan can no longer help him.”

“The son of Skywalker must be destroyed, Lord Vader. He must be.”

“He will die at my hand, my master.”

“I certainly hope so.” The Emperor’s actually a bit afraid.

That is the first time we’ve heard the name Skywalker. Later, when Luke and Vader fight, Vader will reveal to Luke that his real name isn’t actually Lars. His father’s name wasn’t Lars. It’s Skywalker.

Also, given the new last scene of New Hope, now Luke seeks out Yoda because of Leia’s information. Not because he sees Ben as a Force ghost. There is no Ben as a Force ghost. There are, in fact, no Force ghosts in my edit. It just seems like a cheap storytelling gimmick, a way to bring back characters who are dead. I don’t like it, and won’t be using it. Ben’s dead, and that’s that.

After Vader fights Luke, and he’s leaving Bespin, I’d restore the original line. “Bring me my shuttle.” Of all the edits Lucas made over the years, that one annoys me the most. More even than having Greedo shoot first. It’s one of the few times Vader is so seething with emotion you can almost see through the mask, and the line is perfect, short, curt, pissed off. It should not ever have been altered.

Also, Leia doesn’t kiss Luke, ever.

Episode III
The Phantom Menace

Turmoil has engulfed the Old Republic.
From system to system, faith in the ancient confederation is waning.

For the first time, Jedi Knights, guardians of peace and justice,
are being openly attacked, something unthinkable in previous ages.

The Jedi Council has dispatched two knights to investigate the latest
murder, on the planet Naboo. Some feel it is the key to a larger threat…

Okay, this is where we really start changing things up, and I’m not just talking about the order of the movies.

Qui-gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi have been dispatched to Naboo to investigate a murder. Gwhirrye Daagh was a powerful Jedi Knight, but he is the latest in a series of brazen attacks on the order. It’s been several lifetimes since anybody has dared to openly attack a Jedi, and now there have been four. The murders are being kept secret, even from other Jedi. This kind of rebellion terrifies the Council. Qui-gon and Obi-Wan discover a band of rebels on Naboo instigating dissension against the Old Republic. People are tired of endless trade disputes and political bickering, and this phantom group is fomenting that dissension.

Privately, Qui-gon blames the Jedi themselves for their problems. They’ve become soft, lazy. They do not cultivate their relationship with the Force, they do not follow their Tir, and are thus losing their abilities. Qui-gon is ready to form his own Jedi order, one he will dedicate to reviving the faith. He calls it Eredeat Crest, and recruits several of the best young Jedis. This includes Obi-Wan and another Jedi from Naboo named Amidala. The hunt for the Jedi killer takes them from Naboo to the desert planet Tatooine, where their ship breaks down.

In searching for a new drive, they come to the shop of a merchant, named Watto. Watto has a young slave named Anakin Skywalker there. Anakin is a wizard with mechanics, seeming to move parts and fix things without even trying. The Jedi Knights all realize the same thing: the boy is using the Force. Watto knows it, too. He’s actually afraid of the boy, who’s getting bigger, and more powerful. Anakin is on the cusp of manhood, and Watto fears the day the boy turns on him. He offers Anakin as part of the sale to Qui-gon.

Anakin shows some disturbing traits. He hangs out with a gang of ruffians, other slaves who commit petty crimes and race pods. He’s creating a battle droid he named C-3PO out of an old protocol droid. He is only barely aware of his powers, but uses them reflexively. The group is torn on what to do. Qui-gon doesn’t want to take the boy, but Obi-Wan argues that if they take him in, they can focus his skills. If they leave him, he would almost certainly fall to the dark side, and become a problem down the road. There are clearly bad elements here. They decide to take him (and before they leave, Anakin convinces them to take his battle droid, too).

Late one night in the shop, Watto berates Anakin for some small mistake. Anakin turns on his master. Using the Force, he begins to choke Watto, who pleads for his life. “You’re getting out of here,” he says. “I sold you.”

“What makes you think I’m for sale?” Anakin says. He chokes Watto until he is dead.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Qui-gon discover that the rebel group is active on Tatooine, too, stoking anger against the Republic. The Jedi Knights are attacked in the streets. They make it out, but before they can get to their ship, they are attacked by a stranger, an incredibly powerful fighter, trained in Jedi arts, with a double-bladed lightsaber.

This is Darth Maul.

They leave Tatooine, with Anakin, and head for Coruscant, to present a formal report to the Jedi council. Qui-gon is convinced that the threat against the Jedi is real, and larger than the council realizes. Anakin has a tough adjustment to life as a free man. He sees what Qui-gon was saying about the Jedi: they are decadent. His new peers are more concerned with going to bars and the social scene, with one-upping each other in meaningless contests. They are much like his old friends on Tatooine. But he knows that they are not supposed to be.

Qui-gon explains things to Anakin, about the Force. The Force is at the center of everything living thing, he explains. Some people are just more aware of it, more open to it, than others. The Jedi’s entire order is focused on opening up people to that which is already within them. Look inward, not outward, Qui-gon tells him. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Amidala take him under their wing. He develops an affection for them both, especially Amidala. She explains to him that all the Jedi take a vow to the Order. They can never be with another person.

During their training, Obi-Wan explains a key concept to Anakin: Tir, the path of the Jedi. Much as the Force binds the galaxy together, it is also in a constant state of tearing it apart and rebuilding it. Everything is always in motion. We are living and dying in the same instant. To fully appreciate this friction and to embrace it is to be one with the Force. The path to this enlightenment is called the Tir.

Meanwhile, the Jedi council is in disarray. Yoda is nominally the master, but he is largely retired from any official role, preferring to spend his days with the very youngest Jedi trainees. Mace Windu runs the council. He is not concerned with the threat from this shadow force, believing instead that there is a faction within the Galactic Senate that is trying to drive the Jedi to extinction. He is positively obsessed with it, in fact. Qui-gon hates all of this, he sees the Jedi being dragged down into the muck of the governing elites. Qui-gon and Windu are engaged in a subtle power struggle, and because of that, Windu orders him and his crew back to Naboo, to solve their mystery.

Naboo is under siege when they return, attacked by the powerful Trade Federation. No Republic planet has been attacked in 400 years. They are unprepared for it. Qui-gon just wants to save the Jedi on the planet, realizing the world itself is lost, even as the Naboo put up whatever fight they can muster. In the craziness, Anakin winds up alone and lost, and runs into Darth Maul. He is not even remotely a match, though Maul is impressed by the young boy’s anger and determination. He makes an offer to join the Separatists, to fight against the order that made him a slave, and keeps his kind enslaved. Before it goes any further, Qui-gon and Obi-Wan come in. The lightsaber fight is epic, but results in a draw. All walk away from it.

As they leave the planet having rescued their Jedi friends, Qui-gon realizes that the Republic is about to crumble.

Episode IV
Attack of the Clones

The Trade Federation is now a full-fledged separatist movement,
and has built a massive army of clones that threatens the Republic.

Qui-Gon Jinn sees the threat of Darth Maul, and has
committed his order of the Eredeat Crest to stopping the Sith.

Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine appears dedicated to the
cause of the Republic. But some doubt his protestations of faith.

The attack on Naboo sends shockwaves through the Republic. The Trade Federation is part of a full-fledged separatist movement. It has raised a massive army of clones. Nobody knew it was coming. Nobody knows where they will go next. There is panic on Coruscant. Senator Palpatine, who represents Naboo, beseeches the Senate to create its own clone army. The Jedi are in a state of shock. They cannot possibly maintain order. Many agree with Palpatine. Windu is suspicious, though. He doesn’t trust the senator from Naboo.

Obi-Wan has personally taken over the training of Anakin Skywalker, on the Jedi-controlled planet of Ahch-To. The training is arduous, and Obi-Wan is a stern taskmaster. They are both happy to be there. Anakin didn’t like what he saw on Coruscant. Obi-Wan, meanwhile, relishes this test, on himself. He thinks he can train as well as Master Yoda. There’s an egoism mixed into his rough treatment of Anakin, though he is also quite fond of the padawan. If Anakin is going to join the Eredeat Crest, this is what he must endure. Anakin trains during the days, and listens to the now-retired Master Yoda deliver wisdom at night, reading from the ancient Jedi texts.

Qui-gon now sees the full threat of Darth Maul and his Black Rangers as an elite force within the separatists, and is determined to stop them. He wants to enlist the help of an old friend, Toma Thul, and her X’Jan Hunters, a group that is trained in the ways of the Jedi, but broke off on their own, and maintain a temple on the planet Sacuul. Qui-gon sends for Anakin, and brings a small force with him, including Amidala, to Sacuul.

But things are not what they used to be on the planet. When the Eredeat Crest arrive, they find that the X’Jan are running the planet under an authoritarian rule. Thul is the leader, but she is under the sway of somebody Qui-gon’s never met, a powerful Hunter named Snoke. The Hunter’s rule is spectacularly decadent. They take what they want, and live lavishly. It’s the very opposite of the ascetic ways of the Jedi. Qui-gon is disgusted, but says nothing since he needs these fighters.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan has been sent on a secret mission to find the cloners, and if possible, destroy them. He arrives on the remote planet of Kamino to find that these cloners did indeed create the army for the separatists – and have another army ready for the Republic. Obi-Wan meets the genetic source material, too, Jango Fett. Obi-Wan sends a message to the council, explaining that an army has already been created for the Republic, without anybody knowing it. Fett realizes what Obi-Wan’s up to, and they fight.

On Sacuul, Qui-gon is struggling to persuade Thul to join him. While this is going on, Amidala and Anakin are largely left to their own devices. It’s clear that there’s an attraction forming, though both try and ignore it. Qui-gon confronts Snoke, accuses him of being a traitor. Snoke orders them off the planet. Anakin jumps up and fights him, and wounds him mortally, tearing a huge gash across his face and opening his skull. They leave him for dead, and leave Sacuul forever.

Palpatine is elected Supreme Chancellor, and pledges to raise an army to fight the separatist threat. The Jedi, given Obi-Wan’s message, know that one already exists. Windu puts it all together, and realizes that Palpatine has been involved all along, and is probably a puppet of Darth Maul, who Windu believes, incorrectly, is the Sith Lord.

Obi-Wan follows Fett to Geonosis, and discovers that it is the headquarters for the Separatists. Maul is there, and is preparing their army for a grand assault on the Republic. Obi-Wan sends a message out, and starts snooping around. He confronts Maul, and fights him. Obi-Wan is subdued, and captured.

Qui-gon intercepted the message, and realize they can get to Geonosis before any Republic forces, so they head there. There’s a big fight as they try to rescue Obi-Wan. Qui-gon engages Maul in single combat – and is killed. Amidala and Anakin and the others are captured. For Maul’s pleasure, he makes Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Amidala fight in an arena against several large, horrible creatures.

As this is going on, a Republic force led by Windu arrives, and fights their way through. Windu kills Jango Fett, and engages Darth Maul. The tide is turning, and Maul flees. Windu stays to direct the attack, while Amidala and Anakin chase Maul. They find him in a dark chamber, and engage him. It’s a grueling duel. At one point, Amidala is seriously wounded, which sends Anakin into a rage. He nearly overpowers Maul, before Maul with one brilliant moves cuts off Anakin’s arm.

Back on Coruscant, the council tries to make sense of what’s happening. Windu wants to know where the Chancellor is, and is told he has personally gone to the Koboo system to make a plea for the system to remain in the Republic. This infuriates Windu, who is clearly losing his Jedi cool. Meanwhile, Anakin is recovering in a hospital. He’s been fitted with a mechanical arm. Amidala visits him, noting that he saved her life, quite nearly at the cost of her own. They are becoming closer than two Jedi should. Lastly, somewhere out in the deep recesses of space, aboard a star cruiser, Maul arrives. He is taken through the ship to a chamber. There is a single person in it. Maul bends his knee, and addresses the man as his master. The man, in black robes, removes his hood, and reveals himself. It’s Palpatine. You have done well, he tells Maul. All is going as planned.

Episode V
Revenge of the Sith

War! The Separatist movement has openly attacked the Republic.
Entire systems are engulfed. The death toll is immeasurable.

Jedi Master Windu is convinced that Chancellor Palpatine is stoking
both sides to fight, for what reason though is not clear.

The Jedi Council decides to confront the Chancellor, to get at the heart
of the phantom menace for once and for all. Only, Anakin Skywalker wants to get there first.

The Clone War has exploded across the galaxy. A massive battle is taking place over Coruscant, involving all the Jedi and both clone armies. The Separatists are turned back, at great cost.

After it is over, Windu says he wants to go after the Chancellor. It is obvious now that he is causing all this, pitting one side against the other, and collecting more and more power to himself. Obi-Wan cautions him. The Jedi are not strong enough to take him on.

Anakin and Amidala, meanwhile, are in a bar with some clone soldiers. It’s horrible, Anakin notes, that they are basically being used as slaves, as cannon fodder, in a war that nobody understands. She agrees, and tells him that Windu is going to put an end to all of this. Later, they go back to his home, and make love. The next morning, she is horrified. What they did broke every vow she took. He is less upset. The Jedi order is dying, the Republic is crumbling, the universe is coming apart. Why shouldn’t they be together, if they love each other?

Amidala leaves him, and leaves the planet. She is in her mind no longer a Jedi Knight. Anakin is sickened by her leaving. Infuriated. He joins the council, and learns of the plan to confront the Chancellor. He decides to do that himself. When he gets to the Chancellor’s chambers, Palpatine does not deny it. Indeed, he revels in it. He also has another surprise: Darth Maul is there. Anakin attacks his old enemy, with a fervor. It’s a nasty battle. One that, finally, Anakin wins. He has subdued Maul. Palpatine pushes Anakin over the edge, and talks him into killing Maul in cold blood. He does.

Then, Palpatine seduces Anakin. Asks him why he fights for people who were content to keep him a slave, content even now to condemn millions to die like slaves, just to hold onto their own decadent lives. The Jedi Order is part of that diseased society. Anakin knows this. He sees it. Why support it? Palpatine’s words have an effect on him. Anakin can be better, Palpatine says. Has he fully embraced his Tir? Does he understand where he is headed? Join me, he says, and we can end this mindless conflict. Join me, and become the greatest Jedis, the true Jedis – the Sith. Together, we will create a new order, for the Jedi and the Republic.

Anakin, distraught at losing Amidala, enraged by his own emotions – and vain enough to believe the lies – pledges himself to Palpatine, who renames him Darth Vader. Your first order, Lord Vader, is to kill the rebel Jedi. Start with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Anakin tells Obi-Wan he wants to meet, he needs to talk to him alone, and they do, atop a high-rise. Anakin starts making the Chancellor’s case. Obi-Wan realizes something is wrong with his old apprentice. He is wary. They argue. Finally, Anakin declares the Jedi dead and says the Sith will rule the galaxy. He draws his lightsaber. They battle fiercely, two masters. But Obi-Wan prevails. He slices Anakin up, leaves him for dead. He goes to Windu, and tells him everything. We need to prepare, Windu says. They’ll be coming.

Palpatine rescues Vader, and brings him to a medical facility. I’ll be back, Lord Vader, he says. His next move is to address the Senate, to declare himself Emperor, and disband the Republic. The planet is in total disarray. Millions are fleeing. It’s chaos. Palpatine, now the Emperor, issues Order 66, an order to kill the remaining Jedi. Across the galaxy, the forces loyal to the Republic are being wiped out.

Palpatine goes back to Vader. He is being outfitted in the black suit that will keep him alive. The helmet is put over his head, and he is sealed inside, forever.

“What, what have you done to me?” Anakin says.

“I saved you, Lord Vader.”

“What about the Jedi? What about Amidala?”

“She will be killed. They will all be killed. The Republic is over. The Empire has begun.” Vader, upon hearing all this, rebels. He breaks out of the clamps holding him down, and tries to engage the Emperor. But the Emperor rebuffs every attack, with ease, he sends Vader flying around the room. He breaks him like a horse. “I did not save you so you could whelp about a girl,” he says while Force-choking Vader. “You will have more power than you can possibly imagine, Lord Vader. But you will serve.” The point is clear. Darth Vader is a servant of the Emperor.

The last Jedi are hiding out on a planet called Seswa. Amidala, who disappeared, comes back to them, and they decide to make one last stand against the Emperor and Vader. Windu, Obi-Wan, Amidala, a small group of survivors. They sneak into Coruscant, intent upon killing the Emperor and Vader. On the trip there, Amidala confides in Obi-Wan about her affair with Anakin, and something else: she gave birth. Twins. They are being cared for by the Organas on Alderaan.

The Jedi Knights fight their way through the Emperor’s compound. Windu, Obi-Wan, and Amidala get all the way to his chamber, where he and Vader await. There is an epic battle. Windu is killed. Obi-Wan is killed. The Emperor offers Amidala a chance to join them, which she rejects. “You will pay the price for your lack of vision,” he says. He burns her with bolts of pure energy. She begs Anakin for help. But he just watches. “Now, young Jedi,” the Emperor says, “you will die.” He keeps up the barrage until she is dead. Vader doesn’t lift a finger to help her. He is the Emperor’s minion, and does not question his master’s actions.

In the aftermath of the battle, workers are cleaning the chambers. They pile the dead bodies on a cart, and remove them. They’re going to be incinerated. As this is happening, Obi-Wan awakens. He quietly escapes, and flees the planet. He goes to Alderaan, where he recovers, and where he finds Luke and Leia, the twin children of Amidala and Anakin. He tells Organa that he actually did die in the battle, he actually was hovering over his own lifeless body. He saw the Emperor kill Amidala. It was all over. But he knew, too, that there were still the children, that they were the key to the new fight, and that they’d need him. So he fought his own death, he built a Tir that reversed death, and returned to his body. He convinces Organa that they need to protect the children at all costs. They agree to split them up, the better to hide them. Obi-Wan takes Luke, and brings him back to Tatooine. He finds a childless couple, Owen and Beru Lars, who agree to take the baby, and raise him as their son. Ben renames himself Rune Starfallen, and builds a small house out in the desert wild, from which he can hide from the Empire and keep an eye on Luke.

Episode VI
The Return of the Jedi 

Back to the original trilogy, but now we get a resolution of the Vader-Luke story that doesn’t spoil the plot twist, and maybe even works better, because now the new ending of Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi are closer together. You’ll see what I mean in a second.

This is a bit trickier. This movie hasn’t aged so well. The plan to rescue Han seems painfully convoluted. I’d change it so that it’s only Leia and Chewie that attempt it, with Lando still spying as a guard.

Where’s Luke? Back on Degobah. All the information Luke got from Force-ghost Ben he gets from Yoda, who isn’t actually dying. I always hated that they just made Yoda die in this movie, like they couldn’t figure out anything for him to do, so they just kill him.

Now we don’t need the awkward retcon of Force-ghost Ben telling Luke he was telling the truth, “from a certain point of view.” He lied, that’s it. Luke wasn’t ready for the truth.

There is a small sequence where Luke and Yoda pick up the training sessions again, but then, there’s something else. The Empire has arrived. Vader put together where Luke must have gone, who else could possibly be helping him. Vader goes down, alone, to kill them both. Yoda tells Luke to run, and confronts Vader.

“Better you looked, last time saw each other we did,” Yoda says.

“Don’t think you can take me,” Vader says. “That was a long time ago.”

“Not to me,” Yoda says. He gets in Vader’s way, and fights him. Even though he doesn’t even have a lightsaber, he doesn’t need it. He uses the Force to push Vader around, to nail him with tree limbs, rocks, anything. It’s a pretty epic battle. And Luke does manage to get away. But, eventually, Vader overpowers Yoda, and kills him.

Everybody makes their way back to the fleet, where they learn that the Empire had been building two Death Stars, and the second one is nearing completion. The rest of this part plays out pretty much as scripted. Except for the Ewoks. I’m not going to get rid of them totally, but they do suck, and the idea that they overpower Imperial troops is absurd. So we’ll hedge here just a bit, and have Endor be a planet populated by both Wookies and Ewoks, and it’s the Wookies that are the key element in the battle.

Now, while I’m not making any changes to the whole sequence where Luke is in the Emperor’s chambers, the changes I did make to the ending of Revenge of the Sith should affect this scene. Recall, in my Revenge, the Emperor mercilessly kills Amidala while Vader watches. He makes Luke the same offer he made Amidala, and when Luke rejects it, the Emperor plans to kill him. Again, Vader is watching all this unfold, just as he did before. This time, though, he won’t stand for it. He rebels against his master, picks him up and just throws him down that shaft to his death (that this would actually work on the Emperor, a man with a supreme mastery of the Force, is a whole other issue). Because of the scene at the end of Revenge, this sequence takes on another, deeper complexity.

Oh, and there’s no awkward resolution of a non-existent love triangle. Leia and Han are together, and that’s that.

The Sequel Trilogy

Quick notes: One unpardonable sin of the sequel trilogy is that there isn’t one scene with Luke, Leia, and Han together. I’ve rectified that. Second, there is nothing in here related to Rise of Skywalker. For one thing, as of this writing, I don’t know the plot. For another, it doesn’t matter. It’s clear to me just from the trailers that the last installment is a complete mess, a flood of retcons and J.J. Abrams hand-waving. It’s not worth it. Space horses aren’t going into my story.

Speaking of retcons, right off the bat I took care of something that drives me crazy: I explain how Luke’s lightsaber got from Bespin to Maz’s bar.

Now, there was one intriguing element of Force Awakens and Last Jedi that was completely ignored but shouldn’t have been: the entire story of Luke’s new Jedi academy, and the turning of Ben into Kylo. That’s more compelling than most of what ended up in these movies. So let’s explore that, while the First Order and the New Republic battle it out. That also allows the reintroduction of the concept of Tir from the first trilogy, and how Luke and Rey are traveling along it. More or less, my Tir is just borrowed whole from Taoism. But then again, the Force itself is just sci-fi Taoism as well, so it makes sense.

Episode VII
The First Order

The galaxy recovers slowly from war. The Jedi Knights, led by Luke Skywalker,
are rebuilding. The Republic, led by Leia Skywalker, is rebuilding.

Yet, elements of the old Empire are rebuilding, too. Dubbing themselves
THE FIRST ORDER, they are forcing themselves on vulnerable star systems.

Who leads the First Order isn’t clear. What they want is: to wipe out
any vestiges of the Old Republic, and anybody who still holds it dear…

The First Order opens with a flashback. Youto Kassal and Boceta Holgor are two maintenance workers on the cloud city of Bespin. While cleaning out some air ducts, they find the most unusual thing, an odd metal tube with some buttons on it. They do not know what it is. Yuoto presses a button, and a solid bolt of blue laser emerges – and tears through his chest, killing him. Boceta is horrified, but takes the strange weapon with her out of the duct.

When she gets back into the living areas, it’s a scene of chaos. The Empire is taking over the city, and everybody is fleeing. She has barely enough time to grab a few belongings, including the laser weapon, and get into a small transport that just makes it out.

Boceta travels to a few worlds, before finding herself on a planet called Takodana. She befriends a bar owner named Maz Kanata, and tells her story. She asks Maz to identify a strange object she found just before leaving Bespin. Maz recognizes it as a lightsaber, and impresses upon Boceta its significance. The Jedi have crumbled, this is an important relic. Boceta asks Maz to keep the lightsaber, to make sure it gets back to the Jedi, if any are left. Maz takes it, throws it into a small chest in the bar’s basement, and promptly forgets all about it.

Fast forward to the present. On Yavin 4, Luke Skywalker has established a new Jedi order. He is entertaining a rarely allowed visit from outsiders: his sister, Leia Skywalker, who now uses her real name, and Han Solo. They’ve come to see both Luke and their son, Ben, one of Luke’s prize pupils. Luke, Leia, and Han enjoy the reunion, but it’s coming under duress. Leia updates Luke on the progress of restoring the New Republic. It isn’t going very well. A number of systems have no interest and have gone their own way. Some have come under the sway of some leftover elements from the Empire that call themselves the First Order.

Luke has a number of knights in training, including his nephew, Ben Solo. Another pupil, Gant Jantsk, befriends Ben. He asks him about his grandfather, and his lineage. He asks him whether he can truly ever trust himself to be free of the dark side, and whether even Luke can be free of it. Could the entire order be turned to the dark side? The questions trouble Ben.

Meanwhile, the First Order is establishing new beachheads wherever it can, even an outlier world like the desert planet Jakku. Led by Captain Phasma, an expedition force lands, intent on taking the planet and murdering anybody who stands in their way. They come across a small settlement led by Lor San Tekka, and obliterate it, killing everybody. One of the troopers, FN-2187, is disturbed by the wanton violence of it. He secretly avoids killing any of the civilians. As the force moves on to the only major settlement on the planet, Niima Outpost, FN-2187 dumps his armor and sneaks out in the middle of the night.

Meanwhile, in the Graveyard of Giants, a scavenger named Rey is pulling pieces from the wreckage of ships. She’s lives a meager life in Niima. She brings in her haul, gets paid her pittance, and eats her gruel. Then, she sees a stranger coming out of the desert, desperate and wild. She goes to him, gives him water.

“What’s your name,” she asks.

“F N 2…,” he starts, before saying simply, “Finn. My name’s Finn.” He then spins a tale, saying he came from Lor’s compound, and is the only survivor. The First Order wiped them out, and they’re coming here. There’s no time to lose, everybody’s got to get out. She doesn’t believe him.

“What would the First Order want with this place?” Before he can explain any further, the First Order is there. Ground troops. TIE fighters. They are not alone, however. Also arriving is an armed force from the New Republic. Led by ace pilot Poe Dameron, they engage the First Order in space, on the air, and on the ground. Rey and Finn scramble in the madness, and barely make it out. They steal an old ship, and take off, while its owner comes screaming helplessly.

“Bring that back! That’s my ship!” He watches helplessly as it flies away. “I finally had somebody who was gonna buy it!”

Finn and Rey are quickly intercepted by Han and Chewie, who were actually on their way to buy back the Falcon. Now they are all on the run as the First Order chases escapees. They flee to Takodana, a planet nominally attached to the New Republic, which should be safe. They spend some time there. Rey, who has never left Jakku before, is amazed by everything. She wanders around, eventually finding her way down to the basement of Maz’s bar, and the old lightsaber. She picks it up, and has the disturbing flashbacks.

Back on Yavin 4, Ben is being manipulated by Gant, who in turn is being manipulated by Snoke. Snoke is rebuilding his order, and doesn’t want competition from the Skywalkers. He does, however, want Ben Solo. Yoda warns Luke about this, and Luke considers actually murdering Ben.

Back on Takodana, Maz knows that the New Republic’s military is massing on D’Qar. If they want to join the fight against the First Order, that’s where they should go. Before they can, however, the First Order attacks the planet. Again, Republic forces meet them there, and it’s a violent conflict. The Falcon barely escapes, bound for D’Qar.

Leia meets them there. They’ve tracked the First Order, and are readying the fleet to intercept. We are not surrendering the galaxy again, Leia says.

On Yavin 4, Ben has felt what Luke is thinking in his heart. He is horrified, and angered. Prodded by Gant, Ben confronts his uncle. They fight. Ben convinces some of the trainees to join him, others remain loyal to Luke, and it’s a slaughter. Ben leaves Luke for dead, torches the complex, and leaves with Gant and a few others, bound for the First Order. They will become the Knights of Ren.

The Republic armada meets the First Order armada in the space near Takodana. What they did not know, however, is that the First Order has one secret weapon: A star destroyer outfitted with “Death-Star tech.” During the battle, the Republic flagship, with Leia on board, is damaged. Life systems will fail, everybody will die. Han turns the Falcon back, and they get as many people on board as they can. While dragging Leia out, the systems do fail. He has just enough time to get Leia to a single escape pod, and forces her off the ship. He stays behind, and dies.

The Republic withdraws, shocked at the power of the First Order.

Episode VIII
The Tir of the Jedi

The scramble for systems is on. Member of the Republic appeals
to reason; the First Order uses brute force. Brute force is winning.

Meanwhile, Rey struggles with her vision, and her new life off Jakku.
It’s not clear to her what the visions mean, or what they are telling her to do.

Ben Solo has no such apprehensions. The former Jedi Padawan is a rising
power within the First Order. But he has his eye on becoming THE power…

A flashback, again: On Sacuul, the Hunters learn of the fall of the Old Republic. Snoke, visibly scarred, advises taking advantage of the chaos to spread the rule of the Hunters. Thul decides against this. Snoke secretly kills her, then takes over. He renamed the Hunters the First Order, and begins to exert his power across this part of the galaxy.

Present day: Rey wants to go home. She didn’t want to leave, is overwhelmed by what’s happened, and is troubled by the vision in Maz’s bar. She begs Finn to get a transport and get them out of D’Qar. He convinces her that leaving isn’t an option. Jakku has been overrun, and going back would likely get her killed. For better or worse, they are part of the resistance now.

Ben Solo, renamed Kylo Ren, is now apprentice to Snoke, who is Supreme Leader of the burgeoning First Order. Snoke orders Ren to find Luke Skywalker, kill him, and kill anybody else who is trying to revive the Jedis.

Rey confides in Leia about her vision. Leia is overwhelmed herself. She is in mourning over Han. She’s learned that Luke’s Jedi academy was destroyed, and he is missing. She’s also learned that her own son has been seen within the First Order. But she still can offer Rey this piece of wisdom: The young girl is having Force visions. But those visions are not destiny. That isn’t how the Force works. The Force reveals paths. These paths, these tir, are just options. It’s up to Rey to decide which path she’ll take.

Leia gives Rey a mission: find Luke Skywalker, and bring him back. Leia can’t do it, the Republic needs her. Rey is flabbergasted. She’s no detective, she’s no soldier. Why would she be able to find a missing Jedi Master? Leia reminds her: the vision. They can’t risk sending a large force, either. They need something small that can evade the First Order. Chewie offers up the Falcon, which is his ship now. It’s settled, and off they go.

The Republic is trying to strengthen their hand. A force led by Poe Dameron, and including Finn, has been dispatched to the Chindai System. They meet with local leaders, and start building defenses on the ground and deploying ships in the system. One of the leaders tells Poe that there was already somebody here from the Republic, a old Jedi Knight. He stayed only a short while, and left. Poe figures it must have been Luke.

Rey and Chewie travel to Yavin 4 to begin their investigation. They find the ruined Jedi academy, but nothing that would point to where Luke went. They go to a city, and make inquiries. People are suspicious. Who are you with? They ask. Rey won’t say. Eventually, they are met by Gant, who leers and threatens her. He knows she isn’t with the First Order, not with that big beast. He finds her alone, and pulls his lightsaber, holds it out, imagining it will terrify her. Instead, she ignites her own lightsaber. He is surprised, but happy to have the combat. He toys with her, he laughs at her. She’s not adept with the weapon. The First Order is taking this system, he says, and is taking every other system. She can accept that, or die. She fights back. Gant is shocked, but still eventually controls the fight. He’s about to kill her, when Chewie arrives and shoots him dead.

They get back to the ship, and get the message from Poe that Luke was on Chindai. So Rey and Chewie head there. Poe is in charge of the collective Republic army, but wants Rey to leave. She doesn’t. Instead, she “feels” her way around, literally touching objects that Luke touched. She can sense his presence. She talks to people who talked to him. One mentions that Luke talked about the Coria system.

A First Order ship arrives, and a small shuttle descends to the planet.

Rey wants to go to Coria, but before she can, she is confronted by Kylo Ren. He freezes her, tries to read her mind. He can’t penetrate her thoughts.

“I’m not afraid of you,” she says.

“You will be,” he replies flatly. They fight, and again she is overmatched. “You’re not bad. With the right training, you could be one of us.”

“And be the kind of people who destroyed Jakku? Never.”

Meanwhile, a First Order fleet has arrived. Captain Phasma leads another ground assault, and the two navies fight in space. Poe leads the Republic forces in space, fighting in his X-Wing. Chewie is there, too, in the Falcon with some random troopers manning the guns. Finn is part of the ground defenses.

Again, the First Order is too strong, and the Republic is defeated. Kylo Ren just lets Rey escape. “Go,” he says. “If you want to die with them, die with them.” She runs, and barely escapes with some of the last ground forces. The Republic forces retreat. Rey gets back to the Falcon, and continues her hunt for Skywalker, which now appears to be even more desperately needed than ever.

On their flagship, Kylo and Snoke follow the battle from a chamber, with only Snoke’s personal guards. Snoke is vaunting about the power of First Order. Kylo is less enthused, which Snoke senses. He starts probing his apprentice. Kylo is quiet, brooding. Then, he pulls out his lightsaber and swings at his master. Snoke is shocked, but cool. He holds his guards off.

“You think you deserve all this? All that I’ve built for decades?”

“My grandfather should have been emperor, but he allowed his power to be controlled by another. My mother and uncle wasted their power trying to restore an order that was long dead. I know who I am, and I know my destiny. Finally, a Skywalker will ascend to his rightful place.”

They fight, and Kylo finally kills Snoke, then kills his guards. He is Supreme Leader now. He controls the First Order.

Back on the planet, Rey is telling Finn about everything that’s been happening to her. She still doesn’t understand it all, but she can feel something, a force, that has stirred within her. She knows what she is, she tells him. She’s a Jedi Knight. He smiles charitably. Just stay alive, he says, and come back.

The Falcon arrives at Coria. Rey looks at the planet, literally trying to feel Luke. She picks a spot, and they land. After much searching, they do indeed find Luke. Rey approaches him, holding out the lightsaber. He takes it, looks at, and throws it over his shoulder. He’s done with the Jedi, done with the galaxy. He just wants to be left alone to die in peace. Rey won’t allow it, can’t allow it. People are dying, and the Republic needs all the help it can get. And she needs help. Something has happened to her. She doesn’t know what it is, but it will not leave her, it crowds her head. It’s a vision of him, it’s a vision of Ren. There’s something she’s supposed to be.

Luke says to her, “You get three lessons.”

Episode IX
The Last Jedi

The Republic is on the run, overwhelmed by the vastly superior First Order.

A small group, led by Leia Skywalker, has landed in a key system, one that
could turn the tide, if only its ambivalent leader can choose a side.

Rey, meanwhile, is being trained by Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Jedi.
She is eager to learn, and to convince Luke to come back to the fight.

The First Order has extended its control over dozens of systems. Its expansion seems inexorable. The Republic forces are scattered, on the run. Finn, Poe, Leia, they are just running for their lives now.

On Canto Bight, forces led by Leia Skywalker are trying to negotiate with the local government, to keep them in the Republic. Canto is a key system, where all the big arms dealers are located. If the First Order takes it, they might as well just give up. The local government is headed up by somebody Leia knows from long ago – Lando Calrissian. He’s upset about backing either side. He thinks the Republic is going to lose this fight, and doesn’t want to be on that side. But he’s not interested in joining the First Order, either.

Finn and a new friend, Rose, are taking in some down time, exploring the planet’s biggest city. They see a casino, and a race track. Finn is amazed by the opulence of it all, but Rose is disgusted. She recognizes the tell-tale marks of the slave trade.

“This is what we’re going to give up our lives for?”

“Just the way it is,” Finn says. “I didn’t ask to become a soldier. They forced me to do it.”

“And,” she says. “You left.” It dawns on him, what she’s saying. “We can’t just save the Republic, we need to improve it.”

On Coria, Luke is training Rey. She’s anxious to learn just enough to be an effective fighter, and then go. She wants to get back to the fight, and get Luke there, too. He keeps explaining to her that isn’t what a Jedi Knight does, that if she wants to truly become a Jedi Knight, she needs to let go of her passions, her desires.

On Corusant, Kylo Ren presides over the Senate chamber, the unchallenged ruler of the galaxy. Still, he’s anxious. He knows Republic forces are still out there. He knows that Luke and Leia are still out there. He knows Rey is still out there. They all need to be wiped out.

On Coria, Rey has a vision in her sleep. It’s Kylo, killing everybody she knows: Finn, Poe, Leia, Luke. She shares it with Luke, who tells her to ignore it. She won’t do that. Your own sister is in the vision, she says. But Luke is adamant. Slowly, Rey realizes that Luke isn’t just living on this planet. He is hiding on this planet. He’s been scarred and broken by everything that’s happened. He can’t go back to the universe. He won’t go back.

In the space over Canto Bight, Poe leads a defense against a small First Order attack. They repel it, and are victorious. People want to celebrate, but Poe knows better. That was just a snub force. They’re just testing us. They’ll be back.

Back on the planet, Leia and a delegation that includes Poe, Finn, and Rose, are negotiating with a group that includes Lando, Maz, and a man she refers to only as the “master code breaker,” and another man, DJ. Leia is trying to impress upon them that the First Order is coming back, and will take this planet. No matter what promises are made, all of you, Leia says, will be either killed or driven away. You know, she says pointedly to Lando, what happens when you make deals with these people.

Back on Coria, Rey is going to leave. The visions are becoming more frequent. She can’t push them out. Luke is again coldly philosophical about events elsewhere, something that really pisses her off.

“I will not hide out here while everyone I know and care about dies,” she says. “That would be like being dead already.” Her words sting Luke, but he still is not prepared to go with her. So off she goes, alone. She failed in her mission to bring back Luke Skywalker, a fact which greatly worries her, and it’s not the only thing that worries her. She may have sounded brave to Luke, but she’s terrified of what she’s going to, and she’s sure that she isn’t ready to face Kylo again. She simply sees no alternative. Events are not going to wait for her to finish her training. She leaves.

Kylo Ren is on the First Order flagship, prepared to lead the assault on Canto Bight personally. “We are going to kill them,” he says. “All of them.”

On Canto, the Lando-led government finally decides to throw in with the Republic. Lando and DJ bring the Republic to a vast complex, warehouses filled with arms, fields of brand-new ships. There are enough people on Canto to give the Republic a new army, Lando tells her.

“How do you know they’ll fight?” Rose asks.

“We tell them to,” DJ says.

“No,” Rose says flatly. “We are not doing that anymore.” She looks at Leia, and Leia agrees.

Next, Leia Skywalker can be seen on a video screen. Indeed, on video screens across the planet. She is making a speech. It’s a stirring speech, about the value of fellowship, and freedom, and living a life for yourself and for others. The First Order is coming, she says, and it’s going to wipe out this planet. But, she will not order anybody to fight. As of this moment, every person on Canto Bight is free. Free to choose what they want to do. She isn’t going to lie, they need fighters, and many are going to die. But you’ll die free, and you’ll be saving everybody else. This is the New Republic, she says. We live for ourselves, and for each other.

As they are making preparations, Rey arrives. Lando is back in the Falcon with Chewie. Leia is on the Republic flagship. She isn’t going to sit out the fight on the planet. Poe is leading the fighters.

Finn and Rose are going to lead an assault team onto a star destroyer, to try and take it over and use it against the First Order. Finn’s team has some high tech help, courtesy of the arms dealers of Canto. They’ve got equipment that will allow them to hack the destroyer’s computers, shut down force fields and get on the ship.

The First Order arrives. It’s a massive fleet. The fight is fierce. Poe leads a small group that wipes out the surface cannons on a massive dreadnaught. That opens a path for a squadron of bombers to attack.

Finn’s team heads off to their target. They get on, and begin fighting. This ship is under the command of Phasma, who leads her own troops in the fight against the invaders. It’s a spirited fight, but ultimately, Phasma’s troopers are too much. Rose sacrifices her life to save Finn.

The bombers make their attack run on the dreadnaught. All but one are destroyed. The last one, though, manages to drop its payload, and the massive ship is destroyed.

It’s a grueling, epic fight, but Leia is already doing the math in her head, and she can see how it’s going to go. Even with the additional forces from Canto, they are probably going to lose.

Finn fights Phasma hand to hand, and eventually defeats her. Sending her plunging to her death. But he is virtually alone now, and badly outnumbered. He heads back to his ship, and does the only thing he can: runs a self-destruct program. He blows up his ship, in the hanger. It causes a chain-reaction that cripples the star destroyer.

Elsewhere in the fight, Poe does myriad daring, bold Poe things. Lando and Chewie also are doing their best. But it’s just all going against them. The First Order is just too powerful.

Leia orders everybody to evacuate the ship, and she sounds a general retreat. Rey doesn’t want to go, at least not without Leia, but Leia grabs her hand, tells her to trust in the force. The words are unusually soothing. It’ll all be okay, Leia says. Just go. So, Rey does, to an escape pod, and down to Canto.

Most of the other Republic ships are also turning to run, so Leia now employs her real plan: she points her ship at Kylo’s flagship, cranks the engines, and rams full speed into it.

“I’m so sorry, son,” Leia says, right before her ship hits his ship. The ships collide, with the First Order flagship torn in half. The resulting explosion causes a chain reaction through a number of other First Order ships. It’s an incredible sacrifice.

Kylo escapes in a pod, lands on the planet. He eventually runs into Rey, and they fight. He’s winning, and then…Luke arrives. Luke and Rey together take on Ren. Luke apologizes for failing him. First, Kylo defeats Luke, leaves him for dead. Then, Rey kills Kylo. Rey goes to Luke, who is barely breathing. “Good job, kid,” he says. She’s sobbing. You can’t die. Not you and Leia.

“This isn’t the end,” he tells her. “Not for me, not for you. And not for the Jedi.” And then, he does die. His body simply evaporates, leaving only clothes behind.

The First Order has been defeated. There is a massive celebration on Canto.

Much later, we see Poe, who is a general and in charge of all Republic forces. Lando is still on Canto, but he is now chancellor of the New Republic government.

We see Rey, on Ahch-To, reading the ancient Jedi scrolls, trying to learn everything she wasn’t taught. As she reads the ancient words, she hears them as voices in her head.  Luke, and Yoda, and Leia. The Force, inside everybody is it. Being open to it is all that’s required. The Tir that led you here is the Tir that can carry you further. As a Jedi, you must be willing to help others, to open their eyes as well.

Back on Canto, we see three small children, former slaves. One is telling the story of the Republic to the others, of the sacrifice of Luke and Leia Skywalker, the victory of Rey and how in the New Republic everybody is free. Eventually, the boy’s father comes in, wants to know if his son has finished his chores for the day. He has not. So off he goes, to sweep the stalls. He sticks his hand out and unconsciously uses the force to pull a broom to him. He starts to sweep, but is distracted by the night sky, by the thousands of stars, but the big galaxy beyond. He stares up at the stares, transfixed, the Force stirring inside him.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re either my sister, my cousin Ray, Sam Favate, or a fellow fanatic, in which case, thanks. Find your best Tir and follow it.

One thought on “The Editor Awakens

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