It’s frustratingly rare that we ever get to pierce the cloud of obfuscation that is “creative differences”, that oft-quoted reason given whenever a filmmaker leaves a project. Yesterday though, that changed when it came to Colin Trevorrow’s original plans for Star Wars: Episode IX, the movie that would eventually become JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker. Thanks to producer/Youtuber Robert Meyer Burnett we learned that the film would have been called Star Wars: Duel of the Fates and boasted a number of arcs that didn’t just feel more satisfactory, but had way more cohesion with the opening two chapters of this Star Wars trilogy than what we got in rushed and sloppy The Rise of Skywalker. There were some red flags, but which early script draft didn’t have those?
And in a follow-up to his initial script breakdown video, Burnett delved further into Trevorrow’s script, particularly when it came to Rey and Kylo Ren’s story in its latter half which had been glossed over initially. And the newly revealed details… well, we can now maybe see why Lucasfilm bumped heads with Trevorrow over it. Here’s the Reddit recap of Burnett’s second video:
- RMB starts at PG 45 where Kylo reaches Remnicore….
- Kylo approaches an “Ancient stone military battlement consumed by time. Skeletons of fallen war beasts litter the terrain. Whatever battle happened here ended centuries ago. He passes empty suits of armor, robes draped over broken shields. Flags flutter in the wind. A Sith helmet on the ground skull visible within. A reminder that while the Jedi live on…the Sith become dust.”
- Kylo tracking beacon flashes and he enters a fortress. He hear’s a voice. It’s TOR VALUM. Kylo asks if he trained Plagueis. Valum says that “name means nothing to me”. Kylo threatens him. Valum: “You wish to obtain the powers of those who came before. Take your place among the gods of Mortis.”
- Valum: “You call yourself a Sith? The Sith are unrepentant, remorseless. You are haunted by the past, your very existence.” Valum instructs Kylo to sever the past or he will suffer the fate of the corpses around the fortress.
- Valum: “The living force is nourishment. The more one consumes the stronger one becomes. To take life is to cheat death.”
- Valum shows Kylo how to consume life (described as vampiric). Essentially remove the force from living beings.
- Back to Coruscant w/ Team A (Rose, Finn, R2, 3PO). Finn is shocked how many citizens are living underground.
- Rose: “Rich folks don’t spend much time thinking about who and what they’re standing on.”
- 3P0 comments his knowledge is only limited to the Upper Levels. R2 beeps at him and 3P0 responds: “Elitist? Where did you even learn that word?”
- Team A’s plan is to turn the beacon on and 3P0 will send a hologram of Leia to the 50 planets (ode to Leia’s message in ANH).
- R2/3P0 enter the Jedi Temple. Homeless citizen live in/around it. Described as “a sad reminder of a better time.” R2 ribs 3P0 for standing out.
- Back to REMINCORE: Kylo removes the living force from a 3 tusked Gronk Boar. As Valum trains Kylo, they notice a cave. Valum refers to it as a “vergence” in the Force. Kylo enters it and confronts Vader.
- Vader bests Kylo. Disheveled and angry, Kylo asks Valum where Mortis is. Valum calls it the “well of the living Force. The source of the galaxy’s birth.” Valum says Kylo isn’t worthy. Kylo retaliates draining the force from Valum, killing him.
- At Coruscant: Team A lights the beacon. As 3P0 projects the hologram, the story cuts to different locales (RMB mentions Bendu monks among the groups).
- The signal reaches a palace on Trandosha. “Bossk, sitting like a sultan in his den of pleasures, turns angrily towards the hologram projected from his servant droid.” Leia says “our voices will not be silenced.” Bossk looks at a light coming from a “Red rock spire” and clenches his fist (indicating he dislikes the First Order).
- The signal also reaches a boy and his sister watching the hologram from an R6 unit near their moisture vaporator on Tatooine. Leia: “We can no longer live in the shadow of the First Order. We must step into the light.”
- EDIT: RMB says the transmission is cut halfway.
- RMB describes a set piece on Bonadan where Team B (Rey, Poe, Chewie, BB-8) are on a sailing ship (term: Razer Sail) on the water and get attacked by the Knights of Ren from their Knife 9 ship. Eventually Rey battles the Knights of Ren.
- During the fight Rey has visions (of what is not described). She ultimately kills the Knights.
- Rey is conflicted and tells Poe she had no choice. Poe says “It’s okay. Jedi do that, right?” Rey knows who the Knights are, but is unsure how she knows them. She tells Poe: “You can’t go where I’m going.” Poe asks why and Rey replies that the Resistance needs him. RMB notes that Poe has a crush on Rey throughout the script. Rey keeps pushing for Poe to leave, going so far to try to Mind Trick him, but Poe resists. There is a back and forth with Mind Trick and ultimately Rey kisses Poe, causing him to submit to the Mind Trick and leave. 😬😬😬
- Rey takes the Knife 9.
- Poe, Chewie, BB-8 take the Falcon back to the stolen Eclipse Star Destroyer.
- Hux contacts Kylo as he exits Remnicore’s orbit, warning him that Resistance tried to overcome the Coruscant blockade. Kylo reveals he was the one who stopped the Force Beacon.
- Hux urges Kylo to use whatever power he has acquired to intimidate the Resistance. Kylo: “Snoke was right about you. Without faith you only serve yourself.” He then goes to Mortis.
- Leia goes to a smokey “cabaret club” owned by Lando on the planet Alaforn (ode to Indy visiting Marion in Raiders). Lando tells Leia most of his club’s clientele are First Order, but she says needs Lando’s help since he knows smugglers. Lando reveals he promised Han he would take care of Leia in case something happened.
- He takes her to a docking bay and says she needs to leave since he can’t protect her. Leia keeps urging him to join the fight. Lando: “We won a war once already. What good did that do?” He kisses her on the forehead and declines.
- Rey heads to Mortis. There are no stars around it, just deep black. Her ships power suddenly dies and she crashes.
- Simultaneously Kylo arrives at Mortis.
- The final battle at Coruscant occurs. Again, ode to ROTJ’s 3rd Act w/ a ground, air, and space battle.
- Chewie flies an X-Wing.
- Rose is captured and tortured reminiscent of Han’s torture in ESB. She is defiant and eventually is able to escape.
- MORTIS: Rey climbs an “icy peak.” She reaches a plateau and finds statues of “robed ancients” who are not Jedi. She has vision taking her back to the desert of Jakku. She hears a child’s voice scream. Rey turns and sees herself.
- Young Rey is being dragged by her mother and father. They let her go and leave. Rey’s mother turns back and runs towards Rey, but is stopped by Rey’s father. Papa Rey: “We can’t. It’s too dangerous.” Mama Rey: “Wait here. We’ll come back.”
- Rey (out of her vision now) screams “Why did no one come back.”
- Kylo (also on Mortis) walks through the woods. He finds a house with smoke coming out of the chimney. Kylo watches a younger version of himself (robbed) approach the house. He’s in a vision. Young Ben opens the door to see Han Solo.
- Han Solo: “What are you doing?” Ben: “That’s not my name anymore.” Han: “Your mother can’t see you anymore, not like this.” Ben: “I’m not coming back. There’s a greater destiny for me.” Han: “They’re lies son. Empty promises. You have everything you need right here.” Ben: “What? You? Her? My master says I have unequal power neither of you understand.” Han: “Your mother understands more than anyone.” Ben: “She sent me away.” Han: “To learn. To grow.” Ben: “I have grown.” Han: “Your mother loves you.” Ben: “She’s afraid of me.”
- Han asks Ben for his lightsaber. It then cuts to Kylo killing Han in TFA.
- Kylo begins to climb the icy mountain.
- Battle of Coruscant continues.
- Kylo confronts Rey at the top of the mountain where a huge temple is located. Kylo: “The force is strong in this place. Can you feel it?” Rey: “You’re in pain beneath that mask.” Kylo: “Get out of my head. You won’t like what you find.”
- Rey and Kylo begin to use the force against each other. Kylo: “I’m stronger than Anakin Skywalker. Stronger than his son.” Rey: “…but you’re still afraid.” Kylo: “Of what? You?” Rey: “Of what you’ve become. The dark side has left you empty. A husk.” Kylo: “I don’t have to be alone. With the power of this place, WE could rule t tthe galaxy as the ancients did. The dark side AND the light.”
- Rey: “You still think I’d join after what you did to my family.” Kylo is taken aback. Rey: “Were you going to tell me here? Weaken me with the truth? I know what you did. Deep down I’ve always known.”
- Rey: “My parents didn’t sell me from drinking money. They were hiding…from you.” Kylo: “So you remember?”
- Flashback to TFA shot of Knights of Ren in the rain with the screams of a child. Kylo: “Snoke made his orders clear. Find anyone who could destroy him. It didn’t take us long to find YOU.”
- Kylo: “You blame me for your life on Jakku. You should thank me for it. You were safe.” Rey: “Say it. Did you kill them?” Kylo: “Yes. I did.”
- Kylo reveals all he wants is behind the temple doors.
- They battle. At one point both try to sap the living force out of each other.
- Side gag: At Coruscant 3P0 and R2 spot an R06 droid trying to send a distress signal. R2 beeps at 3P0 to stop it and 3P0 runs through gunfire and rips the back panel off, destroying it.
- Kylo to Rey: “I could’ve been your teacher. I could’ve ended your pain.” Kylo strikes a blow across Rey’s face, leaving a scar from her “cheek to her forehead.” Rey screams in pain and falls down the temple stairs. She has been blinded.
- Kylo enters the Temple of Mortis.
- In the Battle of Coruscant, R2 is destroyed. R2’s “head is scorched. Emotion like we’ve never seen before from 3P0. Finn is speechless. He is crushed by it all. Chewie takes R2’s scorched shell onto his back.”
- Kylo passes statues of the Ancients and reaches a stone slab. He opens it, to reveal…nothing. “Kylo searches the rune covered walls for answers, but only finds arcane sculpted faces.” Angry, he slashes at the statues with his lightsaber.
- Force Ghost Luke appears to Kylo. Luke: “You’ve lost Ben.” Luke confronts Kylo. Luke: “Darth Vader was weak. His love for his family saved them. I wish I could save you.” Kylo: “I did what I had to do.” Luke: “You are no Skywalker.”
- Rey senses Luke. Luke: “You can’t defeat us.” Rey takes a piece of cloth a blindfolds herself.
- Intercut between battle sequences, Luke: “The Force surrounds us. It penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. We are bound by the force and we will not be broken.” Luke’s force ghost vanishes.
- Rey battles Kylo: “Our masters were wrong. I will not deny my anger and I will not reject my love. I am the darkness and I am the light.” Kylo: “You are nothing. You are NO ONE.” Rey: “No one is no one.”
- Side: RMB says Hux has been trying to use the Force throughout the script and is revealed to be a lightsaber collector. Once it becomes clear, the First Order is losing the battle of Coruscant he pulls out a purple lightsaber and commits seppuku.
- “Kylo counters Rey’s every move. They are evenly matched. Two sides of the same coin — flame and shadow — fighting to the death. A vicious swing and Kylo’s lightsaber shatters at the hilt. Destroyed along with several fingers on his hand.”
- Rey stands over him and separates her dual lightsaber. As the force energy surrounds her like a glow, Kylo seethes. He tries to extract the living Force out of Rey. He gets stronger and stands. His face rejuvenates, allowing him to remove the metal attachment. Rey gets weaker, dying she pleads Ben to stop.
- Leia sensing all of this, reaches out to Kylo. She begs him to come home. He feels what Vader felt when confronted with Luke’s pain and grabs Rey’s hand, returning her life force. “Both the light and the dark swirl within Rey as Kylo is reduced to an empty shell.”
- In his dying breath, Kylo reveals Rey’s last name is “Solana.” He dies.
- Battle of Coruscant rages on.
- Rey lays on the stone slab still injured. “Light fills up the space around her. Particles of energy floating up. She rises with the energy. The light engulfs the frame until we reach a place beyond what we know. The Astral Plane.”
- Yoda, Luke, and Obi Wan appear before her. Rey: “Is this death?” Obi-Wan: “In this place, there is no such thing as death.” Yoda reveals Rey succeeded were they failed. Luke: “You choose to embrace the dark side and the light. To find the balance within.”
- They offer Rey a choice to stay in the comfort of the Astral Plane or to return to the living where she will experience both love/loss. The spirits fade. Obi-Wan: “You are a Jedi, Rey Solana, but you will not be the last.”
- Chewie repairs R2 as 3P0 observes. He expresses concern over losing R2 to Leia. Leia inserts R2’s memory bank (ode to Leia putting the DS plans in R2 in ANH) and he comes back to life. R2 projects 60 years worth of memory all from his POV (Luke buying him from the Jawas, Luke getting Anakin’s lightsaber, flying through the Death Star trench, Han getting his medal on Yavin, Yoda lifting the X-Wing from the swamp, Luke saluting from the plank on Jabba’s barge, Han/Leia outside on the bunker on Endor). Leia is taken aback from seeing the memories.
- CUT TO: MODESTA. Ranch-like planet. Finn is there. Rey Solana arrives to train a new group of Jedi.
While there are definitely still some really cool ideas in there, there are also some clunkers: Hux essentially being a lame General Grievous ripoff, Rey/Poe’s romance coming out of nowhere, Force Ghost Luke telling Kylo that he’s “no Skwyalker”. Oof. And that’s before we get to the Rey and Kylo stuff.
Kylo being revealed to have killed Rey’s parents on Snoke’s orders at least makes sense of Rey’s vision of the Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens, but all the mystical Force stuff in that final act gets very hokey, Jedi Heaven being the most egregious. Also, Trevorrow apparently had the same ideas we had when it came to making Rey… sorry, Rey Solana… a grey Jedi. Yes, it’s never explicitly said, but it’s implied that Rey is a combination of both Light and Dark. The Lucasfilm Story Group has previously shot down this theory quite loudly saying that they really don’t like the concept at all, so it’s surprising that Trevorrow would go for it.
That’s probably not the biggest reason why Disney/Lucasfilm would have taken issue with this script though. Kylo Ren’s redemption arc back to Ben Solo is pretty much non-existent here, and that would have been a big no-no for the higher-ups. Especially since earlier in this very script, Rey keeps proclaiming that she can still turn him back to the Light. To have that type of setup and then not follow through? To have a Skywalker turn bad but then stay bad except for a tiny flicker right at the end? There’s no way Disney would have gone for that. And if Trevorrow had stuck to his guns on this and the grey Jedi idea, then I can see why they would have parted ways.
(This is, of course, completely ignoring the fact that what Trevorrow proposed for Ben Solo here is kind of exactly what happened with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Search your feelings; you know it to be true.)
With new confirmations about the legitimacy of this leaked script coming from Collider and /Film, it’s also clear now why Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly still retained a story credit on The Rise of Skywalker as a number of their ideas were tweaked and repurposed by JJ Abrams for his film. To be fair, as a whole, this script for Duel of the Fates reads very much like a bunch of the old Expanded Universe novels, way more than any of the live-action movies though (especially since it pulls from lore, like Mortis, only ever mentioned in the animated shows). While those worked in the written word, we don’t know how that approach would have translated to the big screen. And we’ll probably never know now.
Last Updated: January 16, 2020