Don’t get me wrong I love Poe Dameron. Seriously I don’t want to imagine Star Wars without him but I was up early, 7am sunday morning doing the ironing, and into my head popped “that’s one hell of a pilot!” and suddenly it hit me.
In my Rise of Skywalker review I said I wish that the movies would make good use of existing canon rather than just inventing new stuff all the time.
Now I’m not talking about changing the plot/story arc of any of the movies even though there are some things I don’t like. I’m just talking about tweaking little details. It would have been a huge screaming moment for fans of the expanded canon and it wouldn’t have been any different really for more casual fans of the movies.
First movie. Everything’s the same except there’s a patch on the flight jacket of Sabine’s republic phoenix. Also Kylo Ren refers to Jacen as “the one that got away” because Jacen would have been a few years older, in fact perhaps about the same age his father was when Order 66 happened. So Jacen wasn’t at Luke’s new Jedi temple when Kylo Ren went on his rampage.
(side note: Jacen being so close to BB-8 would make sense as his mother is so close to Chopper, so would probably have got Jacen his own droid when he was old enough)
This is when some cool foreshadowing stuff could have happened. When Leia is chewing Jacen out for the attack which cost so many lives “get your head out of your cockpit” she could have referenced his grandfather. Something like:
“There was a time when the rebellion was trying to come together. We needed a base, somewhere safe to land our ships, and so your mother decided to steal an Imperial Light Carrier ship. Your grandfather thought it was more important that the ship exploded over Ryloth as a visual symbol to free his people. Your mother argued that the rebellion was more than just one battle or one planet. It was about freeing the galaxy.”
“The bigger picture”
and Leia and Jacen in The Last Jedi could also have had another bonding moment in which Leia as a Jedi could have been referenced. Jacen gave up being a Jedi after the destruction of Luke’s Jedi temple, seeing what happened there was such a shock he stepped back from the force (similar to Cal Kestis). Leia could remind him that his father stepped away from the force for a long time after Order 66. Jacen could say “I get that, I just don’t get how he went back.” and Leia could say that maybe he will one day, when the time is right. Which could lead into why she hadn’t reached out to Kylo with the force.
“The dark side clouds everything.”
“Or maybe he’s just not ready to hear you yet.”
Either hinting at Palpatine suffocating the force around Kylo, or that something else needs to put a crack in Kylo’s metaphorical armor first.
Rise of Skywalker
With the Mandalorian Disney could have had some cross-marketing opportunities. Jacen takes C-3PO to the droid hacker he can trust the most – his Aunt Sabine. She would be older than Leia but still a mandalorian, she still held the dark saber for a while before she gave it to Bo-Katan Kyrze and helped liberate Mandalore.
This would give Leia making Jacen the General added weight – General Syndulla, a legacy he perhaps thought he would never live up to.
Then when they are attacking the Sith Capitol ships the Ghost can drop out of hyperspace and say something like “Spectre 7, Spectre 2 is on your left.” which would have been a huge cheering moment. Hera is getting older and her reflexes aren’t what they were so along with Wedge she helps the resistance by travelling the galaxy to recruit pilots, sometimes training them up. However, for this nothing would stop her.
“Phoenix leader, call the marks”
bestowing Jacen her callsign which thematically would have been beautiful what with the phoenix rising from the ashes and being eternal.
The force is in all living things and Yoda always said to have faith in the force. The galaxy has been cyclical for thousands of years. I still think it would have been so much better if after Luke’s Jedi temple was destroyed he went looking for the Jedi homeworld of Tython.
It had been kept hidden from the Sith forever and he didn’t want to be the Jedi who revealed it. That would explain why that guy had a map fragment (it was to the Jedi homeworld, not Luke) and also why he’d been stuck there (the first order damaged his ship, he escaped into hyperspace but continued his fathers tradition of crashlanding) and he couldn’t repair his ship without parts.
Luke explores Tython and the ruins of the Jedi Temple (some nice Easter eggs, perhaps a status of Satele Shan) and all that time there meditating Luke sees the cyclical nature. The Jedi wipe the Sith out, they bide their time and return (ala Swtor), the Jedi wipe the Sith out, think them destroyed and then Palpatine comes. This time the Jedi are on the verge of extinction.
So when Rey asks Luke to leave Tython and rejoin the resistance he could be the wise old master who says that his path in the force is clear, that he has seen he will not leave Tython. Luke can say that the time of the Jedi is over – that he should be the Last Jedi – because he trusts the force and the force is finding a new third way to finally end the cycle.
That third way lives in Rey who was born by the dark side but chose the light. That third way lives in Jacen who has been scarred by the Jedi failing to change more than most. That third way lives in Finn who did what was right, not what was easy, but his goodness is tempered with realism. He’s not one to tilt at windmills, he is the grounding force to Rey’s idealism (the hope that burned bright even when it should have been lost) and Jacen’s recklessness.
No reason why they can’t all be force-sensitive. It would be against the odds but the galaxy has a plan and needed her champions.