I was left with many thoughts and questions, but one stood out in my mind. All stories have to leave events out and the viewer/reader has to make assumptions about what happened in the gaps. Star Wars VIII (8, for those challenged by ancient numerical systems) will focus on the action, not on all the planning that the villains must do to achieve their goals. Based on what has happened in the previous movies, here is what I think must happen in between VII and VIII.
In wake of their embarrassing defeat, Supreme Leader Snoke has organized a retreat for his top leadership. This mainly consists of team building exercises, but first he has told them to have a meeting to review what went wrong and how they can do better. General Hux (the First Order bad guy who is not Kylo Ren), takes a donut for himself and then calls the meeting to order.
General Hux: Okay, who wants to start?
Hux: Come on. Someone has to start. Just say one thing that didn’t work well.
Even more silence.
Unidentified voice from the back of the room: He’s going to choke us.
Voice: If we say anything negative, he’s going to choke us with the force.
Hux: Lord Vader is no longer with us.
Voice: Kylo Ren will force choke us. That’s what he always does.
Hux: Don’t be silly. You may speak freely.
Voice: He’s <aaahhhh> choking <gurrrr> me …. now!
Kylo Ren: Sorry.
Hux: So that’s the first thing we’ll add to the list.
Hux takes a marker out and writes “Environment not conducive to feedback” on the whiteboard.
Hux: Let’s start from the beginning. What was the Empire’s first plan to destroy the Rebellion?
Captain Jones: They built a Death Star.
Hux: Please explain for the sake of the new people.
Jones: It’s a huge space laser the size of a moon that can destroy whole planets.
Hux: And what happened?
Jones: A small band of rebels found a critical weakness and blew it up.
Hux: And then what did the Empire do next?
Hux: Speak up!
Captain Smith: They built another big space laser.
Hux: And what happened to it?
Smith: A small band of rebels found a critical weakness and blew it up.
Hux: Yes. The Empire was defeated. But from it’s ashes rose the First Order!
Cheers erupt around the room. Arms are raised in salute.
Hux: And what did the glorious First Order do?
Jones: We built a massive space laser.
Hux: Was it the size of a mere moon?
Hux: How big was it?
Smith: As big as a planet!
Hux: And could it destroy only one planet at a time?
Hux: And what happened to it?
Jones (quietly): A small band of rebels found a critical weakness and blew it up.
Hux: So what ideas do we have now?
Jones: We need to focus on fighting tactics. I mean we have way more troops than they do. We should be able to defeat the Rebels –
Jones: Right. We should be able to defeat the Resistance with simple overwhelming force. But something isn’t working.
Hux: What do you suggest?
Jones: Maybe … Maybe we stop having the Storm Troopers wear armor?
Smith: Yeah. He’s right. They can barely see out of the helmets. They never hit anything. The armor doesn’t even stop blasters. Sometimes I think it even makes things worse. Rebels in ordinary clothes get hit with a blaster and they’re often just wounded. Storm Troopers in armor are killed with one shot. Every time.
Hux: The Storm Trooper armor is key to intimidating the enemy.
Smith: They’re obviously not intimidated. I’ve seen rebels walk through literally dozens of Storm Troopers blasting away, missing with every shot.
Kylo Ren extends his hand and force chokes Captain Smith. After a few seconds of gurgling, his body falls to the floor.
Hux: Any other suggestions?
A hand reluctantly raises from the crowd.
Hux: Yes, Captain Johnson?
Johnson: How about we build a really super massive space laser.
A hush falls over the crowd.
Hux: How big?
Johnson: As big as … as big as a solar system!
The crowd gasps.
Hux: That’s brilliant. See to it immediately, Admiral Johnson.