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SPECULATION The Three Act Structure Applied to TLJ

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' started by robotical712, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    The standard for screenplays in the film industry is the three act structure with six stages, two per act. Marking the transitions between each stage are 'turning points'. It's important to remember the names are abstract descriptions of what happens in each stage and aren't literal. The three act structure is generally defined as follows:

    • First Act (Setup): This act sets the stage. It introduces the characters (or reintroduces them) and the setting in the first stage (setup). The first act also introduces the main conflict or challenge of the film, which is known as the 'inciting incident' or 'opportunity' which marks the start of the second stage (new situation).

    • Plot Point 1 (Change of plans): This plot point redefines the main challenge.

    • Second Act (Confrontation): The second act involves the hero trying to resolve the steadily worsening conflict. The hero lacks the tools, knowledge or skills necessary to successfully resolve the conflict, which often leads to their attempts worsening it. The first part (stage 3) of the the second act is the 'progress' stage, where the hero overcomes the early obstacles and appears to be getting close to their goal. The midpoint of the film and act marks the point where the challenges for the hero become much greater and where they must fully commit to their goal (point of no return). The second stage (stage 4 overall) of the second act is the 'complications and higher stakes' stage.

    • Plot Point 2 (Major Setback): This is an event in which the hero fails and they're the furthest from completing their goal.

    • Third Act (Resolution): The last act and where the hero achieves their goal. This act starts out with the hero in a rapidly worsening situation that the hero must put all of their effort towards overcoming in a stage known as the 'final push'. At the climax, the situation for the hero is at its most desperate. However, it's at this point the hero finds the means to resolve the problem. The obstacles are rapidly overcome and the hero finally achieves their goal moving into the 'Aftermath' stage.
    Running alongside the main plot are often subplots that usually merge with the main plot by the third act. There's rarely more than one or two subplots and they fall within their own hierarchy. The ST is unique in that the main antagonist also has his own character arc which runs in parallel with the protagonist's.

    Applying the Three Act Structure to TLJ
    With the basics of a screenplay story structure defined, we can apply it to what we know of TLJ. First, the main conflict of TLJ will be Rey convincing Luke to join the fight. This conflict will be the context in which the rest of the movie occurs and how the plot will be structured. Second, the subplots will be Finn and Poe's stories with Finn's being the most important. Third, as the principle antagonist, Kylo's plot will run parallel and eventually merge with Rey's. The aim of this exercise is not to predict every detail of the plot, but to lay out the main events and consequences of the main plot while providing a framework for the subplots.

    Act I
    The key to understanding the first act is to understand this act is an exploration and deconstruction of Luke as a legend. Rey has heard grandiose stories about his exploits and TFA built him up as a messiah. It's with these expectations that Rey (and us) first encounter him.

    Stage 1: Setup

    The opening is tricky since TFA ended on a cliffhanger. Traditionally, all Star Wars movies open in space, but that can't really be done for Ahch-To. With Finn still in a coma and Kylo en route to Snoke, it's also unlikely to open with an attack on D'Qar. Given the tradition of opening with a Star Destroyer in the shot, he natural place to start is with Kylo going to Snoke. TLJ will likely follow tradition and pan down (or up) to a First Order Star Destroyer with Kylo's shuttle emerging and going to Snoke's Super Star Destroyer. There gold-robed Snoke will chew him out for his failure on Starkiller and tell him they need to find Luke and Rey quickly. Snoke will order Kylo to join the attack on the Resistance at D'Qar and to bring the map to him. Kylo probably throws a tantrum when he's away from Snoke.

    Next up is D'Qar. With Finn in a coma, he's the perfect expy for reminding the audience of what happened in a movie many of them last saw two years ago. He also needs to be back on his feet so the rest of the movie's action can happen. So, we'll see Finn wake up, have a brief scene with Poe and get a quick recap of what happened and whats about to happen. In the mean time, the rest of the Resistance is preparing to evacuate and many surviving ships from the New Republic have joined them. Finn will naturally want to know about Rey, which nicely sets up the next scene.

    Finally, we go to Ahch-To and watch what we've all been waiting two years for. As shown in the BTS reel, Luke does go to and accepts the lightsaber. At this point, he probably doesn't know who she is and this will likely end up being a minor plot point (1). At the end of the scene Luke will rebuff Rey and the main challenge will become apparent.

    Inciting Incident

    After the introduction to Ahch-To the plot will shift to defining the main conflict - Luke's in despair. His statement that the Jedi must end will serve to underline just how defeated he feels.

    • Note - from here on out, this is going to get increasingly speculative. Little is definitively known about most of the movie. This lays out the likely story trajectory as I see it based on reliable leaks and official marketing material.
    Stage 2: New Situation

    This stage will be devoted to exploring Luke's state, current situation and providing exposition on Ahch-To itself. It will likely be during these scenes we'll get to meet the Porgs, Rey will fight the sea monster and Luke will reunite with Artoo and Chewie. Rey's scene in the rain probably falls also falls in this segment. At this point scene order becomes much harder to predict and I'll simply provide descriptions of what happens in each stage.

    D'Qar:
    On D'Qar, the Resistance is frantically trying to leave before the First Order arrives. With their location known, the First Order is going to waste no time attempting to wipe out the only remaining organized opposition to their domination of the galaxy. During these scenes, Leia will give Finn a mission and Finn will meet Rose. The First Order will arrive and begin their attack. In space, Poe will attempt to board his X-Wing on Home-One, but it will get destroyed before he can. Rose and Finn make it to a transport and leave, frantically evading First Order TIEs. Eventually they make it to hyperspace and head to Canto-Bight. Poe meets Admiral Holdo and they lead the fleet into hyperspace with the FO fleet in pursuit. While this is happening, Kylo will arrive (likely with friends) and infiltrate the base in search of the map. Leia and him will probably see each other from a distance and share a look before events bring them apart again. Kylo will succeed in obtaining the map and leave, but instead of returning to Snoke, he will head straight for Ahch-To.

    Plot Point 1: Change of Plans

    Up to this point, Luke has been steadily humanized as a person. Now, an event will take place that fundamentally transforms his and Rey's relationship. Towards the end of stage 2, Rey will experience a Forceback similar to the one at Maz's castle showing the major events in Luke's past from most recent to earliest (it's possible Luke himself shows her it). The last part of the vision will be of the most painful event of Luke's life - losing his daughter, Rey. The shot of Rey collapsing from the teaser is likely the immediate aftermath.

    Act II: Confrontation
    Where Rey approached Luke as a legend in Act 1, she now approaches him as her father.

    Stage 3: Progress

    The first stage of Act II will consist of the reunion of Rey with her father, Luke. It will be during this stage that an ecstatic Luke shows her what he's learned about the Force and when the scene with Rey swinging her father's old lightsaber (now passed to her) takes place. (2) It's likely we'll hear a bit about Rey's mother as well. It will seem like Rey is getting everything she ever wanted and the goal of bringing Luke into the fight will appear within reach. Their reunion will be interrupted, however, when they sense Kylo and his friends arrive. Based on third party reports, it's likely Kylo's fighter is somehow brought down, while his comrades shuttle lands intact. Further, it appears the new arrivals attack the heroes, with Kylo going after Rey and his friends attacking Luke (who easily defeats them). This signals the arrival of the 'turning point'.

    Canto-Bight:
    (3) Rose and Finn arrive on Canto-Bight and set about finding their lead. The chase scenes will take place during this stage and it will end with them finding and breaking DJ out of jail. They'll grow to increasingly like each other as well.

    Resistance Fleet:
    Poe, Leia and Admiral Holdo discuss what to do next and their discussion gets increasingly heated. The admiral will likely favor a direct confrontation or possibly surrender, while Leia and Poe will argue for finding a place to consolidate or to continue the fight.

    Midpoint: Turning Point

    From both third party reports, backed by BTS footage, it appears Rey is knocked off a cliff into the water below. For someone who never encountered so much as a puddle, this would be extremely dangerous and terrifying. It's highly likely Rey will require outside intervention to reach safety. Further, it appears from the BTS footage that this is the point Rey discards her childhood hairstyle and adopts her new clothes, suggesting both the earlier revelation and her encounter with Kylo has been a transformative event for her. Symbolically, her submersion represents a baptism and the change in attire her transition to adulthood.

    Stage 4: Complications and Higher Stakes

    Knowing he can't take Luke in open combat, Kylo retreats. Luke must save Rey, and is unable to pursue. Luke pulls Rey from the water and the two return to Luke's hut, where Rey adopts her new look. The two go looking for Kylo (who possibly sets fire to the tree to get their attention). Knowing Kylo wants her alive, Luke allows Rey to be separated from him and Kylo takes the bait, cornering Rey in a cave (the waterfall scene with Kylo in the trailer). Luke appears, and easily subdues Kylo. They bring him back to the village and restrain him. Luke leaves Rey with him (possibly to stop the fire). Kylo starts talking to her about their respective pasts and shared heritage, eventually leading to Rey entering Kylo's memories (aided by their blood-driven Force connection).

    Canto-Bight:
    DJ agrees to help Finn and Rose get what they need to infiltrate the First Order and provides uniforms and identities. The two somehow make it aboard a FO Star Destroyer and get what they need, but things quickly go wrong and they're discovered. In a running fight, they make it to a hanger bay and wreck many of the ships there. It looks like they'll get away, but Phasma and a contingent of stormtroopers enter and engage them. Although they're able to dispatch the stormtroopers with quick thinking, Phasma engages Finn in one on one melee combat. Phasma will probably gain the upper hand at some point, but forget about Rose. Finn takes off her arm and likely kills her. While this is happening, the destroyer has joined the fleet attacking Crait.

    Resistance Fleet:
    The dispute between Poe, Leia and Holdo has come to a head and Holdo has Leia removed from the bridge (possibly imprisoned or confined to quarters). Realizing he needs to act now, Poe gathers loyal Resistance members and stages a mutiny, seizing the bridge. He has Leia released and leads the fleet to Crait, where a significant number of surviving Republic forces have regrouped.

    Plot Point 2: Major Setback

    In a second Forceback, Rey experiences Kylo's memories in ascending chronological order. During it, she sees things from Kylo's perspective, including the effects of her disappearance. Through it all, she sees her father in a very different light and it devastates her (4). Luke returns and she accuses him of abandoning her and the rest of his family. Unleashing years of grief and frustration, Luke loses control for a moment as he emotionally denies it and unleashes a massive display of the Force, wrecking the hut they're in. Rey and Kylo are unharmed, but Rey is now terrified too. Deciding her family wasn't worth the fourteen years she spent waiting, she decides her real place is with her friends. Abandoning her family, as she believes they once abandoned her, she boards the Falcon and leaves her father and cousin behind. Overcome by emotion himself, Luke doesn't try to stop her or Kylo from leaving soon after (it's possible he has an opening to kill Luke, but doesn't take it here). Kylo takes his dead companions' shuttle and leaves Luke alone and stranded once again.

    Act 3: Resolution
    In this act, the subplots have largely resolved and now merge with the main plot.

    Stage 5: Final Push

    Rey learns the Resistance is on Crait and heads there before the FO fleet arrives. She tells Leia bitterly that Luke isn't coming. Leia, sensing her her niece's distress, immediately leaves for Ahch-To herself. The FO fleet arrives and engages the orbiting fleet. Finn and Rose also escape the SD they're aboard and head to Crait, perhaps while ground forces are being deployed. Severely outnumbered and outgunned, the Resistance sends its forces to meet the FO, using the bombers to create a screen from the dust. The battle begins and Rey assists in bringing down several walkers before seeing Kylo, who engages her.

    Climax

    On Ahch-To, Leia lands and finds a thoroughly dispirited Luke. During a brief conversation, Leia reminds him that she lost her son to the dark side, but he hasn't lost Rey yet and still has a chance with her.

    As a preface, it's very difficult to see how the movie ends any other way than Rey going with Kylo. With Luke's imminent return, Kylo returning empty handed would be an unmitigated disaster from Snoke's perspective and make Kylo look not only completely ineffectual, but also more of a liability than asset. The villains would be on the back-foot going into IX.

    The Resistance is putting up a brave, but futile fight. The FO's firepower is overwhelming and they're steadily pushed back or destroyed. Locked in a stalemate with Kylo, Rey offers herself in return for the lives of her friends. Shocked, Kylo agrees and orders the attack stopped. Kylo takes her lightsaber and Rey to a shuttle as Finn and Poe watch, stunned. As their shuttle lifts off, Hux, at Snoke's urging orders the ground attack to resume, dismaying Kylo and panicking Rey. She calms however as she senses a powerful and familiar presence nearby.

    Stage 6: Aftermath

    As the FO presses its attack, a figure appears on the horizon. Figuring one person isn't a threat, the FO troops ignore him until one of their walkers is impossibly picked up and thrown into another. The FO turns all of it's weapons on the lone figure and begins firing. The figure, Luke, uses the Force to block and divert everything thrown at him as he methodically wrecks the FO forces without ever igniting his lightsaber. In the aftermath, the mood is somber. Luke turned the tide of the battle, but the Resistance's losses are massive and the loss of Rey is a bitter blow. Content with his prize, Snoke withdraws and welcomes Rey as Kylo brings her to him.

    The movie ends with Luke looking out of a ships window in a callback to ESB, a determined look on his face.

    Notes:
    1: I think Luke's initial inability to sense who she is will be used to signal just how clouded his mind has become. He's become unable to hear what the Force is telling him.

    2: My initial instinct was to place these before the Force vision, but Luke watching Rey and teaching her about what he's learned about the Force is inconsistent with the despairing mood he apparently has in the beginning. It would also delay getting to the heart of the movie, which is Luke and Rey reuniting. Therefore, it makes more sense to expect it after the first Forceback.

    3: Finn and Rose's sections are left intentionally vague since I don't know what Leia told Finn to do or what they initially do on Canto-Bight.

    4: If this seems to be throwing Luke under a bus, remember the characters are only acting based on their perceptions and what they know. Whether Luke is actually guilty of anything doesn't matter; what matters is that Rey and Kylo think he is. IX will be where Rey (and we) get the full story.
     
    #1 robotical712, Jul 24, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
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  2. JoJoPenelli

    JoJoPenelli Rebelscum

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    Excellent analysis!

    As impossible as it is to accurately predict the movie down to the fine details, I find your methodology and reasoning very compelling, and I will be surprised if the structure of TLJ does not end up bearing a distinct resemblance to your breakdown.

    Great work :):D
     
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  3. Pastor Barndog

    Pastor Barndog Force Attuned

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    Great work. I don't fall in with some of your speculation but I could see that as options and even if executed well be a great story.
     
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  4. andrea.conti.91

    andrea.conti.91 Rebelscum

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    A thought about the opening: I think the movie will start on Ahch-To. An interesting way could be to show the planet after the canonical crawl, and then directly cut to a shot of the island (the one we see in the teaser?). This would maintain the classical opening, and introduce a slight variation: cutting directly from space to earth, without showing any ship landing or approaching.

    For the opening shot, I imagine something like this from 2001

    [​IMG]

    but reversed, with the sun on the bottom. More the camera gets lower, more the audience gets dazzled. For the soundtrack, I suggest the sliding violins heard at the beginning of the teaser. They would set up a strange, mysterious atmosphere. And then CUT! The sea, the island, and after a couple of shots, Rey and Luke on the cliff!

    God, I can't wait! GIVE ME THIS MOVIE, NOW!
     
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  5. ChrisI

    ChrisI Force Sensitive

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    Very thorough and well-thought-out post!
     
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  6. Julius Fett

    Julius Fett Rebel Official

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    @robotical712 , if I were just sitting down, I would have fallen off of my chair; that was an excellent read, a great analysis, and an extremely well defined story.

    In fact, I wouldn't at all mind if that were the story (especially seeing as this deals with how Luke being Rey's father, an idea I'm still behind, could be a great catalyst for the trilogy's events unfolding) we were given in December, though I do think RJ has plenty more twists up his sleeve than the slew of twists you've mentioned. I've mentioned it elsewhere, but you hit on it without mentioning it: Rey's lineage will not be the big "No, I am your father" reveal in TLJ, and instead serve as a catalyst for the plot.

    Finally, as for the opening, I fully expect it to be Kylo and Phasma being taken to Snoke by Hux (perhaps aboard Kylo's shuttle). In all honesty, I think we could see something other than an up/down pan, and could instead have the crawl come to an end and the shuttle come into view before a tracking shot (with it passing us) from left-to-right or vice versa being used to reveal Snoke's enormous Star Destroyer.
     
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  7. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    \
    One of the first things Finn is going to be wondering when he wakes up is where Rey is. This would come across as redundant if you placed the scene after the Rey and Luke exchange, but would work as a nice transition before (he also serves as a way to remind the audience what happened in the last film without seeming out of place). Kylo has the same problem, their first conversation is going to be about Luke and that they need to find him. By putting it first, the stakes are established and it immediately starts the proverbial clock (the villains aren't sitting around).
     
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    Pastor Barndog Force Attuned

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    Following @robotical712 's last post. I think a fun opening would be space, a ship moves across the screen. A republic ship. The camera pans up revealing the view was through a window. It keeps panning up into the lights over Finn's Biohexacrypt. A droid is checking him. Leia comes in to check on Poe. They talk about other business. A warning from the bed goes off. Finn comes too. They have an exchange and the scene ends with Finn asking about Rey. They then cut to Rey holding out the sabre to Luke.
     
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  9. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    Excellent!

    I'm not sure how much of this will come to pass, but I'd be happy to much of this in the film!
     
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  10. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    I was thinking about how they could convince us and Rey visually that it was Luke that abandoned her on Jakku when I recalled the Trials on Tatooine VR tech demo from last summer. It occurred to me the perfect way to do it was to show Luke telling her he'd come back for her in a Forceback... while they're on a desert planet. The trick is we're not shown which desert planet (ie: the suns aren't shown) this happens on. Therefore, from Rey's perspective (and our's) it appears as though Luke abandoned her on Jakku. The reveal in IX becomes the planet was actually Tatooine and Rey was kidnapped.
     
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  11. Ivanhoe1972

    Ivanhoe1972 Rebel Commander

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    Rian, is that you? :)

    In all seriousness though, this is one of the most well thought out theories I've read. I would be happy if TLJ turned out like this.

    The one thing I have a bit of trouble with is the idea that Leia would drop everything to go get Luke. I could see her calling out to Luke, ala (reversed) TESB, and he decides to face the galaxy again.

    There were pictures released recently showing an X-Wing under water. (x-wing 2)I thought it would be chill-inducing to have Luke raise the ship out of the water. Luke takes a moment to look the ship over. That's when he hear the soft chirps of an R2 unit. R2 stayed behind to watch over Luke. (artoo)
     
    #11 Ivanhoe1972, Jul 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
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  12. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    The X-Wing looks pretty wrecked in the photo. I'm thinking Luke deliberately wrecked it beyond repair so he couldn't leave.
     
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  13. Eldarion

    Eldarion Clone Commander

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    Didnt Rian say the film starts exactly where TFA left off?

    Either way that's an excellent well thought out proposition OP.
     
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  14. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    Thanks! I take 'exactly where we left off' to mean everyone is in the same condition and places we left them, not that the first scene had to literally continue the last in TFA. I think this works much better in terms of pacing and flow.
     
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  15. Eldarion

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    I can't stop thinking about this breakdown. I think I'm gonna be disappointed if this doesn't happen. It's a credit to you :)

    You're only missing one thing in this. Possibly the thing that makes Luke turn from refusing to train Rey to doing it is force ghost of either obi wan or Yoda or even Anakin appearing to him. Yoda is heavily rumoured to be in here somewhere. The replica set of the Skellig huts built in Kerry at ceann sibeal were built as platforms with walkways underneath just as the Dagobah set on empire was. And we shouldn't forget about the footage shown at the Disney shareholder thing, which included a shot of Rey surrounded by small orbs of light, just as Ezra was when Yoda came to him in Rebels.

    I think Yoda is a lock. Yet obi wan also seems to have a direct link to Rey so who knows. Could we see(or hear?) both? Just a non corporeal voice as Obi Wan in Yodas hut in empire? I wonder
     
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  16. semiote

    semiote Rebel General

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    Hats off! I think you should be writing for LFL.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 29, 2017, Original Post Date: Jul 29, 2017 ---
    What I like most about this theory is that it doesn't make the twist of Rey being Luke's daughter the main dramatic moment of the film. It can't be that: something that obvious wouldn't have enough dramatic heft. Instead, you put the reveal relatively early in the film, and make the dramatic appeal of the story the consequences of this for the characters.

    Plus, Luke facing down an entire army could make for a wonderful action sequence, but with all the quasi-religious awe that a great Force scene needs to have. And, it demonstrates Luke's power and importance, without his having to do so simply by twirling about a lightsaber...
     
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  17. lealt

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    I believe she's not Luke's daughter. But this is great.
     
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  18. Eldarion

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    I'm thinking Luke set up his academy/temple on Jakku.
    The complete locations book has a map of jakku and at Tuanulvillage where Lor and his people are, there's a path that leads away simply called the pilgrims path. Might be nothing.

    But i do wonder where he set his academy up.
     
  19. robotical712

    robotical712 Rebel Commander

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    Yes, it's highly likely Yoda makes an appearance, but there are multiple places where that's possible (I don't think it will be in the first act though).

    That's a very common mistake. People keep assuming the reveal has to be the climax of the film, but it will far more likely be what sets the main plot in motion.
     
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  20. Qui Gons Gin

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    Ok, I have to admit, when I got to the part of the "lone figure on the horizon" I kinda peed a little. Of all you predicted, this is the part I want most to be true!

    I hope that people dont take a look at the length of this post and blow it off it as I have. Take the time to read it all. Just a few minutes. There are some really great ideas here!
     
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