In what amounts to the most shocking twist in Star Wars history, Colin Trevorrow’s script for Episode IX was better than the version J.J. Abrams gave us—on paper, at least. A breakdown of the script, co-written by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, appeared on Reddit overnight at r/StarWarsLeaks, which has a surprisingly sound track record with regard to, well, Star Wars leaks. (Major plot points from The Rise Of Skywalker, along with a pair of screenshots from the film’s climax, appeared in the subreddit months prior to its release.) While neither Disney nor Trevorrow have commented on the leak, we’ve spoken with another source who was able to independently confirm the legitimacy of the Trevorrow-Connolly script.
According to the breakdown, which originates on YouTube, Trevorrow’s Episode IX was titled Duel Of The Fates (actually a very good title!) and his last draft was written in December 2016, about a week before the passing of Carrie Fisher. Though certain plot points could have changed during production or through reshoots, Trevorrow and Connolly’s story seems far more compelling than The Rise Of Skywalker. In their version, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico is given a much larger role and spends a good portion of the film with Finn, C-3PO, and R2-D2 on a mission to light a beacon on Coruscant that will draw allies to assist the Resistance in their final battle against the First Order. Meanwhile, Rey, Poe, and Chewbacca head to a distant planet to find answers that may help Rey figure out what to do about this whole (gestures wildly) situation.
Much of the story is different, with characters like Zorii Bliss and adorable internet fave Babu Frik absent, but the most notable absence is Emperor Palpatine. The late Sith lord does appear in Trevorrow’s script, but not as a living (or whatever the hell it was in Rise) entity. As in Abrams’ version, Kylo Ren travels to Mustafar, but Trevorrow’s script actually follows him there and shows the audience what he’s been up to while Rey tries to figure out if she’s worthy of being a Jedi or if Jedi should even be a thing anymore. While Kylo searches Mustafar for a Sith “holocron”—an artifact that will aid his nefarious plans—he’s tormented by the Force ghost of Luke, who taunts him with lines like, “This is where the dark path leads: an empty tomb.”
The holocron opens to reveal a hologram of Palpatine, apparently leaving his last will and testament to Darth Vader. Should Luke kill the wrinkly old space wizard, Palpatine says Vader should take the young Skywalker to see Tor Valum—the Sith master who taught Palpatine everything he knows. Throughout Duel Of The Fates, various characters attempt to reach Kylo Ren and bring Ben Solo back into the light. General Leia remains skeptical, but Rey believes that anyone can change; she tells Finn that his actions proved this.
Meanwhile, Kylo tracks down Tor Valum, who turns out to be a 7,000-year-old (extremely Adam Driver voice) ghoul described as “Lovecraftian” in appearance—a note that should make everyone shriek with grief at the lost possibility of something so fucking cool. Anyhow, Kylo Ren trains with Tor Valum, confronts a Darth Vader phantom, loses, and stomps and broods his way over to Rey. There’s also a cool bit somewhere in there where the holocron wounds Kylo’s face, which is repaired with smelted Mandalorian armor.
As many fans speculated/hoped, this iteration of Episode IX would have seen Rey and Kylo working from similar motives, with both characters fighting against the binary ideologies that have governed their world for ages. Ultimately, unlike Rise, Rey’s attempts to coax Ben Solo out of his Kylo Ren angst helmet fail, and he is “extinguished”—but not before revealing that he killed Rey’s parents (who were, indeed, “nobodies”) on Snoke’s orders.
There are several other key points, including Chewbacca flying an X-Wing, the Resistance gang stealing a Star Destroyer, and a droid described as being similar in appearance to Darth Maul (again, cool). Of course, Trevorrow’s movie might not have been “good” by whatever metric you use (this is the same auteur behind The Book Of Henry, after all), but there are some great ideas and concepts here, including the aforementioned ancient Lovecraftian Sith ghoul whose name sounds like a Norwegian black metal album.
As of now, the identity of the script leaker remains unknown, but it probably wouldn’t take a space detective to figure it out.