All right, Sommer, so your post has clarified some things, and I'll try to build on that. First, this is exactly what I think is going on. IX is going to wrap things up in the standard SW fashion: good family members have rescued their temporarily bad family members from the dark side. Therefore the very role of VIII is to throw Star Wars fans off that expectation so that it can come as a "surprise" in IX. (A disappointing "surprise," I get it, Sommer and JK.) You say I can't have it both ways re: VIII: that it's setting up this development, but that it's a mess as a movie. But my guess as to where the plot is going is separate from my experience of how Johnson managed story-telling in a filmic medium. My criticisms with VIII are mostly with how the co-plots not associated with Ren-Rey are handled in terms of film story telling. (And they come with a huge "granted," by the way, that the middle film is by far the toughest to pull off.) I don't know what Finn and Rose are doing traipsing around inside and outside of the casino and in its prison: what would constitute success or failure for them on their mission isn't clearly and steadily held in view. Their mission is urgent and they have to stay secret but they have time to gaze out from an observation deck on the abuse of those horse-racing critters. It's the management of pacing, mostly, a joltiness to everything. Poe makes what has to be the biggest decision of his life, to mutiny against his comrades when they're in desperate straights; we don't get to see him preparing for doing such a monumental thing; then right after he does: "'sall good," on all sides. I don't have to rehearse it, but it's the stuff in the director's control, not the stuff in the story-tellers' purview. I don't demand praise for my brilliance in discerning Ren-Rey, nor will I think it a brilliant story, if IX plays out as I'm predicting; it will just be a Star Warsish story. It wouldn't surprise me if fans outside of this site are anticipating the progression from VIII to IX in the way I am, and the way that will disappoint you if it comes to fruition. My experience is wholly within the context of this site where I've met noting but resistance to my sense of how the story is likely to develop. You clarify a bit with your opening comment about the "long odds" as you see them. And I've been aware that there are two levels to our discussion: what is likely to happen, and what we would like to see happen. But, yes, in your replies, you have seemed so committed to what you would like to see happen that I have taken it as opposition to my (again, as I thought, unobjectionable and totally non-brilliant) sense of what is likely to happen. Are fans elsewhere floating my Snoke/Plagueis theory? That's the one I'm especially proud of, since it would tie up the whole trilogy of trilogies. By the way, if I prove right about that, I think it will be the means by which the franchise reconciles fans like yourself to the Ren-Rey predictability. The "well I didn't see that whole Snoke thing coming" will be the surprise surprise, if I can put it that way, that will then warrant and salvage the disappointing "surprise."