Brandon, you asked for my official predictions for the upcoming Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, so on this, your birthday, I present them to you in blog form. Please note: if my wild theories turn out to be true, this post will in fact contain spoilers. Strap in, brother, I've switched off my targeting computer for this one.
As usual with my writing, I'm not going to make several points. I'm going to make one bold one, and spend the rest of my time trying to justify it. My prediction is as follows: An alliance change will occur for both Rey and Ben Solo. I see multiple circumstances pointing to this possibility.
The plot must break the mold
The Force Awakens borrowed more than just the trappings of A New Hope; it also took on the same format and plot points. This causes multiple problems. Besides making TFA feel derivative, it also sets up The Last Jedi to take the same structure as The Empire Strikes back—necessarily, because the choices Empire makes are the right ones for building on the plot that came before it. Since the artists and businesspeople working on Star Wars know that copying Empire as well would be a bad move, they’ll have to concoct a remix from the same raw materials that can make Empire. They need to subvert our expectations. Ironically, this is something Empire did as well, with the revelation of Dark Vader as Luke’s father.
The main surprise of TLJ, I think will be that Rey and Ben more or less trade places.
I have further evidence to support this move.
Ben is open to interpretation
Despite Ben Solo’s desire to further his embrace of the dark side, he showed that the light side weighs on him. The audience’s interpretation of the murder of his father is key. Did patricide solidify his commitment to the dark side, or did his reliance on his father to accomplish it allow him to merely continue without fully committing? I'll offer a third interpretation. Ben Solo killed his father to get closer to Snoke, to destroy him and his First Order.
Consider how much hangs on the audience's interpretation of Ben's words when he said "I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” First we are to think he wants to turn to the light side, but finds it difficult to repent. We reinterpret his statement after he kills his father, thinking that he wanted to do it, but was spineless. If my theory is true, the audience hasn't gotten to the heart of Ben's statement yet. In this third layer of interpretation, the audience grasps that Ben knew he needed to kill his father to get close to Snoke, but couldn't go through with it until Han offered to do anything to help him. Imagine the emotional payout for the audience to know that the decision to kill his father was a tortured one, that he committed for an ultimate purpose, and now he must live with it.
Beautiful as that is, I’ve noted that in the script of TFA, Ben’s commitment to Snoke is conveyed as legitimate. Still, if Ben's intention is to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, a redemptive turn to the light side fits the bill.
Rey’s past must be reckoned with
And now for Rey. Rey was abandoned by her family, and we are to think that she will embrace her new life as a hero and Jedi as consolation. This clearly will not work. Protagonists must be deep, and threads like Rey’s orphanage are not to be forgotten, they’re to be mined. The writers might use her past hurt, or need for answers as a way to drive a wedge between her and her supposed teacher, Luke. Furthermore, Luke’s point of view seems to have changed since the days of his starry-eyed youth. Why? We are to believe that this is because Ben Solo betrayed him and destroyed his Jedi Academy, but what if Luke actually had something to do with Rey’s abandonment on a desert planet for a lifetime? He could become Rey’s enemy, at least for a time, and this could lead her to embrace the dark side.
I can only guess at what The Last Jedi will be, but the twist I've mentioned seems to serve the plot, and the artistic and business needs of the film. I've been suggesting this twist for a while, but it wouldn't surprise me if others have reached the same conclusion after seeing the second trailer for the film. The raw materials are there.