Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens Beat Sheet
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Genre: Golden Fleece
Opening Image: After the iconic crawling opening, the camera pans down to a planet, its shape soon obscured by the form of a First Order ship that releases convoys of stormtroopers.
Set-Up: Resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) meets with Lor San Tekka in Jakku to receive information about the possible whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Dameron and his droid unit, BB-8, leave with the information just as the First Order arrives. As the stormtroopers begin shooting at the villagers, Dameron’s ship is damaged, and he sends BB-8 away with the information.
During the battle, one of the stormtroopers (John Boyega) begins to panic and finds himself unable to kill those around him. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) exits his ship to oversee the slaughter and has Lor San Tekka brought before him.
Theme Stated: Kylo Ren wants the information about Skywalker, intent on destroying the last Jedi in the galaxy. He threatens Lor San Tekka with the Dark Side’s powers, but the old man tells Kylo Ren that he did not rise from the Dark Side, declaring, “You cannot deny the truth that is your family.” Identity is the theme that the characters will grapple with in the story.
Set-Up (continued): Poe Dameron tries but fails to shoot Kylo Ren, who captures him and orders him brought on board the ship, ordering the stormtroopers to kill everyone in the village. The stormtrooper who panicked earlier cannot do so, something that does not go unnoticed by Kylo Ren.
Elsewhere, a teenage girl, Rey (Daisy Ridley), scavenges the wreckage from the Empire’s war with the Rebels. It is stasis=death for her as she lives alone in her thesis world, an ordinary girl waiting for her family to return.
On board the First Order ship, Kylo Ren uses the Dark Side of the Force to extract information from Dameron on the whereabouts of the location of Luke Skywalker.
Catalyst: Rey finds BB-8, who insists on following her while waiting for his master to come back to him. Meanwhile, the stormtrooper, known only as FN-2187, frees Dameron and uses him to steal a TIE Fighter to escape the First Order ship.
Debate: Dameron gives the stormtrooper the name Finn, and the two escape the First Order and head back toward Jakku to find BB-8. They are shot down on the way, and Finn finds himself alone in the desert.
Rey faces much interest from those who want to take BB-8 from her, but she says he is not for sale. She begins to feel a sense of duty to the droid and is intent on reuniting him with his master. Finn spots Rey and attempts to rescue her in the middle of a brawl but discovers that she can handle herself. BB-8 notices Finn wearing Dameron’s jacket, and Rey attacks him to find out what happened to Dameron. As she interrogates Finn, they hear the sound of approaching TIE Fighters.
Break into Two: The two escape together as the First Order TIE Fighters close in. Rey plans on escaping by piloting a craft, but when it is destroyed in the attack, she turns to a “piece of junk” as her alternative: the Millennium Falcon.
B Story: The ties to the past and the interwoven relationships of the characters form the B Story. Destiny and identity are linked, echoing the theme.
Fun & Games: In the upside-down antithesis world, Rey and Finn now play a crucial role in protecting the galaxy from evil as they evade the TIE Fighters in an aerial dogfight. Victorious, Rey begins to repair the aging ship, believing Finn is a key member of the Resistance, and is eager to join him on the road of his mission. Finn tells BB-8 that he is not part of the Resistance and gets the droid to give Rey the location of the Resistance base. Moments later, the Millennium Falcon is caught in a tractor beam of a larger vessel. The two hide below as Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) enter, finally ending their search for their beloved ship. They discover and question Rey and Finn, interrupted only when two gangs board the ship. Han has been smuggling as he’s searched for the Millennium Falcon, and his current cargo includes three Rathtars. When Rey and Finn see that Han and Chewbacca don’t stand a chance, Rey tries to help him escape, but releases the Rathtars instead. The creatures devour the gang members, and Rey and Finn reunite with Han and Chewbacca at the Millennium Falcon. Together, the team makes the jump into hyperspace and escapes.
Midpoint: Rey fills Han in on their quest, the search for Luke. Han admits that he knew Luke and that he now knows that the Force is real, and so were the Jedi. A and B Stories cross paths as Han reveals the reason Luke left: one of his pupils, Kylo Ren of the First Order, turned to the Dark Side. In a false victory, they see the map that BB-8 has been protecting, but it is only a piece of a larger map. A time clock appears; they must find Luke soon if they are to save the galaxy.
A and B stories continue to cross as Kylo Ren meets with Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), who tells Kylo Ren that he must face his father, Han Solo.
Bad Guys Close In: Internal bad guys manifest themselves when Han senses that Finn is not being truthful about his identity, telling Finn that Rey will learn what he’s hiding. Han takes them to the planet of Takodana to meet with Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), who might be able to help them. She questions Finn, knowing that he is running, and in a move that disappoints Rey, Finn decides to leave with some other smugglers. He finally succumbs to his internal bad guys and reveals his past to Rey. As the Resistance is alerted to their presence, real-life bad guys also alert the First Order.
Rey is drawn to the basement of the cantina and comes upon a strange object. Picking it up, her mind is filled with flashes of visions of the past. She hears voices and becomes fearful. Maz finds her and tells her it was Luke’s lightsaber, and that the Force is calling out to her. Fearful, Rey refuses the call and runs away into the woods, choosing to escape her destiny.
Just as Finn is about the leave, the First Order fires their new super weapon and destroys the planets of the Republic. Soon after, stormtroopers land and begin fighting. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber, and, together with Han and Chewbacca, he goes out to fight. Just as the team is captured, the Resistance X-Wing forces turn the tide of the battle.
In the woods, Kylo Ren locates Rey and confronts her, controlling her with the Dark Side of the Force. Understanding he does not need the BB-8 droid anymore, he takes Rey instead.
All Is Lost: Finn and Han watch as Rey is abducted. The whiff of death is in the air as they realize Kylo Ren will do whatever it takes to get the information about Luke’s location, the prize in this Golden Fleece story. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) lands on the planet’s surface, and all is lost for her and Han as they are reminded of their son’s turn to the Dark Side. The First Order charges the super weapon as they prepare to fire it on the base.
Dark Night of the Soul: Rey is questioned by Kylo Ren, who attempts to use the Force to extract information from her. She resists, beginning to feel the power of the Force and realize her identity. After he leaves, she uses it to control a stormtrooper, making him free her. Below, Finn feels responsible for what happened to Rey, and offers to go shut down the Starkiller Base’s weapon before it can be fired at the Resistance base. He knows it will allow him to save Rey in the process. Han has his Dark Night of the Soul as well, believing he had failed his son, who had too much Vader in him. Leia believes Han can find the light in Kylo Ren again, asking Han to bring their son back.
Break into Three: With a new plan, Han, Finn, and Chewbacca make the jump into hyperspace and land on the Starkiller Base to search for Rey.
Finale: Finn and the team force Captain Phasma to shut down the Starkiller shields, allowing the Resistance access to destroy the weapon. Han and Chewbacca plant some bombs to disable the weapon, and Han confronts his son, pleading with him to turn back to the light. Kylo Ren shows signs of struggle, and in a high tower surprise, he cements his identity as he gives in to the Dark Side, killing his father. Chewbacca detonates the explosives while Finn and Rey try to escape.
Kylo Ren confronts them in the forest and battles Finn in a lightsaber duel, injuring him. Fully embracing her identity in her synthesis world, Rey uses the Force to take Luke’s lightsaber, and she battles Kylo Ren. Just as the Resistance fighters destroy the Starkiller Base’s weapon, the space station begins to collapse. Kylo Ren corners Rey, but she digs, deep down and feels the Force awaken inside her, using it to overpower Ren and escape.
Back at the Resistance base, R2-D2 wakes from his low-power mode and projects the rest of the map to Luke’s whereabouts. Rey and Chewbacca take the Millennium Falcon to the map’s location.
Final Image: Arriving at the destination, Rey climbs ancient stone steps on an island. At the top, she finds Luke and holds out his lightsaber. The Force has awakened in her, and Luke must now teach her to use it as Obi-Wan once did for him.