Director Rian Johnson has told USA Today that VIII‘s central plot will be about the relationship between Rey and Luke.
This would be consistent in the Star Wars Saga structure, of each trilogy being a different Master/Apprentice relationship: Obi-Wan and Anakin and Obi-Wan and Luke.
Plus, this means that there’ll be more Luke (which could also read “some Luke”). Having only had a brief cameo at the end of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, which Johnson also says will be resolved immediately, VIII is the first time we’re really going to be seeing Luke since 1983.
But in resolving the scene in-which Luke meets Rey… how will this be structured? Will the opening crawl be followed by a return to Ach-to? Or will the continuation of that scene work as a cold open before all of that? It will, after all, have been two years since we last saw these characters; it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the next Episode to follow suite that real time jump.
If there is to be a two-year jump, personally, I think it would work better for an anticipating audience if such a long wait paid-off – but the only way to do so, but also continue directly from Luke and Rey’s meeting, would be to make that scene a cold open. Johnson said he didn’t want to skip ahead two years, but it’s possible that he meant that the two year jump wouldn’t happen immediately, but could still happen after such a scene. I just don’t think Disney would be willing to break the traditional structure of a Star Wars Episode, especially after having specifically established the Anthologies to do that instead.
Either way, the explanation I’m looking for the most is to whether or not Luke knew he’d be discovered. Perhaps he planned for that person to be the only person capable of becoming his Apprentice and challenge Ben. Or maybe Luke had no idea, and Rey’s appearance was a complete surprise to him.
But whatever VIII turns out to be, it makes sense that the final scene of the previous film will be the foundation of the story. That’s how good prequels work: taking their predecessor’s final scene, and elaborating upon it thematically.