I think I understand why some fans are so against this episode: we all grew up on the Skywalker myth that Anakin, then Luke, would bring balance to the Force. Luke even thought that Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia, would follow him as the next great Jedi. Instead, we see the bloodline turn to the dark side with the rise of Kylo Ren and the light relying on a host of nobodies: Rey from nowhere and a poor stable boy.
We also saw a changing of the guards. Han has died. Luke too. Leia is sure to follow since Carrie Fisher has passed away and Disney is not inclined to digitally resurrect her for the final episode. We are left with Poe as the leader of the rebellion and Rey possibly the last Jedi. It is not certain that she will call herself that after all this. Kylo Ren himself has not taken the Darth name although that would not be unusual since other Sith have used titles like Count and General rather than Darth. In any case, Kylo Ren himself is against being called a Sith because he wants the old ways gone, killed if necessary. No more Sith or Jedi. Again, it all drifts away from the familiar galaxy we knew.
Then there’s all the confusion about who was what. Before, we understood that the Republic became the Empire until Luke & Company destroyed the Empire and restored the Republic. What remained of the Empire became the First Order and where they still operated, there arose a rebellion. We learn in this episode, however, that the First Order destroyed the Republic and is now in control with whatever remaining resistance scattered in the outer rim. The Skywalker rebellion was in fact a failure. Nobody even came to their rescue even if Leia herself made the call. Again, how so not the Star Wars of old.
But that is the beauty of this episode. It does not concern itself with Jedi or Sith, Republic or Empire. There is simply the Light and Dark, and the way Rey moves between both sides makes it appear that she, not some Skywalker, will bring balance to the Force. If anyone was attentive enough to note that Rey has the Jedi scriptures in the Falcon, then one can surmise that it is she who will finally give meaning to those books. The next generation of Force users may not be called Jedi but they will certainly be the future of the franchise.
Then there’s Luke. Jaded but a child of the light he will always be and, in the end, fights for the light. Luke’s story may have ended but hope still burns brightly for the galaxy.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do an awesome second episode to a trilogy.