#1 – Don’t Destroy Maz Kanata’s Castle
So let me get this straight: an informant tells you that the droid you’ve been searching for, which contains information you consider absolutely vital to your goals, is somewhere in Maz Kanata’s castle, and your solution is…to bomb the place? That doesn’t seem like a very good way to keep said droid and its vital info intact.
The opening scene showed us the ruthless efficiency of the First Order military. Why not emphasize the point by giving us a battle against a den of thieves and smugglers, i.e. an opponent that might actually be able to fight back. Plus, Maz’s castle looks cool! Imagine a firefight between the two sides as they get lost down the back corridors of the castle.
It even works to improve the plot surrounding that scene. Think about the way that Maz gives Luke’s old lightsaber to Finn. It’s pretty strange – she’s been holding onto this artifact for years, but she’s more than willing to hand it off not to Luke’s friend/brother-in-law (Han), but to the random kid with him who moments ago was ready to ditch the rest of the group and go into hiding.
Imagine instead that Finn, Han, and Chewie are evading the First Order troops in the depths of Maz’s castle. They’re getting into firefights, maybe even with Captain Phasma bearing down on them (to give her a little more to do). Finn narrowly escapes death as his blaster takes a shot for him and – in a callback to earlier in the movie – he’s scrambling around the store room they found themselves in looking feverishly for a weapon and happens upon the lightsaber.
We can still have the nifty little duel, but this time it’ll be with Captain Phasma to make it more personal, and they hold out until the First Order retreats and the Resistance arrives – but not before Han and Finn see Kylo Ren carrying Rey onto his ship.