This worked for me for the installation issue:
Boot the installer in EFI mode not legacy-BIOS mode.
It's Settings->System->Enable EFI (special OSes only).
I was facing the same issue with VMWare Workstation 16.1.x till I reach this post and took the advice posted previously of Colin Dean regarding EFI Mode
The issue that I wasn't able to reach this option through the VMWare GUI, so after a quick google search, all the needed to solve the issue is the below :
Create your Elementary OS
No need to start it yet
I got it to work... I must have done something incorrect when I installed grub the first time. After much internet searching, I found someone who had done something similar and I partially followed their instructions https://gist.github.com/umpirsky/6ee1f870e759815333c8
There's a lot of content in this "question" so it's hard to fully understand what you're asking. It's often better to ask a succinct question if you want a succint answer, but I'll try and answer some of your points.
In summary, if you have forgotten your password, it's not just installing software you're going to struggle with. Changing certain ...