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Star Wars: What Does Balancing the Force Mean For a Jedi?

written by Jordan McIntyre January 2, 2018
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Well… a lot of us are a little miffed, aren’t we? Rightfully so. After leaving the theatre when you saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi did you think what I thought?

“What the Hell Did I Just Watch?”

Honestly, it took a lot of objective patience to establish The Last Jedi into the story that had already grown on me. I had a lot of unanswered questions from The Force Awakens, but that is my fault. There are many creative minds that come together to make films like this, and I am fully aware that they have no obligation to write and create a story that I was expecting to see. However, consistency, am I right? Star Wars is about symmetry and the Force guiding the events that happen. Hence why a lot of the mechanics are re-used across all the films.

Hope

There is hope here, folks, there really is. Sometimes, we all have to weave in and out of the mechanics and dynamics used in our favorite stories to get to their potential meaning or direction. Even if what we come to is wrong, it’s still comforting.

In this article, I want to focus on what “bringing balance to the Force” really means to the Jedi. Once Star Wars became a more expanded universe, the tides that pushed the story along changed drastically. On the surface, it’s still Star Wars, but the entire story is actually driven by the unyielding need for the Force to balance itself. Remember though, the Force works in mysterious ways, as an omnipotently binding essence should. We have seen the Force trying to balance itself, for example, through the actions of Anakin Skywalker.

Hayden Christensen as Anaking Skywalker/Darth Vader in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

The Scoop

One could make an educated guess that (pertaining to the prequel trilogy) balancing the Force was the number of Jedi Order vs. Sith Order at one point. Up until Revenge of the Sith, there were way more Jedi than there were Sith, but Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) balanced that out, didn’t he?

Yeah, Anakin Skywalker sure was The One from the prophecy; a prophecy that “misread, could have been” according to Master Yoda. I would say the prophecy was a little misread, considering The One who brought balance to the Force didn’t do it in a way that was profitable to the Jedi, but rather profitable to the Sith.

How could the Jedi be so blind to that fact? They wanted to suppress the Sith Order from ever returning, yet the Sith Order returning is literally the answer to how unbalanced the Force was. Probably the most common example and catch-22 statement surrounding “balance” is that it is simply impossible to have “good” without there being “bad” things to define what “good” even is. What a freakin’ mind blender, eh?

The Sith aren’t about meaningless chaos or destruction. They don’t go out of their way for the “fun of it.” Think of the Sith as a religion that has its own point-of-view of what “good” is, and that they really just want to instill that “good” into the chaotic democratic that is the Republic.

Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu with Yoda in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Oh, but there’s more…

There is no solid reason to just stop there though. Is that actually balancing the Force? Again, what balancing the Force really means has been very vague and not concrete. If the Force was balanced after the prequels, then it became unbalanced yet again when Luke Skywalker stepped in. With the Emperor dead, and then Darth Vader shortly after, it left Luke Skywalker as the only (known) Jedi in the galaxy at that time. Shortly after though, we started getting even more out of balance when Luke rebooted the Jedi Order, only to be crashed down and balanced yet again by another “Skywalker blood” force user, Ben Solo.

There seems to be an inevitable and continuous pattern here that just never seems to come to a resolution. As far as I can really tell, balancing the Force really hasn’t been achieved to its truest definition or how this “prophecy” foretold.

Rather than the balance referring to the Jedi Order, or the Sith Order, what if it refers to the individual? Have you ever heard of a Gray Jedi? Well, let’s convert that title to “Gray force user” and take a look at their creed.

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Living in the Gray Area of Life

Gray Force users sort of faded into lore through the Star Wars years. We as fans of the saga never really thought about them much, but I honestly believe after seeing The Last Jedi we are going to be dealing mainly with the Gray Force from now on.

Gray Force users, in essence, believe there is no side of tradition to take with being force-sensitive. You don’t pick between being a Jedi, or being a Sith. They balance themselves as an individual and they don’t give into absolute conditions such as there only being peace (Jedi) or passion (Sith), but both. Above all, there is good and evil, but evil cannot be allowed to flourish. Sounds about as balanced as it gets to me.

There are examples of Gray Force users who have inducted themselves into the Jedi religion but slightly stray from the beaten path of the Jedi Code. Qui-Gon Jinn (Obi-Wan Kenobi’s old Master) was a Jedi Master whose actions constantly teetered between the Jedi Code and the Sith Code (as far as lore would state). We didn’t get to witness this dynamic too much in Episode I: The Phantom Menacebut the lore suggests Qui-Gon was very close to being a Gray Force user.

Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious/Sheev Palpatine with Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Another well-known Jedi who is a Gray Force user is Master Mace Windu. Mace Windu’s in-lore methods were very questionable, yet he walked the path of the Jedi Code enough to become a member of the Jedi Council. Not only did he dabble in a balance of light and dark Force use, but he also developed his own methods of using a lightsaber. He adopted a mix of techniques from both the Jedi and Sith teachings of lightsaber combat. This heavily pertained to why Mace Windu was the only Jedi that could hold his own against Darth Sidious (revealed to be Sheev Palpatine) when it came time to arrest the dark lord for his crimes against the Senate.

Almost all defensive and offensive lightsaber techniques pertain to having the muscle memory to execute moves that typically aim to cut the limbs off your opponent anyways. However, the Sith’s techniques were more jagged and blunt movements that resulted in removing many limbs with one swinging action, ultimately being a more “barbaric” method of using a lightsaber.

What This Means for the Jedi

The Last Jedi heavily suggest that Rey is going to be a Gray Force user. Overall, I deeply believe the “balancing of the Force” we have been waiting for all this time is literally abolishing both the Jedi and Sith Orders. It’s all about the Gray Force users and their own individual balance. None of this “picking sides” semantics – which is practically the definition of unbalancing things anyways.

What direction do you think The Last Jedi sets us in? Will the third movie make sense of it all for us? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


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