Proud & Prejudiced Book Thieves

The Secret Behind Balancing The Force {Star Wars Theory}


It’s only four days until The Last Jedi is released in theaters, and Hermione and I have been caught in a wave of pre-Last Jedi frenzy. Aside from doing very productive things like watching 40 minute Reylo theory videos, we’ve been re-watching the trilogies and forming some interesting theories about the Jedi, the Sith, and the Force in general. {Just a general note, neither of us is deep into the Star Wars fandom, so we’re taking all our knowledge/theories from the three movie trilogies, not from the EU or any of the novelizations, video games, TV shows etc.}

Clara: A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there lived a bunch of idiots who didn’t understand what the word “balance” meant. From Anakin Sywalker’s introduction in The Phantom Menace to Luke’s final battle with Darth Sidious in Return of the Jedi, everyone is trying to bring balance to the force….and failing miserably. The Jedi and the Sith obviously think that “balance” means that each is destined to destroy the other. But chopping off half of the scale doesn’t make it balanced—it tips the scale completely. The galaxy has been tipping between dark and light for eight movies, but balance has never really been achieved.

Hermione: So before Clara and I watch The Last Jedi, we want to address a few things that are terribly vital to the Star Wars cinematic universe. As Clara put it, what is balance? —and how exactly was Anakin Skywalker supposed to bring balance to the force? If we’re speaking in purely technical terms, the word “balance” implies an equal distribution of power between the light and dark. That, in and of itself, cannot be healthy: Dark and Light cannot cooperate as equals, as allowing the Sith to exist indefinitely would only lead to a continual civil war between the agents of the dark side and the light side. Balance is traditionally defined with the ying and yang principle, but for the Jedi to extend the prophecy on this principle alone would be ridiculous: oh yes, let’s just not bother with the Sith because one of them is sure to have some connection the Light Side, and so maybe they won’t kill that many people. Theoretically, the Sith only deal in absolutes, and so they would never embrace the ying-yang ideal of a little dark in the light, a little light in the dark. In practice, this ideal isn’t so pure (see: Darth Vader’s “redemption”).

Good and Evil do exist as absolutes; literature typically takes these ideals and personifies them as Villains and Heroes, or, the Light Side and the Dark Side. If, however, one considers the very basis of human morality to be identical to the ying-yang theory (in that there is no true good and no true evil), and this is extended to include principles of moral relatively, then the classic fight of Good vs. Evil becomes meaningless, humanity is meaningless, and stories such as Star Wars, which are built on this principle, become meaningless.

HOWEVER, the idea of balance as a ying-yang exchange of light and dark is perfectly applicable to humanity on an individual basis. People are not archetypes—a well-written Hero is not perfectly good, because even as their existence empowers the worth of the ultimate Good, that person is still human, and still liable to have faults. It is so much better to recognize a person’s faults and try to work with them, rather than repressing any idea of personal ambiguity. The thing is, that’s exactly what the Jedi Council tried to do. Just watch any of the prequels—Anakin is told over and over that the bad things in him will not exist if he chooses to ignore them, and that he can be Good by pure force of will. I’m sorry, but that’s just unrealistic.

Clara: I know what you mean. The Jedi try to push Anakin to be something he can never be: completely good. I think the entire Jedi order is massively screwed up, and not just because they don’t allow their padawans to question the Jedi belief system. Personal attachment, and feelings such as fear and anger, are what makes us human.

What makes the Jedi different isn’t that they don’t feel these emotions, it’s that they can control them to a certain extent in order to keep their emotions from ruling them. For instance, Anakin doesn’t really need to let go of Padme physically, he needs to mentally let go of his fear of losing her. If he had trusted in the force and accepted that her fate was out of his hands, his fear of losing her couldn’t have been used by the chancellor to turn him to the dark side.

On the subject of the Dark Side, the Jedi have a very narrow minded approach to the whole thing. They say that the Sith Lords look inward and only deal with themselves. This can diffidently be a disadvantage, since not being in tune with your surroundings is certainly not a good thing, but knowing your own emotions, ALL your emotions, is a huge strength. The Jedi only focus on positive emotions, burying “negative” emotions like anger and sadness deep inside of them. Obi-Wan has a tendency to shut Anakin down when he starts to discuss his anger or fear, telling him not to focus on the “negative.”

Leaving these unsolved feeling to fester inside of Anakin is definitely not a good idea, and all his bottled up anger was a huge part of his transition to the dark side.

I would imagine a balanced Jedi would be able to tap into all of his emotions (including his anger) to help him fight more effectively. Look at when Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon was a cool Jedi because he used his head and definitely had a strong moral compass, but he was unable defeat Darth Maul with his Light-side powers, even with the help of his apprentice. However, once Obi-Wan sees Darth Maul kill Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan uses his anger to defeat the Sith. He even almost made it look easy once he used his anger.

Anger as a motivator also plays a large part in the new trilogy as both protagonists (Rey and Kylo Ren) get their power from their anger, regardless of what side of the force they’re on.

Hermione: From the tone of all the trailers, it looks like The Last Jedi is going to focus more on the personal discrepancy between the Light and the Dark sides, which will be absolutely epic if done right (I have faith in you, Rian Johnson). The idea of balancing the Force needs to approached as a personal thing (instead of, for example, Luke Skywalker making some grand statement about how the tenants of Good and Bad, Right and Wrong don’t really exist; this would be done in an effort to make the film more relatable to a modern audience, but as I said earlier, doing so would erase the Fairytale principles of Good vs. Evil that makes Star Wars so timeless).

Yet the storylines of Kylo Ren and Rey are being set up to challenge all the previously held assumptions concerning the Force, and this is obviously quite necessary, considering that the Jedi Council’s oppressive interpretation of “balance” already ruined the Jedi Order once, if not twice (hopefully we’ll get some more backstory on how exactly Kylo ruined Luke’s second generation Jedi academy). In one of the trailers, Luke says that “It’s time for the Jedi to die,” and honestly, he’s right. It’s not that the ideals the Jedi stand for are wrong—quite the opposite. The Jedi stand for Good, and their original intent and purpose was most likely to try to embody that Good for the betterment of the galaxy.

The problem lies in the Jedi’s interpretation of those ideals, and their ultimate failure to trust in the very Good they represent. I think that the fruition of Reylo would really cement the ying-yang idea of personal balance. Rey and Kylo Ren pull from both sides of the force, and this, compounded with the Dark/Light conflicts in their heritage (Leia being a child of Darth Vader, Rey possibly being a Kenobi) would properly bring “balance to the force.” After all, wasn’t the original prophecy about a Jedi who was so fantastically strong in the force that they found the elusive balance? Maybe this was never supposed to be Anakin—maybe the balance can be found in Rey and Kylo, both of whom have raw, elemental never-before-seen strengths in the force. The Force Awakens wasn’t a perfect movie, but it did lay out a pretty clear groundwork for Reylo, and at this rate, it’ll just be bad film-making if the romantic foreshadowing isn’t capitalized on.

Clara: Reylo, yaaas! I really hope Reylo is cannon in The Last Jedi; I mean, talk about bringing balance to the force with love and romance! Rey and Kylo’s relationship, if done well, could be a beautiful parallel for Anakin and Padme, creating balance between the romances and between the prequels and the new trilogy. Rey and Kylo’s characters already represent ying and yang fairly clearly. Kylo, though dark, has a little light inside him, and Rey, who is obviously light, has a brooding inner darkness. Everything from their costumes to their themes represents the balance-ish/ying-yang parallel between them.

Kylo and Rey also usher in a new side of the force. Anakin was obviously very strong in the force, but he was defeated by both Luke and Obi-Wan, neither who were overly powerful. Each of the characters did have their own individual strengths within the force, but they pale in comparison to the raw power both Rey and Kylo seem to possess. In the trailer, Luke also says: “I’ve seen this type of power only once before. I didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” Could he be talking to Kylo? Rey? And who is he talking about? He could be talking to Rey about Kylo Ren which would be a cool parallel—or maybe he’s talking to one of them about Darth Sidious. It seems like Luke is frightened by Kylo and Rey’s amazing power, and who better to balance the force than the most powerful (and the last) Jedi ever?

Will Kylo Ren and Rey bring balance to the force? Was the prophecy actually about Anakin? Is the dark side more powerful than the light? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS, MY YOUNG PADAWANS. {Also, if you’ve seen The Last Jedi by the time you read this, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep your comments spoiler free. RESPECT YOUR FELLOW NERDS.}

we leave you with this picture of Luke and his pretty blue eyes