History of Star Wars is our series where we take a close look at the galaxy far, far away and examine important organizations, locations, and theories that may play into what’s ahead in the sequel trilogy and standalone movies.
The dark side and the light side of the Force have been part of Star Wars mythology since A New Hope. The original trilogy showed us they exist in opposition to each other, and that the Jedi use the light side, while the Sith use the dark. But which side Force users tap into isn’t tied to any organization they align themselves with; it comes from whether they harness the Force selflessly or selfishly. But can a Force user draw from both sides? Is that how balance is achieved?
Balancing the Force is an idea repeated throughout the prequel and original trilogies. Importance is placed upon the task by the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Yoda. Anakin must bring balance, Luke must bring balance. Let’s discuss what “balance” means and how it might tie into The Last Jedi.
The meaning of “balance”
How do you interpret the idea of balancing the Force? It’s a more subjective answer than you might expect. George Lucas defines balance as the removal of the toxicity of the dark side, a la the removal of toxins from blood. You return things to balance by eliminating whatever is causing them to go out of whack; thus, you keep the Force in balance by making the light side pure and free of the dark side. That’s what the Jedi seem to think as well; in the original trilogy, they want Luke to take out Darth Vader… which, really, is not very Jedi-like.
Balance could also mean leveling the playing field so that there’s an equal amount of Force users drawing from either side of the well. Boiling it down to a numbers game seems like an oversimplification, but it’s a possibility.
The notion of light and dark existing side by side in equal measure plays out in the three-episode Mortis arc from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. On Mortis, the Father watches over the Daughter and the Son and keeps them in balance. The Daughter is an avatar for the light side of the Force, the Son an avatar for the dark side. And the Father? He’s a metaphor for the Chosen One. His role is to never let one side overpower the other; they exist in tandem.
The Chosen One prophecy
The Phantom Menace brought the Chosen One prophecy into the picture; it said the Chosen One would bring balance back to the Force, but bring about the destruction of the Force. Qui-Gon believed Anakin Skywalker to be the one spoken of in the prophecy because of his strength with the Force. He was supposed to get rid of the Sith, even though the Jedi Council didn’t believe there to be any Sith in operation at the time. Aside from Qui-Gon, the Father also thought Anakin was the Chosen One. He wanted the Jedi to take his place on Mortis, a point that became moot when the Father, Daughter, and Son all died.
When Anakin ended up joining the Sith, Obi-Wan lost faith in prophecy, but then, later on, came to think of Luke as the Chosen One. Some think Luke fulfilled the prophecy by bringing Anakin back to the light side of the Force. Others say Anakin did so by killing Darth Sidious (this is the word from George Lucas). But maybe neither of them truly brought balance. By the time we get to The Force Awakens, a Church of the Force believer, Lor San Tekka, tells Poe Dameron, “Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.”
How The Last Jedi could bring balance to the Force
The promotional material for The Last Jedi has hinted at Rey leaning away from the light side. It seems possible she and Kylo Ren could find common ground, or at the very least, she puts a toe into the dark side to see what it’s all about. Luke’s overwhelmed by her power. If he turns her away, well, Rey’s lost a lot. She’s been rejected. Her emotions would be primed for the dark side. So, what if she takes a middle path?
I’m not going to use the term “Gray Jedi”; that’s like saying a vegetarian who eats chicken is still a vegetarian. But Rey could find a way to use both the light side and the dark side. We’ve learned more about the middle ground in recent stories in Star Wars Rebels with characters such as Ahsoka Tano and the Bendu. I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to think a Force user could operate in chaotic good territory, blending the sides of the Force. This could be what balance means, and we could see it with Rey or Kylo in The Last Jedi.
What does the idea of balance in the Force mean to you? Do you think the light and dark sides should meet in the middle? Share your theories in the comments.
Images: Lucasfilm, Disney
Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. She likes Star Wars a little. Follow her on Twitter.