Bringing Balance – The Unifying Star Wars Theory
Since watching The Force Awakens (TFA), I have been mulling over this idea in my head. Likely many others have touched on it, but I wanted to throw my two cents worth in.
Essentially I will be arguing that, contrary to how it appears at face value, Anakin did not fail or reject his destiny in destroying the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith, only to be ‘redeemed’ later by killing Palpatine. Anakin in fact fulfilled his role perfectly as required by the Force, the very thing which we are told created him. This was all an effort by the Force to balance itself out, and this continues to be the underlying mover of events in the new trilogy. I’ll also let you know what I think the answer to all this might be.
My discussion will focus only on what we know from the films. I believe some of the animated series are also considered canon now, but as I’ve not watched them I can’t take them into account. This shouldn’t affect the conclusion of this theory however. I will be working under the assumption that Supreme Leader Snoke from TFA is either the person who trained Palpatine (i.e. Darth Plagueis) or was trained by Palpatine at some point. It doesn’t seem plausible that such an old and presumably powerful force wielder just popped up on his own between The Return of the Jedi and TFA. At the very least, Snoke has been present all through the timeline of episodes 1-7 even if he has no direct connection to Palpatine. You’ll see why I work under this assumption later.
The Prophecy – The Jedi Got It All Wrong
It will come as no surprise that the Jedi got everything wrong. The prophecy said the chosen one would bring balance to the force – yet Anakin killed them all. This has been seen by many as an anti-prophecy story, where the chosen one fails to live up to expectations. But although the Jedi were very wrong, it wasn’t for thinking the chosen one would bring balance. That much they seemed to get right. What they got disastrously wrong, I think, is believing that ‘bringing balance’ means eliminating everyone with the opposite point of view from themselves i.e. the Sith. If you destroy every person on the other side, that is not balance; it’s actually extremely unbalanced.
If we use the crude metaphor of thinking of the Force being on a set of weighing scales, then at the beginning of The Phantom Menace there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of Jedi on one side and only two Sith on the other. That’s not balanced. By the end of Revenge of the Sith it would seem there are two on either side: Palpatine and Vadar for the Sith, Yoda and Obi Wan for the Jedi. That would mean balance, job done right? Well not if the assumption is correct that Snoke is kicking around somewhere. That would mean three for the Sith and only two for the Jedi, swinging the ‘balance’ over to the dark side, if only slightly.
Fast forward now to the end of Return of the Jedi. At face value, this is how the weighing scales would stand. Palpatine is killed at the hands of Vadar/Anakin who then dies shortly afterwards, leaving Luke as the only force wielder left in the galaxy. Essentially, Sith zero and Jedi one. Again, not balanced. However, if we take Snoke into account, at the end of the original trilogy we are left with one Sith and one Jedi. Perfect balance. Hence the close of the story.
Or so we thought…
The Force As An Active Element
I’m going to take a pause here to talk about the Force (as we know it in the films). It’s often easy to just think of the Force as some unlimited mystical magic that apparently some people can tap into and others can’t. It would appear to be just a reservoir of power or energy, a bit like a strange telekinetic oil well somewhere out in the galaxy that individuals draw from. But that’s not really the case. I think it’s something more.
As painful as it is for many to remember, in Episode 1, Qui-gon Jinn mentions to Anakin that the Force has a ‘will’ which is heard through listening to the midichlorians – you can refresh your memories with the video here (skip to 1:10 or so). If the Force has a ‘will’ that suggests it has desires and goals and speaks to force wielders in order to carry them out. I think this occurs most noticeably in the form of visions.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke sees Han, Leia and the gang being held prisoner at Cloud City, and ends up attempting a rescue mission as a consequence. It could be argued that Luke simply sees this because his thoughts are wandering to his friends. However, I think it could be that the Force actively showed Luke this in order to influence his actions. Seeing visions isn’t a consistent thing within the films, however, and it isn’t clear how this happens. Yoda, the most powerful Jedi master, can only say of Anakin’s future that it is ‘clouded’. If visions from the Force could be accessed with training then surely Yoda of all Jedi would be able to see the fate which awaited them. It would seem Yoda is prevented from fully seeing the future in order to stop him clamping down on Anakin’s training. In contrast, Qui-gon Jinn is absolutely convinced that Anakin is the chosen one and must be trained. He’s actually quite zealous about it, going against the Jedi Council’s wishes. Why would Qui-gon have a greater ability to see the future than Yoda unless the Force was allowing him to see it, or showing him it? Now we are not told or shown what Qui-gon sees when he refers to Anakin’s future but it would not appear to be ‘clouded’ as far as Qui-gon is concerned. If anything it is crystal clear to him. Then there is Palpatine who does not see that Anakin will ultimately kill him.
Strikingly, in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has repeated dreams about Padme dying. This leads to his fear of losing her which pushes him towards Palpatine’s promise of preventing the ones he loves from dying. It could just be a typical story device, where the character is the one who causes their future to come true because they take action to try and prevent it. Still, could it not be that the Force showed Anakin this in order to push him in the direction it wished?
Finally, in TFA, Rey is given a series of visions about the past when she comes across Luke’s old lightsaber. Some of these are not even directly related to her or her own childhood, as I’m guessing she wasn’t present in that rainy scene where Kylo is killing off the Jedi students. I think Rey’s visions strongly show that the Force actively decides when to influence people via visions, as Rey is not trained in the Force and has the visions involuntary. This variation in how visions in the Force work suggest to me that the Force itself is actively revealing or manipulating information for certain people in order to fulfil its goal.
So the Force is actively trying to balance itself and manipulates people and events in order to reach its goal. I don’t think the Force is a thinking thing, not conscious, but I think it is active.
The biggest piece of evidence of this comes in the form of Anakin’s birth. Anakin is considered to have been conceived by the Force. In essence, it seems the Force simply created Anakin. This is why he is the chosen one. The Jedi assume the ‘chosen one’ would be made for them to defeat the Sith. But if balance is what the Force is trying to reach then it actually created the perfect person to carry out rebalancing the scales. An extremely powerful force wielder with enough emotional volatility to be tempted by and fall to the dark side.
(I know that Lucas was basically shoe horning in the virgin birth which he considered vital to complete his heroes’ journey. But this is just a theory so keep going.)
Tying Everything Together – The Force Awakens
So, if we assume that the Force is actively trying to maintain balance in itself and that Snoke was always around in some capacity, then at the end of Return of the Jedi the scales are evenly balanced. Sadly things don’t stay that way for long.
We find out that Luke begins to train a new generation of Jedi. If he had managed to succeed this would tip the balance of the scales heavily towards the Jedi again. Yet Luke is thwarted because one of his students, Ben Solo, falls to Snoke’s manipulations and becomes Kylo Ren. Presumably Kylo kills his fellow Jedi in training, leaving the scales balanced at Sith two, Jedi one.
Indeed, the very title of the seventh film has some meaning in this. The Force is awakening and acting again because of the continued imbalance. Until the emergence of Kylo Ren, it had been in a balanced, peaceful, possibly dormant state.
I mentioned earlier that Rey is sent visions which help push her to discovering her own connection to the Force and I believe the Force was selective in what it sent Rey. After all, the visions definitely elbow her into thinking that Kylo Ren is evil and that she should associate herself more with Luke and the Jedi. By the end of TFA it would appear we are back at a balance of two Sith and two Jedi.
Conclusion – Beyond The Force Awakens
Now, if this is really all true, then it surely can’t go on forever? Every time there is an imbalance, the Force seems to move events to rebalance itself – but causes untold death and destruction in doing so. Without Force wielders being aware of this, Jedi will continue to try to train more Jedi, the Sith will react in some way to it and both will try to wipe each other out.
But what if the Force could be completely balanced in a single force wielder? What if both the light side and the dark side could meet in one person, who understands the dangers that adhering to an extreme set of beliefs yields. I can think of one character who might already fit the bill.
What if the Force could find balance in Kylo Ren?
At the end of episode VIX, could Kylo Ren be the last man standing, with knowledge of the flaws of both the Sith and the Jedi, and make the choice to be neither but to remain grey; in the middle, both light and dark. In doing so, he would bring balance to the Force.
Thanks For Reading
This theory is just something fun to think about. I am in no way suggesting that 40 years ago Lucas considered this, nor do I think Abrams had this in mind either. A few assumptions have to be made but, when they are, it actually works out quite neatly. It would be a nice way for all the films to be tied together in one long overarching theme.
As an author I am probably thinking way too heavily on this, but I thought I’d share it and hopefully it can spark a little discussion. This theory was also posted to reddit.