Balance of the Force: Prophecy

Balance of the Force: Prophecy

“He is the Chosen One.  You must sense it.”

Qui-Gon Jinn insisted that the boy would be trained, with the consent of the Jedi Council or by his own hand.  He believed, as did many others, that Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One of prophecy — the One who would bring Balance to the Force.  After looking at different aspects of Balance in the Force — harmony between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force as well as symmetry between the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force — we now turn our attention to the prophecy itself and its various interpretations.

Darth Vader Dark Side

Balance of the Force: Prophecy

When we first saw his dark, towering form contrast with the white corridor of the Tantive IV amidst his white clad Stormtroopers, we immediately recognized Darth Vader as the embodiment of evil.  He was the villain, the ultimate bad guy.  Even though we were told that he was restrained by Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader was the visible threat in Star Wars.  This was proven in The Empire Strikes Back when he was clearly in command of the Imperial fleet as he searched for the Rebel who had destroyed the Death Star.  Only the mysterious Emperor seemed to outrank him, and if Vader had his way, that would not be true for long.  He claimed to be Luke’s father, the friend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and for three years we discussed and debated the merits of his claim before learning that Darth Vader truly was Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.  By the end of the trilogy, this icon of evil had been redeemed by his son as the Dark Side seemed to have been overcome by the Light.

Anakin Skywalker Redeemed

In the months and years that followed, we read rumors about another trilogy as George Lucas reportedly said that he would continue his story by either developing another series far in the future, after the events of Return of the Jedi or long before the introduction of Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.  We scoured magazines like Starlog and Star Invaders for any tidbits of information like Bothan spies, hopeful to uncover hints about what would surely follow.  A lava planet.  The epic confrontation between Obi-Wan and his student.  Luke Skywalker handing over his lightsaber to the next generation of Jedi.  These whispers helped direct our imaginations about what we would see next.  But by 1986, Star Wars had all but faded from the collective consciousness of mainstream audiences.  John Hughes movies attracted teenaged audiences.  The Kenner toys made their way into the bargain bins of department stores.  Even the Droids and Ewoks cartoons were being cancelled.  All news about future films from that galaxy far, far away had vanished.  Lucas was involved in other pursuits: Labyrinth, Howard the Duck, Willow, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles had successfully drawn his attention from continuing the Star Wars saga.

Starlog Magazine #127 February 1988

About ten years later, the rumors reemerged with promising news about a prequel series detailing the events surrounding Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side.  Immediately, our hearts were stirred and our minds constructed the storyline of this new trilogy.  Certainly, the first episode would chronicle Obi-Wan meeting, training, and befriending Anakin.  The foreboding shadow of darkness would creep into the second episode as Master and Apprentice faced-off on the legendary lava planet, leaving Anakin — Darth Vader — scarred and kept alive only through mechanical means.  Then audiences would witness the purge of the Jedi as the Vader and the Emperor’s forces hunted down and exterminated the Jedi across the galaxy.  The story would be riveting with nonstop action and compelling characters that would make Vader’s return to the Light even more rewarding in the end.  But the stories we imagined were not what we saw on the screen, causing many fans of the original trilogy to balk at the story that began with Anakin’s childhood and talk of trade disputes in scenes some compared with watching C-SPAN.  Because of this clash between the dreams of diehard fans for well over a decade with the vision of the maker as presented in theaters, the prequels received a lukewarm reception as compared with the first three films.

Anakin Skywalker Shadow of the Dark Side

But the prequels introduced us to a much larger story than simply filling in details of the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker and the rise and fall of Darth Vader.  In The Phantom Menace, Anakin was more than another force-sensitive boy to be trained as a Jedi, he was the Chosen One, the subject of a mysterious prophecy which is never explicitly stated in the movies.  “His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I’ve seen in a life form, “Qui-Gon Jinn informs the Council.  “It is possible that he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.” Jedi Master Mace Windu responded, “You refer to the prophecy of the One who will bring Balance to the Force.  You believe it’s this boy?”  The Jedi Council agreed to test young Anakin, but chose not to train him.  Yoda seemed concerned about the fear he sensed in this child:  “Fear is the path to the Dark Side.  Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”  The darkness was evident even in this ten year-old boy.  Even Obi-Wan shared the Council’s reluctance to train the child, but when his Master’s dying wish was for him to train Anakin, Obi-Wan pursued this course of action in an apparent appeal to the Jedi Council.  Upon conferring upon Obi-Wan the level of Jedi Knight, Yoda admitted, “The Chosen One the boy may be.  Nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training.”  To this, the wise old Master added, “Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”

Misread Prophecy Yoda Mace

What exactly was this prophecy, though?  Other than mentioning that it stated that “One” would bring “Balance to the Force”, viewers have to interpolate the prophecy by inferences from a variety of sources.  As the “fortune cookie” from an episode from the fifth season of The Clone Wars entitled “Eminence” states, we realize that every source may have its own interpretation of this prophecy, for “One vision can have many interpretations.”  Even Yoda noted that the Jedi could have misread the meaning of the prophecy in a conversation with Obi-Wan and Mace in Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan confronted Mace’s mistrust of Anakin, defending his apprentice and friend, “With all due respect, Master, is he not the Chosen One?  Is he not to destroy the Sith and bring Balance to the Force?”  Adamantly maintaining his position, Mace curtly responded, “So the prophecy says.”  At this point, Yoda warned his colleagues that their interpretation may be mistaken by simply saying, “A prophecy that misread could have been.”  It is possible that the same prophecy had a variety of interpretations based on the perspective of the ones reading it, as Obi-Wan casually dismissed Luke’s objections to Obi-Wan’s lies about Darth Vader and Anakin, claiming, “many of the truths we cling to are from a certain point-of-view.”  The Jedi, the Sith, and other Force-users could easily read the same prophecy differently, according to their own biases.

You were the Chosen One!

The Jedi, accustomed to thinking of themselves as “guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic”, would naturally assume that balance depended on a full restoration of their power, unfettered by the shroud that had descended more completely since the discovery of the Sith.  With centuries passing with no hint of Dark Side activity (at least Sith interactions), they could consider their recent difficulty in connecting to the Force to be a by-product of imbalance caused by the Dark Side.  To the Jedi, Light would be the natural order of the Force.  Therefore, for the Chosen One to restore Balance to the Force, he would necessarily have to destroy the Sith, thereby banishing the Dark Side.  This was precisely Obi-Wan’s lament on Mustafar, after striking down his former apprentice: “You were the Chosen One!  It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!  Bring Balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness.”  That Obi-Wan’s certainty in his understanding of the prophecy is self-contradictory evidently escaped the Jedi Master during this impassioned battle, for at the beginning of the duel he had confidently affirmed, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

"I can't kill my own father." Luke Obi-Wan

Upon later reflection of the events which transpired that day, Obi-Wan would be forced to reassess his understanding of the prophecy.  Two possibilities would become immediately evident to him: either he was mistaken about Anakin being the Chosen One or his interpretation of the prophecy meaning the Chosen One would eliminate the Sith was wrong.  By the time Anakin’s son had grown and been trained as a Jedi, it seems that Obi-Wan, as well as Yoda, had accepted that another Skywalker might be the One who would destroy the Sith.  Even after failing in his first confrontation with Darth Vader, Yoda told Luke that he must again face the Sith Lord.  Obi-Wan corroborated Yoda’s assessment of the situation, showing that he still believed that the prophecy must be fulfilled, saying, “You cannot escape your destiny.  You must face Darth Vader again.” He still held to the idea that the prophecy included the destruction of the Sith, including his apprentice whom he had formerly believed to be the Chosen One.  When Luke said, “I can’t kill my own father,” Obi-Wan bemoaned, “Then the Emperor has already won.  You were our only hope.”   Yoda’s inclination seemed to lean towards Obi-Wan’s belief that Anakin’s destiny could be accomplished through his descendant, though he accepted the possibility that Luke’s twin sister could finish the task if Luke failed.  Even when Luke rushed to help his friends on Bespin, prematurely interrupting his Jedi training on Dagobah, when Obi-Wan said, “That boy is our last hope,” Yoda corrected, “No.  There is another.”  Later, the diminutive and dying Master revealed this truth to Luke: “The Force runs strong in your family.  Pass on what you have learned.  Luke, there is another Skywalker.”  Even though both Jedi Masters had evidently believed Anakin to be the Chosen One, both still held to the idea that the prophecy could be fulfilled by someone else who was inherently linked to the prodigious Jedi who had departed from his course.  Perhaps they reasoned that Anakin’s offspring would effectively achieve the Balance they hoped for because he had set in motion the events that transpired simply by having children.  Neither Yoda nor Obi-Wan seemed to consider that their interpretation of the prophecy and what “balance” truly meant might have been wrong.  They continued to believe that Balance of the Force to be peace and harmony in Light.  This belief was passed down to the next generation, as even Lor San Tekka pronounced his belief that “without the Jedi, there can be no Balance in the Force.”

Balance of the Force Prophecy 8 Darth Plagueis

Not surprisingly, the Sith had their own view regarding what it meant to bring Balance to the Force.  Like the Jedi, the Sith intended to bring peace.  However, their concept of peace necessarily included enforcing peace upon the galaxy through their power.  When Palpatine summarized The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise to Anakin, he hinted that Anakin may have been created by the Sith Lord through manipulation of the midi-chlorians: “Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life.”  If this implication was true, we could infer that Plagueis had done this in order to create the Chosen One — so that he could use this extremely Force adept to place him in a position where he could use this power to allow him to dominate the galaxy, forcing all beings to submit to his reign, thus bringing peace through an iron fist.  At the end of The Phantom Menace, Chancellor Palpatine revealed his awareness of Anakin’s unusually strong force sensitivity, saying, “We will watch your career with great interest.”  In Revenge of the Sith, after years of mentoring and manipulating the impressionable youth, Darth Sidious revealed his true identity to Anakin and converted him to the Dark Side, renaming him Darth Vader, and informing him of his plans: “Once more the Sith will rule the galaxy and we shall have peace.”

Son Mortis The Clone Wars

As was previously suggested in the previous article (“Balance of the Force: Symmetry”), the Sith consciously sought to achieve Balance through the Dark Side.  By means of coercion and raw power, peace could be enforced upon all living beings in the galaxy under a new Sith Empire.  On Mortis, the ancient Sith Lords Darth Bane and Darth Revan confirmed that the Sith viewed this prophecy as a means of forceful domination.  They told the Son in a deleted scene from “Ghosts of Mortis”, “We stand before you — Disciples of the Dark Side intent on its supremacy.  It has been foreseen that One lives who will control the universe.”  The same prophecy that caused the Jedi to believe that Light would restore balance was seen by the power-hungry Sith to imply Dark Side dominance.  The Emperor, with the Chosen One at his side, would hold unlimited power in his hand as his apprentice did his bidding.  This dream of Dark Side domination did not die with the Emperor and Vader.  From the ashes of the Empire arose the First Order, which continued the same quest for galactic domination.  Maz Kanata revealed this truth to Rey: “Through the ages, I’ve seen evil take many forms: the Sith, the Empire, today it is the First Order.  Their shadow is spreading across the galaxy.”  Balance, as viewed by those devoted to Dark Side dominance, had not yet been achieved.

Anakin Son Daughter Mortis

Other Force-Wielders who were neither Jedi nor Sith knew of the prophecy of the Chosen One.  They believed Anakin to be the One who was able to Balance the Force.  In “Overlords”, he Father tried to convince Anakin to take his place in order to maintain balance between Light and Dark. “You have a very simple view of the universe,” the Father told Anakin, “it was necessary for us to withdraw from the temporal world and to live here as anchorites.  It is only here that I can control them.  A family in balance: the Day and the Night.  Too much Dark or Light would be the undoing of life as you understand it.”  When his attempt to convince Anakin by reason failed, he sought to prove his point by putting Anakin to a test — making him use his advanced ability to save the lives of his friends.  After Anakin successfully caused both the Son and the Daughter to release Ahsoka and Obi-Wan, the Father announced, “And now you see who you truly are.  Only the Chosen One could control both my children.”  After the Son showed Anakin what he would become as he fell to the Dark Side, the Father proclaimed, “If there is to be Balance, what you have seen must be forgotten.”  The Father believed Balance consisted in maintaining equilibrium between Light and Dark (not to be equivocated with good and evil).  Even with his dying breath, he persevered in his belief that Anakin would bring this Balance. “And now, I die,” the Father lamented, “my heart broken, but knowing the role you will play… You are the Chosen One.  You have brought Balance to this world.  Stay on this path and you will do it again for the galaxy, but beware your heart.”

Balance of the Force Prophecy 11 Force Spirits

Although these three examples of Force users all saw the prophecy differently, all three believed Anakin to be the Chosen One.  The weight of their agreement in this matter must not be overlooked or easily disregarded.  Anakin is the Chosen One, whatever meaning that has regarding how Balance of the Force is achieved.  If he was conceived through the manipulations of Darth Plagueis, he was born from Darkness, yet through the efforts of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Yoda, he was trained in the Light.  Though he fell to the Dark Side through the deceptions of Darth Sidious, he was reborn into Light through the love of his son.  His entire life reflects Balance between Light and Dark.  He proved, in the mysterious realm of Mortis, separated from the temporal realm of the Living Force, that he commands both Light and Dark as he brought both the Daughter and the Son under his control.  He maintained his identity in the Cosmic Force, just as he was in the Living Force, with no evidence of being trained as Yoda and Obi-Wan had, as he appeared beside the other two as a Force spirit on the forest moon of Endor.

But how would Anakin fulfill his destiny as the Chosen One?  How would he restore Balance to the Force?  Most certainly it was not through reducing the number of Jedi and the number of Sith to two, balancing both sides of the prominent Force users of the saga.  Furthermore, when The Force Awakens revealed that the Force was still not in balance, that the Dark Side threatened to overrun the galaxy, we were left to wonder if Anakin had failed to accomplish what we were led to believe he would do.  What remains to be seen will be explored in the next installation of this series: “Balance of the Force: The Saga”.

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  • Rochel Cusumano

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