It’s time to start a new year! Join Karl and Jason as they sit down to discuss the value of friendship as shown to us through the Star Wars saga! From the iconic relationship between R2D2 and C-3PO to the dysfunctional friendship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, your hosts talk about how good friendship can lead to the redemption of a galaxy! So sit back, relax, and usher in this great new year in the Lair!
I think that midi-chlorians are probably one of the most hated aspects of Star Wars. People hate them so much even Jar Jar gets to pick on them. Midi-chlorians are criticized for demystifying the force and for turning the energy that surrounds us and binds us into nothing more than an infection. Even more surprising, while most Star Wars controversies are bemoaned by a few disgruntled fans, midi-chlorians are hated by everyone.
That’s why I am going to attempt to explain why they might not be so bad after all. See, as a Star Wars fan, I want to be able to love everything about that Galaxy Far, Far Away and I really enjoy opportunities to justify and retcon until things make sense. Am I an apologist? Maybe. But what it really comes down to is that if we accept (which I have) that canon is canon… I would rather do some mental gymnastics and find a way to like midi-chlorians than just sit around and let them spoil the stories for me. I hope that by sharing my interpretation of midi-chlorians, maybe you will also be able to see them in a different light.
Here’s what we know about midi-chlorians from the movie:
Anakin Skywalker: Master, sir, I heard Yoda talking about midi-chlorians. I’ve been wondering…what are midi-chlorians?
Qui-Gon Jinn: Midi-chlorians are a microscopic lifeform that reside within all living cells and communicates with the Force.
Anakin Skywalker: They live inside of me?
Qui-Gon Jinn: In your cells, yes. We are symbionts with them-
Anakin Skywalker: Symbionts?
Qui-Gon Jinn: Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you
I want to start by saying that nowhere in Qui-Gon’s explanation (see above) does he say that the midi-chlorians create the Force or that they even create a being’s connection to the Force. As a matter of fact, all he really says is that they are a symbiotic life form. I think that everyone misunderstood this scene by interpreting the midi-chlorians to be much more important than they actually are. Through my interpretation, midi-chlorians are only important for one purpose: they are the way that the Jedi are able to measure force ability. We will get to that later, but let’s start by imagining a midi-chlorian as simply a tiny little cellular life form, but forget everything you think you know about its relationship with the Force. Let’s just start with it as a normal living thing, similar to an amoeba.
What we DO know about midi-chlorians is that the Jedi council measures a midi-chlorian count to see how strong a being’s connection to the Force is. This is what throws most people off as there seems to be an implication that the midi-chlorians CAUSE the person to be more closely attuned to the Force. However, if the Jedi were simply using midi-chlorians as a measuring tool, there would only need to be a CORRELATION present. There needs only be a connection saying that with greater force ability, you will find a higher midi-chlorian count and nothing needs to exist stating that one causes the other.
You have to imagine that the Jedi needed ways to measure Force sensitivity. Sure, part of it was just the masters sitting around during Lunch trying to find a way to prove who was best… but they also needed ways to seek out and recruit more Force-sensitives to their cause. I would imagine that (until midi-chlorians were considered) the Jedi probably spent lots of time, effort and credits researching ways to detect force-sensitivity. Like most of us would, they probably started by trying spiritual or Force-based tests. They probably studied and meditated for millennia looking for a way to precisely measure Force sensitivity. Eventually, they probably expanded their scope and tried approaching the problem scientifically. At that point, they noticed a correlation (not even needing causation) between Force sensitivity and midi-chlorian count and from then on, that became the standard test… not because the midi-chlorians create the connection to the Force, but simply because a being with a close connection will end up having more midi-chlorians in their blood.
Why would there be a correlation, then?
We know from the Expanded Universe that different creatures can interact with the Force in different ways (The best example would be the ysalamiri). So it’s not too difficult to imagine that midi-chlorians could be creatures who actually feed off of the Force. If the idea of them “eating” or gaining nourishment from the Force is too biological for you, imagine that the little amoeba-like organisms are specialized in Force-healing and so the more they are surrounded by the Force, the healthier they are.
If this were the case, wouldn’t it make sense that a person who has a greater connection to the Force would be able to attract and sustain a larger population of midi-chlorians? Think of it like lampreys attached to sharks. A lamprey is a fish that survives by attaching itself to a shark and eating all of the food that falls out of the shark’s mouth. Therefore, if a shark is an excellent hunter, killing hundreds of fish per day, more lampreys would be able to stick with it and still have plenty of food. You could probably, in that case, look at a shark with 5 healthy lampreys attached to it and conclude that it is a better hunter than a shark with one hungry lamprey. I think the Jedi noticed that a similar relationship existed between Force-users and midi-chlorians and they realized that it was just an easy way for them to see how strong a person’s force connection was.
Obi Wan tells us in A New Hope that the Force is an energy field created by all living things. It makes sense that more life yields more Force and there are many implications that places in the Galaxy that are teeming with life seem to have stronger connections to the Force, especially the light side. In this way, it is probable that, to some degree, having a large number of midi-chlorians in your body at all times might, in fact, make the Force more accessible to you, even though the midi-chlorians themselves are not actively creating or facilitating this connection. Considering Qui Gon Jinn’s strong adherence to his view of the Living Force, it makes sense that he would really focus on the interconnectedness and the relationship between the midi-chlorian and the being serving as its host. That is why Qui Gon emphasizes this connection to Anakin when explaining the symbiotic relationship.
This only leaves two small points to address.
First, there is the comment that without midi-chlorians, “life could not exist”. To explain this, we can simply look at our own existence and the mitochondria that exist in our cells. Mitochondria are tiny organisms that exist within our cells and without them we could not live Most biologists, however, believe that mitochondria were actually bacteria that integrated themselves into our cellular structures and were not part of our original cellular makeup. So I can accept this as precedent for the idea that there can be a cellular organism without which life could not exist.
Second, there is the comment that without midi-chlorians, “we would have no knowledge of the Force”. As I mentioned above, you have to imagine that Jedi and non-Jedi alike must always spend time researching and learning about the Force. Could you imagine a world where we didn’t study how electricity or gravity works? Well, even though the Force is more mystical than those real-world forces, I would imagine it would be studied all the same. Once the midi-chlorians were discovered, it could have harbored a new scientific approach to studying the Force and given non-force-users a way to indirectly measure and interact with the Force. Just as Gravity existed and impacted us before it was “discovered”, so the Force was around and used, but the Galaxy’s knowledge of the Force could have expanded dramatically as a result of the scientific approach to Force-study and the ability for everyone to measure it.
So that is a window to how midi-chlorians exist in my mind. With this understanding, the Force itself is still the mystical and spiritual force it was before 1999 and nothing has really changed about my understanding of how it works. However, knowing that midi-chlorians exist, I can now accept them as a simple measuring tool that the Jedi found to help them determine different levels of Force ability.
I know that many fans have created their own personal canon and chosen to completely write off the prequels and the midi-chlorians, but hopefully this new interpretation can help you allow them back into your Star Wars fandom by allowing midi-chlorians and a mystical Force to coexist.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
The Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 2 Review
Hello and welcome back to this week’s review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars! The season returns in it’s second episode of season five with the Jedi aiding a group of rebels on a separatist world in A War on Two Fronts. The episode features our main trio of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka. It also brings back Lux, who likes to show up in a completely different environments and with a completely different faction every time we see him. The episode takes place on the classic, expanded universe planet of Onderon. And while I very much enjoyed this classic Star Wars world brought into The Clone Wars, we are once again stuck in the “Wow these are really cool concepts and ideas being introduced, but we’re going to have to wait another week to see them put into action.” phase of the story arc.
Like I said before, the episode takes place on the world of Onderon, which has been seen in everything from the Tales of the Jedi comics, to the second Knights of the Old Republic video game. In all the material I had read of Onderon, the world always seemed to be in a state of civil war or in the midst of a play for power. So when I learned that the arc would be about exactly that, I already thought The Clone Wars had done Onderon justice. Later, upon seeing the designs and characteristics of the world shown, I was even more impressed. The Clone Wars team had even included the large beasts that the warriors of Onderon flew thousands of years before in the Tales of the Jedi. They managed to keep Onderon almost exactly the way I remembered it, yet still managing to feel fresh and new with the distinct style of the series.
I was kind of bummed when the topic debated in the council never made it anywhere in the episode. It brought up a great and somewhat real issue of the fine line of helping freedom fighters and helping terrorists. Not only was it a great concept, but they built on it quite well. First by having Anakin’s view conflict almost entirely with the council’s, I think it fits his character and his way of thinking so well, especially when shown in contrast to the council. The council views everything in perspective and tries to foresee problems in the long run, unlike Anakin who usually tries to find the quickest solution. The second is Lux, who has had similar moral dilemmas in the past trying to discover what is justice and what is revenge when he joined the Death Watch in order to get revenge on Dooku in season four. I’m confident they didn’t throw this character into the episode for nothing, as he fits so well into the topic of the arc. Let’s hope they do something worthwhile with him instead of just making him the love interest.
This brings me to my next point. This episode greatly revolved around the reoccurring Lux/Ahsoka complex, this time throwing in Steela to complicate things even further. I guess it started to work toward something, but it’s hard to tell if this could be the end of the before mentioned Lux/Ahsoka character arc. This certainly would be a good time to wrap it up. I can’t help but wonder exactly why they decided to bring up that Lux is still against the Republic and if that will play a role in the episodes to come. Part of me wishes that time spent on the tension between Ahsoka and Steela was given to Rex, showing him training one on one with some of the lesser known rebel fighters. This would have made a great sub plot for Rex, and it would have shown more background on the rebels, possibly even tying into some of the issues the arc is supposed to be dealing with in terms of whether the rebels are simply terrorists or not.
That’s going to wrap up my review for this week! All in all I thought it a good episode that introduced some really cool things to think about as the arc unfolds. Make sure you leave a comment below, as we want to know what you thought of A War on Two Fronts! Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!
Ryan Zasso first entered the Star Wars fan community in early 2010 with the podcast Fanboy’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interested in doing Star Wars related writing, he began writing for the Star Wars Report in 2011.
In their latest episode, Karl and Jason sit down for some Star Wars fun! Like the “choose your own adventure” scenarios, Karl and Jason ask each other a bunch of questions as to how they would respond to certain parts of the film if they were in the character’s shoes. They also ask each other about lots of other fun aspects of the films if they were allowed to be part of the Star Wars galaxy. From what creature would you want for a pet to which creature would you not want to have a run-in with, Karl and Jason certainly have a lot of fun in this episode!
While I have watched ROTJ close to a thousand times in my life, I was really inspired to write something brief about how love and redemption are presented at the end of the film. In just one short scene, so much of the the Truth which the tale of Star Wars teaches is revealed. I am referring to the scene when Luke takes off Vader’s mask right before Vader’s, or should I say Anakin’s, death.
This one particular scene does such a great job of “unmasking” what I would is one of George Lucas’ main themes in Star Wars. What begins in The Empire Strikes Back is brought to its full potential at the conclusion of ROTJ. When Vader confronts Luke in TESB, his motives are merely selfish as he only wants Luke to join him so that they can overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together; it’s still all about power for Vader.
Yet when Luke throws himself into the chasm of Cloud City I think what he does is plant a seed in Vader which shows to him that there is something more than the dark side, that there is something more important than power. When Vader and Luke meet up again in ROTJ after Luke surrenders himself on Endor, Luke tells Vader the Truth he has hidden himself from: “You were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.” Vader says that this name has “no meaning for me” but Luke fires back, “It is the name of your true self you’ve only forgotten.” Quite literally, Anakin has been hidden by the mask of Vader for so long that he truly has forgotten who he really is. It’s interesting as many psychologists have said for years that people make masks to hide themselves and stay safe. That is what Vader has done; his fear and loneliness causes him to hide behind the mask of Darth Vader. I think we too often make masks for ourselves so that we don’t have to face parts of ourselves.
Luke continually points out to Vader during their duel in ROTJ that he senses the conflict going on inside Vader. To Luke, it’s clear that Anakin is fighting to reemerge from the mask of Darth Vader. After Luke lops off Vader’s right hand (poor guy is always losing limbs!), he realizes what he has done and renounces the dark side. This was something Anakin was incapable of doing. Anakin’s fear won out causing him to join the dark side. However Luke gives him another example. Luke renounces the dark side because he knows who he is; “I am a Jedi.”
Yet the event that finally allows Anakin to reemerge from the mask of Darth Vader occurs as the Emperor begins to hurl force lightening at Luke with the intention of killing him. As each blast of lightening pours over Luke causing him more and more pain, it’s as if the lightening is also having an effect on Vader; each blast is burning off the mask that is Vader.
As Luke pleads, “Father!”, his cries for help break through the mask of Darth Vader and hit the heart of Anakin Skywalker. And thanks to the blu ray version we know Vader does not approve of his master’s actions towards his son. As he screams “NO!!!”, he throws the Emperor to his death thus saving the one person who has shown Anakin what selfless love is. Just as Luke was willing to die to try and redeem his father, now the father dies in order to save the son.
So finally we’re to the scene where I’ve been trying to make my point: the unmasking of Vader. Vader tells Luke he wants to look on him with the eyes of Anakin, no longer through the mask of Vader. Yet Anakin is incapable of removing this mask on his own. Quite literally, he is too weak and not to mention he only has one hand! So he literally needs the help of his son. I think this is a very powerful Truth statement being made. Just like Vader, we are incapable of removing the masks we wear on our own. Just as Vader needed the help of his son, so too do we need the help of others.
But what is it that ultimately unmasks Vader? Why love of course! Vader was so full of fear and so obsessed with power that he hid behind the mask of Vader and was incapable of being vulnerable to anyone. After the death of Padme, Anakin feels no one could probably love him so he hides behind the mask of Vader. But then Luke comes along and shows him again what true love is. So when Luke pulls back that mask which Vader has been hiding behind we see a great Truth about love: love exposes us and allows our true self to be revealed. When we are loved by another, be it a parent, a friend, a spouse, we are made vulnerable and realize that we no longer have any need for a mask! Love redeems and unmasks us!