Tag Archives: Yoda

Balance of the Force: Light vs Dark

Balance of the Force: Symmetry

Balance of the Force: Symmetry
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“The Jedi were real!”

“Used to wonder about that myself.  Thought it was a bunch of ‘mumbo-jumbo’.  A magical power holding together good and evil, the Dark Side and the Light.  Crazy thing is, it’s true.  The Force, the Jedi…all of it.  It’s all true.”

SWReport Balance Han Force Light Dark

The words of Han Solo, uttered in the same place where he had denied the idea that some all powerful Force controlled everything, renouncing the Jedi and their ways as “simple tricks and nonsense”, carried with them the weight of a teacher, a mentor, a father-figure to Rey in The Force Awakens.  And rightfully so, because the audience as well as Rey needed to understand what was at stake in the galaxy. Continue reading

SWR Balance of the Force 1

Balance of the Force: Harmony

Balance of the Force: Harmony
shazbazzar

“May the Force be with you.”  Nearly forty years ago, movie-goers emerged from theaters with the phrase in their minds and on their lips.  For decades, it has prevailed in pop-culture, eventually leading to “May the Fourth” being regarded as “Star Wars Day” globally.  The Force has become part of our language, our heritage, and, for some, our mythology.  This pervasive concept struck a chord in the twentieth century that continues to intrigue the masses today.

Shrouded in mystery, elevated in mythology, the Force is the singular aspect of Star Wars that fuels imaginations, inflames passionate debates, and drives fans to theaters and television screens time and again to visit that galaxy far, far away.  From Old Ben’s vague explanation of the Force to Luke to Qui-Gon’s specific description of how the Force is sensed through microscopic midi-chlorians, viewers have learned about the Force through dialog and demonstration as characters on-screen have divulged what lies in the minds of George Lucas, Dave Filoni, Lawrence Kasdan, Christian Taylor, and other creators of the movies and shows in Star Wars canon.  Every revelation about the Force presented to audiences brings more questions as fans want to know more about this mystical energy field.  Fans want to know what the Force is, who can use it, how it works, and, of course, what “Balance of the Force” really means.

When Qui-Gon Jinn stood before the Jedi Council beside his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, he revealed that he had discovered a vergence in the Force — a boy he believed may have been conceived by midi-chlorians.  Mace Windu countered, “You refer to the prophecy of the One who will bring Balance to the Force.”  This revelation of an ancient prophecy which may or may not relate to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader penetrated the minds of fans and has generated debates and discussions (and essays like this one) for seventeen years.  What do we know and what can we infer about this “balance” from what we’ve seen on-screen in movies and television programs?

Obi-Wan explains the Force

Balance of the Force: Harmony
For those of us who saw Star Wars in order of release, rather than in chronological order, the Force was first mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi on movie screens in 1977.  “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.  It’s an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us.  It penetrates us.  It binds the galaxy together.”  The words resound with the depth of hidden meaning in simple statements that sound as if they’ve been memorized from a catechism in the early years of a Jedi’s training.  For the moment, they satisfy the curiosity of young Luke, but on further reflection, there is much left unsaid.  However, the idea of balance is inherent in the harmony implied.  All living things touch the Force as well as create it.  The unity of the galaxy is dependent on each of the myriad components of the Force operating together in concert — each one gives and takes as the Force flows around and through everything.  Although all living beings contribute to and participate in the Force, Ben later explains, “…a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.”  Years later, on Dagobah, Yoda reiterates the same picture of harmony in the Force: “Life creates it, makes it grow.  Its energy surrounds us and binds us.  Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.  You must feel the Force around you.”

Yoda explains the Force

This idea of harmonious balance between all living things continued in the prequels.  When Anakin asked the question for all viewers, “What are midi-chlorians?”, Qui-Gon explained, “Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells, and we are symbionts with them — life forms living together for mutual advantage.  Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force.”  While some fans charged that this seemingly scientific explanation removed the mysterious nature of the Force, Qui-Gon’s words did no such thing.  He simply expanded this idea of the unity of all living things inherently linked to the Force.  In the first episode of The Clone Wars, “Ambush”, Yoda encourages the three clones with him by explaining that each of them the nature of the Force and their connection to it as individuals, even though they may not sense it, “All around us is that which we need to prevail…In the Force, very different each one of you are…Clones, you may be, but the Force resides in all life forms.”

SWReport Balance Ambush

With this picture of the essential harmony of all living things in the galaxy connected by the Force, we gain some insight into what balance means.  Through the give and take of each living thing, the currents of the Force flow between every component part, linking distinct individuals together for the benefit of all through the penetrating, surrounding presence of the Force.

SWReport Balance Aleena

Nowhere is this harmony more evident than in examples of this recurring theme throughout The Clone Wars.  One example of this harmonious balance between living things is seen in in an episode which was initially disdained by many and likely largely forgotten.  in “Mercy Mission” from season four, while C-3PO and R2-D2 investigate the cause of earthquakes on the planet Aleen, they travel below ground and discover the source of the disruptions is due to a disturbance in the peace between the surface and underground realms.  Orphne, a peculiar entity seemingly composed of tiny, luminescent creatures, tells Threepio of a covenant between the Aleena and the subterranean world, saying, “We survive because the ground keeps us apart…Without going through the natural filtering process, the surface air is deadly to us.”  Those who dwelt underground believed the Aleena had broken the seal that separated their two worlds, responding by causing the earthquakes that followed.  This corresponds to what Kindaloo had already told Threepio when he rebuked the ‘droid for entering the subterranean realm:  “Why have the surface dwellers destroyed the peace?  The ground shakes to keep out the foul air which poisons and destroys us.”  It is notable that the surface dwellers were blamed for destroying the peace — the balance that had long been maintained between the two worlds — even though no evidence of this was ever mentioned in the episode.  Also intriguing was that Kindaloo seemed offended by the presence of the ‘droids, emphatically declaring that they did not “belong”.  Could this have been a reference to the idea that ‘droids, as mechanical beings, do not have a connection to the Living Force?

SWReport Balance Kindaloo

In the third season, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka experience an unexplainable phenomenon called “Mortis”.  In “Overlords, we discover that Mortis was “unlike any other, a conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows.  This planet is both an amplifier and a magnet,” according to Obi-Wan’s vision of Qui-Gon Jinn.  On this unique world, days passed like seasons, as plants emerged with new growth every morning, matured, aged, and lost all signs of life as evening drew its last light.  When night fell, storms prevailed and visions emerged as the sleep of death overshadowed its domain.  This “conduit” of the Force reflected balance between life and death, as well as darkness and light.

SWReport Balance Mortis

Later, in the sixth season, Yoda learns more about this natural cycle of life and death as it is reflected in two distinct aspects of the Force which were sometimes alluded to but not previously explored.  In “Voices”, Yoda hears Qui-Gon’s voice while he is meditating.  Qui-Gon claims to be part of the Living Force.  When Yoda confesses that he has heard a voice from beyond the grave, Ki-Adi-Mundi responds, “The dead are part of the Cosmic Force and lose their individuality.”  The Living Force and the Cosmic Force are aspects of the Force that had been given little more than passing mentions previously.  On Dagobah, Qui-Gon’s disembodied voice instructs the old Jedi Master about these aspects of the Force: “Living beings generate the Living Force, which in turn powers the wellspring that is the Cosmic Force.  All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians.”  In “Destiny”, Yoda reaches a planet inside which, he says, “life emanates.”  On this planet, he encounters five priestesses who again explain the balance between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, saying, “When a living thing dies, all is renewed.  Life passes from the Living Force into the Cosmic Force and becomes One within it.  One empowers the other.  One is renewed by the other.”  After passing the various trials required by the priestesses, they inform the old Jedi that he would “learn to maintain [his] consciousness after death.  Enlightenment, spirit, balance.  There is another Skywalker.”  Yoda would be trained to retain his identity and individuality even after he died — perhaps in doing so he could help this unknown Skywalker…

When considering this harmony between all living things relative to both the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, the extreme positions of both the Sith and the Jedi seem to be disrupting this Balance of the Force.

SWReport Balance Witwer

The Sith are marked by their unrelenting desire for power.  Sam Witwer remarked in “The Mind of Maul”, a featurette on starwars.com, that the Sith cling to life because that’s all they have.  For years, fans of Star Wars have accepted that the Sith have no expectation of anything beyond this life.  Therefore, to retain their power, they seek to extend their own lives.  This, even Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Darth Sidious himself, admits “some consider to be unnatural,” while telling Anakin the Sith legend of The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise. “He became so powerful, the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power…Ironic, he could save others from death but not himself.”  To the Sith, death was to be avoided, for that would mean the loss of power.  As the final temptation to lure Anakin to the Dark Side, Sidious promised the confused Jedi, “To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we could discover its secret.”  Cheating death would disrupt the balance between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, refusing to return the Force of life to the wellspring of renewal and rebirth.  The thirst for power and selfish passion of the Sith had tipped the scales.

SWReport Balance Jedi Loophole

But the Jedi were complicit, as well.  Though they gave lip service to the relationship of all living beings united together, they held themselves aloof from others, forbidding Jedi to form attachments and develop relationships.  They resided in their ivory towers and Jedi temples as guardians of peace, failing to recognize that in doing so, they, too, had disrupted the balance by failing to fully interact with other living beings except to solve problems and find promising young pupils to train as Jedi. Anakin, frustrated at the Jedi doctrine, strove to find a loophole, telling Padme, “Attachment is forbidden.  Possession is forbidden.  Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is central to a Jedi’s life.”  Later, when counseling Anakin about his visions of Padme’s death, Yoda displays this calloused view towards others:  “Death is a natural part of life.  Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.  Mourn them do not.  Miss them do not.  Attachment leads to jealousy.  The shadow of greed, that is.”  It seems that through their understanding of the relationship between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, the Jedi had forgotten that life consists of more than simply being born of the Force and returning to it at death.  Life is to be experienced in relationship to other living beings.  Their cold devotion to doctrine may have disturbed the harmony between all living things.

Both the Sith and the Jedi expressed and demonstrated extreme views which could effectively unbalance the status of the Living Force and the Cosmic Force.  Bringing balance to the Force may imply a return to the peaceful, harmonious relationship of all living beings to one another.

Keep watching StarWarsReport.com for the next article in the “Balance of the Force” series addressing the symmetry between the Light and Dark sides of the Force and what that may entail in bringing the Force into balance.

 

Games & Things- CCC Ep. 049

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This week Nathan Returns and the discussion goes pretty much all over the galaxy of Star Wars table top and Video gaming! Check it out this one is loaded with laughs!

On Rebels, The Inquisitors Perfect The Menacing Crawl

… which is a yoga position, if I’m not much mistaken.

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, cool, but here we take a few things for closer inspection. Best read after your viewing and taken with crackers, SPOILERS from here on out.

In this week’s episode of Rebels, entitled Shroud of Darkness, we see our three Jedi (or Jedi-adjacent*) Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka enter the Jedi Temple on Lothal to communicate with Yoda, who’s still on Dagobah. Just go with it, it totally made sense in the episode.

*I do not apologise at all for this.

No joke this time around. Just marveling at the design on show.

Though those visions were most interesting, first I’d like to discuss something that’s been bugging me.

The Inquisitors

Minimised as this picture is, it looks like the Inquisitors are surrounded by hearts. How cute. Little hearts of death.

This episode saw the return of several characters from the first series: Yoda of course, but also The Grand Inquisitor, in a reveal that definitely wasn’t greeted with an ‘I called it’ dance from me. What? That’s totally a thing! A thing that I don’t do, so forget I mentioned it. Anyhoo, not only did he return, but he did so in style, and brought all the characterisation and back-story that was missing from the first series. For it turns out that he was once a Jedi and one of the Temple Guards. Quite why Palpatine would want his Inquisitors to be led by a guard who let Order 66 and Operation Knightfall (I would have gone with Night of the Long Sabers, personally) happen on his watch is beyond me, but hey ho. I’m not an Emperor of an entirely made up galaxy, so what would I know?

Actually, I'm Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. Why are you laughing?

Actually, I’m Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. What? Why are you laughing?

Last week saw some much needed depth breathed into Agent Kallus, and this show has, in my opinion, given some great defining character moments for otherwise amorphous and forgettable Imperial underlings. Now we see some intriguing back-story to the Grand Inquisitor. Which for me raised the question: are we going to have to wait until these Inquisitors are dead before we learn anything about them?

Here’s what we know: They’re named in a seemingly hierarchical structure which also suggests that they’re brought up in some sort of family environment (whether natural or artificial, we don’t know). They work extremely well together, despite their competitive natures. And they … walk very very slowly and very very menacingly. I could add a few more ‘verys’ just to make that list longer, but that’s pretty much it. This isn’t exactly an improvement on what we know about the Grand Inquisitor – or Big Inky, as he is known on the street.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled 'big ink'.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled ‘big ink’.

And this is one of the main failings of the show for me. In the show, they’re portrayed as implacable foes that are nigh impossible for our Spectres to defeat and who turn up at the worst possible moment to mess up the rebellions’ plans – and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to say for having great unknown evils lurking about in your story, simply because that aforementioned great unknown adds to the fear and terror that their mere presence can instil. But there does come a point when something, anything – I’d take throwaway dialogue at this point – is needed that fleshes out your villains from two dimensional boogeymen into truly memorable and strong characters. And there does also come a point where sacrificing character depth in favour of unknown terror starts to turn against you and begins to actively harm the story you’re trying to tell. Nothing quite undermines your heroes’ victory over the baddies when the viewer thinks ‘well that’s them sorted, who’s the next Inquisitor going to be?’ I’m not saying we’re there yet*, in large part because they haven’t featured too heavily in this series. But we are nearing the end of the second series, so now might be a good time to think about adding in some layers to various neglected characters *conspicuouslycoughsHera*.

*I took a poll when you weren’t looking. That serves you right for not checking your junk mail.

Unless they’re actually dead, in which case: that’s them sorted. Who’s the next Inquisitor going to be? I vote for Anthony Stewart Head.

Oh gods please make that happen!

Oh gods please make that happen!

Forget The Old Way

I fell asleep. This is Ezra, right?

The trial of Ezra Bridger saw Yoda proffering little nuggets of wisdom like a little wisdom Pez dispenser, to help Ezra understand how to grow to be a Jedi and what that means in these turbulent times. It seems fairly straightforward, yet the scene left me somewhat confused; I didn’t get such a good read on it. So if I may, I have a question for you: who failed that trial, Ezra or Yoda?

Where the show has currently failed the Inquisitors in approaching them as fleshed out characters, they very much succeeded with Yoda. Granted, that little green Pez wisdom dispenser is an already established character, and this team has had experience writing for him on Rebels’ spiritual predecessor, The Clone Wars. But that doesn’t negate the good work they’ve done – that being how they’ve made Yoda as not just an instructor for Ezra, but a person needing their own test as well, and a person bringing their own baggage to the conversation, rather than just being there for something else. This is a common short-falling for storytellers the world over, rather than operate on the assumption that each character is, essentially, a real person and the hero of their own story – that they have their own lives, goals and needs, and that one life-altering conversation for one person may just be a Tuesday for them.

So what is it that Yoda’s bringing to the table here, and why does he need a test? Why do I believe he is even being tested in the first place? Good questions all, if I do say so myself. To answer the first: Yoda doesn’t seem to be answering Ezra’s questions all that well. At first, he seems to understand what’s needed of him, yet coaches his answers in the frame of reminiscing on times gone by and lamenting the past, i.e. discussing events that are more important and more well known to Yoda than to Ezra. This quickly puts Ezra at a disadvantage, and since Yoda’s had 800 odd years of teaching young Jedi-in-waiting, you’d think he’d be cognizant of this fact. (To veer off quickly, I did love this conversation: it felt like both characters were having two entirely different conversations while they were conversing to each other. That’s very hard to write and if the writers had intended this then I applaud them for it.) To return to my original point, it seems that Yoda has become too wrapped up in the past, in the old way, to understand that Ezra is being a Jedi in an entirely new way. Perhaps more: that an entirely new way is needed for the Jedi altogether. Yet it appears that Yoda is doubling down on the Jedi ways of old, somewhat forgetting that that had a large hand in their downfall in the first place.

To answer the second and third questions – because those two are intertwined – is because it makes narrative sense to do so. As I’ve said, writers tend to treat secondary characters as just foils for the main character to explore their faults. This is bad. Instead, we should think of secondary characters as heroes. Following that line of thought let’s pretend it’s The Yoda Show instead and that our Spectres are merely guest stars.

In this episode, Yoda has been exiled to the swamp planet of Dagobah. Years go by as he waits to become relevant to the galaxy again. Always waiting until he can become a teacher again – to the galaxy’s new hope, Luke Skywalker. But as time passes he fears that he won’t be as on form as he used to be, back in the golden age of the Jedi and the Republic. After all, he’s been a teacher all his life and has never gone so long without teaching (that decade spent meditating with the silent Jedi monks of Malastare and the week-long-turned-two-year-long furlough on Nar Shaddaa don’t count). He needs a little test, just to make sure his skills are still sharp. So when he’s contacted by a fledgeling Jedi in the form of Ezra Bridger he spies his chance. This is it, he thinks. A quick lesson on the basics and everything will be fine. Wait, what’s this? He’s already decided to fight? That’s … not what he had in mind. He had a whole speech planned out. About the Clone Wars. About Order 66. He’d made puppets.

Ah, he thinks. And in a moment of deep insight that takes even old Yoda aback, he realises that perhaps he’s been going about this the wrong way. Upon realising this, he sends Ezra on his way with some pertinent information before going off have a long hard think. Perhaps, he concludes, he needed that. He’d forgotten that this Luke Skyflier or, or, Luke Starkiller or whatever his name is, would probably not have been raised in the Jedi way and moreover that he’d likely have similar inclinations as this Ezra boy, too. It might be worth it to have a little rethinking of his teaching plan. Do away with the puppets, for a start. Some brisk jogging could help, and he’d get to see some parts of the swamp that he hadn’t been able to visit since he’d landed, so that’d be nice. ‘And, and,’ he would say, ‘I wonder where I left that cave?’

Michael Dare

Star Wars Rebels is taking a break for a week, so do be sure to set your reminder for the following week.

Of Fashion and Madness- TWL #173

WampasLair_SquareKarl and Jason discuss their Top 5 costumes in Star Wars and then dive into predictions for the upcoming “This Is Madness” tournament on the official Star Wars site!

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