Did Anakin really bring balance to the Force? Fans have been asking that ever since the prophecy of the Chosen One was introduced in The Phantom Menace back in 1999 and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi almost two decades later, they finally have an answer.
The Force Awakens was J.J. Abrams's love letter to the Original Trilogy, with conspicuously little nods to the controversial prequels. With The Last Jedi, however, Rian Johnson has chosen to take a very different approach.
This movie dives deep into themes and ideas that were first developed in Episodes I-III. It returns to the concept of "the balance of the Force," and to the mysterious idea that Anakin Skywalker somehow restored it. Of course, as any Star Wars fan knows, this is all rather complicated.
The New Canon Finally Explains Balance
What Is The Balance Of The Force?
The idea of the Force somehow being in "balance" has always seemed to be a strange one. The Jedi venerate the light side of the Force, and yet the Chosen One seems to be a Jedi prophecy. It acknowledges that both light and dark sides of the Force are necessary, that they exist as a yin and a yang. For this reason, most fans assume the prophecy of the Chosen One predates the Jedi Order.
Even more confusingly, the Prequel Trilogy sets up a reality in which there are thousands of Jedi, yet only two Sith. The Jedi believed that the Chosen One would somehow bring balance to the Force, and they linked it to the destruction of the Sith. "You were the Chosen One," Obi-Wan cried out at the defeated Anakin Skywalker. "It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!"
Even Darth Maul seemed to reach a similar conclusion. The quest for "balance" was a crucial part of Maul's arc in Star Wars: Rebels, and he died believing Obi-Wan was protecting the Chosen One. "He will avenge us," he whispered, trusting that the Chosen One would bring an end to the Sith.
After all those contradictions, the build-up to The Last Jedi gave us our first canon definition of "the balance of the Force." This year's Guardians of the Whills, a novel by Greg Rucka, included a quote ascribed to an "Ascendant of Mau."
"The moment between breaths
Is the balance of the Force.
Between life and death,
Rest and action,
Serenity and passion,
Hope and despair."
According to this quote, balance is a fleeting thing, as ephemeral as "the moment between breaths." It lies not in the ways of the Jedi, nor of the Sith, but instead is somewhere in-between. Note that this definition contradicts both the Jedi and Sith Codes. The Jedi venerate serenity, and reject passion; the Sith believe peace to be a lie, and that there is only passion.
How The Last Jedi Changes Balance In The Force
The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary confirms that this wasn't just a matter of interpretation. Pablo Hidalgo, an important member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, carefully ties the threads together in a piece discussing Supreme Leader Snoke:
"Snoke is powerful in the dark side of the Force, but he is no Sith. That thousand-year lineage stretching from Darth Bane to the last Sith Lord, Darth Vader, was undone when Vader died destroying his mentor, Darth Sidious. The fulfillment of an ancient prophecy foretold the end of the Sith, but it never predicted the end of darkness."
This is an important quote, as it suggests the Sith were the source of the imbalance in the Force. Specifically, when Anakin destroyed the "thousand-year lineage" that stretched back to Darth Bane, he brought a balance, with light and dark equal.
Darth Bane redefined the Sith. He proposed the Rule of Two: there should only ever be two Sith at any one time, one Master and one Apprentice; the one to wield power and the other to crave it. Something about the Rule of Two seems to have caused the imbalance in the Force. And that's where Anakin - and indeed the prequels - comes back in.
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- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019