Anakin Skywalker was the Star Wars franchise's Chosen One - but it's becoming increasingly clear that he should never have been a Jedi. When Qui-Gon Jinn discovered Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, he swiftly realized that he was the long-prophesied Chosen One. According to Qui-Gon, Anakin was destined to bring balance to the Force.
It's been 20 years since Star Wars introduced the concept of the Chosen One, but curiously enough Lucasfilm is only now beginning to explain it away. Claudia Gray's novel Master & Apprentice finally defined the Chosen One prophecy, revealing a sacred text that seems to predate the Jedi Order itself. "A Chosen One shall come," the prophecy reads, "born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored."
But what exactly does it mean to bring about balance in the Force? Little by little, Star Wars is beginning to provide an answer to that question. In doing so, it's suggesting that the fate of the entire galaxy went wrong when Anakin Skywalker joined the Jedi.
The Chosen One Is An Agent Of Balance
One thing's for sure: Anakin Skywalker made a pretty poor Jedi Knight. He never managed to control his feelings, and in truth the Prequels chart his descent into the dark side of the Force; The Phantom Menace explores Anakin's fear, Attack of the Clones saw him succumb to anger, and he gave in to hatred in Revenge of the Sith. But he wasn't an ideal Sith either, as proven when he chose to defy the dark side and protect his son Luke from the Emperor's Force lightning. It's impossible for a Sith to become a Force Ghost, so his manifestation at the end of Return of the Jedi proved that he had been redeemed.
Why would the Chosen One be such a poor fit for both the Jedi and the Sith? An important explanation has been offered by Cavan Scott's recent Star Wars audiobook, Dooku: Jedi Lost. It revealed an ancient Jedi mantra, that suggested the Jedi of old had known something that had been forgotten by the Prequel Era. It seems that "balance" is best understood as a distinct aspect of the Force, separate from light and dark. "We call upon the three," the mantra states, "light, dark, and balance true. One is no greater than the others. Together, they unite, restore, center, and renew. We walk into the light, acknowledge the dark, and find balance within ourselves. The Force is strong." This mantra suggests that the Chosen One is not an agent of light or dark, but rather of balance, and thus Anakin was never intended to be either a Jedi or a Sith.
Anakin Was Born Outside Of The Republic
Interestingly, the Prequels themselves offer circumstantial evidence to support this idea. Qui-Gon Jinn discovered Anakin on the planet Tatooine in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and he was shocked at how powerful the child was in the Force. "Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early," he told Anakin's mother Shmi, "and he would have become a Jedi, no doubt." Ironically, though, Qui-Gon - the Jedi most mindful of the living Force - still failed to ask a simple question: why was Anakin born outside the Republic?
Anakin Skywalker was intended as a Messiah analog, created after the Biblical pattern of Jesus. In Christian theology, nothing about the circumstances of Jesus' birth was a coincidence; every element was according to the will of God. In exactly the same way, Anakin's birth was according to the will of the Force. That means the Force had deliberately chosen to ensure Anakin was born outside the Republic. Though Qui-Gon did not realize it, this subtly signified that the Force did not want Anakin to be taken to the Jedi as a child. And when the Force finally did bring a Jedi to the Chosen One, it was the one Force user who could school Anakin in the ways of balance.
Qui-Gon Jinn Would Have Trained Anakin In Balance
It's important to understand that Qui-Gon Jinn was no ordinary Jedi. He and his own master, Count Dooku, numbered among just a handful of Jedi who were familiar with the ancient Jedi prophesies, and who looked to the ways of old for guidance. The Prequel Era Jedi believed that the prophesies were dangerous, a potential route to the dark side because they were an attempt to exert control of the future rather than glimpse it as the Force willed; they failed to consider the possibility that the prophesies could themselves be part of the Force's will. But Qui-Gon knew better, which is why he alone of all Jedi was looking for the signs of the Chosen One.
Qui-Gon also had a unique understanding of the concept of balance. His exposure to older Jedi teachings meant that he grew uncomfortable with the Jedi's role in the Republic, which he believed compromised their service of the Force. As a result, one tie-in comic saw Qui-Gon Jinn launch himself across the stars on a quest. He was guided to a world strong in both sides of the Force, a natural ecosystem that was held in a perfect, beautiful balance. There, Qui-Gon began to understand balance as something that had to be pursued in its own right, and set himself on a path that would defy the Jedi Council many times.
This is the Jedi Master who was guided to Anakin Skywalker; a rebel with a cause, a man who saw beyond the classic light and dark dichotomy. It's true that Qui-Gon initially sought to have Anakin become a Jedi, but the Council officially forbade him to take Anakin as his Padawan. Had Qui-Gon survived the Battle of Naboo in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, he would have been forced to quit the Order to train Anakin Skywalker. Thus the Force had set in motion events that would have ensured Anakin was not trained as a Jedi Knight at all; rather, he would have been trained as an agent of balance, as the Force had intended.
This, then, is the ultimate tragedy of Star Wars. It is the way of the Sith to attempt to dominate the will of the Force, to bend it according to their own desires. The turning point in galactic history was thus the moment when a Sith Apprentice, Darth Maul, cut down Qui-Gon Jinn in battle on Naboo. From that moment on, the will of the Force had been suborned to the will of the Sith, and the destiny of the Chosen One had been frustrated. But, as the old mantra states, "the Force is strong." The Sith may have managed to thwart the Force's plans for a time, but that cannot last forever, because they are warring against the Force - and the Force naturally tilts towards balance.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019