It’s generally accepted that, of all the Star Wars feature films, The Phantom Menace is the worst of the series. Most viewers find the pace tedious, the characters bland, and the story unengaging. Not to mention that it’s the film that brought into the world the unholy scourge known as Jar-Jar Binks.
There were some bright spots, however. Many fans point to the introduction of Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master and apparent trainer of Obi-Wan Kenobi, as a prime example of what Episode I got right. If we dig a little deeper, though, questions start to form as to whether Qui-Gon is really the great character that many believe him to be.
We’d like to provide you with some information that you likely didn’t know about the brown-robed Jedi, and let you judge for yourself if Qui-Gon is all he’s stacked up to be. Here are 15 things about Qui-Gon Jinn that don’t make much sense.
15. He Was No Good At Sensing The Dark Side
Granted, during Qui-Gon’s formative Jedi years, the Jedi Council believed that the Sith had been extinct for thousands of years, but still – a key piece of Jedi training is the balance of the Force and distinguishing the light from the dark. On multiple occasions, Qui-Gon had direct contact with extremely powerful Dark Side users, and he utterly failed to identify them.
Jinn was trained by Count Dooku, before Dooku left the Jedi Order. Qui-Gon was Dooku’s Padawan, meaning that the two spent a lot of time together, but the apprentice apparently couldn’t sense the evil in his master. Also, according to Star Wars Legends lore, he crossed paths with Darth Plagueis in disguise, even having a heated debate with the evil Sith Lord, but was somehow unable to tell he was one of the most powerful Dark Side users to have ever lived.
14. He did not always follow the Jedi Code
Qui-Gon Jinn was what most observers would call a “Gray Jedi” – that is, a Jedi who doesn’t hold himself strictly to the teachings and adherences of the Jedi Code. Often seen as a more open-minded style of Jedi, this relaxed attitude towards the Code also meant there was a little more “wiggle room” in the morally ambiguous area, as other points on this list illustrate. If Qui-Gon were a Catholic, he’d be the kind that only went to church on major holidays.
This sometimes-cavalier attitude, of course, put him at odds with the Jedi Council on more than one occasion. Most infamously, of course, was his decision to train the child Anakin Skywalker in the ways of the Force, even though the council declined to admit Anakin into the Order and forbade Jinn from teaching the boy. This decision, as viewers of the films know, backfired spectacularly, and paved the way to create one of the most vile villains the universe has ever known: Darth Vader.
13. He Didn’t Seem to Notice that Jar-Jar Was Goofy
From the moment the Jedi Master met the bumbling Gungan in the forests of Naboo, Qui-Gon seemed to be oblivious to the fact that Jar-Jar Binks was quite possibly the galaxy’s dumbest denizen. Other characters traded quizzical looks and comments about Jar-Jar’s oddities throughout The Phantom Menace, but Qui-Gon always treated the hapless alien with the utmost respect and reverence.
Some might see this as a simple character trait of Jinn’s – that he was, quite simply, too polite to demean another being in such a fashion. But Qui-Gon didn’t simply look the other way when Jar-Jar was acting a fool. It was almost as if the Jedi Master didn’t see it somehow, which is a hard thing to reconcile for a character so aware and in tune with the Living Force of the universe.
12. His Body Wasn’t Brought Home For A Funeral
Not much is known about Qui-Gon’s early life, but we do know that he was human, born on Coruscant, and brought into the Jedi Order for his training at a very early age. He died valiantly while fighting a Sith Lord in defense of the Galactic Republic and the planet of Naboo; strangely, instead of having his body brought home to find a final resting place, his body was interred and his funeral was held on Naboo.
It was a well-attended funeral as well, with not only Senator Palpatine in attendance, but Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu, among several other members of the Jedi Council. It certainly seems that this would have been a more appropriate affair to have occurred at the home of the Jedi Order – although George Lucas needed the “funeral pyre” scene set directly before the “peace celebration” scene on Naboo to be the final visuals of The Phantom Menace, so the film could more closely resemble A New Hope in the eyes of the viewers.
11. He Was Obsessed with Midi-Chlorians
Even though the concept was in George Lucas’ head since the original trilogy of films back in 1977, no character ever referenced midi-chlorians until Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. According to Star Wars lore, midi-chlorians are microscopic beings that are as old as the universe itself, and they live inside the cells of other living organisms. The higher one’s midi-chlorian count, the more susceptible a person was to being able to communicate with and wield the Force.
Even though the Jedi Council didn’t seem to care about them and never brought them up, Jinn seemed to base most of his faith in the Force on how the midi-chlorians operated. He used a blood test to determine that Anakin Skywalker had the highest ever recorded midi-chlorian count, a key factor that Jinn weighed when making his determination that Anakin was indeed the “Chosen One” of Jedi prophecy.
10. He’s One of the First Ever “Force Ghosts” – But Waits a Decade After Dying to Try It Out
A fact that not many fans seem to know about Qui-Gon Jinn: he was the pioneer of preserving one’s essence enough to be able to communicate after death. Commonly known as the “Force Ghost” throughout the Star Wars films, Qui-Gon was the first to study how to perform this act and his work paved the way for all other Force users to be able to return in ethereal form after death.
Qui-Gon’s self-training on the subject was incomplete at the time of his death, however; after having learned from five Force Priestesses and a Shaman of the Whills, Jinn was able to utilize what he learned of the Cosmic Force to manifest his consciousness after death. Even in so doing, however, he waited 10 years after his death before he attempted to actually contact anyone, with his first attempt being a disembodied “Force Voice” that reached out to Anakin as the young Jedi slaughtered a group of Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones.
9. He Said to “Live in the Moment,” But Was Personally Driven by Thoughts of the Future
One of the guiding principles for Qui-Gon, whom many in the Jedi Order considered to be a “maverick” Jedi, was spontaneity. He always preached to “live in the moment,” but this was directly at odds with many major decisions he made in his life, including his insistence that Anakin would become the Chosen One in the future.
In fact, once Qui-Gon met Anakin, it becomes clear that the Jedi Master becomes a bit obsessed with the idea of the young boy being the Chosen One – the one that will bring balance to the Force. As Qui-Gon himself says, “Finding him was the will of the Force, I have no doubt of that.” For someone who preached living in the moment for most of his life, this seems like a pretty abrupt switch to letting oneself be controlled by Fate and a predetermined future.
8. He had a Padawan Before Anakin Turn to the Dark Side
According to Star Wars lore, Qui-Gon had several Padawan apprentices over his Jedi Master career. Prior to meeting Anakin Skywalker, one of these Padawans actually failed his Jedi training and became swayed by the Dark Side; after such a tragedy, shouldn’t Qui-Gon have learned to be much more cautious with whom received training and their potential for corruption?
Xanatos was the name of the young man, and Qui-Gon discovered him at a young age. Even though Jinn also had reservations about training this youngling, he proceeded in taking Xanatos away from his homeworld; Xanatos’ father granted the move, but the young man was scared, as he loved his homeworld and his family very much. After years of training, it became apparent that Xanatos was more aggressive than other Padawans, and this manifested in his failed final Jedi testing and his eventual turn to a Dark Jedi.
7. He Was a Master Fighter, But Took the Path of a “Diplomatic” Jedi
From an early age, Qui-Gon Jinn proved himself to be an excellent fighter, winning many competitions as a youngling in training with the Jedi Order. He was adept with a lightsaber and particularly attuned to the Force – the latter playing a crucial role in his ability to manifest his consciousness after his death, as noted previously.
Strangely, though, he declined to join one of the more “warrior” disciplines of the Jedi Knights, and instead chose to become a Jedi Consular, as visually indicated by his possession of a green lightsaber. Consulars were known primarily for resorting to fighting only as a last means, instead focusing on seeking diplomatic measures in spreading the Jedi message of peace and harmony throughout the galaxy.
6. He Trained Obi-Wan – Or Did He?
This point is a source of contention as an apparent “canon issue” in the Star Wars film series. In The Phantom Menace, it’s very clear that Obi-Wan Kenobi is Qui-Gon’s Padawan apprentice, as it’s referenced several times by both characters in addition to several other members of the Jedi Council, including Yoda and Mace Windu. Seems like an open-and-shut case… until you get to the original Star Wars films, that is.
In Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost says that Yoda is actually the one who trained him. Obviously, at the time that this film was made, neither the prequel trilogy of films nor the character of Qui-Gon existed, but there is really no way to retroactively have this statement make sense. Some fans point to the fact that Yoda may have completed Obi-Wan’s training after Qui-Gon’s death, but Obi-Wan had already taken on a Padawan of his own, Anakin Skywalker, at that time.
5. He Championed the “Cosmic Force,” But Never Talked About It
As previously noted, Qui-Gon was the first Jedi to seriously believe in the Living Force connecting to the “Cosmic Force” in terms of using the power to maintain one’s consciousness after death. While the ideology behind the practice had existed in Jedi lore for thousands of years prior, none of Qui-Gon’s contemporaries put any stock in the notion.
Strange, then, that the Jedi Master never spoke of his research into the Cosmic Force. This definitely should have been a bigger deal, not only to Qui-Gon as he spent much of his adult life studying the phenomenon, but to other Jedi as well, since it comes into play with the appearance of Force Ghosts in many of the other Star Wars films.
4. He Was a Master Fighter, But Let Darth Maul Best Him Fairly Easily
As touched on, Qui-Gon Jinn was a master fighter from an early age, particularly skilled with a lightsaber. If anyone in the Jedi Order had a chance of going head-to-head with a Sith Lord, Jinn certainly seemed like a solid choice. Why, then, did Qui-Gon lose his battle – and his life – to Darth Maul so quickly?
True, the lightsaber fight in The Phantom Menace did last for a quite a while and is lauded by many fans as one of the best fights in the entire Star Wars movie trilogy. No argument here; but we do have to admit, once the fight went from two Jedi versus one Sith to a more direct one-on-one battle, it was over very quickly. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that Qui-Gon was very much a “live in the moment” type of person, and this strategy doesn’t bode well in a strategic fight, as evidenced by Jinn allowing the action to move into an isolated area where Maul could easily control the attack.
3. He Preached Patience and Truthfulness, but He Used the Jedi Mind Trick Very Quickly and Very Often
In addition to being a member of the theocratic and benevolent Jedi order, Qui-Gon Jinn often speaks about the importance of serenity and honesty to his Padawan, other friends and allies he interacts with. Strange, then, that we see the character use the Jedi Mind Trick – the talent of implanting ideas into the minds of others – at a near-alarming rate to get what he wants.
Instead of trying to work out a peaceful and mutually understood solution, Qui-Gon simply forces people to give him what he wants. On Naboo, he mind-tricks Boss Nass into giving him a bongo transport and on Tatooine, he attempts to use the trick on Watto in order to get the engine parts he needs, although Watto’s species is immune to the mental misdirections.
2. He’s a Jedi Meant to Embody the Pure and the Good – but He Gambles, Cheats, and Extorts in Order to Get His Way
The Jedi are known far and wide as the “warrior monks” of the galaxy, a group of people whose primary goal is to promote peace, goodness, and harmony above all else. Qui-Gon was long considered a “maverick” of the Jedi Order, even to his fellow Jedi, but his cavalier attitude and actions are definitely a bit of a head-scratcher.
On Tatooine alone, we see Qui-Gon bet on podraces, manipulate the results of games of chance, and essentially threaten extortion to get what he wants. Couple this with the previous point about his gratuitous use of the Jedi Mind Trick, and one can argue that the overall moral picture painted of Qui-Gon Jinn is a less than savory one.
1. He Frees Anakin From Slavery – And Then Abandons Anakin’s Mom to Her Fate of Being a Slave Forever
Perhaps the most damning entry on this list, it seems that Qui-Gon’s biggest gaffe lies in his inexplicable inability to free Anakin’s mother, Shmi, from a life of slavery as he did with her son. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon says that he tried to free Shmi, but her owner, Watto, “wouldn’t have it.”
Let’s real-talk here: you’re taking a boy whom you believe to be “the Chosen One” out of slavery and into a future full of extremely unknown circumstances, so shouldn’t you work extra hard to take care of the one parent he has as well? As we all know, Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side is largely fueled by witnessing his mother’s death at the hands of the slave-trading Tusken Raiders. If Qui-Gon had saved Shmi, this aggression-inducing incident doesn’t happen, and the entire history of the galaxy would be very different. There’s really no other way to say it: this one’s on Qui-Gon, as one of his biggest fails.
Did we miss any other weird aspects to the Jedi’s character? Let us know in the comments
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