If the current Star Wars saga has a central theme, it likely surrounds the idea of bringing balance to the force. It is what the movies have largely been about and working towards. It was Anakin’s destiny from the start of the prequels and there is uncertainty if balance was actually achieved after the events of Return of the Jedi. The force still feels largely out of balance in the Sequel Trilogy, but balance is mentioned so perhaps it is still in progress. I imagine that in The Rise of Skywalker balance in the force will finally be achieved, we will know what it means, and this balance will serve as the closure that we desperately need in a saga ending movie. I wouldn’t even be upset if we got a cheesy line about the force finally being in balance, I expect balance to happen and I want it to be obvious (I didn’t create the image below, but I completely endorse whoever did, it would have been an excellent title for Episdoe 9).
What we don’t know though is what bringing balance to the force will look like. It is a concept common among Star Wars fans, but we don’t know what it means. As the Star Wars canon universe has expanded, so has bringing balance to the force gotten more complex.
If we just examine the events of episodes 1-6 (excluding literally all other content), bringing balance to the force isn’t difficult to wrap the mind around. It also seems much more in line with what George Lucas originally intended. During the Prequels, the dark side of the force greatly impeded the Jedi’s ability to use the force. The future became clouded for them and it was unsettling. Simultaneously, the Jedi Council spoke of Anakin fulfilling the prophecy to bring balance to the force. So, what the Jedi were going through in the prequels felt like the imbalance that Anakin was tasked with correcting. Fast forward to Episode 6 with Anakin killing Emperor Palpatine and balance seemed to have been achieved. Lucas himself said in an interview that at that moment Anakin fulfilled the prophecy by destroying Palpatine.
This is the simple explanation, but it becomes much more complicated (by more complicated, I also mean better) through critical thinking and the addition of the new films and extended canon material.
First, I want to examine the idea of an imbalance in the force. Since the prophecy of the chosen one is first mentioned in the prequels, we often associate the prophecy’s birth with the events of the prequels. But this is incorrect, the prophecy was written well before the events of The Phantom Menace. There was a long period where the Sith did not exist and the Jedi lived peacefully. Using the definition of what we thought balance meant, this period of time would certainly fulfill the requirements for balance. But the prophecy still existed and was unfulfilled. So even during this peaceful time, there was an imbalance. It wasn’t just the troubling times of the prequels that represent an imbalance, it was the entire time after the prophecy was written. Imbalance isn’t about the feelings of the Jedi; it is about the force itself. But what exactly imbalance of force means is still unclear and is what I hope gets clarified in The Rise of Skywalker. All we know is that imbalance is not what we thought it was.
Now regarding balance in the force, with what we knew previously, balance essentially meant the light side of the force was in control while the dark side didn’t exist. This is because Vader and The Emperor were destroyed to achieve balance. But parts of the force don’t cease to exist when a force user dies. In The Last Jedi, Luke says that to think if one dies the force dies with them is incorrect. That idea is founded in arrogance. The force lives on even without the user, so the destruction of Vader and The Emperor (something the new movies tell us is The Emperor may not be all gone anyway) does not mean the dark side was also destroyed, but maybe it doesn’t have to be.
The three-episode arch where Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka go the mysterious force planet Mortis is quite possibly some of the best Star Wars ever created. Along with being a great story, it does an excellent job with expanding the Star Wars universe and it changes the way we think about the force.
More importantly, it changes how we view balance.
Mortis is a symbol of how the force behaves throughout the galaxy. Three beings live there, The Brother who represents the dark side, The Sister who represents the light side, and The Father who keeps them in balance.
What’s important is that The Father has been successful at keeping Mortis in balance, even with the existence of both The Brother and The Sister. Within the balance, The Brother and The Sister lived equally. So, balance isn’t one side having control over the other, it is the two co-existing.
The word balance makes me think of a scale where two objects are being weighed against one another. In order for balance to be achieved, both sides must have equal strength, or power. This describes Mortis well. What the original explanation for balance looked like though would be brushing the contents off of the other side of the scale. This more clearly creates imbalance than balance.
Rey’s initial training with the force also describes this idea that balance requires both the light and the dark. She sees the island from a new perspective. She sees good and bad that feed into each other. Life dies and decays into the ground that feeds new life. She mentioned that this was balance. Light by itself is meaningless without darkness, they require each other. So, the events of Episode 6 did not bring balance, it left a void where darkness should have been. Perhaps this is why Snoke and Kylo rose to power so quickly.
So, what could bringing balance to the force mean? Well, that is a pretty difficult question and is one I don’t have a great answer for. All that I know is it must include elements of both the light and dark sides of the force. Gray Jedi have not been canon in the Star Wars, but perhaps their time is coming. Gray Jedi can use the dark side of the force without evil tendencies and without the pain and suffering.
The Rise of Skywalker supposedly is taking material from Legends into consideration, so perhaps they will consider the Gray Jedi (this is me mostly being optimistic though). They don’t need to call the new Jedi Gray, but perhaps the idea of them will be taken and the new Jedi Order (possibly called Skywalkers instead of Jedi) will be able to take advantage of the dark side’s power without being corrupted by it. This would give closure to the struggles of the Jedi, closure to imbalance of the force, and possibly be a satisfying Reylo (Kylo and Rey’s ‘ship name) ending.
This is just one idea, even if it is wrong, balance must still be addressed in The Rise of Skywalker in some way. So, I will leave you with this question, what do you think bringing balance to the force means and how will it be expressed?
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