As my church flock, wife, and friends know, I am in full on homer mode for Star Wars. The Force Awakens can do no wrong, and I am checking Reddit Star Wars Leaks every day to figure out what the next movie might have in store.
Okay, it isn’t that bad. But I have done some internal theorizing over what this new trilogy might hold in store for our particular galaxy.
First off, let me quickly defend TFA from the charges that it is merely a repristintation of A New Hope and that it doesn’t ‘take any chances’. Regarding the remake charge, Chris Taylor has a nice write-up showing that TFA is has appropriate continuity and discontinuity with A New Hope.
Regarding risk-taking, ANH hardly took any risks. Actually, ANH is a fairly simple plot that, in many ways, is a stand-alone film. Apart from Darth Vader escaping after the destruction of the Death Star, there is no reason for a sequel. It all wraps up rather nicely with no hint of a trilogy.
Counter that with TFA which seems more like Lost than ANH. Has any other Star Wars movie left the audience with more unanswered questions and mysteries than TFA? Who is Snoke? Why did Kylo Ren turn to the dark side? What did Han and Leia do to screw up their son? What make Luke go awol? What is Luke’s intention in exile? Why is Rey a super Force freak? Who are her parents and why did they abandon her? What is the state of the galaxy after the destruction of the Senate and a bulk of the First Order? What is Maz Kanata’s role?
TFA has this new trilogy feeling more like Lost than some riskless remake. But I digress.
What do I hope the new trilogy will explore and finally resolve for Star Wars fans? The nature and balance of the Force.
The Force is a character in Star Wars. It is involved in most major scenes and plot twists, even if it goes unmentioned. The Force is used to bring peace and wreak havoc on the galaxy, and it itself experiences peace and havoc. This is where the whole ‘balance’ discussion/prophecy comes into play.
Regarding the prophecy of the chosen one to bring balance to the Force, Star Wars fans are in two basic camps. The first camp sees the Force as primarily Eastern in that the light and dark side are two equally necessary components of the Force. The chosen one, Anakin Skywalker, was to destroy both Jedi and Sith so as to restore the balance. Not one side is good or bad. They are different but necessary aspects to the Force and its role in the galaxy.
The second camp sees the SW galaxy as upholding some absolute ideals of right and wrong. And the light side upholds what is true and good while the dark side distorts and manipulates. To bring balance to the Force, the dark side needs to be extinguished.
I tend to side with the second camp in terms of how the seven SW movies have been told so far. It is difficult for me to imagine that the creative minds behind the seven films want us to be Manichaeans and equally appreciate both Palpatine and Yoda.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi is about to battle Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar, Kenobi is the voice of reason and the voice we should listen to. “The Emperor is evil,” and to doubt that means that one is “truly lost”. We are supposed to mourn what has become of Anakin and not cheer that the Sith have balanced things out with the Jedi. It is not cool that Anakin/Vader kills younglings to balance the Force. The killing of these younglings caused a disturbance in the Force that Yoda felt.
Also, the story of Anakin Skywalker is not a journey to kill both the Jedi and Sith and balance out the Force. The story of Anakin is about his redemption. He is the chosen one, but even the chosen one needed redemption.
So, that is why I believe the Force is less ‘Eastern’ and a bit more dogmatic. It’s possible Lucas and others were purely Eastern in their conception and writing about the Force. If so, then these movies are very incoherent in portraying a moralistic Manicheanism. (Though, it should be noted that relativism is never lived out consistently.)
I believe the Force will play a major role in the trilogy and that the subtitle to Episode 7 is just the beginning. Like the Island in Lost, the finale of this trilogy will circle around back to the Force and its ultimate intention for the galaxy.
What is that intention? I believe Rey (and to a certain extent, Luke) is the key.
Obviously, the mystery surrounding Rey is twofold: Why is she powerful in the Force (enough to outwit and defeat Kylo Ren), and Who are her parents? These two questions are even possibly related.
I do not believe that Luke is Rey’s father. In fact, I don’t think Luke is related to Rey in any way. The main argument against this is how obvious it would be. J.J Abrams and company don’t like to be obvious when it comes to creating a story. There are twists, turns, and (sleight-of-hand) tricks. Again, see Lost.
So, what would be a unique and satisfying twist to Rey and her relationship with he Force?
My theory as to what could (and should) happen is that Rey is born of normal parents that are unknown to us. In fact, they might be scoundrels who left a daughter they never wanted just for a pay day (hence why she is left with Unkar).
She may or may not be a padawan of Luke. I’ll say that she is but that her memory was wiped (Jedi mind trick, of course).
Okay, why this route? Isn’t it anti-climactic?
No. It is a beautiful story.
Again, let’s return to Lost. The two most ‘special’ characters in the series who exhibited a unique communion with the Island were Walt and Locke. For six seasons, fans asked, “Why are Walt and Locke so special?” We tried to find specific answers. What was the answer? Ben Linus tells Locke in the finale, “Because you are, John!”
Walt and Locke were special…just because they were.
Yes, a young black kid who was estranged from his father and just lost his mother has something in common with a invalid middle-aged man who has been rejected over and over again by everyone he loves. They are both special.
There is beauty in plot twist.
The original promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 was that Abraham and his posterity were special, but one day God would spread that specialness to all the families of the earth. Paul summarizes this gospel fulfillment in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. For you are all one in Christ.”
The inclusivity of all of humanity into the most amazing relationship and power in the cosmos is the essence of the gospel. God has turned himself outward so as to embrace us into his divine family.
The Force has awakened. It hasn’t just awakened in Luke, who is a sort of Force royalty. The Force has been passed down to those with Force royal bloodlines. The Skywalkers have dominated intergalactic politics and life for several decades now. Anakin was the creation of the Force itself, and Luke is his offspring. They are the celebrities that many emulate and long to be.
Jedi used to be recruited and trained at an early age by the elite users of the Force, the Jedi Council. To get past a certain age meant that one could not be trained in the Force.
Now, the Force is being awakened in people like Rey. She is a nobody with nothing special to her background. But she is special. Why? Well, because she is. And perhaps the Force needs to branch out in non-traditional ways so as to achieve its full balance, which is to penetrate and live in the entire galaxy, not just an elite group of Force users.
The Jedi were great, and I think the Jedi will and should have an important place in the galaxy as elite Force users. But as the prequels showed us, they have may blindspots. Their arrogance did blind them. (Palpatine was right.) While it is true that fear, anger, and hate can lead to the dark side, these emotions in and of themselves aren’t committed to the dark side. Maybe the Force desires a balance of all of our emotions, not the light and the dark side.
The Christian faith would have one embrace the entirety of human emotions. Yet, we are called to be holy in all emotions, even anger and fear. God experiences all the emotions we experience, but he doesn’t sin. Read the Psalms and one will see the full range of human emotion expressed in these inspired songs of worship.
The original trilogy makes this point in Return of the Jedi when Kenobi is insistent that Luke needs to kill his own father. Luke, because of his attachment and emotional connect to his father, says he can redeem his father but never kill him. This draws the ire of Kenobi. Yet, in the end, Luke is vindicated while Kenobi realizes the error of his narrow philosophy of the Force.
The light side of the Force is best channeled and revealed to everyone when we embrace all of our emotions and resist the dark side (just like Luke at the end of ROTJ). At the end of TFA, Rey seems to tap into this truth as she resists the dark side and uses the full range of her emotion to defeat Kylo Ren.
Luke may have realized when training Rey that he needs to rethink the Jedi philosophy and see the Force awakened in a commoner who might lead others to have the Force flow through them.
The Force will be all and in all. The citizens of the galaxy will do even greater things through the Force than what we have seen prior. And Rey…yes, Rey…is the key. Why? Because after being chosen by the Force, she let it in.