Episode IX is coming and, like every one of its predecessors, it promises to make a big impact, both at the box office and in fandom. With Rise of Skywalker being the end of the fabled Skywalker saga, Episode IX has a lot of work to do, one of the most important with regards to the Force.
At the end of Return of the Jedi, it appeared as though all was right with the galaxy. Luke, in The Last Jedi, tells us that it was, “There was balance. For a time.” This, however, does not fit with what the prophecy of the Chosen One promised.
“A Chosen One shall come, born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored.”
There are two essential words in there that must be considered. First, it says “through him”, implying that the Chosen One may not be the one to actually bring balance but rather that it may come from his heirs. Second, it says “ultimate” balance with regards to the Force. By all understandings, “ultimate” would have to mean eternal. If the balance brought by Anakin in Return of the Jedi only kept the balance for some 30 years, that would not fit the parameters of eternalness.
Which brings it back to Episode IX, a film that must handle this Force “issue.” There are many a theory on how exactly this might happen, including a complete eradication of the Force itself. Considering that the Force is created by all living things, this is pretty far down on the list of things that might actually happen, yet it does bring awareness to the reality that no one really knows what the hell is going to happen in Rise of Skywalker.
It would seem, nonetheless, that there are three front runners for the Force’s “character development” in this closing chapter.
Balance: Light and Dark
The front runner amongst the fandom, particularly Reylos, is that somehow Ben Solo and Rey will discover a way to utilize both the light and the dark sides in a way that is beneficial to self and the galaxy at large.
In theory, this would seem like a great idea. We know dark because we understand light, and vice versa. Yet, dark side tendencies tend to bring the worst out in people. Anger. Aggression. Hate. Suffering. This is the lesson of the prequels. Anakin tries to use the dark side to save Padme, thinking he is in control of it rather than the other way around. He was wrong. Full stop.
The dark side is based on selfishness, as both George Lucas and Dave Filoni have stated on multiple occasions. The story of Star Wars, and balance, then, is not about finding that place where you can appear nice but still be kind of a jerk, but rather to destroy that selfish part of you altogether. If this balance we are going to see is to come from equal parts light and dark, there will be a lot of explaining that would have to be done for it to fit with the lore in Lucas’s trilogies.
If, instead, balance is to be what George Lucas said it is, and what Luke was talking of in Episode VIII, “ultimate balance” would come in the permanent end to the dark side, allowing the Force to fully express itself, and thus impact all people, in a light side manner. Peace. Love. Freedom.
Dave Filoni, at the “Rebels Remembered” panel at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, spoke of the training he got from Lucas with regards to the Force, and that it all comes down to the light side being selflessness, whereas the dark side is selfishness. This implies that if the dark side and light side where to balance themselves as equals, then there would be equal amounts of selfishness as there is selflessness.
This is a problem. Star Wars is a mythology, and the point of mythology is to provide us something to aspire to. Having kids growing up seeing their heroes be selfish will create a generation tempted by the darkness. “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
Balance: The Peace
The third option for the Force is for the galaxy to just leave it alone. Let the Force proceed as the Force wills it.
It is plausible that the reason Luke was not able to keep the ultimate balance is because the existence of light creates the existence of dark. “Darkness rises, and light to meet it.” Even the Jedi of old could not fully destroy the Sith, nor could the Sith bring a full end to the Jedi.
Chirrut Imwe is an example of what this would look like. Although he is not a Force wielder in the way of Obi-Wan or Yoda, he is without doubt what the Jedi were supposed to be. Unattached from any larger body and not using Force powers. Instead, Chirrut lets the Force act around him. “All is as the Force wills it.”
Considering what we know about Rey and Kylo unto this point, and because in all likelihood Lucasfilm won’t go in the direction of full on monk Jedi, Ahsoka points towards another possibility. Ahsoka does act as part of the Rebellion, yes, but she is also her own entity. Ahsoka does work for the good of the galaxy, but she is not on the front lines as the prequel Jedi were. Further, she is not a part of an Order, instead keeping more of a nomadic existence that allows for the Force to point her in the direction it wills.
And isn’t that the point of the Jedi anyway?