Finally! It’s time for me to live up to the promise of ‘kessel korner’ and deliver a real Star Wars blog. This started as a whole other line of thought after a discussion with a work friend spurred thoughts about the Prequels and The Phantom Menace in specific and turned into this.
In all of the swirl throughout the fan base and the general public as they fell all over themselves attempting wit at the expense of what was actually a very enjoyable film, a terrific character was overlooked. I speak, of course, of Qui-Gon Jinn.
Ignoring this character is perhaps the greatest shame of the fan base, as Qui-Gon has been tossed onto the ‘trivia’ pile along with the name of all the bounty hunters seen on the bridge of the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back (for the record: IG-88, Bossk, Dengar, 4-LOM, Zuckuss, Boba Fett if I remember correctly). He may even be tossed on an even lower tier, such as the name of all the pod racer contestants (you’ve got me on that one, actually).
Qui-Gon Jinn was a model Jedi in many ways. He is calm, cool and collected. He is wise. He is patient. He will not allow circumstance to upset him as he believes that his course is set by a Force far beyond his control. He has the courage of his convictions and knows when to play his hand and when to let people play it for him. Liam Neeson did an excellent job of portraying a true ‘Samurai’ character that evokes the characters of Lucas’ greatest inspiration, Akira Kurosawa.
He is a man so sure of the rightness of his faith that he will work tirelessly to prove it. He even says that nothing happens by chance; in Qui-Gon’s mind, everything that happens is supposed to happen and will happen whether he wishes it or not. It is his place to accept and deal with it as he can. This is ironic in light of the role he plays in the course of galactic events.
His determination to prove his faith is his achilles heel. He is so sure of his discovery of the Chosen One and that he is the one who is meant to discover him, that he manipulates the result of a wager that will allow Anakin to be free to become a Jedi. This flies directly in the face of his belief in destiny, because it’s his choice that brings Anakin into galactic affairs at that age.
So we’re left to debate: if he truly believed Anakin was the Chosen One and had the courage of his convictions, shouldn’t Qui-Gon have allowed the die roll to go unimpeded and trusted that the Force would have let the die be cast as it should? Isn’t it possible that Anakin is the Chosen One, but the path of how he would fulfill that destiny was determined by Qui-Gon’s actions?
It’s not mutually exclusive to say that Anakin was both the Chosen One and yet was not meant to be taken off Tatooine at that age. Since he had not been brought up as a Jedi from infancy as the Jedi were supposed to be, you can make the argument that he should have been left until he was mature enough to part from his mother and be at peace with it. Decades later his son Luke lost his Uncle and Aunt tragically, but was old enough to accept the grief and experience it without losing his mind.
Of course, if the die had rolled so that Anakin had been allowed to leave Tatooine at that time, then my argument is moot.
But that leads to another point: thanks to Qui-Gon’s choice we’ll never know. Unless, by further argument, you can say he was destined to be there not only to create the circumstances for Anakin’s departure and training as a Jedi, but to affect the outcome of those things to take the ‘chance’ out of it.
The only story element that supports my theory, that Anakin was both the Chosen One and not meant to leave Tatooine until later, is the Jedi Council. Despite Anakin passing the tests, something told them that Anakin was not to be a Jedi. They refused his training (which results in a beautiful moment foreshadowing that when the Purge begins, Anakin will take Mace Windu’s life first) and told Qui-Gon to drop the matter.
Personally I think that if the entire Jedi Council, including Yoda and Mace Windu, meditate on the matter and something tells them that the boy is not to be trained…then the boy is not to be trained, at least then. (Anakin’s later actions naturally cause them to recant, except for Yoda who gets out-voted on the Council.)
So we’re left at the end still with the question of how much of history did Qui-Gon determine? The ‘balancing’ of the Force occurred still. Perhaps it was much more painful than it needed to be. Perhaps it was less so. I tend to believe that Qui-Gon should have let the roll result as it should and if need be, leave Anakin on the planet and observe. Being the child of destiny, destiny would have found a way to bring him where he needed to be, when he needed to be there.
Questions of fate and free will are always like this. Impossible to resolve, but fun to ponder.
I suppose the greater point is, whether you believe in destiny or that free will conquers all or if there’s some sort of combination of both at work we should all hope for a fun ride.
And maybe lightsabers. Those would be pretty cool.