Midichlorians: Life Cycles, Sustenance and Other Questions

This springs out of a series of comments that were tied to Does Darth Vader Need to Eat oh so many years ago.

Midichlorians

Star Wars fans were introduced to midichlorians in 1999. They’re a symbiotic, microscopic life form that speaks the will of The Force to us.

Given that they are a life form, I’m given to wonder about their life cycle. Bear with me here.

If midichlorians live inside the cells of living beings, and cells have a set timespan of existence, do midichlorians reproduce/procreate within the being in which they’re living? If so, does that person see their connection to the Force wax and wane through the different life cycles they have?

We know that Vader’s connection to the Force was damaged when his body was damaged. Essentially, the antenna for the signal was broken. That means, then that the midichlorians were limited, or at least their maximum number – assuming they have a life cycle and reproductive act  of some sort – was capped because only a certain number can be achieved within a given organism.

And is it the midichlorians that act as conduit for the Jedi ghosts, coalescing like the dust motes that brought Dracula’s wives into existence in Bram Stoker’s novel?

Consumption

That’s just a theory, of course. Anakin had a higher midichlorian count than any Jedi measured in history; he would have been a prime opportunity to study their life cycle.

Additionally, living things need to consume in order to sustain themselves. Were Jedi therefore hungrier, with higher metabolisms, regardless of physical activity?

Finally, when the body hosting the midichlorians died, what happened to them? If a Jedi died somewhere and their body was left to decompose, would that spot be more lush than typical?

While the body decomposed, were they trapped in some sort of midichlorian limbo, desperate to escape? Did they therefore accelerate the decomposition of the body, perhaps by consuming their own host, to speed their departure?

I don’t really need answers to these questions.

But I want them.

JJ Abrams Hates Midichlorians

Now that I have your attention, let me go on to my real topic.

Disney/Lucasfilm/Abrams/Prequel Bashers have been making a big act of everything that will make The Force Awakens “different” than the prequels. They highlight “more practical sets,” focusing on the original actors and the…well, they’ve got two major characters who are CG so I guess that one flies out the window.

I’ve highlighted this tremendous act of pandering while podcasting, but it’s really gotten under my skin again. JJ Abrams did some press for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation where he once again highlighted that his approach to The Force Awakens emphasizes the Original Trilogy, as opposed to the Entire Saga or including the Prequel Trilogy in specific.

Even more specifically, he replied emphatically “no” when asked if midichlorians will be featured in the new movie. He made news earlier by saying that he treated only the Original Trilogy as “canon,” a favorite abuse of a religious term by fans when referring to the affirmed officialness of works in their preferred stories.

OK, fine. We get it.

I’ll remind everyone that this is no guarantee that the movie’s going to be the terrific work of wonderfulness that everyone expects. The same fans that are lining up to hand out back-alley pleasure trips to Abrams for his sentiment are the same ones that savaged him over the development of LOST, attacked him for his use of lens flares in the Star Trek Reboots, and have otherwise found a mountain of reasons to belittle his work.

But this time, it’ll be different because he says the things that the people who dislike the prequels like to hear!

It Makes Sense Anyway

Plenty of people had trouble coming to terms with the fact that Lucas split the Force into the Living and the Cosmic Force, playing even more on the Buddhist philosophies that everyone claims they knew to influence him but never actually read anything about.

It’s like the people who know that Lucas read the works of Joseph Campbell but never read them on their own. Or who don’t know that Leigh Brackett actually died after handing in her first draft of The Empire Strikes Back and Lucas co-wrote that one, too.

But I digress.

It makes sense that midichlorians aren’t featured because each trilogy has its own flavor so far.

I understand The Force Awakens may shape up to be little more than a reboot of the original series, or it may succeed in becoming its own story. But that’s the point. Each trilogy is supposed to stand on its own while serving the other. The midichlorians pertained most heavily to the Prophecy of the One Who Will Bring Balance, and played through the works set in that era.

But Stop Dismissing Those Who Like/Love the Prequels

For Pete’s sake, there was a time when I introduced the prequels to someone who’d never seen them they not only cried at the end of Revenge of the Sith but, when we continued to the original Star Wars, they mentioned unprompted how much more depth there was to Obi-Wan and Vader’s Death Star confrontation. Of course, to support those that love the originals only, I should have alerted them that their opinion was shameful and should be ignored.

Let me highlight an important point. There are those of us who love the Originals, the Prequels, and The Clone Wars TV series. We’re fans of the whole package. It doesn’t make us better, but we do exist.

All of this bend-over-backwards-bulls*** to appeal to “old school fans” is kind of like a middle finger to those of us who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the things that came from Lucas himself. Is there some coded dismissal of our opinions?

I suppose that’s just fine since their focus is to “sell” the new movie. I suppose also that they know they’re going to get people “like me” in there anyway.

If you keep treating the other pretty face too nice, you’re going to piss off the one who’s been with you all this time.

Relationships 101, that is.

The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Here we are, the final chapter in the Chosen One saga.Obviously, my focus through the previous blogs was on the dilemma of the Chosen One. My three candidates are obvious: Qui-Gon, Anakin and Luke. The official take on things is that it’s Anakin, Luke is something of a fan-favorite choice and Qui-Gon stems from what could be called my unique perspective on things.

I’m living evidence that you don’t need to be in college, drunk or near weed to spend time to analyze small details. I’d hope, actually, that everyone’s figured out that my love for Star Wars is legitimate and more than just a nostalgic joyride. There’s no ironic act here; it’s simply that I see it through these eyes.

But instead of approaching the smattering of left-over tidbits like why Obi-Wan doesn’t qualify, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration with the rigid format of the previous, I’m just going to go with an FAQ approach. Hopefully it encourages some of you to build on it in the comments section.

Why Doesn’t Obi-Wan Qualify?

Simply, because there’s nothing special about him.

This is not to say he’s not a pivotal character. Of course he is. He is instrumental in screwing up Anakin’s training and beginning Luke’s. But there’s nothing to Obi-Wan that says someone else couldn’t have been there in his place. Would it have changed the variables? Affected the outcome? Of course.

But changing the type of car I drive doesn’t mean I changed my destination.

Why Don’t I Consider Leia to be the Chosen One?

[For the people who like to be outraged and take screenshots out of context for their social media pogroms:JOKE FORTHCOMING.]Because women ruin everything. [It’s a joke.] The Chosen One is supposed to save it.[THAT WAS A JOKE.]

I kid, I kid. I don’t consider Leia to be a candidate for the Chosen One for two simple facts.

She’s not strong in the Force. Luke’s out there flying, able to skim Beggar’s Canyon thanks to some seriously innate Force skills. Vader can torture Leia at point-blank range and not even sense a disturbance (but does the Emperor?).

Second, so that I can drain some of the fun out of this for The Boy Wonder, Leia wasn’t Luke’s sister until story conferences for The Empire Strikes Back. The concept of twins was in the original script, but Lucas didn’t write Star Wars with the brother-sister thing fleshed out. This doesn’t bother me the way it bothers other people who were fine with it until the 1990s, but I do consider it sort of a DQ here.

What is Meant by “Balance of the Force”?

This is one that can’t be completely clear to anyone, I think. You have the immeasurably metaphorical balance of light and dark. In the TPM era, there’s too much light. In the original-trilogy era, there’s too much dark. Luke is the Superman, a blended balance of light and dark personified, and Leia will be the virtual well-spring of future Jedi.

There are two Jedi and two Sith (film character-wise) from the end of Revenge of the Sith to the end of Return of the Jedi, when the meaning of Jedi and Sith are rendered irrelevant. Technically the Jedi remain, but in a drastically different way.

Do I think that there were only two Jedi and two Sith in play until Luke came into his own? Frankly, yes.

This doesn’t mean there weren’t other Force users. Vader and Palpatine were described by Lucas as a dysfunctional couple always looking for something better, but they never found it until Luke offered the real potential. So yes, Balance was also for a time the strict 2-2 count between Jedi and Sith.

But ultimately I take “Balance” to mean, the eradication of the old order and the birth of the new (hope). Basically, the old system was broken beyond repair and had to be scrapped completely. This was the destiny. How that happened was determined by the actions of the major players.

One Final Note

The last theory I entertain is that the Prophecy wasn’t misread. It was read properly. But it was bungled by the Jedi (and specifically, Anakin) and so the Force intervened to put pieces in place that would ensure its fulfillment. It’s that whole “Free Will but within a Framework of Destiny” argument.

To wit: Anakin should have been left on Tatooine. Qui-Gon seriously screwed up by taking him away from his loving parent and putting him into the very system that would lead to his corruption. At the moment Qui-Gon works to influence Destiny (the chance cube with Watto), he sets off a chain reaction of events where The Force/midichlorians have to bat clean up. Then, as punishment for being a colossal douchebag, the Force keeps Anakin alive when he should be dead.

So..and here’s where I get weird…Anakin was the Chosen One until Qui-Gon dies/the Jedi reverse their decision about his training/he kills the Tuskens. The exact flashpoint doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Jedi initially recognized they shouldn’t train him. They even say he may be the Chosen One, but his training carries grave danger. In other words, let the Force have its day.

Instead, they act out of self-preservation to make the Chosen One influence the galaxy the way they see fit. Qui-Gon influences the die roll out of hubris and the desire to be “right.” So the midichlorians create the twins (Anakin and Padme as the conduit) as Plan B. One of those children then becomes the Chosen One; or they are the Force’s way of splitting the prophecy in two to make sure not all the power is concentrated in one vessel.

Like I said, it’s a little weird. But I kinda dig it.

Fin

Well, there you go. What say you?

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

Sorry for the delay: child injured, stitches, horror, it’ll probably take me longer to recover from the experience than her. Jar Jar Hater’s heart is completely hardened to my pain, but seriously, the fact that I had to hold down my own child, screaming at a pitch and volume that I’ve never heard come from another human, as they turned her chin into a knitting project is just one of those horrific moments of complete helplessness that will haunt me for years to come.

Speaking of children, let’s get to who I consider to be our final legitimate candidate for Chosen One in the Star Wars galaxy.

I’m speaking, of course, about Luke Skywalker. He was mentioned in the comments when this series first started, and I think for a lot of the same reasons I’ll list here (plus a few others that I’ve collected after obsessively musing the question for the better part of the last 13 years).

But given all the other speculation, what compelling arguments exist that Luke is the one who was prophesied?

As it turns out, a fair number. But it’s not so straightforward in my mind as others might take it, and let me tell you why…

Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

The prophecy is specifically about one who will “bring balance to the Force.” The tip to the Jedi that it might be Anakin and that the prophecy may be coming true is that Anakin is apparently a directly-conceived child of the Force. Divine conception is a big tip that someone is a wee bit special, traditionally.

But the full text of the prophecy is never stated in the films and honestly, I don’t think it’s ever been spelled out anywhere. Even looking at a source that takes into account the expanded material never has specific text listed. And as with most of my examinations of the text of the films, the EU is discounted from these discussions. It is worth noting, however, that it would provide a fascinating supportive argument for Luke being The Chosen One by the mere existence of light/dark conflict beyond the six films.

And the collective editors of the wikis seem incapable even of acknowledging that the line that tips off the Council about the prophecy is the “conceived by the midichlorians” bit Qui-Gon sneaks in there. And I refuse to get into those discussions, because I gave up on the post-Jedi “Expanded Universe,” or allowing Lucas to be sole arbiter of interpretation for these works, a long time ago. In fact, I dislike it when a filmmaker tries to tell me “what I’m supposed to see” in the story, because that takes all the fun out of it.

But I digress.

Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter talk on Tatooine in the original Star Wars directed by George Lucas
“My dialogue from this scene reads like an Ayn Rand treatise…I’m going to get cut, aren’t I?”

Luke is the Expression of Balance

Plainly, Luke is the expression of balance. He personifies it. He has passion and he has love, but he does not let them rule him. He is part machine, but it does not define him. He wears black but is a hero and spiritual leader.

Like Anakin, the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. His decision to leave Tatooine to become a Jedi leads to the destruction of the Death Star. His decision to leave his friends after Hoth leads to the death of the Empire.

While it may seem minor, Yoda’s life seems preserved by the Force for the sake of training him. However, couple that with the fact that Obi-Wan is able to commune with him directly after death; if you note, his physical presence as a spirit also becomes more pronounced as Luke grows stronger until he’s sitting next to the young Jedi on a log. The two Sith are moving to master him and by extension replace the other.

Beyond all that he makes the right choices, and with less opportunity, than Anakin. He has the opportunity for vengeance and instead exercises mercy. He does not have a lifetime of training to provide a clear definition of right and wrong, just being raised by loving, murdered “parents” unexpectedly.

He is Batman to Vader’s Bane. (Yeah, I made that connection. Geeksplosion!)

But most importantly, it is important to note that while Vader may be the hammer that smashes the Sith, it’s Luke’s willing self-sacrifice that is the force driving him. Vader, a monster in shape and action, is moved to destroy himself and the master of evil because of it.

In other words, the forgiveness he extends to the fallen redeems the world. Sure sounds like restoring balance to me.

What do you think?

Are these arguments more compelling than the ones for other characters? Less so?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Just to give a tease on the last installment, I’ll address why Obi-Wan never enters the discussions, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration for these blogs.

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Anakin Skywalker

The most obvious choice for Chosen One in Star Wars has been, since 1999 at least, Anakin Skywalker. He was conceived by the midichlorians, was the most powerful Jedi in all six films, and the Jedi viewed him specifically through the prophecy of the “Chosen One.”

Sure, you could argue he wasn’t truly “most powerful” until he turned to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith, but at that point you’re really going to lose yourself in the “when does he truly become Vader” debate.

It's Darth Vader, not Anakin with Yellow Eyes.
It’s Darth Vader, not “Anakin with Yellow Eyes.”

We’ve examined at length the unorthodox idea that Qui-Gon actually is The Chosen One – and the comments are well worth looking for further fleshing out and argument of that idea.

I reiterate, though, that the beauty of the discussion is that there is no wrong answer…depending on how you look at it. If people in the real world can tell me that morals are to be viewed on a sliding scale, then surely something as trivial as this can be too.

Building the Case for Anakin

The primary trouble with building a compelling case for Anakin as the Chosen One, is that in many ways it feels like a pointless debate, since it’s easy to accept.

He is the tying thread in galactic events through all six episodes of the saga and has a hand in laying the Jedi low, and then destroying the Sith (killing the true Sith convert, Dooku, and eventually the Sith Lord of All Sith Lords, Sidious).

He is conceived by the Force itself, via the midichlorians, which was supposed to be a sign from the prophecy. Remember that it is Qui-Gon’s statement on Anakin’s supposedly divine birth that stuns Windu into referencing the prophecy in the first place.

Further, the statement that I used to jump off with this series which showed the prophecy may have been misread, is one that simply can mean, “Well, we thought balance was all awesome and everything, but darned if we didn’t do the math right and figure out that we were the ones throwing things out of balance and the Force wants to clean house.”

So What Would Make It Inescapable?

Frankly, Anakin is the sensible choice for this debate for all the reasons listed above. So I try to latch on to something that makes it an unexpectedly persuasive argument in his favor.

The tiny little detail that kind of seals it is more subtle than you might suspect. Hidden in plain sight, so to speak.

It’s that the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. The moment when Anakin chooses to ally himself with the Sith—and he is forced to choose, even after all the evil he has done, as opposed to passively accept—is the moment when the Dark Side specifically gains the irrevocable upper hand to take control of the galaxy again.

It’s not Windu’s death that Yoda feels in the Force. He reacts after Anakin kneels and pledges himself to Sidious. One man’s pledge has sent dynamic ripples through the very fabric of existence and changed the fate of every last man, woman, child, clone, Ewok and robot.

I believe that’s the most clear indication that Destiny and Free Will interact—at least in the Star Wars universe—the way that they interact in Frank Herbert’s Dune. There are many paths but they all pass through the same key points.

In other words, The Force was going to get back into balance one way or another and Anakin’s choices determined how. If he hadn’t saved Palpatine, would he have gone down a similar path? Would he have found a way to leave the Order and show the Jedi a new way to be?

What do you think?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker