Cracks in the Temple: Foreshadowing the Fall of the Jedi Order (Part 3)

Part 3: The Fall of the Jedi

Anna

The fall of the Jedi Order was as stunning as it was predictable. The swiftness with which the Jedi were eradicated was shocking, the scope of the tragedy devastating, however, the proverbial writing was on the wall regarding the Order. The seeds of that fall can be seen across the canon timeline, including The High Republic Era and the Fall of the Jedi Era. As I mentioned in part one of this series, I decided to go back and look at these cracks in the temple after finishing Into the Darkbecause I was so struck by the differences in how the Jedi interact with each other and with the Force. In part 2, I discussed the fraying of the tether between the Jedi and the Force. We are now in part 3 of this series, covering The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars: Age of the Republic comic featuring Qui-Gon Jinn, and Attack of the Clones. For so many fans, myself included, this is such an exciting and terribly sad period—we all know how it is going to end. I want to start by taking a closer look at one of the most pivotal characters in the Star Wars films—Anakin Skywalker.

The Phantom Menace is where the battle for Anakin’s soul truly takes place. Qui-Gon Jinn, our Jedi of the Living Force, finds Anakin on Tatooine and commits to training him, believing the meeting and Anakin’s birth to be the will of the Force. Surprising exactly no one, the Council does not agree. In fact, not even Obi-Wan seems convinced that it is a good idea. In discounting the will of the Force, the Council is making a grave error. Anakin’s fate would have been different had Qui-Gon survived the Duel of the Fates with Darth Maul and trained him. Qui-Gon’s focus on the present, on calming the mind, would have provided Anakin with both the structure and the flexibility he needed to be the person he was meant to be. I believe that Anakin would have learned to process his feelings and find balance between the light and the dark with Qui-Gon as his Master. As a result of this guidance, Anakin would have brought balance to the Force without losing himself and plunging the galaxy into an even greater conflict. 

The Master and Apprentice relationship mimics that of parent and child. As such, Obi-Wan was not a good choice for teaching Anakin. I am not normally one for ageist judgment, however, in this case I believe it is warranted. Obi-Wan was too young and inexperienced for the challenge presented by Anakin. A more experienced Jedi would have been a better and safer choice. That being said, I do not know who would have been a better choice within the Jedi Order. Anakin needed a Master who would have helped him understand and manage his emotions—as Orla said, keeping them in proportion. I understand that Obi-Wan made a promise to Qui-Gon, and that his promise pushed the Council into a corner, however I still believe this to be a misstep. Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship, especially as Anakin gets older, is one closer to that of siblings. Obi-Wan even says that Anakin was his brother during their penultimate battle on Mustafar. Additionally, it is clear in The Clone Wars that Obi-Wan suspects that Anakin and Padmé are in love. Just as clearly, he cannot say much about it because he himself fell in love as a Padawan, and still loves Duchess Satine of Mandalore. Obi-Wan confesses as much to Satine, saying that he would have left the Order if she had asked. He clearly was never given the tools to process his own emotions and attachment, let alone be able to help Anakin process his emotions, especially in respect to Padmé. Crucially, this is not an indictment of Obi-Wan and his skills as a Jedi, or his desire to train Anakin. This is an indictment of the Council, the way they teach and the fact that their place in the galaxy has changed.

In Attack of the Clones the Jedi are becoming more and more entwined with the Republic, and with Chancellor Palpatine. The Republic is fracturing, Dooku leads the Separatist movement, and Obi-Wan and Anakin are given an assignment to protect Senator Amidala, at the request of the Chancellor. His influence in Jedi affairs is clear, as well as his growing interest in Anakin. One of the most interesting parts of this movie is the discussion between Obi-Wan and Dooku, where Dooku talks about Qui-Gon, how he misses him, wishes he was there and knows he would understand some of what Dooku has done. He lays it all out for Obi-Wan. Hundreds of senators are under the control of a Sith.  Obi-Wan doesn’t believe him, saying that the Jedi would be aware of it.

This film culminates with the Jedi essentially becoming an arm of the Republic. They take up military posts and command a clone army, courtesy of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas. Worse, Anakin slides further from the light, slaughtering a tribe of Tuskens. Yoda feels pain, suffering and death through the Force, telling Mace Windu “Something terrible has happened. Young Skywalker is in pain. Terrible pain.” Obi-Wan informs the Council regarding his conversation with Dooku, and they essentially dismiss it, with a “We should look into this.” There is no indication that Yoda or anyone else discusses Anakin’s pain, despite the fact that they were so strong that Yoda felt it across the galaxy. 

One of the coolest things I have read of late is the Star Wars: Age of the Republic comic about Qui-Gon Jinn. If you are a fan of Jedi who believe in the Force over the Council, this is the comic for you. Qui-Gon has so many concerns about the Jedi, and their relation to the Republic. This exchange is so important as it really illuminates the changed role of the Jedi:

Qui-Gon: Being called a coward is not what bothered me, Master Yoda. It was being called a great warrior. Even here on Coruscant, the home of the Jedi Council, there is little understanding of our purpose. We are seen as soldiers. Servants of politicians. With little mention of the Force itself.

Yoda: Mysterious, the Force remains to many. And misunderstood, those who use the Force often are.

Qui-Gon: And yet, our actions are a reflection of our purpose. Perhaps the Jedi Council residing here in the capital is part of the problem. We are used as a weapon of the Republic. And thus we are seen as such. Perhaps even by ourselves.[1]

Qui-Gon trusts in the Will of the Force and travels to a planet that appears to have been infected by the dark side. He has a vision and says “The light found its way in… Balance. But through a means beyond conflict. Violence sows the seeds of the dark side. Unchecked, the Jedi could become that which we fight against.”[2] The most telling and foretelling exchange comes at the end of the comic:

Yoda: Answers, did you find?

Qui-Gon: I did. And as often is with the Force, more questions.

Yoda: Mmmm. Good, questions are. Ask them we must. Certainty in our understanding, to arrogance it leads. To the dark side.

Qui-Gon: And yet, becoming too rigid is also a risk. The tree that won’t bend will snap with the wind.

Yoda: Ever present, the dark side is. And a threat, always. Bend to it, we must not.

Qui-Gon: Of course not, Master Yoda. The dark side consumes. And there is no balance to be found in such a path. And what is our purpose if not balance?[3]

This last exchange says so much about the difference between Yoda’s approach and Qui-Gon’s, as well as why Qui-Gon would not have enjoyed being on the Council. Qui-Gon was an instrument of the Force, as many Jedi we have read about from The High Republic, though he appears to be in the minority among the Jedi during The Fall of the Jedi era. 

I feel that Yoda’s approach lacks balance, and it is plain to see that his influence spreads to the rest of the Council, especially to Mace Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi, who are particularly harsh and unbending, especially with regard to Anakin. Personally, I have always felt more arrogance than wisdom coming from the Council. Additionally, Yoda often seems to hear what the Force is trying to tell him, but does not listen. He consistently negates visions of the future, because the are a POTENTIAL future, clouded and uncertain. Many Jedi follow this lead because Yoda is so experienced. I understand that hindsight is 20/20, however Yoda does lead the Jedi Council. Thank goodness Luke insisted on listening to the Force in The Empire Strikes Back. If Luke had not gone to Cloud City to help Leia, Han and Chewie, the repercussions could have been ghastly. Yoda is not infallible. Who among us is? However, I do not understand Yoda choosing not listen to what the Force was trying to tell him, and I do not like that he dissuaded others from listening and following the path that the Force was laying out for them. 

How do you feel about Yoda and how he interprets the Will of the Force? Do you agree that Qui-Gon was the only Jedi that could have helped Anakin find balance in the Force? Drop us a comment on our Instagram or send Anna aDM! Join us next time, where I will discuss The Clone Wars and the fall of the Jedi Order in Revenge of the Sith.


[1] Houser, J. Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn 1. New York, NY: Marvel Worldwide, Inc, 2018.

[2] Houser, J. Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn 1.

[3] Houser, J. Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn 1.

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