With all of the discussions and speculation about which new and classic characters and worlds we may see in the Sequel Trilogy and what the overall storyline may look like, one of the big questions in my mind has been what the nature of the Jedi and their relationship to the Force might be.
Now, obviously the tone of this was very different between the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy, since the latter showed the Jedi at their height, while the former revolved around a last-ditch attempt to bring the Jedi back from the brink of extinction. But in the upcoming sequels, we will undoubtedly see the Jedi on the rise once more. What form will that rebirth take? Will we see the Jedi returned to the formalized hierarchy that they once had, based in the galactic capitol and led by a Jedi Council? Or will the Jedi have re-established themselves in a different and possibly unexpected way? The prospects are wide open as to how the sequels will handle this.
While it is possible that we could simply see a return to something like the organized Jedi structure from the Old Republic, with a central Jedi Council assigning missions in coordination with requests from the Chancellor and the Senate, there are two reasons why I don’t feel that this is particularly likely.
First of all, early Episode VII rumors suggest that there is not a “New Republic” in place in this film, which would also indicate that there may also not be a formalized Jedi Council. Now, granted, we all know a lot better than to go betting the kids’ college fund on the rumors surrounding the production of this or any other Star Wars movie. But this one does make a reasonable amount of sense. After all, a prime reason behind the downfall of the Old Republic was the institutionalized corruption that had set in long before Palpatine made his move against Chancellor Valorum, and I can see where much of the galaxy might be reluctant to recreate a political system that was so easily turned upon itself.
And this leads us to the second and perhaps more important point to consider. Would Luke Skywalker actually attempt to recreate the Jedi Order as a bureaucratic organization in the first place? I tend to think that he wouldn’t want to go that route because, as with the Republic itself, it can be argued that the Jedi Order contained within itself the seeds of its own undoing.
During the initial face-off between Yoda and Emperor Palpatine below the Senate chambers in Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine – for once – actually says something that holds a great deal of truth: “Your arrogance blinds you, Master Yoda.” Whether or not Lucas actually intended it to do so, I think that this single statement cuts to the heart of the matter as far as why Palpatine was able to orchestrate the overthrow of the Republic and the destruction of the Jedi right under the very noses of the Jedi Council.
As dedicated to life and justice as the Jedi were, they did tend to isolate themselves from the common folk to a great extent, both ideologically and physically. Hell, the Jedi Council met atop what was almost literally an ivory tower! And out of what they undoubtedly considered to be respect for the ways of the Force, the Jedi held themselves to a higher standard that denied some very basic aspects of what it was to be a sentient being.
It was, after all, the fact that the Jedi Code forbade emotional, and particularly romantic attachments that created the conflict within Anakin Skywalker that Palpatine was ultimately able to use as the fulcrum point with which he toppled the Jedi Order. And it was the arrogance of the Jedi that allowed them to believe that such an essential part of life could be controlled and that love was anything less than a fundamental part of the Force itself.
Luke Skywalker, more than perhaps any Jedi in recent galactic history, understood this in the most direct way imaginable. It was the power of a father’s love for his own son that had saved his life, destroyed the Emperor, and allowed his father to return from almost a quarter of a century in the grip of the dark side. With that in mind, it is very difficult to imagine that Luke could then turn around and rebuild the Jedi Order just as it had been before, with its arrogant insistence upon denying its members their own ability to love and to form emotional bonds with others.
Of course, it would be a challenge for Luke to find new ways to balance a Jedi’s emotional life with the age-old pitfalls of jealousy, objectification and unhealthy attachment that the Old Jedi Order rightly believed had the potential to lead to the dark side. I suspect that whatever obstacles Luke has faced in helping his apprentices to achieve this balance may very well factor into the overall conflict of the Sequel Trilogy.
In Part II, I’ll take a closer look at one possible way that all of this might be incorporated as the basis for Luke’s new generation of Jedi.