Editorial: Lucasfilm Story Group Continues to Expand/Redefine Original Understanding Of The Force - Star Wars News Net
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Editorial: Lucasfilm Story Group Continues to Expand/Redefine Original Understanding Of The Force

“It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

This is the first explanation given to us about the Force, oh so many years ago. Over the years that simple line has been expanded upon to include everything from different orders who tap into this mystical energy to an explanation as to how certain individuals can actually manipulate it (midi-chlorians we’re singing back). Some seem happy to keep the Force as a mystery beyond any concrete explanation, while others are happy to delve into the mysticism, peeling back layers like an onion. Regardless of your stance, the Force is enmeshed in the Star Wars tapestry just as much as it intertwines all life in-universe. Both Rogue One (see Chirrut Imwe and the Guardians of the Whills) and certain signs via Pablo Hidalgo, as well as little bits in canon have brought even more to the table that warrants discussion. Jump down the rabbit hole, after the jump.



Jedi, Sith … simply two ways of viewing and using the Force. Beginning (canonically) with The Clone Wars we have seen that there are several other documented groups featuring the Force as a central piece in their way of life, with more being included as we get further adventures added to this great saga. The old EU also featured similar sects. The reason I titled this article with the words “expand/redefine” the Force is because having more than two ways of viewing the Force didn’t originate with the Lucasfilm Story Group. George Lucas himself introduced such concepts in TCW. Let’s take a look at some of the groups besides the Jedi and Sith that have either appeared or been mentioned in the SW canon.




The Nightsisters 



This order of Force-using “witches” was adapted from a similar group (who actually used encantations) in the old EU novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia. Like the original concept, the Nightsisters of Dathomir use the Force through “Magicks”. The Nightsisters have the ability to perform transmutations via their unique way of tapping into the Force. They could even use this power to make the dead walk again and fight for them. The Nightsister’s power seems to be derived from the ichor in the depths of their homeworld. Considering how they used their abilities, it seems that their connection to the Force was decidedly via the dark side. The Sith all but wiped out the Nightsisters and Asajj Ventress sacrificed herself to save Quinlan Voss. However, a nightsister outcast did show up in the canon game, Uprising.




The Force Priestesses 



Not much is known about this mysterious group located on a Force-planet, which happens to be the homeworld of the Midi-chlorians. These entities are the ones who ultimately taught Yoda the key to retaining one’s consciousness in the Force. Dave Filoni has mentioned that the priestesses probably are different parts of one entity. In a recent episode of the Star Wars Show, Pablo Hidalgo teased that one day, a story may delve into whether or not the Shaman of the Whills(mentioned as the entity which taught Qui-Gon Jinn the ability to retain consciousness after death in the ROTS novel) and the Force Priestesses are the same or have some kind of link. He also seemed to imply that it also may not happen, so who knows.




The Force-wielders (The Ones) 



The mysterious beings, who comprise a triumvirate “family” on the planet Mortis in TCW are a topic of much debate in the Star Wars community. Are they manifestations of the Force itself, serving as metaphors for the lightside, darkside and balance? Are they simply incredibly powerful creatures who feature an unheard of connection to the Force? One thing is for sure, this group remains a confusing enigma. After all, Lucas himself has mentioned that “bringing balance to the Force” involved wiping out the cancerous perversion that were the Sith. Yet, the Father’s lines here seem to support another view, namely that too much light or dark would have disastrous repercussions for the universe as a whole.




The Dagoyan Order 



During TCW, we are briefly introduced to another sect of Force-users, though they are not explored to a deep extent. Yoda has this to say about the Bardottan mystics … “A strong connection to the Force, the Dagoyan Masters have. Yet unlike the Jedi or Sith they are. Warriors they are not. Intuition, knowledge, the harmony of the universe is what they sense. Passively they connect with the Force.” Keep that final sentence in mind, as we’ll be examining it closer shortly in regards to Chirrut Imwe and his connection to the Force. It seems that the Dagoyan Masters didn’t believe in actually controlling or manipulating the Force, but rather bending to its will and maintaining a more cerebral connection. Again, more on parallels with Chirrut to come.




The Church of the Force 



This isn’t so much a group of Force-users as it is a group of Force believers. That being said, there’s no reason to think outright that there are no Force-sensitives among their ranks. Again, we’ll get into “Force-users” vs. “Force-sensitives” in a bit. Lor San Tekka was a member of this organization and they also had a presence on Jedha.




The Lasat and the Ashla 



It’s hard to say if an actual Force-using order exists among the Lasat. We do know that they follow the Ashla, which is their word for the Force (the Ashla originally meant the lightside of the Force in GL’s early drafts). A mystic named Chava the Wise helps Zeb and the Ghost’s crew locate the fabled world of Lasan, clearly with the help of the Force. This did not however provide any evidence that she herself could actually manipulate the energy field. A combination of her staff, as well as Zeb’s bo-rifle brought about mystical results.




The Knights of Ren 



To be fair, we don’t in fact know if this is a collective of Force-users or not. As much has even been brought up by Pablo Hidalgo, himself. While he didn’t confirm it, he didn’t actually deny it either. For the time being, we can only speculate on this. Signs point to this being the case though, especially given their connection to both Snoke and Kylo Ren, their leader. Perhaps they seek to replace the Jedi Knights as “protectors” of the galaxy.




The Guardians of the Whills 



Yet another example of a group that we don’t concretely know are an order of Force-users or not. Of the two members we’ve met, one’s connection seems non-existent, while the other’s is certainly ambiguous and open to interpretation. We do know that the Whills are a mystery that has long intrigued Star Wars fans since they were included in GL’s orginal script for the first film. The term, Whills, was originally the name of the Force, much like the Ashla was the lightside and the Bogan was the darkside. These terms have cropped up again, as have the Whills, via not only Rogue One, but also The Force Awakens novel. Who the Whills, themselves, are is a speculation piece in and of it’s own for another time. What about this idea, though … could the Whills be Force Ghosts?

Another interesting fact regarding the GOW is that they have have an all-encompassing view of the Force, as opposed to just relying on the light or darkside in the beliefs. This is definitely very similar to the Dagoyan Masters who also believed in surrender to the Force as a whole. Based on the limited info we have on this group, plus Chirrut’s mantra and behavior, highlights that like the Dagoyan Masters, the GOW seem to be more interested in being used by the Force rather than using it themselves.




The Bendu



Whether or not this refers to an order, species or simply the individual that has helped Kanan on Rebels has certainly not been made clear yet. This massive creature is once again a Force-user who believes in not limiting its practice of the Force to either the lightside or the darkside. The Bendu even seems to find Kanan’s concept of the Force amusing and states that he exists somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of Jedi and Sith. We have yet to see what the Bendu can actually do and based on its mindset, seems to be another entity that believes in a more passive usage of the Force.



Beyond just these groups that have varying degrees of ways of directly manipulating and “using” the Force, canon has established that anyone can feel the Force given the proper focus. In the Rogue One lead-in novel, Catalyst, Lyra Erso believes and apparently feels exactly that …


“Jyn had nursed herself to sleep, and Lyra could hear Galen and the others talking in the main cabin, glad not to be a part of the conversation. For her, governments of any stripe would have their constituents believe that they were attempting to remove chaos from the galaxy, that they were trying to make things perfect, when only the Force was perfect. For ordinary beings, life was a constant interplay between order and chaos, day and night, light and dark.


Yes, she thought of herself as agile and strong and intuitive, but she understood that her skills were a far cry from those attributed to the Jedi. She did, however, embrace the Order’s philosophy of generosity, compassion, and peaceful resolution, and on many a far-flung world she had experienced moments in nature that could only be described as transcendent. It was certainly possible that those peak moments had their basis in belief and emotion, but that hardly mattered; even if she wasn’t able to use the Force, she could at least feel it, and she was content with that.” 



I’m sure many Star Wars fans remember this barrage of interesting tweets by GFFA maestro and walking, talking encyclopedia, Pablo Hidalgo …





Both before and after this gem of a conversation starter, fans have been debating the Force and how people connect with it for a long time. All of this just supported the theory that everyone has some degree of latent Force talent. Really, it begs the question, is there a distinct difference between being a “Force-user” vs. being “Force-sensitive”? I’d argue that there’s absolutely a difference in terminology based on the seeds the LFG has been planting, whether in-universe or via tweet storm.


We know that the Force exists in all life, everything actually, from Obi-Wan’s first mention of it, which is also later supported by Yoda’s teachings to Luke. This does not, however, mention anything about all life being able to tap into and affect it. Then the PT established that certain midi-chlorian counts dictate the level of Force-aptitude. That still seems to fall under the umbrella of how easily one is able to influence the Force with proper training.


In addition to the bits of information mentioned above, this topic came into play on the latest episode of Rebels, where Kanan brings up the fact that the Force resides in all life and that Sabine doesn’t seem able to open herself to it. Does this mean that Sabine would be able to levitate objects? No. But it could mean that she is potentially able to let it flow through her like a conduit, guiding her actions to a degree. Not unlike, as many have argued, how the Force possibly may have helped sharpen Han’s piloting instincts.



This brings us to Chirrut Imwe. The blind warrior-monk is a key cog in the apparent redefining of what it means to be Force-sensitive. Rogue One did make a point of showing Chirrut’s usage of his heightened sense of hearing when we first see Chirrut in action. Additionally, Pablo Hidalgo has talked about the kyber crystal sliver on the end of his staff, allowing him to know where it ends. Clearly his uber-hearing allows him to detect the crystal that Jyn is wearing. So, we can’t necessarily use that as an indicator of Force-sensitivity. Nor can his ability to fight effectively with a staff or dodge blaster bolts be attributed to it outright. Although, it would certainly make a ton of sense. The one thing that cannot be explained away by his four remaining “natural senses” being augmented is his ability to detect dark intent in Cassian Andor. I suppose, one could state that he simply felt it like one can feel negative energy coming off of a person. But isn’t that often detectable due to a combination of senses setting off a warning sign.


Certainly in other stories there are examples of blind characters who can do amazing things, the most well-known probably being Daredevil. In Netflix’s Daredevil, Matt Murdoch is able to use his four senses to create a fiery “picture” of the world around him. Toph, on Avatar: The Last Airbender, is able to use her to use her earth-bending skills to create a mental image of her surroundings. While one could argue that Chirrut is able to do something very similar to Mr. Murdoch, this is Star Wars. The Force is a central, binding theme. As noted not only in fictional works such as Daredevil, but in real life, blindness causes an elevation of the other senses. Why couldn’t this also be true for a “6th sense” such as feeling the Force. Add proper training from a group dedicated to this mystical energy and you have a formula for someone who could in theory use the Force to “see” and “sense”, though perhaps not actually “use”. Whereas Jyn’s mother was able to feel the Force via the life around her, Chirrut can actually see it’s flow and use that to guide him, just not affect its currents.


We learned from the OT that the Force is part of all life and is the connective tissue that weaves it all together. At the time, we knew that some seemed to have the gift of being able to access it in a physical sense. No further explanation was provided. In the PT we learned that while the Force may be present in every being, a high enough Midi-chlorian count grants greater connection, enough to actually enable a person use of “Force abilities”. The new canon has been dropping nuggets that lead us to believe all can at least sense the Force, just not manipulate it.



So, we can say that while Chirrut isn’t necessarily a “Force-user” in the traditional sense, he does seem to be “Force-sensitive.” This leads to a passive use of the Force, making him more the Force’s tool than vice versa. Chirrut happens to be in a special position for such connectivity due to both his blindness greatly enhancing this “6th sense” and him having complete faith in the Force. This is another thing that will be interesting to see going forward as The Force Awakens title still leaves a lot to be explored and discussed as to its exact meaning. Does the Force have a will of its own? When both Rey and Chirrut open themselves completely to its flows, amazing feats ensue. Is the Force manifesting itself in people, guiding individuals without them even being aware of it? Have Obi-Wan’s actions in ANH, in addition to the GOW’s Force-usage, shown us that the Force is ready to work through these “vessels” that willingly open themselves to it, in order to achieve its life-giving will?


One thing’s for sure, the idea of the Force has evolved quite a bit since it was first introduced, yet retained its core meaning at the same time. The Lucasfilm Story Group respects George Lucas enough to maintain his original vision, yet are finding ways to grow its mystery with each passing tale.