Feeling their way to The Force?

Have you seen the latest trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII? (Of course you have!) Beyond the delirious joy of seeing Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Leia Organa return to the big screen, I was left with a question that’s lurked in the back of my mind ever since I saw the original three Star Wars films over 30 years ago: in the absence of a Master, how does a Sith or a Jedi discover his or her aptitude for the power?

Now, I know the Expanded Universe books have tackled aspects of this question, but from a pure film standpoint, we’ve never seen the question addressed directly . . . until now?

Kylo Ren (red warbly crossguard lightsaber = immediately bad!) and Finn (pleasant blue lightsaber = immediately good!) would seem to be the first new Dark and Light Force users to arise since Luke Skywalker himself — who is conspicuously absent from both the latest trailer, and the official movie poster. Barring some kind of reveal (entirely possible) the operating assumption is that both Kylo and Finn are “feeling” their way into their roles, as users of the Dark and the Light sides of The Force. (Leia Organa appears to have remained a muggle by choice; again, barring a reveal.)

Presumably this is similar to how it all happened in the first place, for the very first Force users, way back in the history of history. Somebody had to be first.

But if it’s possible for Kylo and Finn, why not lots of other people? The small percentage of Force-sensitive sapients in the Star Wars Galaxy would not have diminished dramatically due to the events of either the original movies, or the events of the prequels. Only known Jedi were slaughtered, not potential Jedi. And while the Emperor seemed to be seriously stingy with his delegation — Sith are fantastically few and far between — the Jedi order had no such restriction. Hell, they formalized their education and set up a damned school, and a council, and everything.

So, what triggers a Force-sensitive person into exploring his or her (its?) abilities? And how does this exploration differ from what we saw Luke go through? And why aren’t the Force-sensitive popping up all over the place, playing little parlour tricks on the muggles of the galaxy? Just because they can? The movie subtitle is, The Force Awakens. Did the death of Palpatine and then, Vader, cause some kind of cosmic Force shockwave that dimmed or diminished The Force for a period of years?

Again, there is what the EU says happened, and there is what the new film is going to establish.

I know, I know overthinking it; and without much evidence to go on, either. But when has this ever stopped Star Wars fans from speculating? (grin)


22 thoughts on “Feeling their way to The Force?

  1. I know what “TMI” is, but this is the first time I’ve actually encountered “TMQ”. Too many questions! My head hurts. And you, Brad, have entirely too much knowledge about that galaxy. Hmmm….I’m getting suspicious. (This fellow Torgersen, he may be entirely more than he appears to be….)

  2. I’m reminded of the Wheel Of Time “magic users”.

    Besides the idea that “male magic users” go insane, there was the Wildlies and non-Wildlies (mainly my terms).

    Most “magic users” had to be “found” by other magic users who then help them waken their powers.

    However, there were Wildlings whose powers basically “wakened” when the Wildings wanted strongly something to happen.

    Most Wildlies had problems gaining true control of their powers but a few managed to gain that control on their own.

    Thus the first magic users in the World of Time universe would have been Wildings and these Wildlies later founded schools to assist in young Wildings to learn as well as assisting non-Wildlies to waken their powers.

    Now how this actually works in the Star Wars universe is another matter but the early Jedi/Sith could have started with people who “just happened” to awaken to the Force and who later looked for people who could be wakened to the Force. [Smile]

  3. I dunno how they do it in the SW universe, but in my universe, folks with what amount to the various types of psychic powers can feel what type and calibre other folks are, and even deadheads usually have some clue. Tho sometimes mistakes are made….

  4. I just don’t get Star Wars, and the more it goes on the less I get it. I’m not sure if I’m missing some vital piece of the puzzle or if I’m just too much of a grump. But I see people like you, that I really admire (I am currently listening to “The Chaplin’s War” and it’s blowing me away) and I think, “There’s got to be something to this stuff–the people who get enthused about it aren’t stupid or simple.”

    But I just can’t get past the whole laser-sword fighting muppets in space thing. It just doesn’t work for me.

  5. Misha, I am glad The Chaplain’s War is doing well by you! I hope I continue to earn your money.

    Now, for the question:

    If I had come to Star Wars as a grown adult, I don’t know if I’d love it the way I love it. Then again, I am not sure I’d love anything from my childhood the same way, if I came to it fresh, but with an adult’s jaded eyes. I know the prequels ultimately let me down, because the writing seemed bad, and I grew more annoyed with how poorly the story developed over successive films. Many others have voiced similar unhappiness, so I am satisfied my reaction is not unique.

    If my reaction to the new movies is similar to the reaction I had before (to the prequels) but everyone else loves the post-Jedi movies, I may have to conclude that I’m just too much of a grumpy old man to experience the same thrill (for the same franchise) as I once did.

    I pray that’s not the case.

    Because in their time, the three original Star Wars films were a delightful kick in the pants, and I saw them over, and over, and over again; especially the first two films (New Hope and Empire.) Maybe my boy-to-teen brain just didn’t care that it was latex muppets? Analyzed in depth, the universe and the stories certainly have holes that my now-trained writer brain can see. But when I was younger, I was so swept up in the drama, the spectacle, the hyper-driven thrill of the action and the spectacle, that I simply didn’t lose my suspension of disbelief. It was all wonderful, and I gobbled it all up.

  6. I’ve seen every film since Empire on opening day.

    I’m going to wait on this one. My franchise faith was used up on 1-3, but I’m willing, and eager, to see new Star Wars movies that inspire…well…a new hope.

  7. I saw the original Star Wars as a teenager, and I was amazed. It was like nothing that had ever been done before. I can tell you, though, the exact moment when the franchise lost me–it was in the second film when we first saw Yoda. I felt betrayed by the film and I have since tried to figure out exactly what it was about the character that bothered me so much.

    I think, perhaps, that he reminded me too much of “The Muppet Show”. He sounded like Fozzie Bear speaking Yiddish, and looked like a muppet. I think maybe it just hit me at the exact wrong time in my life. I was growing up (I think I had just turned 16 and gotten a driver’s licence) and Star Wars, for me, felt like my first real grownup thing. I could go to that movie by myself, and I did. It was “serious” science fiction–it looked like it had really been filmed in outer space.

    I was very excited about the second film… and then I felt so let down. It was like going out on the town for your 21st birthday and ending up at Chuck E. Cheese. Yoda seemed to me to be a huge step backwards into “kid stuff” sci fi.

    Does that make any sense?

  8. In the 2nd Knights of the Old Republic game there was a bounty hunter named Mira you could recruit. If you speak to her she describes how she finds her targets and your character can realize she’s using the Force to find them. Then prove it to her by taking her to some location on Nar Shaddaa where there’s a “wound”(?) or something in the Force affecting it and it will fully awaken her abilities. Then her class changes from Scout to Jedi Sentinel.

    Which was actually pretty nice compared to the other characters. Where it was “*ding*! I got enough influence, have a lightsaber!” 😉

  9. Misha,

    My reaction to Yoda was somewhat similar: yup, it’s Fozzie the Bear’s voice coming out of a little green-skinned muppet. All through the movie — when I first saw it in the theater — I kept hearing Fozzie the fucking Bear say shit like, “A Jedi’s strength flows from The Force.” It took me awhile to get over it, too.

    I mean, would I have made Yoda into a runty little muppet? Nope. I’d have made Yoda someone akin to Obi Wan. But I get why they chose to go with a little green guy. It was to emphasize the fact that The Force was not about the physical size or prowess of the user. Yoda was probably close to as powerful — on the Light side — as the Emperor was on the Dark. In both cases, they were far too old and physically weak to pose a physical threat. But they didn’t need to pose a physical threat. The threat was in their mastery of The Force.

    Still, someone with Obi Wan’s stately gravitas would have been more to my liking. It would have changed the dynamic and made the training sequences with Luke very different. But the movie overall — the plot arc — would have remained the same.

    To add: turning Yoda into a twirling lightsaber dervish in the prequels completely spoiled the whole, “Small and weak am I, but strong with The Force, I am,” thing from Empire. Those scenes just made me wince — and are a big part of the reason why I haven’t re-watched the prequels.

  10. That’s funny, Brad. I was six when Empire came out and loved Yoda. Then seeing him open up a can in Attack of the Clones was very gratifying, because while he was old and frail, he could still muster the energy and strength to combat the bad guy. Not sure if that’s because I reacted to him differently in the first place or not.

    I also realized (and some of this was comments from the actors and actresses in the original trilogy) that the writing really wasn’t that great in the first three movies. The most memorable line (Han Solo’s “I know”) was ad-libbed because Lucas’ dialog was too cheesy. Carrie Fisher apologized to Peter Cushing for how bad some of her lines to him were. I will agree the plot holes in the prequels are much worse. But all three prequels still had that feeling of majesty and grandeur that I felt with the original. Not high cinema, but still entertaining.

    BTW, Luke is in the trailer. Look at the cloaked figure that reaches out and touches R2-D2. It is his right hand and clearly robotic.

  11. I was more amused at what he did after Dooku escaped: Suddenly started moving very fraily, using the Force to bring his cane back into his arms. My MSTie remark was something like:

    “Mrmph. Feel that in the morning I will. Mmm…”

  12. It depends on your understanding of what the Force IS.

    If the Force is a by-product of the biological processes that inhabit the cells of every living thing, then a certain amount of trial and error is enough to get you going. Some people will do good things, others will do bad, and a lot of people will just screw up. Basic scientific progress through trial and error over hundreds of years, I suppose.

    But if the Force is something else, something that has a will of its own – maybe a lot more like Qui-Gon Jinn’s conception of the Living Force, then there is the distinct possibility that the Force would reveal itself to those who sought to understand it. That actually gives a purpose to all the meditation that goes on in both schools – Jedi and Sith.

    And now I have created a new piece of headcanon. The Jedi associate power in the Force with the presence of midichlorians – whatever they are. But this association has been misunderstood as causation when it is, in fact, more properly understood as correlation. That is, midichlorians do not create the Force, but they are attracted to focal points IN the Force, such as Force-sensitive creatures and even some physical locations. The Tree on Dagobah, for example, was a location that was strong with the Dark Side of the Force, and there may have been high midichlorian counts in the surrounding plant life – in the tree itself, in particular. Hence, the blood test is an indicator of potential power in the Force.

    You REALLY want to drop an anvil on midichlorians, then let me postulate that this attraction exists independent of time. That is, midichlorians aren’t in Anakin because he’s the chosen one/particularly powerful today/whatever, but they’re there in anticipation of his eventual training, focus and actions as a force user on both sides of the Light/Dark demarcation. Which makes sense as the Force allows you to see the future, there’s prophecies, all that jazz.

    Hah. So you could have midichlorians attracted to powerful Light Side users and those attracted to powerful Dark Side users, and Anakin would have both, hence the super-high midichlorian count. And the Jedi may not be able to tell the difference because it’s been centuries since anyone’s had an encounter with the Sith that they know of, and it’s not like the Sith are going to sit still for a blood test anyway.

    (can’t help myself)


  13. @Zachary Ricks The appropriate response for the new films to midichlorians is to ignore the concept entirely.

  14. “Kylo Ren (red warbly crossguard lightsaber = immediately bad!)”

    He’s fascinating. Looks like a guy who built his own lightsaber in his basement.

  15. Don’t forget that Luke had no inclination of the force before episode IV. No evidence that he could do parlor tricks. There could be thousands more like him in this new universe.

  16. I’m always excited for SFF movies, though frequently disappointed when I see them. Pretty sure Star Wars will be no exception, on either count.

    Isn’t every line in the trailer a cliche?: “Nothing must stand in our way.” “I’ll finish what he stared.” “The force. It’s calling to you.” Why is not one line original? I hope it turns out better than it sounds. I want to see a movie that takes a risk, that’s exciting. Not totally predictable and cliched.

  17. The Force Awakens? Perhaps The Force is like whatever it is that causes magic in Correia’s GrimNoir series. It only got to the Old Republic as its political institutions were beginning to decay, and it’s only been around a few generations.

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