“Finding him was the will of the force, I have no doubt of that.” – Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace
When I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time in 1999, I was absolutely stunned when Darth Maul killed Qui-Gon Jinn. At the time, my 14-year-old brain had to cope with the reality that sometimes the “good guys” can be defeated by one of the “bad guys.” Older now, I naturally have a different perspective on the scene and am not quite as shocked by Qui-Gon’s demise. Darth Maul was much younger and more physically gifted than the Jedi Master, and though Qui-Gon was likely more gifted in the use of the Force, Darth Maul was just the better all-around fighter.
Or, perhaps it had nothing to do with Darth Maul being the better fighter. Just as Qui-Gon states that finding Anakin Skywalker was “the will of the Force,” I would suggest that the death of Qui-Gon Jinn was also the will of the Force. At first, reluctant to allow Qui-Gon to train Anakin as a Jedi, it is only when the Jedi Master dies that the Jedi Council agrees to let his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, train the young boy. Qui-Gon’s death, then, functions as the catalyst the Force uses to propel Anakin along the path towards balancing the Force.
Qui-Gon’s story does not come to an end in The Phantom Menace, though.
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda explains to Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon Jinn has returned from the netherworld of the Force, noting that he will teach Kenobi how to converse with the former Jedi Master. Although the scene is brief, it never-the-less establishes that it is Qui-Gon Jinn, teaching from the beyond, who directed Kenobi in unlocking the secrets of existence after death. When Obi-Wan “disappears” in A New Hope, and reappears as a Force ghost in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we now know that it was Qui-Gon Jinn who guided Kenobi in discovering how to do these incredible things.
Further, it is in Season 6 of The Clone Wars, in the episode titled “Voices,” that Qui-Gon reaches out to Master Yoda as an incorporeal voice, instructing the Jedi to travel to the planet Dagobah. There, Qui-Gon will reveal new realities about the Force, and will explain that both he and Yoda had been chosen to maintain their life force after death so that in the dark times ahead, there would still be light. Though Qui-Gon notes that he died before completing his training, which hinders him from appearing to Yoda, he reveals that Yoda will learn this ability as he continues on his journey of discovery.
Along with what Qui-Gon explains to Yoda about the Force, another rather intriguing point is also introduced in “Voices.” When Yoda explains to the Jedi Council that Qui-Gon has conversed with him from the beyond, Master Ki-Adi Mundi states that, “What Yoda claims is not possible…the dead are part of the Cosmic Force and lose their individuality.” Even Yoda, the wisest and oldest of the Jedi, does not at first believe in the possibility of maintaining one’s individuality after death. Knowledgeable about the Force they might be, but even the Jedi Council is limited in their understanding of the mystical power.
This fact, though, also reveals something about Qui-Gon Jinn: before he died, he had ascertained a unique understanding of the Force – an understanding that fundamentally differed from the Jedi Council’s own knowledge – and had kept this knowledge to himself.
At Odds with the Council
In The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Council and Qui-Gon Jinn are clearly at odds, particularly over the fate of Anakin Skywalker.
- While Qui-Gon is certain the boy is the Chosen One, the Council is not as certain.
- The Council believes the boy is too old to be trained; Qui-Gon does not believe this should disqualify him from being trained.
- Qui-Gon chooses to take Anakin as his padawan, but the Council states that the Jedi Code forbids his taking a second padawan.
- Qui-Gon states that Obi-Wan is ready to face the Trials and become a Jedi Knight, the Council rebukes him by stating that they will decide when Obi-Wan is ready.
Four points of contention in only a minute. These may not be enough to argue that Qui-Gon is always at odds with the Council, but the interaction between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan only moments later can do it for me.
Obi-Wan: Do not defy the council, Master, not again.
Qui-Gon Jinn: I shall do what I must, Obi-Wan.
From this small exchange, we can glean that Master Qui-Gon has a tendency of refusing to follow the Council’s directive. His padawan implores him not to defy the Council once again, but Qui-Gon will do what HE feels he must do. I don’t know about you, but this leaves me wondering not only how, and how often, he has defied the Council in the past, but WHY he has done so. Was it in his nature to be defiant? Did he learn it from someone? Or was it perhaps a little bit of both? Whatever the case, there is a very obvious way he would have learned some of this defiance: from his own former Master, Count Dooku.
It is in Attack of the Clones where we learn Qui-Gon Jinn was once Count Dooku’s padawan. Given that Count Dooku left the Jedi Order after becoming cynical and disillusioned by it, and because he craved more power, it is hardly a stretch to imagine that Dooku held these feelings for quite some time, perhaps even while he was training his young padawan. As Qui-Gon’s master, Dooku would have exerted an incredible influence over his padawan, impacting the way the burgeoning Jedi would have understood the Force, the Jedi Order, and the role of the Jedi, amongst other things. The fact that Qui-Gon Jinn learned how to preserve his individuality after death probably did not come from Count Dooku directly, but his interest in discovering new realities about the Force would have certainly been planted by his Masters encouragement to question the Order’s views. It is also likely, though, that as Qui-Gon grew and formed his own, independent views, that he would have most certainly questioned his Master. Defiant he might have been towards the Jedi Council at times, Qui-Gon Jinn never left the Order, and his former Master did.
With all of this in mind, I am going to propose a novel idea. No, seriously, I am going to propose an actual idea for a novel.
My proposition is that a novel dedicated to Qui-Gon Jinn’s back-story be added to the Star Wars canon. With all that we know about Jinn, that he was apprenticed to Count Dooku, was defiant of the Jedi Council, believed that Anakin was the Chosen One, and was able to preserve his life force after death, I am curious to find out even more about this fascinating Jedi. What was he like as a child? What was his relationship really like with Dooku? Did he ever challenge his Master? What were his beliefs regarding the will of the Force? When did he begin training to preserve his life force after death? How and why did he consistently defy the Council? When was Obi-Wan apprenticed to him and, for that matter, what was Obi-Wan like as a child?
Such a book could certainly answer some of these questions about Qui-Gon, and could also be used to develop other characters, story-lines, events, and ideas. Plus, as it currently stands, a dark area exists in the Star Wars canon prior to The Phantom Menace, with only small pockets of information that provide clarity for this period. A novel dedicated to Qui-Gon Jinn would be a great way to start filling in the gaps in the timeline, and would help paint a small picture of what the galaxy was like prior to the crisis on Naboo.
It is my hope that someday we are able to explore the Star Wars universe through the life of this fascinating Jedi Master. In the meantime, I decided to play around with what the prologue for said novel could look like.
Qui-Gon Jinn: A Prologue
Master Yoda stood in the center of the icy Temple, watching the seven younglings walk towards him. Shivering and exhausted, the children looked up and around as they entered, awe struck by beauty of the icy hall. Behind them, the outside wind could be heard far down the passage, blowing through the entrance they came through.
The younglings had traveled for miles across the wintry landscape since landing in the Crucible, the Jedi training cruiser. They did not yet know why they were on the planet Ilum, only knowing that the ice-covered and wind-battered planet was one of the Order’s most sacred locations.
“Where are we, Master Yoda,” a female Chagrian asked the elder Master as the group approached.
“Come, gather round younglings. Share with you, I will, why you have come,” Yoda responded.
Moving into a half-circle around the old Jedi, the younglings watched as Master Yoda used the Force to manipulate an object on the ceiling. Reflecting a sliver of sunlight streaming in from an opening in the top of the hall, the object reflected the light onto the wall of ice behind Master Yoda. On command, the ice melted away revealing a passage way, and beyond, a cave.
“Arrived, you have, at The Gathering,” the Jedi Master remarked. “A rite of passage for young Jedi, this is. Into the cave will you go to find your Kyber Crystal.”
This time, a young Zabrak male spoke up.
“Master, what are Kyber Crystals,” the child asked.
“In harmony with the Force, the crystals are. The heart of the Jedi’s light-saber, the crystal is.”
The younglings, hearing that they would enter the cave to discover the most important component in the construction of their light-sabers began to talk excitedly. Finding their crystal would put them one step closer to becoming full-fledged Jedi.
Letting out a small laugh, Yoda silenced the group.
“Into the cave you must go if Jedi you are to become. Trust the Force, you must, if successful you hope to be. But be mindful, as the sun sets, slowly freeze, the entrance will. Once frozen, trapped inside will you be.”
Looking upwards, the younglings saw that the tall entrance was already beginning to freeze as the light from outside slowly moved downwards.
“Go now, enter the cave, and discover your crystal.”
Eager to discover their crystals and not wanting to be trapped inside, the younglings frantically rushed past Yoda and into the cave to begin their searches. All, that is, except for one.
A young human boy around the age of 10 stood in place, continuing to look at the ice that was slowly creeping downward from the ceiling and which, in a few short hours, would cover the entrance.
Turning, the Jedi Master saw that the child had not left his spot.
“Stand here when inside the cave should you be, Qui-Gon,” Yoda said. “Losing time, you are, yes. Trapped, by the ice if not you hurry.”
For a moment, the boy did not respond. Then, slowly, the youngling turned his head downwards to see the Jedi Master in front of him. Turning his gaze back to the ice, the boy finally spoke, “I will go in soon, Master. I just wanted a moment to admire the ice.”
“And what have you to say about the ice, hmmmm,” the Yoda asked.
“That if it is the will of the Force for me to be trapped, then it is the will of the Force,” Qui-Gon responded looking back at the Jedi Master.
Walking past Yoda, Qui-Gon ascended the few stairs to the caves entrance. Stopping at the opening, he gazed into the darkness beyond, feeling the Master’s eyes fixated on him as he stood there.
Turning his head and body half-way around, the child let out a small laugh.
“Besides Master,” Qui-Gon called back, “it’s just ice. If I am trapped, I will break it.”
Turning, the boy ran into the darkness of the cave.
***Content for this prologue was inspired by Star Wars The Clone Wars Season 5, Episode 6: “The Gathering.”***
I think that a book about Qui-Gon’s early life is desperately needed and would be a great addition to the Star Wars canon. When I first saw Episode I, I was incredibly disapointed when Qui-Gon died. I was very intrigued by this Jedi, and still am to this day. I’m not quite sure why, but something about him struck me as fascinating. I think they could do a lot with his life in a book, especially with his defiant personality and master who would soon give in to the Dark Side. I could especially envision a scene where Dooku tries to convince Qui-Gon to leave the order with him, and then upon his refusal either a touching farewell or heated light-saber battle ensues. This would depend largely on the nature of their relationship, whether Dooku was really more of a father figure or a master to Qui-Gon, but I think either way would be fit in well with Qui-Gon’s already established personality and history.
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Matthew, I like the idea you present about a scene where Dooku tries to convince Qui-Gon to leave the order. Given the tone of the conversation between Dooku and Kenobi in Attack of the Clones regarding Qui-Gon Jinn, I can certainly imagine a tense, but thoughtful departing of Jinn and Dooku. In fact, I think it would be interesting to see Dooku confiding in Jinn about his wishes to leave the Order, and Jinn trying to convince him to stay even though Dooku is feeling disillusioned by the Council/Republic. It would certainly make for a fascinating scene, and really show the mutual respect the two had for one another, but the clear differences as well.
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I think this may have been the longest article yet and on such a worthy topic. I think that the reason that Qui-Gon captivates everyone so quickly is because he defies the council. You expect the workers do what the bosses say but when someone defies the boss or goes around them then trouble always ensues. This trouble was not the fault of Qui-Gon alone. The council denying Anakin into the training program when he arrives creates a bit of anger in him that continues to grow. The more rules that limit Anakin’s freedom, especially regarding Padmè, fuel this hatred and finally turn him into Darth Vader. Although Qui-Gon initiated this hatred by bringing Anakin to Corresant, the trouble that ensued was not his fault. I think that this is why Qui-Gon is so appealing, he is the only main Jedi that trains by love and caring rather than rejection and strictness. He seems like the ideal father figure which aspects of his relationship with Obi-Wan and Anakin can be related to our own lives and relationships with our fathers.
I think that a book on the beginning of his life would be great but also a spin-off movie could work too. Matt, you were talking about a confrontation scene between Count Dooku and Qui-Gon. The relationship between the two would need to be well established and the anger in Dooku as well. I picture Dooku making his final “I Quit” speach to the Jedi Council with Qui-Gon observing. At the end he turns to Qui-Gon with an outstretched arm. Qui-Gon Has to decide between becoming a Jedi Knight, protecting the universe, and using the Force for good, as he has been taught to, or joining his best friend and mentor to use the Force without the strict rules of The Council which they both disagree about. This is where the individuality that Dooku taught Qui-Gon comes back to bite him. Qui-Gon decides to follow his heart and stay with the Jedi. Dooku, crushed, leaves and never returns. Years later, they meet on one of Qui-Gon’s missions and have to fight. Dooku uses his anger toward Qui-Gon to beat him but can’t kill him so he flees the scene. This can account for why Dooku is very aggressive in Attack of the Clones against Obi-Wan. Dooku allowed for Qui-Gon to live and thus Obi-Wan was powerfully trained so he used his self-hatred to try to kill Obi-Wan to correct his past mistakes.
I think some backstory for Qui-Gon has to become canon. He is such a great character, it would be interesting to see what they would do with it.
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Mr. Carvelli, this is a very thorough comment and you have a lot of very intriguing thoughts here. I am glad that this post got the sparks flying in your mind!
I think the scene you present about Qui-Gon witnessing the “I am leaving” speech from Dooku would be a very interesting to wrestle with, particularly if one gets to “hear” Jinn’s inner thoughts. As it stands right now, there is no clear picture of when/how Dooku left, and I think it makes perfect sense for Dooku to leave BEFORE Jinn died. I can even imagine, too, that Dooku would confide in Qui-Gon about his intentions to leave, trying to convince Qui-Gon to leave as well. This could perhaps substantiate some of the things Dooku says to Kenobi on Geonosis, that Qui-Gon knew of the corruption in the Senate…but, of course, whereas Dooku left, Qui-Gon stayed.
Plus, on the flip side, a Qui-Gon book could also provide insight not just into the Dooku-Jinn relationship, but the Jinn-Kenobi relationship. I think you are absolutely right that Jinn has a very nurturing nature, which you see in a number of his interactions in The Phantom Menace. But a father-figure who is nurturing can also be one who is stern, and one sees this from Qui-Gon as well in The Phantom Menace, particularly when he scolds Kenobi RIGHT AFTER Kenobi asks him not to defy the Council again. It is pretty apparent that Kenobi scolded Anakin on a number of occasions (Anakin even throws a tantrum about this to Padme), so it is likely that Kenobi learned this from Qui-Gon. Oh the different layers and dynamics such a book could give us! I could go on and on and on…
Keep the great thoughts coming!
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Of all the ideas you raise in this post, the one that caught my attention the most was how you used the “will of the Force.” Lucas has been very open about the fact that he put the Force in Star Wars to get people thinking about the nature of God and what the Divine could be. He wanted to open that conversation and, in so doing, he pulled many themes, symbols, and ideas from all of the major world religions. To that end, the Force has always seemed to most closely resemble the idea of the Tao. One of the Taoist ideas that seems most clearly reflected in the Force is the idea that this isn’t a personal deity, it’s not “God” in the traditional, western, Abrahamic sense. It is energy. It is potential. It doesn’t seem to have a personality but rather it creates, flows, sustains, and abides in all things.
But, if we follow your idea of a specific will of the Force (and not make the guess that Qui-Gon was perhaps presuming something that wasn’t completely true) it makes the Force – for better or worse – begin to resemble the western idea of God far more closely. Now the Force has a will, goals, a place it wants to move creation. It has a personality and desires. In Taoism, there is no “good” or “bad” in a dualistic western sense. Rather everything is required, in the correct amount, for balance and harmony. This seemed to be the vision of the Force we see from Obi-Wan and Yoda as they instruct Luke. But here, exploring the idea of a will of the Force as Qui-Gon mentions, it changes things. Now we can have an idea of “good” and “evil” as what the Force wants seems to become “good” while what it doesn’t is “bad.” It also leaves room for theologians in the Star Wars universe (not to mention Jedi and Sith) to argue over who correctly understands the will of the Force and who is acting in conjunction with that will. All actions, correct or not, can be given a “holy endorsement” if you connect it to the will of the Force.
Before I go on and on, I’ll just stop now. Suffice to say, if we work within this more concrete willing, it can fundamentally change the way we understand the Force in the Star Wars universe. That changes our understanding of Jedi, Sith, the prophecy, and the very idea of a balance to the Force.
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Mr. Miller, you raise a number of points here that I considered raising in this posting. For the sake of brevity, and because I had some other thoughts I wanted to present, I did not raise a larger discussion about the “will of the Force.” However, I find your analysis incredibly thought-provoking and along the lines of what I was thinking as well. If the Force has a “will,” this, as you point out, raises a cacophony of questions that lead in various directions. In effect, though, the notion that the Force has a “will” seems to imply some teleological agency, that the Force is guiding events towards some type of immanent end (in this case, the “balancing act”). However, it also raises the prospect that there are OTHER ends to the will of the Force, and that though Anakin “balanced” the Force in Return of the Jedi, that there also could be more to the “will” than just this act.
However, to pull things back for a moment, I also wonder how we are to understand the creative powers of the Force. As Qui-Gon lays out in “Voices,” life creates the “Living Force,” which feeds into the well-spring that is the “Cosmic Force.” We are left, then, with a sort of classic chicken and egg situation. In short, did the Force come first and create life, or did lie come first and create the Force? From the way Qui-Gon speaks, it would seem that the Force did not come into existence until life began. There are a number of other thoughts/questions I am thinking about this, but for the sake of brevity I will hold off on them as I want to raise one final thought that is nagging at the back of my mind…
Let’s assume for a moment that it was life that created the Force. The Force exists BECAUSE of life, so what does THIS mean for the Force to have a will? Is it possible that the Force, fed by life, has taken on a will of its own that is DISCONNECTED from life? The Force is in need of balancing, we know this because it is the refrain that is stated over and over and over…but what of life? Is it that the Force is fed by life but is now beyond life, sustained by it but having a will that is disconnected from life? OR, is it that the will of the Force is precisely the will of life, and that what Qui-Gon refers to as the “will of the Force” is actually the “will of Life”?
Honestly, I don’t know right now, but I will be thinking about this and a LOT MORE throughout the day and week to come.
Thanks for the great thoughts! Keep them coming!
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Also, assuming the Force is created by life, I definitely wonder if those on the dark side would somehow be excluded from becoming part of the Force, almost as if they were sent into some sort of “Force Hell”. This would make sense because then the collective will of the Force would always be pushing towards a good, balanced state, like the Jedi and those others we would associate with the light side, as opposed to those we associate with the dark side and who throw the Force off balance.
On the other hand, just the simple fact of the Force needing balance could refute this entirely and show that the people of the dark side do enter into the Force and cause things to need to be and aim to be balanced. This could be supported by the times the Sith claim that they are no different from the Jedi, except the Sith are more open about the truth.
Or even, to take it to an extreme, there could be totally separate Forces, light and dark. I know, this sounds almost heretical (get the reference Mr. Miller?), but if the Jedi really know as surprising little as it seems about the true nature of the Force, it could be a further development. Then the balance could be what comes from these conflicting Forces, or maybe even conflicting wills of the same Force. This would explain the seemingly constant back and forth between the light and dark side, and many of the events in Star Wars. For example: the light side sends Anakin to pull the balance back towards the light side, but then to combat this the dark side plays to Anakin’s weaknesses through Sidious, and uses Anakin to further the dark side agenda. Then the light side uses Luke to help bring balance back, and so on. Does this theory sound crazy? Absolutely. Would it make sense? I think so.
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I would argue that the Force does have a will and wishes to be balanced. Because if the Force hod no will and didn’t need to be balanced, why would a chosen one, Anakin Skywalker, be prophesied about and eventually created, possibly being conceived by the midi-chlorians, by which the Force can communicate?
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Mr. Russell, do you think that if the Force has a will, and thus a certain agency in which it can set into motion events for its own sake (specifically, its balancing), that the Force is also amoral? In other words, if Anakin is born specifically for the sake of balancing the Force, then does it matter how Anakin goes about doing this? If the Chosen One kills younglings, butchers children and families, betrays his Masters (both Jedi and Sith), and so on, all along the way towards the balancing of the Force, is this problematic or simply an extension of his role as the Chosen One? Or, are the actions of the Chosen One separate from the will of the Force? The Force may will itself to be balanced, but is it also possible for the Force to set things in motion that it is incapable of controlling along the path towards that final end?
I plan to wrestle with these thoughts in a future post, but thought I would level a few of them here given the high quality of discussion that was taking place.
I would argue that the Force helped to shape Anakin and led him to the Dark Side. The Force constantly sent Anakin visions of the future that caused him to turn to evil. The first example of this would be in Attack of the Clones when Anakin sees his mother suffering and decides to return to Tatooine to save her. In the end, she dies and Anakin slaughters the sand people in his anger, beginning his descent to the Dark Side. Later in Revenge of the Sith, the Force sends him a vision of Padmé dying causing him to seek out help of the Sith. As a result, Anakin becomes the apprentice of Darth Sidious. These visions from the Force made Anakin turn to the Dark Side and set in motion the creation and fall of the Empire and the destruction of the Sith, even though it required the deaths of the vast majority of Jedi. Therefore, in my opinion, where the Force is concerned, the ends can justify the means.
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We have some very similar thoughts on this, Mr. Russell. I will be intrigued to see what you have to say down the road as I continue to post on the Jedi, Sith, and the Force.
I do want to bring up one point. Most people at the beginning of the story (Episodes 1 and 2) believed that Anakin was the prophesized child. Then Luke came around and everyone thought he was the prophesized child. The Prophesy was about a child who was to bring balance to The Force through his strength in The Force. Anakin was the one who did this. He had to turn on the light side to keep them from growing to powerful. Then, Luke was used as Anakin’s reminder to get back on his mission. Thus, Anakin kills the Emperor and bestows balance to the force. The reason that Anakin had to die by the Emperor’s hand was because he couldn’t force Luke to kill his father but if Anakin didn’t die, he would most likely return to the dark side and replace the Emperor as the leader of the dark side. Anakin was the one that brought about the balance of the Force, not Luke.
Back on topic, I have one major question. If Qui-Gon had such a great connection to the Force, why did he not accept his death and become one with The Force upon his death. I believe that if he was so intune with the Force, he would have become one with it.
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Usually, everyone becomes part of the Force and Qui-Gon is no different. However, the Jedi believed that when someone dies, they lose their identity as they become part of the “nether realm” of the Force also called the Cosmic Force. Qui-Gon underwent special training to preserve his identity but was unable to complete it, unlike Yoda and Obi-Wan who did. They still became “one with the force”, yet they retained their identity.
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Okay, thank you!
Really great conversation going on here! Digging into the philosophy/theology of “the Force” is no easy task, but it is certainly something that opens up a lot of fascinating ideas to be explored. I look forward to hearing what other thoughts you all, and others, have to share on future pieces!