Jedi Council

Women of the Jedi Council

The Jedi High Council: the ruling body of the Jedi Order for millennia until the Order’s downfall at the end of the Clone Wars. Consisting of twelve Masters, these experienced and wizened Jedi deliberated the best direction and course of action for the Order they were tasked with leading. At the head of the Council was a Grand Master, and during the last years of the Old Republic – years we see unfolding in the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars animated show, and through other storytelling mediums – that title/role was occupied by Yoda, the mysterious Jedi introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. But while Yoda may have been the oldest and wisest of the Jedi, commanding infinite respect, and his opinions on Jedi matters carrying incredible weight, he was surrounded by Masters gifted in their own particular ways.

It is at this point, though, that I must acknowledge my intention for this post. Rather than trying to weave a path towards my conclusion, highlighting all of the Masters and the way their stories have been woven into the fabric of Star Wars, it is far easier to be direct. In short, this piece is titled “Women of the Jedi Council” because, upon reflection, I found myself shocked that there are not MORE women on the Council.

Introduced in The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Council of the first Prequel film has only three female characters:

Adi Gallia
Depa Billaba

In Attack of the Clones, the Council again only has three women:

Shaak Ti  (who replaced Yaddle)
Adi Gallia
Depa Billaba

And, in Revenge of the Sith, the Council only has two women:

Shaak Ti
Stass Allie (who replaced Adi Gallia)

Over a 13 years period, from The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi High Council only has five different women. And, one will notice from the small lists above that none of the women in The Phantom Menace are on the Council when we get to Revenge of the Sith. On the flip side, the male representation on the Jedi Council remains steady. The breakdown is as follows…

The Phantom Menace:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Even Piell
Oppo Rancisis
Yarael Poof
Eeth Koth

Attack of the Clones:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Even Piell
Oppo Rancisis
Coleman Trebor (who replaced Yarael Poof)
Eeth Koth

Revenge of the Sith:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Obi-Wan Kenobi (who replaced Even Piell)
Anakin Skywalker (who replaced Oppo Rancisis)
Kit Fisto (who replaced Coleman Trebor)
Agen Kolar (who replaced Eeth Koth)
Coleman Kcaj (who replaced Depa Billaba)

Like I said, the male representation on the Council remains steady throughout, particularly among the first 5 male Masters in each list. In turn, whereas there are only 5 different women on the Council over the 13 year period, there are a total of 15 different men (a 3:1 ratio of men to women). Plus, there are three other curious things to consider about this male-female breakdown:

  1. While we do hear women who sit on the Jedi Council speak in The Clone Wars animated series (Adi Gallia and Shaak Ti), a woman NEVER speaks during a Council session in any of the three Prequel films. Notably, the only Jedi woman who speaks in the Prequels is the Jedi Archive librarian Jocasta Nu, but she is not a member of the Council.
  2. A woman NEVER replaces a man on the Jedi Council. In fact, the opposite is true, with Coleman Kcaj replacing Depa Billaba. 
  3. More men (6) are added to the Council over those 13 years than the total number of women (5) who sit on the Council over that same period.

So, what gives?

Well, first and foremost, I will return to my initial admittance: as I reflected on the Jedi Council I was shocked that women are so underrepresented, and I am guilty for not recognizing this sooner. While I was growing up when the Prequel Trilogy films came out (the years 1999, 2002, 2005), and was not prone to deeper reflections on the franchise I loved at that time, as an adult I can say I am disappointed in myself for not recognizing this woeful disparity and lack of female voices sooner. Better late than never, though.

Secondly, while I do not have direct insight into the thought processes of Star Wars creator George Lucas, the writer/director of the Prequel Trilogy, I am never-the-less left to wonder why it is he did not recognize this paucity of women on the Council. As he worked on the Prequels, Lucas clearly took for granted the uneven representation, the lopsided ratio of men to women. Perhaps if he, or others around him, had noticed it then something would have changed with more women added, fewer men speaking, and so on. Or maybe it was pointed out and he just didn’t care. Frankly, I cannot say. But what I can say is that, at least for me, this is glaring red mark against the Prequel Trilogy, and it is incredibly unfortunate that more attention was not given to creating a Jedi Council with equal representation. Which leads me to my third point…

…what does this imbalance of the sexes say about the Jedi Council? In some respects, I suppose it isn’t all that surprising. If art imitates life, then the Jedi Council imitates many corporate board rooms where men still outnumber women. Or, since the Jedi are a religious order, we can think of religions around the world which place greater emphasis on the voices/actions of men (the hierarchy of the Catholic Church being one example). But just because it isn’t surprising that the Jedi are governed predominantly by men doesn’t mean it isn’t disappointing. The Jedi Order is supposed to be built around principles of egalitarianism and, as such, one would presume that the High Council would strive for a balance of the sexes. In fact, I cannot help but wonder: if more women – and newer voices in general – had been present, would they have stopped the march to war in Attack of the Clones which was led by the Council’s longstanding (male) Masters, Yoda and Mace Windu in particular?

Shohreh Aghdashloo
Iranian-born actress Shoreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala in The Expanse.
Photo Credit: SyFy

This is certainly not the only question one could ask, and there are any number of answers that are possible. Yet, my intention is not to dig into every single question, or find every answer. Instead, in presenting what I believe is a truly unfortunate reality about the make-up of the Jedi High Council, the lack of women and their voices on that Council, I want to end with a suggestion. As the Star Wars franchise moves forward, with more films being added over time, my hope is that if a film is set in the days of the Old Republic, long before the events of the Prequel Trilogy, that the Jedi Council (if included in the film) feature a perfect distribution of 6 women and 6 men. To this, I would add my desire that the Grand Master of the Jedi Council also be a woman. If left to me, the actress I’d place in the Grand Master’s seat would be Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, a woman with an incredibly commanding presence in SyFy’s show The Expanse. I am of the opinion that Aghdashloo is a natural fit for the Star Wars universe, and could be a remarkable Jedi Grand Master if given the opportunity. That said, there are many actresses who’d make great Jedi Masters if given the chance, and I hope the day it is not far off when we see them on the High Council and helping to lead the Jedi Order.

Chewbacca and the Jedi

One of the last battles of the Clone Wars, the Separatist invasion of Kashyyk in Revenge of the Sith provides a glimpse of not just the Wookie homeworld, but Wookie warriors charging into battle alongside the Clones and Jedi. Of course, it also gave us a little nugget of insight into Chewbacca’s backstory, namely that he participated in the fight against the droids. Granted, Chewie’s cameo in Revenge of the Sith is fairly short and we never actually see him fight the battle droids. I was always a bit disappointed about that because, let’s be honest, it would have been pretty sweet to see our favorite Wookie blasting some battle droids.

Yoda, Chewbacca, and Tarfful say their good-byes.  Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Yoda, Chewbacca, and Tarfful say their good-byes.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Although we don’t get to see him kick some droid ass, Chewbacca’s cameo is hardly unimportant or without purpose. He and another Wookie, Tarfful, are present with Yoda when Clone Commander Gree and another Clone turn on the Jedi Master. When Gree and his counterpart walk up behind Yoda, leveling their weapons at the small Jedi, the Wookies witness Yoda leap up and decapitate the two Clones. In turn, Chewbacca and Tarfful usher Yoda away to safety, aware that the elder Jedi is in danger. And as Yoda is about to leave Kashyyyk, he thanks Tarfful and Chewbacca by name. With that, Yoda blasts off towards space as the two Wookies look on.

And scene.

Now, before I go any further, let me just say that I really like Chewbacca showing up in Revenge of the Sith. In fact, it probably would have been really odd for there to be a plot involving Kashyyyk/Wookies and Chewbacca not being there. But Chewie making a cameo, while awesome in and of itself, is not the only reason I like that he is there. I like that his appearance, specifically his proximity and interactions with Yoda, create a new way of thinking about his encounter with Obi-Wan and Luke in A New Hope. Essentially, the question becomes: did he say anything to Obi-Wan and/or Luke about the Jedi Master he helped save 19 years before???

Chewbacca and Obi-Wan Kenobi chat at the Mos Eisley Cantina bar.  Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Chewbacca and Obi-Wan Kenobi chat at the Mos Eisley Cantina bar.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Well, to be honest, we can actually rule out Luke from the get go. When Force ghost Obi-Wan appears to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and tells Skywalker to “go to the Dagobah system” to learn from Yoda, Luke clearly has no idea who Kenobi is talking about. I would argue that any conversation Chewbacca and Luke have about the Jedi in the new canon material that takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back should NOT include any information about Yoda. Essentially, I believe it is important to maintain Luke’s ignorance so as to safeguard the appearance and directive from Kenobi in “Empire.” And after the events of “Empire,” if Chewie and Luke want to sit down and talk about Yoda, or the Jedi Order, or whatever, then I say more power to them.

But the interaction(s) between Obi-Wan and Chewbacca in A New Hope, that is a different story. Recall that it’s a conversation between Kenobi and Chewie that initiates the meeting with Han Solo. I can’t imagine Kenobi came right out and told Chewbacca he was a Jedi when they first talk, but I can believe that Chewie, having interacted with Jedi in the past, would have picked up on the fact that this old guy was dressed like a Jedi. Certainly Chewbacca, at 180 years old, can recall how the Jedi used to dress.

But then, right after their initial conversation, two other really important things happen simultaneously. The first, the most obvious, is that Kenobi whips out a lightsaber. Hmmmm, this old guy is dressed like a Jedi and has a lightsaber, innnnnteresting. Plus, and this is the key, Luke, having been pushed to the floor by his assailants, calls out, “Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan!!!”

See, if we go back to Revenge of the Sith, right before the fighting on Kashyyyk commences, Master Yoda is speaking to the entire Jedi Council via hologram about the secret location of the Separatist General Grievous. In turn, the Council decides that Kenobi will lead the attack to capture Grievous. And, who just happens to be standing behind Yoda, intently watching and listening the entire time: CHEWBACCA!!! Here, go see for yourself: Battle of Kashyyyk.

Yoda attends a meeting of the Jedi Council while Chewbacca and Tarfful look on. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Yoda attends a meeting of the Jedi Council while Chewbacca and Tarfful look on.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Given all the signs (the robe, the lightsaber, the name), not to mention his own previous interactions with Yoda and other Jedi, does Chewie know he is speaking with a Jedi in the Mos Eisley Cantina? Honestly, it is a total toss-up. On the one hand, he very well might have no idea; however, it is also entirely possible that he does know. Heck, even if he doesn’t know it is Kenobi, but knows that he is interacting with a Jedi, that is perfectly fine.  But if he does know he is chatting with a Jedi, then the question is – does he pull the Jedi aside and say anything to him about his previous interactions with Jedi, particularly his safe-guarding of Yoda 19 years earlier?

Short of a story being written that either A) shows the two discussing Yoda/the Jedi Order and/or; B) that alludes to such a conversation taking place (say in Chewie’s inner dialogue in the new Chewbacca comic series), there is really just no way of knowing. And frankly, I am not sure that we even need to know. While on the one hand it is intriguing to imagine the two having a private conversation about the Jedi Order, it is also equally interesting to think that Obi-Wan chatted with Chewbacca and had no idea that he was speaking to a Wookie who (may) know who he is but who, 19 years earlier, helped safe-guard Yoda as the Jedi Master fled Kashyyyk. And, on the flip side, it’s equally intriguing to think that Chewbacca had a hunch about this Obi-Wan character but never said anything.

But perhaps what is even more profound is the fact that Chewbacca, on these two separate occasions, is in the right location to aid a Jedi. He is present when Yoda is in need of protection and, 19 years later, is also present when Obi-Wan is looking for passage to Alderaan. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, in an episode of The Clone Wars he also provides assistance to padawan Ahsoka Tano and a couple of Jedi younglings who had been captured by Trandoshan hunters. Not once, not twice, but at least three times Chewbacca is there to help the Jedi. Some (ahem, Han) might call it coincidence or just dumb luck, but I call it the will of the Force. On each occasion, Chewbacca is precisely where the Force wanted him to be, ready to assist a Jedi who was in need. Because of this, I really couldn’t care less if Chewie and Obi-Wan chat about their mutual connection(s). The only connection that really matters is the one they have in the Force. Everything else is just secondary.

From Padawan to Knight

“You are on the council, but we do not grant you the rank of master.” – Mace Windu

“What? How can you do this? This is outrageous, it’s unfair.” – Anakin Skywalker

Remember that moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin is given a seat on the Jedi Council but Mace Windu tells him he IS NOT granted the rank of Master? Young Skywalker is pretty ticked about not being elevated to Master, and voices his disgust vehemently only to be chastised for his outburst. Anakin takes his seat and the scene moves along.

Anakin learns that he has been placed on the Council but was not promoted to the rank of Master. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Anakin learns that he has been placed on the Council but was not promoted to the rank of Master.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I can’t really argue one way or the other if it was the right decision for the Council to deny Anakin a promotion. I could, of course, spend this entire post dissecting the decision of the Jedi Council, and Anakin’s reaction, but my interest in doing so isn’t very high, at least not at the moment. Instead, I want to spend my time in this post wrestling with a different moment, or rather, a different transition point, in Anakin’s life as a Jedi. Basically, I want to know when and why he was promoted from Padawan to Knight because there is no canonical reference to it and, frankly, I want to know what the event/moment was like for Anakin.

Honestly, I think it is curious that we have never witnessed, nor read, anything about this very central moment in Skywalker’s life.[1] And, my curiosity is only amplified when we realize that we DO get to witness other significant points in Anakin’s life, all of which affect him in profound ways. Here is a brief list of some of these moments:

  • As a 9-year-old, Anakin is freed from slavery and leaves his mother on Tatooine (The Phantom Menace)
  • Anakin becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Padawan (The Phantom Menace)
  • Young Skywalker has doubts about training to become a Jedi and considers leaving the Order (Obi-Wan and Anakin)
  • He is given his first, independent assignment as a Jedi guarding Senator Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
  • Anakin witnesses his mother’s death, and slaughters a tribe of Tusken Raiders (Attack of the Clones)
  • He secretly marries Padmé Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
  • Anakin takes on a Padawan of his own, Ahsoka Tano (The Clone Wars movie)
  • Anakin watches as Ahsoka walks away from the Jedi Order (The Clone Wars)
  • He learns that he is going to be a father (Revenge of the Sith)
  • He is appointed to the Jedi Council (Revenge of the Sith)
  • Anakin cuts off the arm of Mace Windu, turning to the Dark Side, and becomes Darth Vader (Revenge of the Sith)

While this list could definitely be expanded, again, what has no possibility of being added right now is the moment Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight. Of course, some might suggest that this event needn’t be developed, that we get to see him as a Knight in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Anakin with his Padawan Ahsoka Tano Photo Credit - Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

Anakin with his Padawan Ahsoka Tano
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

Well, this is true. But we should also keep in mind that becoming a Jedi Knight is not a trivial thing. A Padawan must go through the “Trials,” the ritual process within the Order whereby a Padawan becomes a Knight. While there are a number of significant moments for a Jedi youngling in their training, from the creation to their lightsaber to their being apprenticed to a Jedi Knight or Master, the “Trials” are THE most significant rite of passage one will ever undertake within the Order because it is what makes one a full- fledged Jedi. While the responsibility of the Padawan is to learn the tenants of the Order, to learn how to follow the Jedi Code, this responsibility flips when one becomes a Knight. The Jedi Knight is a full Jedi because they are no longer tasked with learning, but with practicing and implementing the Code. In turn, the Knight will also take on a Padawan of their own, teaching the beliefs and duties of the Order to a young, up and coming Jedi.

But it is also worth noting that it is the Jedi Council which decides when a Padawan is ready for the “Trials,” and also determines when/if the Padawan has passed. Only then, if they have passed, will the Council confer the rank of Knight upon the Padawan.

Anakin’s Trials

In my mind, this is an event in Anakin’s life that is not simply about his taking and passing a test. Or, to say it another way, I am not interested in this particular story just to be able to say Anakin’s “Trials” were X, Y, and Z. Oh no, I want this story because it opens up a wealth of possibilities to get into Anakin’s head, to see how, during this immensely important period of his life, he viewed himself and his relationship to those around him.

Now, it is worth nothing the possibility that Anakin was granted his Knighthood immediately following the events depicted in Attack of the Clones. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is promoted to Knight after his own Master dies, and he defeats Darth Maul in battle. Perhaps the Jedi Council felt that young Skywalker’s actions, such as protecting Padmé, trying to rescue Obi-Wan, and facing Count Dooku, were ample reason to promote him to Jedi Knight. If this is the case, that is all well and good, but I also think it would be a mistake to think the Council promoted Anakin in the wake of all of these deeds.

Here is why: after going through everything we see him go through in Attack of the Clones, Anakin would have believed he had faced his “Trials” and should receive his Knighthood. Imagine, then, how royally pissed off he would be if, after everything he went through, he was still a Padawan as the Clone Wars began!!! You and I both know that HE would believe he had faced his “Trials” in the past few weeks, particularly after taking on a Sith Lord. Instead, upon returning from Naboo, he discovers that he is STILL Obi-Wan’s Padawan. If I was writing the book on Anakin’s “Trials,” I think the Prologue would need to have a scene in which he bursts into the Council Chamber demanding to know why he was not promoted to Jedi Knight…

Anakin and Count Dooku engage in combat Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Anakin and Count Dooku engage in combat
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The way I see it, if Anakin is elevated to Knight immediately after, and as a result of, his actions in Attack of the Clones, this shuts the door on Anakin having one more reason to be mad at the Jedi Council, one more reason to complain to Padmé, one more reason for Palpatine to plant the seed of Jedi greatness into his young mind. Of course Anakin would eventually end up facing the “Trials,” but there would be an underlying and persistent resentment, a boiling anger directed towards the Council, and even Obi-Wan, for holding him back yet again, a disgust for being treated like all of the other Padawan’s when he is convinced he exceeds them and most other Jedi.

And added to this resentment and disgust would be the ultimate Anakin paradox: that in feeling he should be promoted to full-fledged Jedi Knight, Anakin would also be wrestling with all the ways he has broken the Jedi Code – from killing an entire tribe of Tusken Raiders out of anger to secretly marrying Padmé Amidala. In other words, this story should not be told just so we can see Anakin get upset and pissy once again, but rather to dig into Anakin’s inner-self at a deeper level, to better understand how he reconciles his actions, thoughts, and beliefs with the Jedi Order he is sworn to serve.

Besides, it is in the heart and mind of a Jedi where the “Trials” truly take place and, well, after the things he says and does in Attack of the Clones, I want a front row seat to Anakin’s psychological and emotional turmoil as he transitions from Padawan to Knight. Plus, as a side show to the Anakin’s inner action, the story would also give us insight into the way(s) the Jedi Council view Anakin, allowing us to see their hesitation in promoting him and, perhaps, even the decision to provide him with a Padawan after he has become a Knight.

Oh, and as a final thought, just imagine who would be there to help Anakin through the “Trials,” who his closest confidant would end up being. It is hardly a stretch to imagine Chancellor Palpatine taking the time to work with young Skywalker through this period, a closer bond being forged between the two. And when Anakin did finally receive his Knighthood, Palpatine would be right there, off to the side, just watching and smiling…

I really do hope we get this type of story someday.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Do you agree there should be a story that looks at Anakin’s “Trials” and, if so, what sort of thing(s) would you want to see in it???

[1] We DO get to see Anakin face the Trials, and receive his promotion, in the non-canonical Clone Wars series from the early 2000s.

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 1)

“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Master Yoda on the Sith

Question: How is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two when the Sith have been extinct for a millennia?

This question is one that a fan of The Imperial Talker asked me to address, and I am more than happy to do so because it is a question that has bounced around my mind on a number of occasions. Plus, after diving head first into tackling this question, it dawned on me that there are a number of other things to be addressed with regard to the Rule of Two. So this will only be the first of a number of posts where I explore this question, and the Rule of Two.

Before jumping directly into answering the question at hand, a bit of context is necessary so that we are all on the same page. That said, it is essential to first consider the two scenes from The Phantom Menace from which this question is born. I have provided links for both of the scenes below to refresh your memory.

Jedi Master Ki-Adi Mundi Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The first is a scene in which Qui-Gon Jinn explains to the Jedi Council that he was attacked by a mysterious warrior while on the planet Tatooine, concluding that the warrior was, in fact, a Sith. In response, Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, a member of the Council, exclaims that “the Sith have been extinct for a millennia.”

The second scene is at the end of the film, and depicts Qui-Gon’s funeral after he is killed. Off to the side, Master Yoda and Master Windu discuss the identity of the mysterious warrior. Master Windu states, “There’s no doubt that the mysterious warrior was a Sith.” In response, Master Yoda, agreeing with his friend, states “Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.”

Now, there is obviously much more happening in both of these scenes than we will be discussing here, but for the sake of staying on topic, we will skip over the other stuff this time around.

Ultimately, the question at hand is amalgamation of both of these scenes, or rather, points that are raised in each scene. On the one hand, we discover from Master Mundi that the Sith have been extinct for a millennia. But we also know, from Master Yoda, that the Sith operate in a curious way: there are only ever two Sith Lords, a Master and Apprentice. The question then, how Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, is a pertinent one. Once again, if the Sith have been extinct for a millennia, how can a Jedi know anything about this very specific Rule?

The Phantom Menace does not provide a whole lot of information to solve this conundrum. Even if we added other moments in the film, there is still not much to work with. Still, let’s play around with what we have.

We have been working off of the assumption that the Rule of Two was instituted AFTER the Sith “extinction” event. The problem, though, is that this creates a couple of convoluted problems when the moment arrives and Yoda actually learns about the Rule of Two.

On the one hand, if he discovered the information himself (let’s say he found a Sith artifact that discusses the Rule), he must have kept the discovery to himself. What would this say about Yoda? He knew the Sith had instituted a new Rule AFTER their extinction, that the Sith were still out there? Are we to believe Yoda chose to hide this information from the Council, and not use the full weight of the Jedi Order to hunt down the hidden Sith Lords?

Masters Yoda and Windu at Qui-Gon Jinn's funeral Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Masters Yoda and Windu at Qui-Gon Jinn’s funeral
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Plus, when watching the scene where Mace Windu and Yoda are conversing at Qui-Gon’s funeral, one does not get the impression that Windu is surprised by what Yoda says. Instead, Yoda’s assertion that “Always two there are…” is matter of fact, something Mace Windu already knew. Perhaps Yoda had confided in Mace Windu about what he discovered, but then all this does is forces us to re-ask the questions I just presented, with Yoda and Windu both implicated.

However, I am led to believe that what Masters Yoda and Windu are discussing is something the Jedi Order already knows about the Sith. In other words, it is common knowledge that the Sith have a Rule of Two.

On the other hand, what if Yoda learned the information from the Jedi Order, and did not independently discover the information? This lines up with the the Rule of Two being “common knowledge,” but this essentially means the Jedi did know that the Sith had survived. At best, this throws Ki-Adi-Mundi under the bus and makes him look like a fool, and at worst, it means the Jedi just stopped caring about the Sith, their mortal enemy, even though they knew the Sith were still around…

Frankly, I just don’t buy it. The Jedi might be flawed in a number of ways, but I can’t see them willfully ignoring the existence of the Sith. Besides, I take Master Mundi at his word, and trust that he is presenting the official position of the Jedi Order: the Sith are extinct.

But what if it is the official position of the Jedi Order that the Sith are extinct, but the Council is hiding the truth. Could it be the Jedi Council knew that the Sith were still alive for all those years, that they had instituted a new Rule of Two, and the Council kept this a secret? Perhaps Master Mundi was feigning ignorance, pretending to be in disbelief at Qui-Gon’s statement that he was attacked by a Sith Lord. What would this say about the members of the Jedi Council?

Master Yoda Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Master Yoda
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I will be arguing in another post that the Jedi are victims of their own hubris, but I am not sure I believe the Council misled the Jedi Order, and the Republic, and kept the knowledge about the Sith hidden. Don’t get me wrong, I do think this is a possibility, and that this approach could potentially work. However, I feel like the way things play out in the Prequel Trilogy hinges, in part, on the Jedi scrambling at the re-emergence of the Sith, as if the Order, and the Council in particular, are unsure how to act.

Plus, I am also not willing to undermine the scheme the Sith put into play when they went “extinct.” The Sith instituted a master plan that came to fruition in the Prequels, beginning with their return in The Phantom Menace. I would suggest we let the Sith have their moment in the sun, and when they reveal themselves, they caught the Jedi off-guard and unprepared.

And with that said, where in the world do we go from here?

Well, there is actually some more information we can look at, but it doesn’t come from The Phantom Menace. In Part 2, then, we will a journey to Moraband, the ancient homeworld of the Sith and meet the Sith Lord who instituted the Rule of Two: Darth Bane.

Oh, and just FYI, things are going to get really complicated.

Qui-Gon Jinn, A Novel Character

“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.

Darth Maul stabs Qui-Gon Jinn Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Darth Maul stabs Qui-Gon Jinn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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

Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin stand before the Jedi Council Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin stand before the Jedi Council
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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.

Master Yoda standing in front of the entrance to the crystal caves on the planet Ilum Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 5, Episode 6 -

Master Yoda standing in front of the entrance to the crystal caves on the planet Ilum
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 5, Episode 6 – “The Gathering”

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.”***