Star Wars, Episode VII: Redeeming the Force

I just got back from seeing Return of the Sith with Sandhya and my parents (who are visiting from Illinois), and I found myself enraged. Not by Lucas: the film had its flaws, but overall I enjoyed it. Not by Palpitane, though I found his twisted shaming of the boy painful to behold. No, what really enraged me was the Jedi Council: their sanctimonious, detached self-sufficiency were as much to blame as Palpitante for Anakin’s turning to the dark side — and more importantly, they mirrored my own anti-emotional intellectualism which induced my own ‘dark side’ phase over the previous decade.

When I was a child watching Star Wars IV-VI, the Jedi seemed the epitome of all that was good and noble, and their destruction by Vader a horrific tragedy. Now, Lucas (wittingly or no) did a fantastic job of demonstrating how their own near-nobility was their undoing. Like them, I lived much of my life seeking to a) serve others, and b) avoid emotional connection — though I never explicitly acknowledged the latter. In so doing,I denied my emotions, which thus became dark and dysfunctional.

The Jedi themselves mirror the monastic orders which gave birth to Western Civilization, when the ‘darker’ forces of romanticism and nationalism rebelled against the Church of Medieval Europe. The monks, for good and ill, had previously ruled on the basis of their superior power, wisdom, and discipline, and even their enemies adopted many of their habits (also for good and ill). Which is one reason I’m trying to reinvent/replace Western Civilization.

Ultimately, the solution to the so-called Dark Side is to bring it into the light, so that it can fulfill its healthy role in complementing what we -thought -was the light. I’m told Lucas now has no plans for Episode VII, though I know there’s endless books on “what happens next.” But, here [Read More] is a brief sketch of what I’d like to see. I don’t know how good a movie it would make, but at least it would give me closure.

The scene opens twenty years after Vader’s death. Leia has just retired as Speaker of the Second Republic, and Luke is busy running the Jedi Academy. Han Solo is running a (mostly) legitimate shipping business, and he and Leia’s oldest twins are strong in the force, and training with Luke as Jedis. However, their youngest daughter Shmeia, on the verge of teenhood, has no midi-clorians at all.

The young Republic is being wracked by its first crises. Luke is trying desperately to raise up legions of true Jedi to live up to the standards his father failed, when suddenly they receive evidence that some Jedi appear to be turning to the Dark Side. Meanwhile, with Leia’s retirement, the Republic is facing a crisis of leadership, all the more dangerous as there’s rumours of new (counter) rebellion. Some are calling for a new Chancellor, while others are refusing to oppose the rebellion with any force at all.

The basic idea is that Shmeia learns to actually converse with the Force, rather than merely responding to it. She discovers that the Force actually has a consciousness, and a will, and is responsible for creating the Universe. The Force reveals that there is no intrinsic dark side: rather, it has different aspects, as shown by lightsaber colors: e.g., blue for logic, green for discipline, and red for emotion. Unfortunately, the original Jedi knew only the blue-green Force, and shunned the red. The Sith originally were a faction of the Jedi who avowed red was good, but branded as heretics they turned inward and defined themselves as the opposite of the Jedi. Anakin really was supposed to bring balance to the Force by ‘forcing’ the Jedi to confront their own hypocrisy and emasculation, but instead their very pride and denial became their downfall.

With her new knowledge, Shmeia gets her mechanically-inclined friend Chewbacca’s son Shuwby to build a “lightsheild” — which flashes in all the colors of the rainbow. They steal a ship from Han and race to the scene of the climatic battle between light and dark Jedi. By reversing the polarity of Shuwby’s shield , they actually disable everyone’s lightsabers. Shmeia tries to explain to them that they need not be enemies — the new pseudo-Sith haven’t really gone down the road of true evil yet — but nobody listens. Except her siblings. They link with her, and suddenly the Force itself erupts from Shuwby’s sheild in all its glory, and Jedi and Sith alike fall prostate before it.

Meanwhile, Leia’s a special diplomatic envoy trying to broker peace with the counter-rebels. Things break down, and she’s about to be killed when her husband swoops in to save her neck (again) — this time with the combined/reconciled Jedi/Sith forces, led by a chastened Luke. After much urging from Anakin, Luke finally agrees to totally restructure the Jedi Academy, as follows:

Rather than pursuing a monastic life of detachment and martial discipline, the Jedi are instead encouraged to take on a pastoral role: they seek to nurture healthy Force sensitivity and usage in all beings, not just a chosen few. In particular, they are encouraged to marry prophets (interestingly, Jedi can only hear the Force dimly, but those without midi-chlorians are able to actually converse with it), raise families, and be part of the communities in all ten-thousand worlds of the Second Republic. Their purpose is to be teachers first (actually, role-models zeroeth) and judges second.

They explicitly eschew political authority, though, with each local Jedi having primary allegiance to their homeworld, not to the Council. The Council really becomes a curriculum and credentialing agency, which means they handle complaints and rogue Jedi. They also sponsor research into all aspects of the Force. Maybe they renamed themselves the Society for the Advancement and Application of the Force (SAAF).

Leia also realizes that a central Republic is an impossibly unwieldy and distant agency for effectively resolving conflict. Instead, she proposes a Federation, with the Republic divided into 100 sectors of 100 systems each, which basically function like States in a bicameral, tripartite government a la the U.S. Constitution (using majority voting, naturally). The counter-rebels are contiguous enough to give them their own state, with the proviso that they’d have a Jedi-monitored plebiscite on whether to stay in the Federation.

Episode VII ends with Shmeia being installed as the first high priestess of the Force, founding an explicitly religious organization not directly tied to the Council or the Federation. Since many others can hear the Force — and all struggle with interpreting it properly — she has no Pope-like infallibility. The final scene is hear teaching songs about the Force to a Sunday-School-like group of children NOT wearing Jedi robes.

[Okay, maybe that’s way too clunky for a movie, but the political stuff could all be backstory between the episodes. At any rate, it makes me feel much better, which was the main point].