In the Phantom Menace we learn of a prophecy that the chosen one will balance the force. In the Rise of Skywalker we hear Anakin’s voice speaking to Ray. “Balance the force, like I did.” Was the force really balanced? And how?
Anakin is tested by the council and they agree with Qui Gon Jin that he is the chosen one. But, they won’t train him. Why?
Qui Gon admonishes Obi Wan that the boy must be trained. He risks everything and defies the council.
Mace Windu and Yoda cryptically discuss the prophecy in Attack of the Clones. Though Anakin is meant to bring balance, Yoda points out that it’s easy to misinterpret prophecies.
After defeating Anakin in single combat, Obi Wan vents his frustration. “You were meant to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness!”
What is the prophecy about? Though we learn very little of the prophecy, it’s clear that it terrifies the council. Why? The Jedi Order is the established power structure. The council controls much of the military, handles diplomacy, and has enormous influence in the senate. It benefits from things staying exactly like they are. Perhaps there are different views on what the prophecy means, but everyone knows that it means some kind of change.
Qui Gon is an outsider. He invites a new order. He trusts in something deeper than the council. He believes in the will of the force, whatever that might mean.
What actually happens?
Should we believe that Anakin actually brought balance to the force? If he did, how did it work?
Anakin completely devastates the Jedi Order. By the end of Revenge of the Sith, there are two Sith and two Jedi. Perhaps balance means that the numbers are even. After all, it hardly seems balanced that there there was a huge Jedi order and only one Sith.
But, Anakin’s work isn’t over at the end of Revenge of the Sith. While the prophecy isn’t mentioned in the original trilogy, he spends his time dominating the galaxy and establishing the Empire. Is this balance?
At the end of Return of the Jedi, Anakin saves Luke and kills the Emperor. Luke is the only Jedi left. Things are out of balance?
While simple numbers explain why the council was so worried, it also seems clumsy. Is there any way to explain this other than a half-hearted add-on that Lucas made to the prequels because it sounded cool?
The Last Jedi and a new hope
Ryan Johnson offers us new hope in the Last Jedi of making any sense of this. There is life and death. Powerful light and powerful dark. In-between it all? balance.
After all, did we think that the balance of the force lay in Jedi? That if the Jedi died the light would die? Such hubris.
The force is an energy field that’s inside of all living things, connecting them. The force desires balance. The force opposes a status quo built on bureaucracy, a Jedi council that takes babies from their families and indoctrinates them from youth.
The Last Jedi democratizes the force, making it available to all. It concludes with a young boy using the force to summon his broom. In The Force Awakens, Rey resists a trained Jedi. Without any officially sanction training… how dare they?
Though The Rise of Skywalker largely ignores this, we get a small glimmer at the end and a clue in the title. On Tatooine, Rey is asked who she is. After a painfully long pause she answers that she’s a Skywalker. What can this mean other than that the force is available to all?
Though it’s hard to think that Anakin brought any kind of balance, it seems that through him, some sort of balance was achieved.
Powerful light, powerful dark. In between it all? Balance.