“In Defense of Midi-chlorians in the Star Wars Prequels” by Kylo Jen
“[Midichlorians] are life-forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist… and we would have no knowledge of the Force.” – Qui’gon, The Phantom Menace
While I have been happy to discover many people have found new appreciation for the Prequels, even more so with the recently released Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ show, a topic that still continues to divide Prequel lovers and haters alike is Midi-chlorians. In the original trilogy, the Force was mystical, something barely understood. Luke had to learn to reach out and accept the Force, which granted supernatural abilities and power to ultimately fight darkness. How did we go from having a mystical Force power to counting Midichlorian levels? What if this seemingly small change has larger implications?
I’ve previously spoken on the Star Ware Reporter Podcast about my belief that the Jedi’s arrogance was responsible for their demise. The Jedi grew far beyond their intended peacekeeper purpose when accepting military titles and enforcing Republic rule. The Jedi needed to be stopped. The prophecy was fulfilled when Anakin brought balance to the Force by total elimination of the Jedi Order. In this way, Anakin’s betrayal was a necessary event. If this is true, then the decision to include Midichlorians as a measure for future potential Jedi’s makes sense.
A common criticism of Midi-chlorians in the Prequels is that the Force became calculated. I don’t disagree. In fact, I completely agree with this assessment. The use of screening for Midi-chlorians to find and select Padawans suggests the process had become consolidated and optimized. Future Padawans were selected by a computer with a predetermined acceptable threshold. This was possibly the most arrogant display by the Jedi,in an attempt to quantify and predict the mystical Force.
This idea is not specific to Star Wars. Both history and fiction are full of attempts to quantify the mystical or divine only to be met with consequences. In Star Wars, perhaps the most severe of consequences was when Jedi Master Qui’gon unknowingly brought destruction to the Jedi. His discovery of a boy who, according to all predictive models and Midi-chlorian counts, would achieve Jedi greatness. While Anakin may have achieved great power, his greatness decimated the Jedi. This is the sort of thing predictive models overlook but perhaps prophecy didn’t. Counting Midi-chlorians changed the way the Force was perceived by the Jedi, and I would argue not for the better. If you didn’t care for the inclusion of Midi-chlorian counts in the Prequels, perhaps that was Geroge Lucas’s purpose in including them all along.