The Pull of the Dark Side

Hey everyone and welcome to the Sarlacc Pit. One of the reasons I started this blog was to discuss questions that people had about things in Star Wars canon (so if you have any questions you should post them in the comments section). A while back, I was having a Star Wars conversation with my fiance who asked me if it was possible to simply use the dark side of the Force as a tool for temporary power, and then back out once it was no longer needed. This question captured my attention and it’s something I want to discuss here, so let’s get started. Warning: there will be major spoilers from “Star Wars: Rebels,” “Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi,” and Star Wars: Dark Disciple, so read at your own risk!

The Nature of the Dark Side

In my earlier post “Musings on the Force,” I talked about what the main differences between the light side and the dark side of the Force were. In that post I tried to explain that the light side and dark side (in my understanding) are two distinct paths used to gain an understanding of the Force. I have made a diagram of how I think this plays out below.

the-force
I know what you’re thinking: this is the best diagram ever made in an attempt to explain how the light side and dark side works.

O.k., so the above diagram essentially shows that to reach true understanding of the Force there were two paths (this is most likely inaccurate, as I’m sure there were many gray paths that will be expanded on in future canon, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll go with just the two). A person who followed the path of the dark side used powerful emotions to gain strength, bending the Force to his or her will. A person who followed the path of the light side suppressed their emotions, and used meditation and knowledge to gain understanding in the Force. As has been shown many times, following the path of the dark side gives a quick boost as meditation and emotion-suppressing is hard work, while giving into emotions such as pain, anger, and fear while slinging energy blades at someone in a river of lava is pretty easy stuff.

anakin-vs-obi-wan
In this situation I would probably be in pain, angry and also afraid, so I get it, Anakin.

So the question here is: is it possible to just use those emotions for a quick boost, but then stop before your eyes turn yellow and you start Force choking people for funsies? Short answer: eh, not really.

The Long Answer

So there are numerous instances where Force users briefly tapped into the dark side and then came back. A fairly famous instance was during Luke Skywalker’s duel against Darth Vader on the Death Star II when, after being baited by Vader who started talking trash about Luke’s sister, Luke briefly gave into his anger, bringing Darth Vader to his knees after some pretty intense lightsaber strikes.

vader-yields
You know when you have Vader asking you to stop you’ve tapped into some dark stuff.

However, this is a fairly common occurrence. Those who are strong in the Force are shown to be pretty sensitive to changes in emotion, causing momentary lapses in judgement and “accidental” use of the dark side. However, whenever this momentary lapse happened, it generally caused confusion and exhaustion as the dark side took its toll on the user. This happened with Ezra Bridger when he used the dark side to summon a large fyrnock in order to save Kanan from the Grand Inquisitor.

ezra-fyrnock
He looks tough here, but Ezra passed out almost immediately after this.

Now both of those instances were of two Force users who quickly tapped into the dark side and then backed out with very little repercussions. So, as a one-time deal, this idea is not terrible. However, something to point out is that both of these times showed people who were relatively new to the Force (even after he was a Jedi Knight, Luke had only been using the Force for a few years). I will once again bring your attention to my diagram:

the-force
Man, that is one good looking diagram.

Both paths start at a close point, if not the same point, thus it is reasonable to say that the earlier in your training, the easier it may be to slip between the two paths. However the more experienced you are, the more difficult switching sides may become, especially from the dark side to the light. One major instance of someone who attempted to use the dark side of the Force with major negative consequences comes from Star Wars: Dark Disciple. In an attempt to assassinate Count Dooku to put an end to the Clone Wars, Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos was assigned to team up with Asajj Ventress, former Sith disciple turned bounty hunter. What began as a partnership turned into a romance, and Ventress led Vos down the path of the dark side, claiming it was the only way to kill Dooku. What could go wrong, right?

quinlan-vos
In case you’re wondering: this is Quinlan Vos, Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars.

A lot went wrong. At first, Vos seemed cool. He was using dark side abilities, he was stronger, it was going well. Until he totally switched teams and went yellow-eyes. Vos betrayed Ventress and the Jedi Order and temporarily joined Count Dooku. I won’t go too much into detail but it was pretty bad. Eventually Vos was able to come back from the dark side, but not without much suffering, and much loss.

The other major example is Darth Vader, who for decades was a servant of the dark side. Responsible for uncounted deaths (I’d venture to say possibly thousands, millions-billions if you include the Death Star kills in his total), torture, suffering, nightmares, etc. However even Vader was able to come back to the dark side after saving his son from the Emperor.

vader-unmasked
Included with redemption: anti-Sith eye drops.

So it wasn’t totally impossible to use the dark side of the Force and come back from it. However, momentary use could cause drastic problems and medium to long term use couldmake redemption an incredibly difficult and suffering-inducing ordeal.

Conclusion

So was it impossible to temporarily use the dark side and then switch back? Kind of, but the return to the light was very difficult. However, the longer the dark side was used the more likely it was that the user would become consumed by it, and the more difficult it was to turn back. Furthermore, it was often implied that even using it once was dangerous, as just a taste of the sudden power boost made it difficult for Force users to resist temptation in the future. All in all, the long answer is very complicated and it really probably was not worth the risk of ending up a yellow-eyed jerk monster who kept killing people. Unless that was what you wanted to be, in case have at it. It’s 2016, you can be Sith if you want to.

That’s it for this week. Next week, I am going to do something pretty different. With the upcoming premier of season 3 of “Star Wars: Rebels” coming up this Saturday, and the latest trailers promising the introduction of Thrawn, I am going to actually use next week’s post to discuss the Legends canon Thrawn trilogy. While this is a blog intended for canon discussion, understanding the Thrawn trilogy might bring some light as to why so many people are excited for this character. I plan to explain (with the help of a friend who has actually read these books) who Thrawn is, how he fit into Legends canon, and how we might expect to see him fit into current canon. As always, thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!

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