Hello everyone and welcome back to The Sarlacc Pit. Here at The Sarlacc Pit I sometimes like to strike up some controversy, and there is a surprising amount of controversy in the Star Wars franchise. Few topics, however, get people as angry as the topic of midi-chlorians. So this week, I am going to discuss what midi-chlorians were, why people seem to hate them, my defense of them, and a couple theories I have about them.
What Are Midi-chlorians?
Midi-chlorians were microscopic sentient organisms that lived in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with all living things. These organisms are what allowed the Force to flow through living beings, and thus, since the Force is “life,” midi-chlorians gave life to plants and animals. These organisms “spoke” to Force-sensitives, allowing them to hear the will of the Force. During the peak of the Galactic Republic, the Jedi Order used blood tests to see the concentration of midi-chlorians in children, and used this to estimate their potential strength in the Force, and whether or not the child would be admitted into the Order.
A few months back, I wrote a post about some tweets by Pablo Hidalgo, who is a part of the Lucasfilm Story group. In those tweets he talked some about midi-chlorians and the nature of the Force. He said that everyone was potentially able to use the Force, but midi-chlorian counts were a soulless way to measure someone’s potential. He discusses midi-chlorians as though they didn’t really determine whether or not someone is Force-sensitive, because everyone is potentially Force-sensitive.
So if that’s the case, and everyone used the Force in some way, then where did midi-chlorians come in? Here is my first theory about midi-chlorians: while everyone had the potential to be Force-sensitive, those with higher midi-chlorian counts could use the Force easier than most. This is due to a larger number of the symbiotes “speaking” to a person about the Force. Essentially it’s like everyone has the ability to make a 100 on a test, but people with midi-chlorians all have cheat sheets, the more midi-chlorians, the more information on the cheat sheet, the easier it is to make a 100 or, in this case, use the Force. This would explain why we still see people with exceptionally high midi-chlorian counts (such as Yoda or Anakin) do crazy stuff with the Force, it just comes naturally to them.
Why Do People Hate This Idea?
So the only time we ever really hear about midi-chlorians is from “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” In the movie, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn took a sample of young Anakin Skywalker’s blood and analyzed his midi-chlorian count. Anakin asked what midi-chlorians were and Qui-Gon explained, in a scene that kind of felt totally out of no where.
People hate this idea of midi-chlorians. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda explains to Luke that using the Force comes from belief, but now we have this weird pseudo-science explanation to the Force that does not add up. Can Jedi use the Force because of their belief in it, or can they use it because of tiny sentient beings that live in their blood stream? I understand the hate, I really do, but I think that Pablo Hidalgo’s explanation coupled with my theory above give the best explanation: everyone can use the Force if they believe hard enough, but people with more midi-chlorians can use it more easily.
My Defense for Midi-chlorians
I get it, people hate science and religion mixing. They are two separate entities and should be kept separate. However, while the Jedi were a religious order, the fact is that the Force was an observable fact. No matter how much about the Force was hidden after the Empire took over, midi-chlorians still existed, allowing life and the Force to exist in the galaxy. Those who could feel the Force flow through them could use it to achieve impressive feats. The Force is not a creation vs. evolution argument, it is a “I can lift this X-Wing with my mind” statement.
The religion comes into play with how people use the Force more than whether or not the Force exists. Jedi worked to clear their minds to use the Force while the Sith used their emotions to achieve the same feat. In either case, the Force still existed. It’s like two cultures worshiping the sun in different ways. The sun still exists, even if the religions are different. So, the scientific statement of the existence of midi-chlorians does not negate the religion of the Jedi, instead the two work together.
My final defense for midi-chlorians comes from real-world biology. Plants and animals in the real world all have tiny microscopic symbiotic organisms that keep them alive: mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell! That’s right, it has been theorized that the mitochondria originated as separate cellular organisms that lived symbiotically with the ancestors of animal cells. These mitochondria supply ATP which our bodies need to live. So this is one of the big reasons I have no problem with midi-chlorians, they’re essentially just Star Wars versions of mitochondria, so it makes sense to me!
Final Theory on Midi-Chlorians
Ok, so this next part is all theory straight out of my head taking into account what we know about midi-chlorians and the Force. Pablo Hidalgo has said that there are definitely two parts to the Force, the dark side and the light side, and that these sides are reached via different techniques (which I outlined above, and also in an earlier post). We also know that different Force users have been described as being strong in either the dark side or the light side. My theory is that there are two “sub-species” of midi-chlorians: one that is light side oriented, and another that is dark side oriented. Strength in either side of the Force would be augmented by the concentration ratios of the two different sub-species. This would explain why some Force users felt like they were pulled to the light or dark side. This could also explain why Kylo Ren felt like he was being pulled in two directions: perhaps his lineage provided a very particular ratio of the two sub-species that both had an equal pull on him. In the same way that midi-chlorian counts don’t necessarily make someone Force-sensitive, the light side/dark side ratio would not necessarily make someone light side or dark side, but would rather pull them towards whichever side is favored. Like I said, this is jsut a theory and has not been confirmed, but I think it makes sense.
So that’s my spiel on midi-chlorians, everyone’s favorite topic to hate. Next week, we are coming up on my first anniversary writing these blogs. It has been a wonderful side project for me and I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with people from all over the world. I really appreciate everyone who has taken time out of their busy schedule to read my thoughts about the Star Wars canon. Since this is my first year writing these posts, I am going to start a new tradition as I give my State of the Canon Address: where I look at what new stories have been added to Star Wars canon across different media. This will include extremely brief and spoiler-free overviews of every Star Wars story released in 2016. Once again, I want to thank everyone for reading, and may the Force be with you!