The Playlist: A Guide to the Force for Star Wars Day

A special look at the mystery of the Force for May the 4th.

For Star Wars fans who want a better understanding of various topics, there can be a lot of material to wade through. In The Playlist, we’ll curate select installments of Star Wars that will give you that greater understanding of a specific topic. Consider it your own Jedi Archives — or cheat sheet for your Jedi midterms.

May the 4th, a.k.a. Star Wars Day, has become a Star Wars holiday dedicated to Star Wars and the Force — so what better way to celebrate it than a guide to the nature of the Force. This installment of The Playlist won’t play as chronological as others, but it will set up ideas to compare and contrast and follow that evolution.

“If one is to understand ‘the great mystery’ one must study all it’s aspects, not just the dogmatic narrow view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force.” — Chancellor Palpatine

Training Jedi

We start this list with how Jedi — and their dark side counterparts — are trained.

1. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — The opening chapter of the Skywalker saga offers us the first look at the Jedi Order, its hierarchy, what training a Jedi might entail, and the dynamic between a Master and apprentice. Significantly, it also explores the idea of “the living Force.”

2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back  Desperate times call for desperate measures. As much as the Council didn’t want to train Anakin Skywalker because he was too old, Yoda doesn’t want to train his son for many of the same reasons. But train him he does, and we get some powerful discussions of the nature of the Force, including an emphasis on selflessness — right down to the relative insignificance of our own physical bodies.

3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (“Witches of the Mist,”Season 3 Episode 14 ) — We know that Count Dooku was Yoda’s apprentice, and it’s fascinating to watch this episode of The Clone Wars where the now-Sith trains his new apprentice. He’s adapted Yoda’s training style to the dark side, and it offers us a window into its aggressive nature.

The Force Itself

The concept of the Force, what it is and what it means, has grown and expanded as its mysteries are deepened and explored.

1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (The Mortis Arc – “Overlords,” Season 3, Episode 15; “Altar of Mortis,” Season 3, Episode 16; “Ghosts of Mortis,” Season 3 Episode 17) This arc of The Clone Wars from Season Three showed us a whole new world of the Force — literally. Mortis is a nexus of the power through which all the Force flows. But what does it mean? That is a mystery we are left to debate…

2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (The Yoda Arc – “The Lost One,” Season 6, Episode 10; “Voices,” Season 6, Episode 11; “Destiny,” Season 6, Episode 12; “Sacrifice,” Season 6, Episode 13) — To deepen this mystery, Yoda hears the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn, back from the ether. His current knowledge of the Force tells him that this is not possible, but things are changing for Force in ways we might not understand.

Ezra-and-Yoda

3. Star Wars Rebels (“Shroud of Darkness,” Season 2, Episode 16) — Ezra Bridger sets out on a quest for the secret to destroying the Sith, which brings him, along with Kanan and Ahsoka, to the Jedi Temple hidden on Lothal. Visions are seen and contact with Master Yoda is made, setting all on new paths that will change them.

4. Star Wars Rebels (“Twilight of the Apprentice,” Season 2, Episodes 21 & 22) In the previous episode, we visited a Jedi Temple…but what might a Sith Temple be like?

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens  Our understanding of the Force took another turn in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Through the Force, Rey sees of visions of many events she does not comprehend. But the idea that Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber called to her is a powerful one.

6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  It’s not only Jedi and Sith who believe in the Force. Chirrut Îmwe is a devotee of the Force, but does not wield it. 

Star Wars Rebels - Star Cluster and Lira San

7. Star Wars Rebels (“Legends of the Lasat,” Season 2, Episode 14) This installment of Star Wars Rebels gives us a look at a different interpretation of the Force: the Lasat’s worship of the “Ashla.”

8. Star Wars Rebels (“Steps Into Shadow,” Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2) — The kickoff to the third season of Star Wars Rebels added even more nuance to the Force by introducing us to the Bendu, a mysterious creature of the Force who claims to be above the balance. He refers to both the Ashla and Bogan as aspects of something much larger, and alters further our understanding of the great mystery.

The Phantom Menace - Qui-Gon with Anakin

Extra Credit: The Balance of the Force — To try to understand the Force, another question that will undoubtedly come up is the debate over “balance” and the prophecy of the Chosen One. To help you navigate through that, we put together this playlist.

How do you view the Force? What are your favorite Force moments? Let us know in the comments below!

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of BigShinyRobot.com! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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