Midichlorians are the most important thing to happen to Star Wars

Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) /© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) /© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Midichlorians are not as stupid as you’ve been led to believe, and actually tremendously important to the Star Wars story.

Let’s spare the hyperbole: Midichlorians are one of the most critical and important plot points in the Star Wars story.

Before you rage break your phone, Midichlorians are not important in the way George Lucas probably intended, but rather for what they mean to the larger story of Star Wars.

We were introduced to Midichlorians in The Phantom Menace when George Lucas took a load-bearing foundation of the Star Wars mythology and explained it all in roughly half-a-minute.

And with that, Lucas knotted a line that fans have spent two decades trying to untangle — less in a deeply philosophical way and more in an angry rage way.

But there’s a nuance to that moment that actually explains more about Star Wars than anything else. Midichlorians are very stupid and make no sense, which is exactly why they’re so important. The Jedi were wrong about something so essential to their existence, which seems impossible.

The Force, as explained by Obi-Wan in A New Hope, is an energy that binds us all together. It’s not, as we’ve all fetishized into popular belief, some mystical power that only a select few people in the universe possess. We all have The Force, it’s how you use it — or don’t — that matters. Everyone can shoot a basketball, but not everyone is LeBron James. The Last Jedi‘s entire thesis was the idea that anyone can use The Force and having the ability to use it doesn’t make you any more or less special than a kid with a broom.

Religious allegories are impossible to ignore in Star Wars, and the line between the teachings of The Force and popular religion is a straight one. Like religion, The Force is open to interpretation and a lot of the time the wires get badly crossed.

What makes Qui-Gon’s convoluted explanation of The Force so important is how tremendously wrong he gets everything. He explains Midchlorians so confidently that it seems right but what he’s saying is fugazi, even if he passionately believes that fugazi.

It also introduces a crucial element to the Star Wars mythology: The Jedi aren’t that trustworthy, even if they’re not being maliciously deceptive.

We are told by Anakin’s mother that her son was conceived without a father, invoking the story of Christ, which leads Qui-Gon to believe that Midichlorians manifested within her to create a miracle birth. Through the specific prism of the Jedi’s understanding of the force, Shmi’s story adds up and Qui-Gon can dismiss any and all alternate possibilities.

Is it not possible that when Shmi Skywalker says there was no father to Anakin, it really means she doesn’t know who the father was? Because Qui-Gon so deeply subscribes to the Jedi’s belief in The Force, Anakin has to exist for a reason, not by accident — even if the latter makes the most logical sense.

We, like Qui-Gon, have blindly believed that the Jedi are all-knowing. So instead of questioning the logic of Midichlorians we just got mad about it being the canon explanation for The Force.

Maybe the Jedi founded a religion on bad information. Perhaps they then created science (testing for Midichlorian count in someone’s blood) to further support this. What if the Jedi just took something everyone has, built an elite cult around it, and then gaslit the entire galaxy into thinking it’s only for them? It wouldn’t be the first time the privileged and powerful tried to keep something all to themselves in the name of the greater good.

This idea that the Jedi can be wrong about pretty major things has been suggested a few times. Yoda mused in Revenge of the Sith that the Jedi maybe misread the prophecy about Anakin. Obi-Wan explaining The Force differently than Qui-Gon suggests that he found a new perspective from what he was taught. Luke exiled himself because everything he thought he believed about The Force and the Jedi was so wrong.

Lest we forget a Sith Lord was running the senate the entire prequels and the Jedi didn’t sniff it out until it was far too late.

Midichlorians are deeply important to the Star Wars story precisely because they make no sense. It forces us to question our interpretation of something we thought we’ve understood for years yet have only scratched the surface of what it all means.

At its core, Midichlorians are identical to the essence of Star Wars — a mindless distraction from the larger point but dig a little deeper and you’ll start to look at things through a different prism.