When George Lucas returned to the Star Wars saga in 1999, he introduced a whole host of new concepts, many of which were never really defined. Perhaps the most enigmatic were prophecies of a mysterious Chosen One, who was destined to somehow bring "balance" to the Force. The Chosen One appeared to be Anakin Skywalker, and the prophecy seemed to be ultimately fulfilled with the redemption of Darth Vader and the death of Palpatine.
It seems that Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is returning to those concepts. The first trailer dropped a reference to the idea of "balance," making fans sit up and take note. Now, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mark Hamill himself has suggested that these ideas are at the center of the Sequel Trilogy. Discussing the impact of Ben Solo's fall to the Dark Side, Hamill noted:
“[Luke] made a huge mistake in thinking that his nephew was the chosen one, so he invested everything he had in Kylo, much like Obi-Wan did with my character. And he is betrayed, with tragic consequences. Luke feels responsible for that. That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late."
So not only have we had a reference to "balance," but we now know that Luke is aware of the Chosen One prophecy. Not only that, but Luke clearly believed that this prophecy had not been fulfilled. On the face of it, this seems to be in marked contrast to Lucas's own view; he'd not only stated that the prophecy was true, but he also insisted that Anakin was the Chosen One and that Luke was the catalyst for his fulfilling his destiny.
So what's going on?
The Chosen One And The Balance Of The Force
So what is the Chosen One, and what does it mean to "bring balance to the Force?" Frustratingly, the Prequel Trilogy never gave us an answer. Worse still, Yoda even declared that the Jedi could have "misread" the prophecy after Anakin fell to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith, raising the tantalizing possibility that all we've heard so far is simply the Jedi point of view on a prophecy that predates the Order.
The first trailer for The Last Jedi hints that this is the case, with a glimpse of books that fans believe to be the legendary Journal of the Whills accompanied by the word "balance." Lucas originally envisioned the Whills as the narrators of the Star Wars story, but over countless drafts, the concepts behind the Whills gradually evolved into the Force itself. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduced a new group of Force mystics known as the Guardians of the Whills, and we learned more about this group in a tie-in novel.
That tie-in novel, Guardians of the Whills, offered the first definition we'd ever had of what it means to "balance" the Force. We were given a quote that was ascribed to Nartun Trecim, an "Ascendant of Mau" — whatever that means.
"The moment between breaths
Is the balance of the Force.
Between life and death,
Rest and action,
Serenity and passion,
Hope and despair."
Now, it's true that this merely represents Nartun Trecim's interpretation, and we have no idea how reliable his philosophy is. Still, this quote marks the first time we've ever been given a definition of what "the balance of the Force" may be. What's more, the book's development was overseen by the Lucasfilm Story Group, and it was only published in May this year. It's both recent and official, and thus is an important statement.
Note that the philosophy expressed here contrasts with both the ways of the Jedi and of the Sith. To be balanced in the Force does not involve embracing passion, as is the Sith way, nor does it involve the pursuit of serenity, as is the Jedi way. It does not involve commitment to the light side, or to the dark. Instead, it involves being in a place "between... serenity and passion."
The Clone Wars Add Another Element
This largely corresponds with another major clue, offered in Season 3 of The Clone Wars. In the episode 'Overlords,' Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka became stranded on the planet Mortis. There, they found themselves caught up in a deadly situation involving a mysterious being known as Father, whose two children were each aligned with a different side of the Force. Father claimed knowledge of the Chosen One prophecies, and believed that the Chosen One must remain on Mortis, where he would keep his children in balance.
The episode was clearly intended as an analogy for the Chosen One's role with the Force, and suggests that the prophecy has indeed been misread. The Jedi are allied with the light side, the Sith with the dark, but the Chosen One is essentially neutral. The Chosen One's responsibility is to continually hold the light and dark sides of the Force in balance. This can't be achieved by a single action; rather, it's an ongoing reality in the Chosen One's life. If that's the case, and if the Force strives towards balance, then we can safely assume that there should always be a Chosen One.
This is a smart approach, one that provides a context for Anakin Skywalker's act. When Palpatine died, Anakin brought the Force into balance. The Jedi were gone, and so were the Sith. But if this is what it means to bring balance to the Force, then the moment Luke continued to commit himself to the light side, he brought about an imbalance. His reestablishment of the Jedi Order just saw the galaxy begin to skew between the different sides of the Force yet again.
Hamill's comment establishes that Luke saw Ben as the potential Chosen One, the being who would bring balance to the Force. That in itself suggests that he realized the need for the Chosen One, coming to understand that the Force was out of balance once again. It also suggests that he knew he wasn't the Chosen One himself; he understood that this was not his destiny. It's possible he even came to see himself as part of the problem.
Is Rey The Chosen One?
We really have two potential Chosen Ones for the present: Kylo Ren and Rey. Although Kylo Ren has fallen to the dark side, the light seems to call to him even now. But Mark Hamill describes that ideas as a "mistake," and as a result a more likely Chosen One is Rey. After all, she's another prodigious Force-sensitive who's unwittingly learned her skills on a desert-world.
Just look at the marketing for The Last Jedi. The poster shows Rey, stood between light (Luke) and dark (Kylo Ren), holding her lightsaber aloft in a pose that's reminiscent of the cover of the Journal of the Whills. If she is indeed the Chosen One, then she must learn mastery of both light and dark. She must stand between the two sides of the Force, dedicating her life to keeping them balanced. This won't be a victory that she achieves in a single moment; while there will be dramatic turning points in the saga, the truth is that it will be an ongoing reality for her. Just as it would have been for Anakin Skywalker, had he chosen to stay on the planet Mortis, balancing light and dark as Father wished.
Now, let's be clear; I'm not suggesting that Rey is a reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker. That's a popular fan theory that suggests there is only ever one Chosen One, endlessly reincarnated; and I'm not persuaded there's much evidence for it yet. But it does indeed strongly suggest that Rey is in fact the latest Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force. If this theory is correct, it would add a lot of context to Luke's comments in the trailer. He understands that he, and the Jedi, are part of the imbalance. He wants the Jedi to end; he also wants Kylo Ren, and presumably Snoke, to be killed as well. He wants Rey to bring the Force into balance, and believes that will be best accomplished if both the Jedi Order and the First Order's dark-siders are finally brought to an end.
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)