Welcome to another installment of EUCantina’s weekly opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Each week, I tackle a specific Star Wars EU event that has garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. Once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment and offer your own thoughts!
This week, I’ll be discussing the role of gods in the Expanded Universe. There’s been a lot of talk and debate flowing these last few weeks as The Clone Wars gears up to air the last part of the Mortis trilogy. Are these new characters, the Father, Son and Daughter, actually gods? They certainly seem like they could be. But even if they are… it surely wouldn’t be a precedent in the EU. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, there are plenty of gods and god-like characters that inhabit that galaxy far, far away.
The subject of gods is a tricky one, I think. Whether we like it or not, religion is still very much a divisive issue among a great many people. For the most part, Star Wars has been able to avoid the topic. But sometimes, epic stories just beg to be told. And is there anything more larger-than-life than a story involving gods and the Force? But do the two really go hand-in-hand?
At this point in the Mortis trilogy, we still don’t know much of anything about the Father, Son and Daughter. Are they actually gods (as George Lucas described them to The Clone Wars crew), or simply very powerful Force wielders? One would assume that the answers lie ahead in the final episode. We know that they are characters that consider themselves above the Jedi and the Sith, and their ability to morph into animals certainly gives credence to the thought that these individuals are, in fact, gods. But still, gods are supposedly timeless creatures. These characters may be god-like, but with names like Son and Daughter, they were clearly the offspring of another (I suspect Mother will make an appearance at some point). And the fact that Father is looking for a replacement suggests that he is certainly not much of a god either. Until this Friday, we simply won’t know the answers. Based on how little we’ve been given thus far, though, I’d wager that our understanding will be every bit as muddy as it is now.
So where, then, are the gods?
The Whill of the Celestials
Perhaps the most obvious, and oft-forgotten, are the Celestials. We know a lot of their raw power, as the Celestials apparently created, among other things, the Hapes Cluster, Kathol Rift, Centerpoint Station, the Corellian System and the Maw. Then, for an unknown reason, they simply vanished from the galaxy. Without a doubt, they were the most impressive and technologically advanced beings to inhabit the galaxy thus far. And there’s nothing to suggest that they had any sort of connection to the Force. They’re also known as the Architects, probably because of their creations. They’ve been hinted at since the Bantam days, but they’ve recently become a favorite of Troy Denning’s as their creations have featured in Dark Nest, Legacy of the Force and now Fate of the Jedi.
Ah, and what about the Whills? We only know a handful of facts about the Whills. For example, they are not Yoda’s species. Rather, the Whills are immortal beings. They have Shamans, and discovered the secret to eternal consciousness through the Force. These beings kept the Journal of the Whills, which was a written record of the history of the galaxy. That, and R2-D2 told the story of the Skywalkers to the Whills more than a century after the events portrayed in the Original Trilogy. In fact, George Lucas had originally meant to make the Whills and the Force nearly synonymous.
Could the Celestials and Whills be gods? Certainly, they are the most god-like of any beings that have been introduced in the Expanded Universe. In fact, the two are rather opposite. Whereas the Whills seem to be the more spiritual and tied heavily to the Force, the Celestials are clearly the most technologically advanced of the two – and of the galaxy as a whole. Could the Celestials and Whills have once been enemies, two epic antagonists on either side of an equally epic struggle between technology and the Force? No matter what the truth may be, the simple fact is that both of these groups have been the defining force of what gods are like in the Expanded Universe.
From Another Dimension
There do exist other beings in the Expanded Universe that, while not exactly gods, are at least god-like. Take Waru, for instance. Coming from a parallel alternate dimension, it was seen as a deity and a healer. In fact, Waru was a sort of anti-Force being, needing to consume the Force in order to utilize its own energy. While not a god, this creature certainly exhibited characteristics of being a timeless being, with the misfortune of being lost and only wanting to return home. But if Waru is a creature of anti-Force, does that characterize its entire dimension, or is Waru simply the creation of a technologically advanced group of beings seeking to combat the Force? It is hard to say, and surely none can say with certainty. But Waru does present an interesting hypothesis. Are all extragalactic beings this powerful, this god-like, or does Waru represent only the smallest of small portions? Look at the Yuuzhan Vong. Despite their eventual defeat, an entire race existing outside of the Force can, and should, be considered quite powerful. Indeed, characters in the New Jedi Order series viewed the extragalactic conquerors as gods, even as the aliens worshiped their own false gods.
And then, there are the creatures without classification. Fellow readers of Fate of the Jedi should know Abeloth, and I’d like to introduce another similar entity into the conversation: Mnggal-Mnggal. These are creatures that are ancient, beings that were trapped (apparently by the Celestials) in order to spare the galaxy the carnage that they would undoubtedly spread. Their origins are unknown, but they must be either creations or beings from another galaxy or dimension. Are they gods? Certainly not. But the ability to warp the minds of impressionable Force users, as well as shape shifting and consuming life energy is not something to scoff at. In fact, it’s downright creepy. And take Mnggal-Mnggal, with the ability to basically create a shared mind of zombies with all the creatures she infects. She isn’t exactly the same as Abeloth, but the two are simply too similar to not mention. And, of course, Mnggal-Mnggal was worshiped as a god by some creatures. My hunch? Abeloth will be regarded by a god by some before the conflict in Fate of the Jedi comes to an apocalyptic end.
When it comes to classifying beings as gods, it’s as much about the story behind them as it is the powers they possess. Look, I’m not a big fan of this Mortis trilogy right now. For me, it all comes down caring about the characters, and I just can’t care about these characters when I know nothing about them. I’ve long believed that The Clone Wars would benefit from being an hour show instead of a half hour, and this is exactly the reason why. You cannot introduce god-like characters in a mere 20 minutes, and expect us to feel the depth and heaviness they supposedly bring with them without proper conveyance to the viewers. I love Star Wars, and I’m all for what these episodes are attempting to give us. But just because it’s Star Wars, I’m not going to give it a free pass. Wow me. Amaze me. You have to work for my enjoyment; you don’t get it simply for being Star Wars.