Star Wars and the Curse of the Guide Figure

There has been a repetitive pattern with the guide figure in the Star Wars saga. It is a character we find in the first movie of each trilogy, he is a rather wise character with a lot of knowledge, he is of a certain age ( = not young), he helps the hero on their journey. This guide also dies at the end of this first movie of each trilogy, his death is very particular. He goes to his death knowing it would happen and the hero he helped witnesses his death powerless.

The Prequel Trilogy – The Phantom Menace – Qui-Gon Jinn
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Let’s start in chronological order of the story so with Qui-Gon Jinn. He is the most interesting guide figure character as he is guide not only to one hero but to two heroes – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. He is of a certain age, not young but not too old either, he is a wise character with a lot of knowledge, he is different from the other jedi and that’s why he doesn’t get a seat at the Jedi Council because he tends to disobey the Council’s decisions. It is because he is different and acts differently that the people he guides are also special, because he helps them to see differently. Obi-Wan is his padawan, so obviously he’s the person he looks up to, he’s the person Obi-Wan always listens to. Throughout The Phantom Menace, we can witness the strong master-padawan bond they share and after Qui-Gon’s death, it feels natural that Obi-Wan wants to finish what his master started by training Anakin. Speaking of Qui-Gon’s death scene, it follows the pattern of the guide’s death scene. When Qui-Gon is trapped in the field energy that separates him from Darth Maul, he meditates and we can feel in this scene that he prepares himself to an eventual death, the tensions, the music, the way it is filmed shows that. And if you add The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith to it, you understand that he knew he would become a Force Ghost (who can’t have a physical presence unlike Obi-Wan and Yoda). When he is severely wounded by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan is powerless as he is held by the energy fields, so he witnesses his master’s death without being able to do anything. And because his master dies in front of him, he lets his anger/sorrow out leading him to cut in half Maul. The person who is helped by the guide, always “unleash” their anger/sorrow after the guide’s death for a little time window, we’ll see it with Rey and Luke for the the other trilogies. With Qui-Gon, there is also a second hero, he helps – Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One. Qui-Gon is the one who discovers the boy, who believes in him and who eventually sets him on the path to become a jedi and it is on that path that Anakin discovers the galaxy, him the boy who lived on Tatooine. It is because of Qui-Gon Jinn that Anakin is able to become a jedi because he is the one who discovers him and thinks he is special. And so, Anakin looks up to Qui-Gon because he sees in him someone who believes in him. If we look at the other Prequel movies, we can see that Anakin and Obi-Wan have learned a lot from Qui-Gon especially how Obi-Wan is as a jedi.

The Original Trilogy – A New Hope – Obi-Wan Kenobi
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The second trilogy has Obi-Wan Kenobi as the guide for Luke Skywalker. At the time of A New Hope, Obi-Wan is a wise old man, he has seen the clone wars and has been in exile for twenty years. Obi-Wan is the trigger for Luke, he is the one who embarks him on a journey to save Leia, meaning leaving Tatooine and discovering the galaxy. Luke sees a role model in Obi-Wan and someone who can teach him to become a jedi. Obi-Wan’s death is like Qui-Gon’s, Obi-Wan goes facing Darth Vader knowing he would die and knowing he would become more powerful. When you look at Empire Strikes Back, you see that he becomes a Force Ghost. Like Obi-Wan in TPM, Luke witnesses the man who guided him die in front of him without being able to help. Just like Obi-Wan, Luke unleashes his anger after his guide figure’s death by shooting randomly at stormtroopers coming at them. After, Obi-Wan’s death, Luke continues what had been started, he continues his training and his journey into the galaxy.

The Sequel Trilogy – The Force Awakens – Han Solo
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The final guide figure is slightly different from the others – he is not a jedi at all. He knew jedi but he is not one. Han Solo at the time of The Force Awakens is old but not necessarily a wise character though he has learned things during his adventures. Rey is an orphan, she doesn’t have either a mother figure or a father figure so when Han the legend enters in her life, she looks up to him, it’s the only guidance she has. Han helps her, he agrees to help her and Finn bring the map to the Resistance and he leads Rey into an incredible adventure and in doing so Han also brings himself back into the big picture. Han Solo’s death is more similar to Qui-Gon Jinn’s death than Obi-Wan’s death. First, the set ups resemble TPM and the aftermath is the same. Han is killed by his son Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) on a bridge and he falls into the void (the same way Darth Maul fell into the void in TPM) with Rey watching powerless just like Luke and Obi-Wan before her. After Han’s death, Rey unleashes her anger (and the Force as well) to defeat Kylo Ren, the same way Obi-Wan defeated Darth Maul! Only Luke doesn’t defeat his enemy after his guide’s death.

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