Ever since George Lucas retconned how Jedi get their powers in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by introducing midi-chlorians into the mix, fans have put a lot of effort into analyzing how the Force works on a biological level. New comments from Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo shed light on how midi-chlorians might function in cases of blood transfusions and, more importantly, cloning, which may have inadvertently revealed how Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could rewrite Rey’s backstory to support one of the most popular fan theories around.
Warning! Speculative spoilers for Star Wars: Episode IX below.
So what if the big twist in The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey is a clone of another Force user in that galaxy far, far away?
On Wednesday, Twitter user @gustavoor tweeted to Pablo Hidalgo asking what would happen if Jedi donated their blood. Would the transfusion recipient also become Force sensitive as a result? Hidalgo’s short answer is “no,” but the way he characterizes how midi-chlorians function informs how these microscopic life forms might respond in cases of cloning, a scientific process that’s important in a sci-fi universe where something called “The Clone Wars” was a hugely important period of galactic history.
Hidalgo asserts that because midi-chlorians are biologically classified as an organelle — a specialized structure that exists within a cell, such as a mitochondria, nucleus, or lysosome — they wouldn’t persist in cases of a blood transfusion. The body naturally creates new blood and filters the old blood on a continuous basis, so in cases of a transfusion, someone would suddenly have midi-chlorians in their system and experience a temporary boost in Force sensitivity. But as that blood was filtered into the overall system, it would dissipate.
It wouldn’t function like an infection that spreads; Midi-chlorians counts are fixed within a cell, meaning that they won’t fluctuate under any circumstance unless someone strong enough in the Force willfully manipulated them. (The canon Darth Vader #25 comic confirmed that Emperor Palpatine manipulated the Midi-chlorian counts of the baby in Shmi Skywalker’s womb, and that’s how Anakin Skywalker was born via a pseudo immaculate conception.)
Midi-chlorians are also present in every living cell, but Force-sensitivity arises when they exist in greater concentration. Anakin Skywalker had the greatest concentration ever recorded. Midi-chlorian concentration is inherited, meaning it’s passed down to a person’s offspring. That’s why Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Ben Solo also have superior Force powers.
This is why so many Star Wars fans feel like Rey should be the secret child of either Luke, Leia, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. One or both of her parents being strong in the Force would explain why she’s one of the most powerful Force users we’ve ever seen in Star Wars.
Hidalgo’s recent comments, however, provide fuel to similar theories about Rey being the clone of a powerful Force user like Palpatine, Anakin, Luke, or maybe even Leia. If Palpatine somehow recovered Luke’s severed hand at one point, he might’ve used the DNA to make a clone, and the end result is Rey.
In some non-canon stories in the Star Wars expanded universe, the Emperor used that hand to make a clone called “Luuke” who was also powerful in the Force. But would cloning work like that in the current canon universe?
When one fan followed up asking if it were possible to engineer Force users, Hidalgo wrote, “I have a hard time imagining anyone crafting a tale that narratively and thematically works on the subject.” It might sound like a cool sci-fi twist, but it wouldn’t feel like a satisfying story. He’s probably right.
Comparable to real-life cloning, the process in Star Wars canon involves the manipulation of the original person’s DNA, using it as a template to extrapolate an exact copy. In theory, all organelles within every cell would be part of that DNA code, including the presence of midi-chlorians and therefore the Force. But if midi-chlorians have their own sentience, then it’s possible that the Force itself can willfully adjust these levels.
In the very first episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Yoda assesses a group of stormtrooper soldiers cloned from Jango Fett. “In the Force, very different each one of you are,” Yoda says, despite the fact that they’re all identical clones. So we get the sense that the Force manifests itself differently in all living beings, even when we’re looking at clones. Does that mean midi-chlorian counts also vary among clones?
Possibly, but in biological terms, Rey being a clone of somebody important totally feels possible. She could be an Anakin clone that was still raised by junk trader nobodies, which would appease fans that want The Last Jedi’s best twist preserved. In an epic, nine-film saga that centers on the Skywalker legacy, cloning technology, and the Force, wouldn’t it make sense for each of these things to be woven together in the conclusion through our new hero?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in theaters December 20, 2019.