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There is hope for a more measured approach to embracing the ways of the Force. In the Knights of the Old Republic game, Jedi Knights identified with one of three schools of thought: the Guardians, the Consulars, and the Sentinels. Guardians engaged in combat training and generally held blue lightsabers, while Consulars focused on diplomacy and carried – but rarely used – green-bladed lightsabers. Jedi Sentinels embraced a combination of the two other schools, mastering forms of combat and diplomacy while also delving into non-Force related skills. These middle-ground Jedi carried rarely seen yellow lightsabers, representing, if you will, Aristotle’s “golden mean.”

Though KOTOR is no longer canon, yellow blades have shown up on The Clone Wars, wielded by the Jedi Temple guards that escort Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee over the course of their respective trials in the “Wrong Jedi” arc. Even so, the philosophy upheld by the Jedi Sentinels parallel the notion of the grey Jedi (for example, Ahsoka) and will undoubtedly play a role in establishing a new Jedi Order of sorts in the follow-up to The Last Jedi.

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Green and Blue

Ask anyone off the street what color a Jedi’s lightsaber is, and they will most likely respond with either green or blue. Back when the Star Wars universe was in its nascent stages, the lightsaber dichotomy was simply a choice between red (for Sith) and blue (for Jedi). Two films later, green was added into the mix; anecdotally, Luke’s new lightsaber in Return of the Jedi was actually just changed from blue to green in post-production in order to offset the blue of the sky. Aside from that, it seems that the kyber crystal stores that the Jedi had access to only produced blue or green saber blades because, well, George Lucas said so.

Non-canonical distinctions aside, the blue and green blades are a shining symbol of the Jedi Order at its zenith. The prequel trilogy depicts a more militant Jedi Order, but the ideal purpose of a Jedi has always been to protect. As Yoda teaches Luke on Dagobah, “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack,” a lesson that – perhaps paradoxically – can be applied to a Jedi’s weapon of choice as well. As George Lucas describes it, the lightsaber was primarily designed as a defensive tool, first and foremost used for blocking attacking weapons like blasters.

In Lucas’ words, the lightsaber in the original Star Wars was “more of a symbol than it was an actual weapon,” and indeed, the symbolism of the lightsaber is even stronger than its effectiveness as an in-universe weapon. The lightsaber is present – or purposely tossed aside – in most (if not all) of the most memorable and emotional sequences in the Star Wars saga. There’s Qui-Gon’s death and Darth Vader’s redemption, of course, but also the “Battle of the Heroes” between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith, with their mirrored blue blades clashing against the backdrop of the raging lava of Mustafar; there’s Ahsoka versus Anakin on Rebels, with Ahsoka’s newly minted white sabers coming up against her former master’s corrupted red one; and there’s Sabine Wren’s fraught training session with the Mandalorian Darksaber, a symbol of her people’s warrior nature as well as her own complicated history. The action sequences themselves are epic, to be sure, but it is the emotional history between two meeting blades that lends each scene its pathos within the Star Wars saga.

There is one blade in particular whose history connects several key characters in the Star Wars universe and could indicate the direction in which the saga is heading. As a padawan, Anakin Skywalker started out with Qui-Gon Jinn’s green lightsaber before building one of his own. When that lightsaber is destroyed in the droid factory on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones, Anakin builds a new, blue-bladed lightsaber that he would carry throughout The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. After Anakin’s defeat on Mustafar, Obi-Wan picks up his former Padawan’s lightsaber and keeps it in his hut on Tatooine until he presents it to Luke in A New Hope. The lightsaber is seemingly irretrievably lost when Luke drops it – along with his hand – down an air shaft on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. And yet somehow, during the 30 years between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy, the lightsaber ends up in the possession of Maz Kanata (How? “A good question for another time,” and that “time” better be Episode IX, J.J.!), whereupon she hands it over to Rey.

Just like Kylo and his lightsaber, Rey’s relationship to Luke’s lightsaber represents her own internal struggle. She resists the hero’s call when Maz first tries to hand her the lightsaber on Takodana, but she triumphantly embraces her destiny later on when she summons the lightsaber before her duel with Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. In The Last Jedi, she backpedals a bit by trying to pawn the lightsaber off to its previous owner, Luke, and then briefly shares possession of the saber with Kylo during their fight with Snoke and the Praetorian Guard. But in her subsequent struggle with Kylo, Rey realizes that Kylo is still too extreme, too enslaved to his Dark Side passions. When we see Rey at the end of The Last Jedi, cradling the two halves of the saga’s most historic lightsaber – literally torn apart by the conflict between the light side and the dark – it’s a tantalizing tease for what’s to come. Since Rey has come to learn that it’s important to let go of some of the past, I imagine her new lightsaber (or lightsabers!) will involve a color change as well. Personally, I’m rooting for white, like Ahsoka’s, or yellow, as a nod to the Old Republic. Either one would constitute a fulfillment of Luke’s pronouncement in The Last Jedi – that it’s time for the Jedi, as represented by the blue and green blades, to end.

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Listen, there really is no such thing as a purple lightsaber, but Samuel L. Jackson gets what Samuel L. Jackson wants, mofos. Mace Windu FTW!

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