A lot of characters in the Star Wars Universe are often not told about or discussed as much: the experience of encountering with them lives purely in the mind of a watcher, gamer, reader. Oftentimes what is written about those characters online is merely a recap of the events and other facts stated by the Creator in the film/game/book/comic. Just imagine how many more interesting topics can be brought up by discussing and analysing such characters a bit more! That’s exactly why we are back with another Forgotten Women Post! This particular one will be about Bastilla Shan.
One of the most fascinating female characters in the Star Wars universe – Bastilla, – is the woman we encounter in The Knights of the Old Republic game. What we get to know about her is that as a gifted child she was taken to the Jedi Academy at an early age. We are being revealed her childhood memories throughout the game, alongside her unwillingness to share them: Bastilla was trying to hide those secrets deep inside. All her childhood memories were forged together into a stone of resentment surrounded by a cloud of affirmation that her mother was trying to harm her. Bastilla felt like it was her mother who was selfishly afflicting her family by trying to get their father away to earn more credits and by wanting Bastilla to be taken away by the Jedi Council.
Successfully suppressing these memories over time Bastilla had grown up to be a diligent padawan: her rare and impressive skill of battle meditation was used by the Jedi council in wars. Albeit being very good with this particular skill, Bastilla wasn’t ready yet to become a Jedi Master. She, of course, had questioned the competency of the Jedi order on this matter, like
any other talented padawan would. Bastilla was a somewhat fanatic adherent of the Jedi code. Believing that everyone is worthy of redemption despite their past, however evil, lead her to saving the life of Darth Revan when he was near death from a terrible betrayal by his former apprentice. It lead to Darth Revan having another chance for a new life without succumbing into darkness, and set Bastilla’s life on a course of many crucial changes.
During the course of the game we get another arc of events when Bastilla was captured and tortured by Darth Malak, Revan’s former apprentice, who skilfully used the knowledge of Bastilla’s past against her. This was exactly that childhood forged memory stone, which was left untouched for many years, that Malak was tempting Bastilla with. By letting her remember it all and feeding on her anger and hate, Malak seduced Bastilla to the Dark Side of the Force. I believe that it was a very drastic change for her: she went from a fanatic of the Light Side and an unquestionable following of the Jedi code into it’s complete rejection in a week. This change that she endured had been mentally challenging and possibly damaging to her, but also very revealing: it had shown her how it is possible to be a follower of the Dark side and what fuels it, as well as what can be the possible explanations of people following this kind of ideology. This has been a moment of her life, which I personally associate with.
We see Bastilla being fully consumed by arrogance, being blind to a great relative “step” that she made in uncovering the nature of the Dark side. She thought she was invincible and completely ignored the fact that the power of the Dark side was fuelled by anger inside her and was artificially increased by the Star Forge. Her power before, as a Knight of the Jedi Order, was the result of her own development, however difficult, and being carefully guarded by the Jedi council. Her power now, however, was largely inflicted upon her by Malak through her own hate and anger and was thus dangerous, unpredictable and consuming kind of power, which she could not control. She probably would have faced a tragic end, but was saved by Darth Revan, the former Dark Lord who found a new life after being saved by Bastilla. I think this is very beautiful destiny, a “reversed save”, which ventured them both back towards the light.
Despite the redemption, her fate is both beautiful and tragic. She was redeemed from the Dark side by the man who was once on a pinnacle of power of the Dark side. It was clearly shown that neither of the characters is destined to belong to the Light or Dark from birth and that they make choises that have clear consequences, and shape not only characters but their destiny as well. After seeing both ends of the line: light and dark in her life and redemption, it would be strange to imagine Bastilla being a “normal Jedi” once again.
She saw the depths of Light and Dark – both lives that are possible for a being. She experienced love – a form of feeling prohibited by the Jedi Code largely because it often acts as a double edged tool: it can lead you to the Dark side as well as to the Light. Knowing her character it’s no difficult to imagine that Bastilla would become a non-conformist leading a much greyer lifestyle than the ideology of the Light or Dark sides.
I personally think that the two opposing philosophies try to cut out the unnecessary tools that might lead us to making mistakes. The Jedi like Bastilla who choose this middle way of living for me are the true heroes. They go down a much more difficult and untrodden path without any ideology to cling onto, separating the right from wrong on their way by relying only on themselves and both their rational thinking and emotions. I believe this is what truly means to be finding Balance during one’s lifetime. Such characters possess immense withstanding abilities, willpower and independence of thought and deserve to be mentioned again and again, just like Bastilla Shan, one of the overlooked women in the Star Wars Universe.
Want to read our previous Forgotten women posts?
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #1: Zam Wesell
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #2: Shmi Skywalker
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #3: Padme’s Handmaidens
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #4: Beru Whitesun
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #5: Kreia
- Star Wars’ Forgotten Women #6: Oola