Pages 84-85 in Jedi vs. Sith is a mind-blowing piece of text. It details a report to the Jedi Council given by Plo Koon on his use of Force lightning.
Plo Koon. Force lightning.
What’s remarkable about this bit of text, above and beyond my two sentences previous to this one, is Plo Koon’s rational and detached disposition in recounting why he used this dark side ability. To provide some context for those not familiar with this story, Koon was placed in a hostage situation. A gunman had a blaster to the head of a 5 year old girl. The villain had already killed the girl’s family and was looking to escape. Plo Koon came upon the scene and used Force lightning on Pommel, disabling the bandit and rescuing the girl. He did not kill him, he simply subdued him.
Several points in his report surprised me. Firstly, Plo Koon’s remark that this was an ability he learned of at the Temple: “Like other Jedi, I learned of Force lightning at the Jedi Temple and I am well aware that it is regarded as a dark side power” (84). I think we need to do a careful reading of the text here because I think it could be easily misinterpreted. Plo Koon is not saying that he was directly taught how to use Force lightning, but that he “learned of” Force lightning, as if it was mentioned in a discussion with a senior Master detailing ‘why’ it is considered a dark side power. I’m not left with the impression that this ability is taught in class, rather, this ability is discussed in detail couched in a larger conversation on the nature of evil and the power that Sith may exhibit in combat.
Building upon Plo Koon’s comments here, what is also remarkable is that Koon naturally pulled upon this ability – it was instinctive for him. He says as much: “I believe I acted entirely instinctively when I extended my right arm toward Pommel and released a barrage of lightning” (84). This leads credence to the idea that Force lightning is not directly taught at the Temple. Rather, it’s something discussed in academic terms.
Another aspect which impressed me about Koon’s report was the Jedi Council’s reaction. They did not chastise him. They did not kick him out of the Order. The council asked him to meditate upon his actions. This to me speaks volumes on how much the council respects its members. The council trusts Koon’s judgment enough that after he meditated upon his actions, he himself would know if he acted accordingly. This is trust. This is honesty. Could this trust backfire on the council? Absolutely. But it’s the most fitting reaction and exemplifies what it means to be a Jedi. A Jedi is one who is honest with themself.
After meditating upon his actions, Koon comes to the conclusion that he did not act out of turn. He acknowledges that there could have been other ways to diffuse the situation, but the most expedient way for him to rescue the child was to use Force lightning. He goes even further and says he may consider developing this ability to use in combat in the future if needed: “I believe it would be wrong of me to ignore this power that I might develop into a useful technique for combat” (84).
What I find most remarkable about Koon’s report was his acknowledgment of his emotional state: “I did not feel anger as I directed the lightning at Pommel’s head, nor did I fear for the girl’s safety. I was calm and in control of my faculties. I merely acted to end the situation before any more innocents died” (84). I believe Koon when he says this too. He also acknowledges that the recent death of Master Tyvokka did not affect this particular scenario. He was not acting out of grief or anguish. Again, I believe him. If this report was given by Mace Windu, I’d have my doubts. But not with Master Koon. Interesting indeed.
For my next post I’m going to re-enter the Jedi Apprentice series and examine book #9, The Fight for Truth. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.