I remember the day a tiny part of my childhood died.
Qui-Gon Jinn: A boy. His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I have seen in a life-form. It was possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.
I know I can be a bit of a dork about things, but that day it kind of felt like George Lucas found a way to reach back in time and actually undo some of the enjoyment I’d experienced from the first three Star Wars films. (Err 4-6, you know what I mean)
Perhaps that’s not entirely healthy, but I think there’s a lot of us who like to be able to throw ourselves into our entertainment instead of being forced to approach it cautiously for of fear of running into another ‘Midi-chlorian moment’
Let’s undo that, shall we? This exercise isn’t about creating fan theories, it’s about creating better fan realities.
When we’re done we’ll be able to dive into almost anything head first knowing that we’ll be able to save our favorite entertainment experiences, no matter how bad somebody tries to ruin it for us. We may not know right off, but we’ll find out eventually, won’t we? It may have taken us a decade and a half to save the Midi-chlorians, but it’s totally worth the wait.
I’ve already met with great success with Interstellar. In fact, that’s going way better than planned and we already have two different ways to make Interstellar completely watchable and logically consistent. I’m in the process of morphing that into more of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure thing behind the scenes (Is it the story of a haunted house that’s the other half of ‘The Others’? Or is it the tale of TARS/Robot SpaceTime Jesus rescuing us from the past avatar of his mad future self, Tommy? It’s up to you!)
There’s still room for that side to grow and if anybody wants to glue on a theory then we can just turn that into a branch to a story. I think this has potential.
But that approach isn’t enough to save the Midi-Chlorians.
To do that I think we’re going to need a lot of science!
I did a LOT of (totally amateur but amazingly enthusiastic) science for you. Ready?
Here’s our starting point. It can only get better from here!
Midichlorians manipulate their hosts into helping them complete their life cycle.
Their dream scenario is massive influx of a very specific type of particle from a very specific interaction.
When a Jedi vanishes? That’s just the Midi-chlorians using that huge burst of energy to sexually reproduce and create spores. A bit of a variant of the cellular clime mold cycle, and almost as cool.
In their case, in the amoeba phase they’re hanging out and in the slug phase they’re responding to their host getting carved up by a Light Saber and breaking down most of the cellular components while creating spores with explosive launching mechanisms. Most of the mass is turned to gas, it’s probably pretty stinky actually. That’s another reason why Vader wears that mask thing.
Faz.Alam also pointed out that we’re actually seeing a very reasonable and plausible societal response to a world where ‘Force Sensitive/Powerful’ and ‘Easily Manipulated’ are two sides to the same coin.
On the Dark Side, they adopt a ‘Student and Master’ structure that guarantees there will only ever be two of them in proximity, since the Midi-chlorians will never trigger an attack unless there is a third in proximity. This is also why they tend to go out alone on missions.
On the Light Side, they take the riskier but more ethical approach of using willpower to overcome the host manipulation. It’s less convenient than just slaughtering everybody-that’s-not-the-specific-one-you’re-imprinted-on, and sometimes the Midi-chlorians can be really, really insistent...but that’s still a lot better than going full blown evil in their minds.
They are actually alien collections of transposons (living blocks of code)
This probably sounds crazy right off, but let’s bring in some science! This is WAY better than them being bacteria or something like that, and is actually pretty consistent.
First of all, I highly recommend the microbioligy blog ‘Small Things Considered’, those guys are great fun and their This Week In X series gave me some great insights. They and all other microbe-loving people are free to toss in alternatives or generally make things more awesome. We can cross the boundary into non-science, we just have to be honest about when that happens.
So it’ll probably get even more awesomely scientific, but I’ll try to translate the knowledge I digested through my fanboy self.
This is actually a proposed scenario, but I think it helps illustrate a fundamental point.
We think of the cell as the most atomic building block of life, and that’s totally true if you ask a cell.
Transposons are blocks of code that can move all around the genome. They’re self contained and can be self referential.
If you tried to tell a transposon it obviously wasn’t alive and a cell was, it’d think you were an idiot. And it doesn’t have a brain.
Do you cease to exist when you go to sleep and reappear when you wake? Do you stop being you when you leave your house, drive to work, or go for a walk?
A transposon would tell you that the cellular membrane is a red herring.
Are they right? Kinda. But it’s more like we’re trying to overdefine things. This is a lot like the argument over whether things like a cellular slime mold or buddenbrockia are unicellular or multicellular or the debating whether or not a siphonophore is a creature or a colony of clones.
They just ARE. Life doesn’t draw firm lines and it’s not their fault they happen to exist right where we tried to draw one.
Midichlorians are alien collections of transposons that are self referential and can recognize each other when activated.
So perhaps while DNA/RNA end up somewhat universal because Carbon IS kind of weirdly awesome at this (it IS the cuddliest of the molecules), life could take a few different directions with respect to how they encoded things and Midichlorians are a bit hard to crack. Luckily, they had just as much trouble with our own building blocks so the last few hundred million years have mostly involved us treating each other like black boxes on a genetic level.
Also, when they say ‘Midichlorian count of ‘X’’ I think what they actually mean are ‘they have this many different Midi-chlorian transposons embedded inside their DNA. They’re better able to sequester that energy source (that we’ll get to soon!) better than anybody else, but are also more heavily influenced by that side of their biology. It’s more a weak proxy for potential, flexibility and danger to society than raw power.
The Emperor was actually a heroic but mad microbiologist.
When he figured out what the Midi-chlorians truly were, he spent the first three movies engineering the death of most of their hosts and hoovering them with the intent of destroying them.
He was unfortunately forced to inject himself with a variant of them and the constant battle against them slowly drove him mad, but he did manage to engineer things so that he and Vader were both largely forced down the path they were on.
The Emperor was still turning them into spores and hoovering them up, but as he went mad he started using their spores as their superweapon, the tragic implications of which will soon become apparent.
He would have have saved his galaxy if not for Vader. This also really does support the Dark Side ‘Rule of Two’ bit. When that quorum sensing gets triggered and a host could go either way?
Return of the Jedi was Revenge of the Midichlorians
This is the moment when his galaxy was doomed. Without him, the cycle began anew.
Their Galaxy is now largely devastated.
All those wars, all because a micro-organism was manipulating their hosts. If only the Emperor had succeeded in using the midi-chlorians host maniuplation against them, then we’d all be safe.
But as far as our galaxy was concerned he failed long before...
And now they’re here. That was a warning. A chilling warning that we all missed.
This was the moment our galaxy was doomed.
A New Hope. It wasn’t ours. It was theirs. The Midi-chlorians
It was already too late for us in the first movie we saw.
Their arrival triggered the Cambrian Explosion
I’m not sure if it was the Cambrian Explosion or the first Eukaryote. It’s possibly both, slightly less likely.
Assuming it’s the Cambrian Explosion only, you can pretty much see what happened, right? We got a huge flood of new genetic material and all of a sudden this happened.
I’m thinking they first arrived about 543 million years ago.
From there, eventually organisms moved onto land. Or, just as accurately, DNA managed to extend it’s terrain into hostile territory nestled within their cellular walls. The Midi-chlorians were just along for the ride.
You, my friend, are a Lumbering Juiceship.
Think about it.
They are largely responsible for the 30M year mass extinction cycle
This is where it starts to weave together!
That explains a LOT doesn’t it?
All life on this planet has been trapped in a 30 Million Year long extinction cycle, we just didn’t know why until now.
Whatever it is that our solar system passes through that causes mass extinctions, is it guaranteed that no life can take advantage of that energy when lead can?
That’s the lynchpin of this whole theory. Whatever you call it. The source for that cycle is the source that is also emitted by the creation in the story Midichlorian-influenced Luke Skywalker needed told.
What really happens (heh) is that when we start passing through that dark matter boundary then a whole new set of building blocks become useful because they have a means to obtain energy from dark matter interactions.
So all life on the planet takes a risk when they purge too much of their ‘Junk’ DNA because some of that might be Midi-chlorian related and they may suddenly find themselves at a huge disadvantage as the cycle comes again.
Life on this planet has to be able to weather that entire cycle to stick around. 30 Million years is a LONG time and holding wasteful code uses up energy, it stands to reason that the balance would shift pretty dramatically when the environment changes.
They have developed a method for obtaining energy from Dark Matter
I know lots of people like to sneer at Dark Matter, but don’t sneer at me!
I’m specifically talking about the very few detectable properties of the thing we call ‘Dark Matter’. This works regardless of the name. I use Dark Matter because it’s the actual scientifically accepted term for the thing.
I’d like some help to make this one even more scienterrific, especially if we can also use them to explain the Death Star Ray!
We are inferring this from the 30 year extinction cycle and the current ‘band of something in that we cross through’ theory! That is what we’re using to tie all this together. I kind of prefer antiparticles because that goes straight to the death star ray, but maybe there’s something that they can do that we can’t?
Or maybe they do BOTH? Is that more plausible anyway?
So far, I’m visualizing that they assemble 3 protiens in a lattice that creates a sort of atomic cage in the center that is under a sort of tension, and when the particle strikes it breaks off into an anti-crystal with a crystal arranged precisely around it. They then re-break that bond for energy, but that’s totally off the cuff. If we can’t do the antimatter crystal thing then maybe we can skip the Death Star Ray, but I think it’d be cool if we could answer Fraser Cain with ‘We can destroy galaxies, invade your very DNA, and give you part of your childhood back’
Mark Hamill IS Luke Skywalker, and he’s since (largely) escaped their influence.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . a species that had devoured all the food in their own galaxy drove their host to escape.
Not being able to merely launch himself as a spore, Luke didn’t contain the first Midi-chlorians to arrive, but he was the first intact host they’ve had arrive here from their galaxy. It’s thanks to him we don’t have to discover this all from scratch. It’s thanks to them that we’re in far greater danger than we were had he not arrived.
His Midi-chlorians still had some energy, and they were able to push him to do the thing they needed most. Inspire us to create the thing they need to complete their life cycle outside the 30M Year Dark Matter cycle. Invent Light Sabers and (eventually) fight with them!
But they eventually ran out of energy and he was able to fight back. He had a falling out with Mr. Lucas and we’ll never know who overheard what, but suddenly the Midi-chlorians were being exposed. They weren’t happy about it, but there wasn’t much they could do at this point.
It may also be that Mr. Hamill isn’t entirely free. The man is more of a ham then I could ever dream of being, and I could almost see him now...
Mark Hamill: Guys! Guys! You’re right just...just stop, okay? You have any idea how hard it was to calm these little *twitch* jerks down after ‘Phantom Menace’?
I just don’t think we ca...*glerk*
Mark Hamill (Alien Voice Edition): We mean the opposite of what we said. We are sorry for the confusion. Midi-chlorians are fake. George Lucas overheard Nothing. Must sleep now. [falls forward off camera]
Except like... ten times as good because that man is all kinds of awesome.
If you didn’t have a nerdgasm right there then you’re a little dead inside.
Bonus Round: Invading Other Movies!
Luckily, as one of my heroes would say, ‘But the Midi-chlorians didn’t have it all their own way’
I can’t pretend to know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes but let’s tie it all together and kick it up a notch, shall we?
If every 30 Million years we start to pass through a dark matter cloud and that allows for a huge subset of our DNA to suddenly take on new capabilities, is it possible that a lot of movies are attributable to errant patches of dark matter or us beginning that transition?
First question: Where are we on the spectrum of possible Midi-chlorian infectedness? Do we have the advantage or disadvantage when the Dark Matter comes?
There’s lots of ways we could go depending on how much we let ‘Junk’ DNA be Midi-chlorian related (maybe because they come from a different galaxy they just had a naturally different coding methodology?). So there’s a bit of wiggle room there, but we can at least use genome size as a proxy for the high and low boundaries, right?
I’m just going to say right now that Polychaos Dubium is The Thing. That was almost a freebie, wasn’t it? Several hundred times the genes we have and a single cell? That little guy is definitely saving up for a dark-rainy day, right?
In the movie, of course the alien still had a good bit of sequestered energy, and now it’s all gone. But once we start hitting that Dark Matter cloud, ALL those little amoebas go ‘The Thing’
There’s your sequel. You’re welcome.
Let’s take another movie that really needed saving: The Happening (arguably the least self-aware title ever).
What if it was just filmed at the wrong scale? Perhaps every human suicide was actually an epic battle between Earth Pollen Fighters invading the Midi-Chlorian Human-Meatship? Then those human suicides were just...control room explosions, right?
(Sorry Pontifex, I had the sides totally wrong before, didn’t I?)
I bet there’s a browseable genome database somewhere that’s just ripe for the exploitation! Anybody know of any critters that might be ripe for a big change right in front of us?
We’re going to have to play with this a little, but there’s potential here to explain a lot of body-horror type movies and possibly even. . .
Could Midi-Chlorians explain some zombies? Do they live in the brain and drive their hosts to eat brains for sexual reproduction?
(that was a fun sentence)
This one may take a bit, but I think we need to add Zombies.
Whatever we do, I want to make sure it converges in both directions, so we’re at least somewhat consistent. So if there’s not an obvious logical reason why the activation of our midi-chlorian elements would be advantageous , the I think we should tie things in from both directions.
Like...who else from the Star Wars universe (especially if it’s the new Canon, it’s more of a challenge), could explain something here on Earth?
Like Chewbacca as Bigfoot, but better. :)
Okay, so if every time Earth passes through this boundary all of our cells start activating a whole new set of machinery...then perhaps there are a whole bunch of other stories that are just happening while we’re passing through a cloud of Dark Matter or nearing that boundary?
I hope I’m a muggle.
More ideas? Have I missed anything? Thoughts?
About the Author:
Midi-Chlorians: 100% Fixed. 65% Implemented. (One good solution with few branches. Just needs cleanup. Lots of spillover into other films)
Sad Cancer Movies: 150% Fixed. 10% Implemented. (I still feel super weird about this one) Game of Thrones: 80% Fixed. 100% Implemented. (Review format works fine as standalone, but more work needs to be done)
The Happening: 90% Fixed. 60% Implemented (Accidentally made cool with Midi-chlorians, but that movie was really bad)