Here’s What Failed Anakin Skywalker in ‘Star Wars,’ According to Dave Filoni

Anakin Skywalker‘s story was always going to lead to Darth Vader. No matter how many times you watch the prequels or the last season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the ending is always the same. However, there are facets that The Clone Wars added to make that turn to the Dark Side a bit more visible. But even so, Dave Filoni stated that the moment that solidified Anakin’s fate was back in Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) in front of the Jedi Council in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ | Lucasfilm

Qui-Gon Jinn knew he was the parent Anakin needed

Filoni, who is the supervising director and executive producer for The Clone Wars, is also an executive producer and director on The Mandalorian. So, in a roundtable interview for the new Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, he shared a lot of insight into the “hero’s journey” as it pertains to Star Wars. He is one of the most knowledgable people when it comes to the franchise and how things work in canon because he was taught by George Lucas himself when working on The Clone Wars

One of the points he mentioned was why Anakin ultimately turned to the Dark Side. The moment it all hinges on is the fight between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul. And it wasn’t just a life or death situation; it would decide what happened to Anakin, hence the song titled, “Duel of the Fates,” playing over the scene.  

“What’s at stake, really, is how Anakin’s gonna turn out. Because Qui-Gon is different than the rest of the Jedi, and you get that in the movie,” Filoni explained. “And Qui-Gon is fighting because he knows he’s the father that Anakin needs. Because Qui-Gon hasn’t given up on the fact that Jedi are supposed to actually care and love and that that’s not a bad thing.”

Anakin was too old to train and had already too strong of a bond with his mother

After leaving his mother to go train to be a Jedi, Anakin was mourning that attachment he had to her. He was far too old to start his training, and couldn’t unlearn familial love and bonding. But Qui-Gon was so determined to train Anakin, since he knew he was the Chosen One. However, that bond with his mom was too strong. As Filoni stated, he would have stepped up as a parental figure, however, that’s not what happened. 

“Depending on how this fight goes, Anakin’s life is gonna be dramatically different. Qui-Gon loses of course,” Filoni stated. “So the father figure  — because he knew what it meant to take this kid away from his mother when he had an attachment, and he’s left with Obi-Wan.” 

Now, don’t get it twisted; Obi-Wan is an excellent master to Anakin. Not to mention, Obi-Wan had to put up with a lot of the active, overzealous boy’s antics, as Anakin tells Ahsoka later on. They become like brothers, and even though Anakin says Obi-Wan was like a father to him, Obi-Wan states that Anakin was his sibling. They still love each other, but that parental guidance and attachment Anakin needed wasn’t there. 

Obi-Wan becomes Anakin’s brother, but Anakin’s fate is already solidified by Qui-Gon’s death

“He’s a brother to Anakin eventually. But he’s not a father figure,” Filoni said. “That’s a failing for Anakin. He doesn’t have the family that he needs. He loses his mother in the next film. He fails on this promise he made.”

Filoni noted that Anakin is then “vulnerable” to the ways of the Dark Side, or at least more susceptible to manipulation that we do see later on. Filoni wants to instill in people that this scene is way more than just a “cool lightsaber fight,” because “everything that the entire three films of the prequels hangs on” is that duel. When Qui-Gon gets stabbed in the gut, we all felt that.

Anakin’s pain festers, leading to the Dark Side

Now, Anakin, of course, goes on to be a great Jedi. He also still forms those bonds he’s not really supposed to (but has an inclination to). He marries the love of his life, Senator Padmé Amidala and he takes on Ahsoka as his Padawan. He becomes immensely protective over both of them, going a little overboard at times. But the fact that the Jedi forbid his feelings, they tend to fester for Anakin. Any hate or fear he feels doesn’t have anywhere to go because the Jedi say to just let it be.

As stated above, Qui-Gon thought that the Jedi should embrace emotions like love. And even though the war hadn’t started yet, Filoni states that Qui-Gon already thinks the Jedi are too political. This neglect might have aided Palpatine in clouding their visions and connection to foresight through the Force. This is why he wasn’t on the Jedi Council. Because he didn’t agree with how they ran things.

Had Qui-Gon lived through the duel with Darth Maul, maybe Anakin wouldn’t have turned to the Dark Side. Whatever the case, it definitely would have changed things.