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Obi-Wan Kenobi's most important backstory is in the 'Star Wars' cartoons

Say "hello there" to a life filled with pain and heartbreak. 

By Brian Silliman
Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) on Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Qui-Gon Jinn once described the Jedi experience as “a hard life.” He was not wrong. Following the path of the Jedi is a difficult thing in the best of times, as the Star Wars saga illustrates over and over. How is it when the force is in darkness, however? How does a Jedi manage to hold true to their beliefs when their lives have been nothing but a non-stop parade of pain? Obi-Wan Kenobi knows all about that — but if you've only watched the live-action Star Wars movies or shows, you might not. 

We’re about to see a new chapter in Obi-Wan’s life with the Disney+ streaming miniseries, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Order 66 has decimated the Jedi. He’s an exile on the insanely hostile planet Tatooine. His master is long dead, and he’s fresh off of his own former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, going to the dark side. It likely sticks in his mind that he had to hack off every natural appendage that Anakin had left before letting him burn to death in a pool of lava. 

You think that's pain? If you add in everything that happens to him in the animated Star Wars series (mostly Star Wars: The Clone Wars but also Star Wars Rebels), then the misery really kicks into high gear. 

The Clone Wars series predates the events of the new miniseries. It treated Kenobi like a punching bag, constantly beating the crap out of him both emotionally and physically. What does the show reveal about him that we didn’t learn in the films? 

The biggest reveal is an ongoing tragic love story involving Obi-Wan (voiced on the series by James Arnold Taylor). Back when he was an padawan, he got to know Satine Kryze (Anna Graves), future Duchess of Mandalore. We don’t know how far things went between them, but they were in love. Kenobi never went full Skywalker, though... he stayed true to Jedi rules. 

Season 2 of the show reunited Kenobi and the Duchess when she needed assistance on Mandalore. There is some romantic banter between them (Anakin lives for it), but Obi-Wan never gives in to whatever he’s feeling. Not even when Satine tells “Obi” that his beard hides too much of his “handsome face.” 

Was Satine the one true love of Obi-Wan’s life? We never find out, because Season 5 puts a tragic end to their will-they-won’t-they dynamic. 

The returned Maul (Sam Witwer), a Sith/Darth no longer, conquers Mandalore and puts Satine in prison. She naturally reaches out to the Jedi for help, and Kenobi flies in to save the day. The deposed Satine is so happy to see Obi-Wan when he breaks her free that she gives him an intimate hug. It’s a hug that screams “I love you, never leave me.” 

Maul has other plans. He thwarts their escape, and soon he has the both of them in the throne room. Always out for vengeance against the Jedi who cut him in half, Maul takes the Darksaber and runs Satine through. She collapses in Obi-Wan’s arms, says she’ll always love him, and dies. 

Obi-Wan escapes Mandalore as civil war breaks out, with Satine’s sister, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) leading one faction. The emotional devastation of this event is clear in the moment, as the acting and animation make Kenobi’s pain very clear. It likely stays with him, but never lets it show. He’s back to his displaying his regular wit once the arc is over. 

Keep in mind, this arc happens after a Season 4 arc where Maul and his brother Savage Opress (Clancy Brown) pummel Kenobi to his breaking point with their fists. There was also an arc where Obi-Wan had to fake his own death (with Anakin not in the know), so he could undergo a disgusting body transformation and infiltrate a group of assassins who had a plot to take out Chancellor Palpatine. 

He never confided in his “brother” Anakin about any of this. If any Jedi would understand what he was feeling about Satine, it would have been Anakin. After being left out of the fake death plot, Anakin’s trust in Obi-Wan may have diminished though. It’s no surprise that Anakin never told Kenobi about his marriage, despite the fact that he got progressively worse about covering it. 

Aside from weekly beatdowns and fake deaths, always remember that Obi-Wan's chance for true romantic love died in his arms. Things come full circle when Obi-Wan appears in one pivotal episode of Star Wars Rebels in Season 3. The episode happens after the events of the upcoming live-action miniseries, but it brings the Kenobi/Maul saga to a close. After a brief standoff, Kenobi (now played by Stephen Stanton) takes Maul out very quickly. Maul, just like Satine, dies in Obi-Wan’s arms. 

Prior to these events, Maul was plotting on Dathomir and stuck on the planet Malachor. It is unlikely for him to appear in the miniseries, because the “rematch” with his former foe (which actually ends with something resembling grace) is already set. 

Obi-Wan didn’t just lose the love of his life. The Clone Wars shows him seeing fellow Jedi get cut down all the time, and it also shows that he was a part of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) leaving the Order in Season 5. He wasn’t the prime motivator of this event (not as much as Mace Windu or Ki-Adi Mundi), but his devotion to the Jedi Council didn’t help anything. 

Season 7 of the series shows us what may be the final moment between Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. If Obi-Wan opened up to her in the slightest bit, things could have played out differently. He trained the boy as Qui-Gon requested (and tells an apparition of Qui-Gon as much during the Season 3 “Mortis” arc), and we know this all ends with Kenobi screaming, “You were my brother Anakin, I loved you!” on Mustafar. He had so many moments to tell him this over seven seasons of The Clone Wars, but Jedi rigor always won out. 

Guilt will almost certainly rule a good portion of Obi-Wan’s heart in the miniseries. Guilt over Anakin, the Jedi, and the new galactic state of affairs, yes. There will also be guilt over Ahsoka, and certainly guilt over Satine. 

So yes, “it’s a hard life.” Any Jedi life is hard, but the life of Obi-Wan Kenobi may be the hardest and most miserable of them all. What could possibly keep a Jedi left in darkness, in ways both live-action and animated, on the path of the light? He has a purpose, which may also be a penance. He must look after young Luke Skywalker, the scion of the boy/apprentice/brother he failed. The light isn’t gone, but it is very dim. We see him looking after young Luke following his Maul encounter in Rebels. The identity of "the chosen one" may be in flux for him. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi has suffered an unimaginable amount of losses both before the miniseries and after it. The force is still strong with him. It always will be. His animated adventures prove just how strong that connection is. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi says 'hello there' on Disney+ starting on May 27.