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In the documentary that accompanied the DVD release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas famously said, “It’s like poetry, it rhymes.” This line was somewhat mocked, but the maker himself has been proved right time and time again. The events of the Star Wars saga do indeed rhyme, and that's not a weakness. It’s part of what makes it special.
There are many rhyming themes in Part 6 of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which concludes the latest streaming Star Wars live-action series in epic fashion. Ben Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) has found his strength, and he has remembered who he once was. He’s found his own path at last. In the process, he has set the stage for the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Though that movie was first seen in 1977, we’ll never see it the same way again.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Part 6 of Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you have not watched yet, then wander back off into the desert.***
Both of the Skywalker twins are in trouble. Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) and the rest of the Path is being hunted by Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Reva (Moses Ingram), having intercepted pivotal information in Part 5, is now hunting Luke (Grant Feely) on Tatooine. Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi will do what he must.
Knowing that Vader will pursue him at all costs (and let the rest of the Path go), Kenobi departs on a drop ship and heads to a planet full of rocky spires. “You’ve spent ten years protecting the Jedi. This is my turn to return the favor,” he says to them.
“You are all the future, you are the future,” he continues, pointedly looking at Leia. “You’re what needs to survive.” He is not a new hope or a savior, but he can still be of service. He can still buy time for the light, just as Luke Skywalker does in The Last Jedi and as Obi-Wan does in A New Hope. Vader (still blinded by his need to win at all costs) pursues Kenobi. He must face him alone. The duel (and the rhyme) is set.
Obi-Wan and Vader face off once more under the image of a giant crescent moon, and as Vader himself notes, Kenobi has regained his strength. Not only does Obi-Wan not get his butt laid in the dirt again, he holds his own against Vader to the point where the Sith Lord is forced to use his two-handed lightsaber swing. That’s how you know it’s an even match.
Vader has Kenobi buried under a pile of boulders at one point, but Obi-Wan survives and the duel continues. He pelts Vader with a torrent of rocks, and unleashes an attack that leaves Vader with a slash across his mask. Half of Anakin’s face is seen underneath, and he speaks in a voice that is part Hayden Christensen, part James Earl Jones.
“I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker,” he says. “I did.”
Vader doesn’t know it, but he just laid many of Obi-Wan’s demons to rest. Kenobi leaves him there, once again screaming his name in fury. Toward the episode’s end, the Emperor himself (Ian McDiarmid) puts Vader back on his proper course. He only has one master, make no mistake.
Kenobi then flies to Tatooine as quick as he can. Reva’s hunt for Luke has been ongoing. She is severely wounded, and Beru (Bonnie Piesse) has been planning for something like this for a long time. She takes charge and arms both herself and Owen (Joel Edgerton) as they defend their charge as best they can.
When the former inquisitor eventually has Luke down in the sand, unconscious, she pauses before she brings her lightsaber down. She sees an image of herself lying there; the youngling that she once was. She doesn’t follow through. She carries Luke back home instead.
“Have I become him?” she eventually asks the newly arrived Kenobi after Owen and Beru take Luke inside. She thinks that she’s failed her fellow fallen younglings, but Kenobi tells her that she has done the opposite. She has shown mercy, and so she has given them peace. She has not become the very evil that she decided to fight against, and not become Vader. “…you have chosen not to,” Obi-Wan tells her. “Who you become now, that is up to you.” She leaves her red lightsaber in the sand, and Obi-Wan says that they are both free.
With everyone out of danger (for now), Kenobi goes to Alderaan to give Leia a proper farewell. She tells her a little about her biological parents before she calls him “Obi-Wan” for the first time. If the Organas ever need him again, they know where to find him. Back on Tatooine, Kenobi tells Owen that he will keep his distance. Above anything else, Luke just needs to be a boy for now. Owen then goes so far as to let Obi-Wan meet Luke.
The wide-eyed boy watched the Jedi walk up to him with wonder, and Obi-Wan Kenobi naturally says, “Hello there.”
With his cave of sadness packed up, Obi-Wan rides into the desert to find a new place to live. It is here that he finally receives the vision of his former master, who he has been trying to commune with for this entire series.
“Well, took you long enough,” the Force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) says to him. “I was always here, Obi-Wan. You just were not ready to see.”
With his spark finally returned, Obi-Wan goes off with the spirit of his former master. They will finally begin the “training” that Yoda spoke of at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
“Come on, we’ve got a ways to go,” Qui-Gon says.
Points of Interest
-Rhymes abound in the entire episode, with many callbacks to the prequels, and many call-forwards to the Original Trilogy. The overall story of a broken down hero finding his way back to the light is one of the most familiar rhymes in all of Star Wars.
-It’s a retcon to be sure, but a welcome one. Obi-Wan never calls Darth Vader “Anakin” when they meet for the last time in A New Hope. He calls him “Darth” even though that name was since turned into an honorific Sith title. Now we know why. After Vader actually takes some responsibility and says that he himself killed Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan responds, “Then my friend is truly dead… Darth.” For Kenobi, Anakin no longer exists.
-Fans of Star Wars Rebels will remember Vader’s duel with Ahsoka on Malachor in Season 2, where his mask ends up slashed just as it is here. His Anakin voice (Matt Lanter) blended with the voice of James Earl Jones as he told Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) something very similar to what he tells Obi-Wan here. Is he trying to convince them, or is he trying to convince himself? Luke is the only one who never fully buys his bill of goods.
-This is the first time that we’re seeing Vader get damaged like this in live-action, aside from his final moments in Return of the Jedi. It happens in the aforementioned episode of Rebels however, and it has happened many times in the comics. He once got his limbs blown off all over again. He got new ones.
-Composer Natalie Holt made you wait for the legacy musical themes, but she finally let loose with them here. The Imperial March, Leia’s Theme, and the Force Theme are all present.
-Obi-Wan gives Tala’s tally-marked holster to Leia. She’s too young for a blaster, but she proudly wears it empty. Not only do her parents allow it, they’re in favor of it. This is the kind of leader that she’s going to be. Bail and Breha know that this is the kind of leader that they’re going to need.
-When meeting Luke, Obi-Wan has the model of the T-16 with him. We can safely assume that he gifts it to him, and that Luke is still playing around with it nine years later in A New Hope.
-What happens to Reva? She could return, and when she does she could be on the side of the Rebellion. it wouldn’t be completely out of line for her to show up on Andor. After what Moses Ingram experienced from the fandom, however, we wouldn’t blame her if she wanted to wash her hands of Star Wars completely.
-Despite what Luke Skywalker says in The Last Jedi, sometimes it is about lifting rocks. Rey demonstrates this at the end of that movie, and Obi-Wan demonstrates it in this episode.
-To be even more heavy-handed, Obi-Wan has lifted the rock off of his heart. He was dead inside, and full of selfish guilt. He’s faced his demons, seen the light, and now he’s on a new journey of discovery that will lead him into the very heart of the Force.
-So ends Obi-Wan Kenobi, which proved to be a surprisingly effective examination of a character that we only thought we knew so well. From our point of view, this series doesn’t contradict anything in the Original Trilogy. It enhances it, and it rhymes with it. Together with Rebels, this series serves as a wonderful bridge between trilogies.
It reminded us to turn on the light.
All six parts of Obi-Wan Kenobi are streaming on Disney+ right now. “Goodbye, Princess.”