Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Star Wars: Rebels episode “Twin Suns.”
From a certain point of view, Obi-Wan Kenobi sits at the very center of the entire Star Wars saga.
Dead or alive, Kenobi is the only human character who shows his face in every episode of the original and prequel trilogies. His inability to prevent the rise of the Empire, or the creation of Darth Vader, is the core story of Episodes I-III. Kenobi’s nurturing of Luke — and lying to the kid about his dad — sets in motion the core story of Episodes IV-VI. The core mystery of how he turned into a Force ghost when he lost his duel with Darth Vader in Star Wars lasted six whole movies.
Whenever the Jedi Master shows up in Star Wars canon, it’s a big deal. Especially when we finally get to see him on Tatooine, roughly disguised as the crazy old wizard Ben Kenobi who guards young Luke Skywalker from a distance, destroying an old enemy, and confirming the reason for his lonely vigil.
That’s what the animated series Star Wars: Rebels gave fans in its most recent episode, “Twin Suns”: their first official taste of Obi-Wan between the trilogies. One that left you wanting more, not least because Kenobi is a dark and near-broken hero for our dark and near-broken times.
We almost got that “more” back in 2014. An excellent novel named Kenobi told the story of what the Ewan MacGregor version of Obi-Wan did during his first year on the backwater of sandy Tatooine. Positive reception from fans heralded the possibility of more tales from Kenobi’s Tatooine days; after all, the guy was there for 19 years before the events of Star Wars.
SEE ALSO: Star Wars Saga Continues in ‘Kenobi’
But Kenobi had the misfortune to be the last book published before Lucasfilm did a hard reset on the official Star Wars story. All Star Wars books gained the brand “Legends,” a code word for “never really happened.”
Meanwhile, the animated series Rebels has been struggling with a subplot around Darth Maul. (Yeah, if you’re not following the cartoons, that Darth Maul, the one that was sliced in half by Obi-Wan at the end of The Phantom Menace. He came back in George Lucas’ animated series Clone Wars, his lower half replaced by mechanical spider legs.)
In Rebels, Maul has been trying to turn Force-sensitive youngster Ezra Bridger into his evil apprentice for some time now, meeting with failure after failure. The former Sith lord has become a pathetic figure and the storyline is long past its prime; Maul needed to be killed off again, this time as definitively and clearly as the rebel heroes in Rogue One.
And who better to do that job than the Jedi who sliced him in half in the first place?
Based on the promos, some fans were expecting a titanic struggle to rival the “Duel of the Fates” between MacGregor and Ray Park, who played Maul in Phantom Menace. What we got instead was something more subtle, laced with poignant meaning.
As Rogue One showed us, Star Wars is often at its best when it adds an extra layer of context to the original movie’s story. And as The Force Awakens and the entire prequel trilogy showed us, Star Wars is a story with motifs that repeat, generation after generation. Its main characters get fitting, mythical endings that mirror other moments. This is supposed to be a timeless space fairy tale.
The planet where it all began deserved nothing less.
“Twin Suns” gave us all of the above. While Rebels, which operates on a far smaller budget than Clone Wars, can often make its characters look a little too plastic-like and its backgrounds too stiff, it’s clear the show broke the bank on giving us a realistic Tatooine. The planet where it all began deserved nothing less.
Tusken Raiders attacked Ezra, because of course. Their braying cries of triumph echoed through familiar canyons. Just like Artoo, Ezra’s cantankerous droid Chopper broke down on the dunes and became sympathetic for probably the first time in the whole show. And at the very end, we got an appropriately distant shot of Luke running in to dinner at the Lars homestead. Cue chills.
Kenobi’s appearance was kept to a minimum to enhance his mystery. His final showdown with Maul was a foregone conclusion, and Maul died in Kenobi’s arms exactly the way Kenobi’s master Qui-Gon Jinn did when he met his noble end at the hands of Maul.
But there was at the end no sense of revenge. Kenobi and Maul had both been through too much; both had been on journeys where they were chewed up and spit out by the true evil in the galaxy. Both pinned everything on a new apprentice.
In the end, the only thing they talked of was hope. A new hope — one that even Maul could believe in. In the final seconds of his life, the former Sith became team Jedi.
Throughout the prequel trilogy we were told of the Jedi prophecy of the “Chosen One that would bring balance to the Force.” The belief that Anakin fit that bill was the Jedi Order’s (and Kenobi’s) fatal flaw.
Did that mean the prophecy was bunk, or that the Chosen One was someone else? Obi-Wan never had his say on this in the movies, but in “Twin Suns” he makes his opinion clear: Luke Skywalker is the Chosen One.
As one of Lucasfilm’s official keepers of Star Wars canon pointed out, this little factoid explains several previous Kenobi statements to or about Luke:
The Chosen Jedi
Might this have implications for The Last Jedi, the upcoming Skywalker saga blockbuster — which, we already know, will be catching us up on Luke at the other end of his life?
Certainly, the messianic notion of bringing balance to the Force is a tall order, and the pressure of being the Chosen One already destroyed one Skywalker. In the process of bringing his father back to the light, Luke almost fell to the Dark Side once already.
We already know Luke tried to train his own Jedi, but that they were slaughtered by the Knights of Ren. There’s likely a lot more to that story. The last Jedi did not quit and retreat to a well-hidden planet containing the first Jedi temple just because he was in mourning.
Whatever we learn from Luke about the past and future of the Jedi, it’s likely the movie will contain echoes of Obi-Wan — just as The Force Awakens threw a few words from both Ewan MacGregor and Alec Guinness into Rey’s Force vision. (Which is part of what led some to theorize that Rey is herself descended from Kenobi.)
Luke’s former guardian, it has now become clear, was the loneliest and most hopeful man in the Galaxy. As the Empire rose, he lost all his friends, fell from the rank of general to the role of hermit, and concealed the true nature of evil in his attempt to make the Jedi rise again. His story is both a beacon of hope and a warning for anyone trying to combat tyranny.
For that reason especially, we hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this fascinating character — either during his backstory on Tatooine, or in some kind of Force ghost fashion in future movies.