The overshadowed Return of the Jedi line super-relevant to Obi-Wan Kenobi series

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Since even before the 2022 Obi-Wan Kenobi series premiered, there has been one line from 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope that has been brought up by just about everyone (spoilers for Star Wars in general below, including Kenobi Part III).

Of course, I am talking about when Obi-Wan confronts Darth Vader, his fallen apprentice Anakin Skywalker turned Sith Lord, on the Death Star.  Vader begins the verbal exchange:

"“I’ve been waiting for you Obi-Wan.  We meet again at last.  The circle is now complete.  When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.”"

People were even worried that the Obi-Wan series would contradict this canon or even ruin this iconic scene, since it was clear that it had been a long time since Obi-Wan and Vader were face to face and it seemed Vader was referencing their parting during 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan had defeated the newly-minted Vader and left him a burning husk of a man on Mustafar.

But the Obi-Wan series has changed our understanding of this, for obvious reasons.

Yet one thing I have not seen many others discussing nearly as much as the New Hope line, but that should be widely discussed as one of the most relevant lines from the Original Trilogy for this new Kenobi series, is something Vader says after Luke willingly turns himself over to Vader in 1983’s Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and tries to appeal to Vader to become the Anakin Skywalker who Vader used to be.

Vader tells him in response: “that name no longer has any meaning for me.”  Luke immediately retorts that “it is the name of your true self, you’ve only forgotten.  I know there is good in you, the Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully.  That was why you couldn’t destroy me.  That’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now.”  Vader doesn’t respond immediately, then deflects to other topics.  But Luke is not giving up on his father, pleading with him to “come with me.”  Vader almost sounds sad with this key response:

"“Obi-Wan once thought as you do.”"

The Obi-Wan series now makes this crucial line even more important.  I do no think that this is referencing Obi-Wan’s argument with Anakin on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith; I think it makes more sense that, considering the way “once” is used in a way that I think now goes beyond just the few hours Obi-Wan had between learning of his former padawan’s fall and confronting him in Mustafar in person, that this refers to some other exchange between them, one we could get very soon.

And for people complaining that the duel in the latest episode of Kenobi contradicts the big scene from A New Hope mentioned above, relax, Rian Johnson and JJ Abrams aren’t in charge here and it’s clear there is yet another meeting in store for Kenobi and Vader after this last episode’s duel and before the meeting on the Death Star.

If that meeting does not happen in these next three episodes of Kenobi, then perhaps in a possible second season, if there is a plan (and does Lucasfilm have plans these days?  It seems so much is being made up “on the move,” but that now there may be actual plans, so who knows, but if there is no hard plan for a second season, and as it has been presented as a “limited series,” then we should expect another, bigger, badder meeting for the two within the next three episodes).

Related Story. Why James Earl Jones, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman cameos likely in Obi-Wan Kenobi. light

There is another dimension to all this.  After Vader’s greeting to Obi-Wan in A New Hope ending with “now I am the master,” Kenobi’s response is telling: “Only a master of evil, Darth.”  Then he swings the first blow—going on the offensive—in his duel with Vader.

If we let that marinate, it explains something important: by A New Hope, Obi-Wan no longer believes Vader is redeemable.  After Yoda dies in Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan even tells this to Luke as a Force Ghost when he says—after Luke pleas that “there is still good in him”—that “he’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil,” pushing Luke to confront and kill Vader.  “I can’t kill my own father,” replies an emotional Luke.  Obi-Wan’s response: “Then the Emperor has already won.”  He’s clearly not asking Luke to try to redeem Vader, but to kill him.

As Kenobi going on the offense in that Death Star scene, he also shows confidence, not behaving like a man trembling in fear as we saw with the last episode of Kenobi.

Considering all this, we can expect a few things:

  1. There is definitely at least one other confrontation between the two after Part III of Obi-Wan Kenobi and before A New Hope
  2. Obi-Wan is very likely to try to persuade Anakin to come back to the Light Side (and obviously fails)
  3. Obi-Wan has a lot of personal growth to go through before the confrontation referenced in A New Hope, because he has to best Vader bigtime as Vader called himself a “learner” relative to Obi-Wan in their last meeting, per the quote from Vader when he sees Obi-Wan on the Death Star.

In the end, “Obi-Wan once thought as you do” can give us a deep sense of sad buildup in (perhaps, this current series, perhaps a second season) of an Obi-Wan desperately trying to bring back Anakin Skywalker back and back to the Light and confronting what it means to come to the realization, in his mind, anyway, that Vader is irredeemable.  In the end, it is clear there is more for us to see onscreen between retired Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his fallen apprentice, Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, Knight of the Jedi Order he helped to destroy.

Random prediction for Kenobi: I think Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, will appear as Quinlan Vos and we will get some sort of reference to Asajj Ventress…

Random defense of Inquisitor Reva/Moses Ingrahm: at first, I found the character annoying but the more I watched, the more she made perfect sense in the messed up Inquisitorius office culture and the more I loved Ingram’s delivery and regardless of how you feel about the character, lay off Moses. or she will part your sea using the Force.

(Also, be sure to check out my recommendation for the best way to watch the Clone Wars finale arc alongside Episode III: Revenge of the Sith if you want to revisit that as you watch Kenobi!)

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