Why Vader and Obi-Wan’s duel in Obi-Wan Kenobi is absolute perfection

Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Sometimes, Star Wars actors, shows, movies, and even particular scenes take time to grow on fans. Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t perfect and certainly has its flaws. The series could’ve done with a lot more Hayden Christensen overall, and way more of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s moments together as flashbacks. The series is at its best when it focuses on their relationship, especially in the finale.

While most of the series was spent on Obi-Wan figuring out how to come to terms with what happened to him and Anakin 10 years ago, the show was marketed as the “rematch of a lifetime” between two best friends turned foes. The story gradually progressed from Obi-Wan learning that Anakin was still alive, to their first dramatic confrontation in which Vader had the upper hand. Everything was setting up their duel in the finale, and it’s a duel that delivers in every possible way.

Reactions overall to the series have been divided and because of that, the final duel between Vader and Kenobi didn’t get the appreciation it deserves. It’s well-choreographed and highlights why Vader lost to Obi-Wan in Episode III and why he loses again, 10 years later. Throughout the fight, Vader and Obi-Wan’s moves mirror their moves against each other in the flashback of them sparring just an episode earlier. The flashback was meant to highlight Anakin’s emotional weaknesses and his blinding need for victory, something which Obi-Wan points out to him so he’d correct it; except he never does. Even in the Kenobi finale, Vader repeats those same mistakes and his emotional weaknesses blind him. It’s obvious that even if he’s physically more powerful than Obi-Wan, he hasn’t learned anything from the past.

That’s what makes this duel incredibly underrated but perfect. It’s a lightsaber duel that’s as visually satisfying as it is emotionally charged. The cherry on the cake comes at the end of the fight, when Vader’s mask breaks, revealing his disfigured face. This allows both the characters to be at their most vulnerable, and it shows the broken pieces of the bonding that was once so important to both of them. This is also the last time Vader will ever hear anyone except Luke referring to him as Anakin, and it’s Obi-Wan’s last time referring to his best friend as Anakin. After this duel, Obi-Wan accepts that Anakin is truly gone, and what remains is a monstrosity, “more machine than man”.

It’s a bittersweet ending to their friendship and the series, and it’s hard to sit through the rest of the episode with dry eyes. Everyone knows what will happen the next time they meet. But regardless of the tragic end to their friendship, it’s amazing to think that Obi-Wan would be reunited with Anakin in the force when everything is set and done. Their duel with Kenobi reminds us why their relationship is the most important and most tragic one in Star Wars, and that so much of what happens in the franchise hinges on what they both meant to each other at one point.

Amid all the fancy choreography, are two former best friends, who never really heal from the trauma they gave each other. Obi-Wan Kenobi, through one climactic lightsaber duel, justifies these two characters and their Master and Padawan relationship perfectly and that’s really why most Star Wars fans wanted to see the Obi-Wan Kenobi series in the first place.