Editorial: How ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ Tells Us What Will and Won’t Happen in the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Disney Plus Series
When Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader have their fateful encounter in Star Wars: A New Hope, it was the first time the two had seen each other since their ‘battle of the heroes’ on Mustafar…until now. It has been revealed that not only will Darth Vader appear (via Hayden Christensen) in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus, but that the two will have a rematch. I wanted to have some fun wondering how our view of A New Hope might change and also use A New Hope to form speculation as to what will and wont happen in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
Retcon is nothing new in Star Wars, in fact it is one of George Lucas’s greatest traditions.
Before I get into this any deeper, I have to acknowledge that thanks to Star Wars employing new storytelling devices in recent years, it is possible, however unlikely, that the “rematch of the century” (as Kathleen Kennedy put it) can happen in a vision or a dream sequence, though I don’t believe Disney would hype this encounter to fans and not make it an actual physical battle. So with that thought in mind, I am approaching this editorial assuming Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader will physically clash in Obi-Wan Kenobi. And yes, it also needs to be reiterated that George Lucas retconned himself often in his original trilogy.
“A young Jedi named Darth Vader who was a pupil of mine until he turned evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.”
This was no metaphor when Lucas wrote these lines. Obi-Wan was indeed telling the truth. Darth Vader did not become Luke’s father until drafts of The Empire Strikes Back. Once Vader narratively became Anakin Skywalker in the sequel, Obi-Wan instantly became a liar of sorts. And thus the “From a certain point of view” crutch was born! I bring this up because I don’t want readers feeling like this upcoming retcon of A New Hope is some new Alderaan-shattering, original trilogy-destroying phenomenon. As a matter of fact, I don’t think this retcon is as egregious as ones Lucas himself created between his original trilogy sequels and his prequel trilogy. It’s really just going to employ us fans to cleverly adjust how we absorb the dialogue revolving around and between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in episode IV. So let’s take a look at the instances in the original film that may have our point of view altered a bit, while using A New Hope to inform our speculation on how Lucasfilm and their series writers might have created the Kenobi series story to make it all make sense.
VADER FEELS KENOBI’S PRESENCE
I sense something…a presence I haven’t felt since…”
This is an easy one since Lucas luckily left the timeframe out of Vader’s line. So it goes from being a presence he hasn’t felt since he was a smoldering pile of burning flesh on Mustafar to whatever goes down in the Kenobi series. So instead of it being 19 years, it is 10, not a big deal I guess. The main difference is now when we see Vader deliver this line our brains will shift to their encounter in Kenobi instead of the “Battle of Heroes” on Mustafar. This could actually make viewing A New Hope feel fresher in some respects.
VADER TELLS TARKIN KENOBI IS ON THE DEATH STAR
He is here…
Obi-Wan Kenobi! What makes you think so?
A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master.
Surely he must be dead by now.
Don’t underestimate the power of the Force.
The Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion.
Tarkin’s line, “Surely he must be dead by now” implies when Vader leaves Kenobi during the Obi-Wan Kenobi series there is no internal level of certainty that he killed Kenobi, or else Tarkin wouldn’t make an assumed statement like this. If Vader left Kenobi thinking he killed him Tarkin would say something more along the lines of “Impossible, you destroyed him yourself.” So whatever happens in this big clash between Vader and Kenobi, it either ends with Vader knowing Kenobi is alive or with Vader uncertain about Kenobi’s fate. Vader felt a tremor in the Force the last time he was in Kenobi’s presence. This is a big deal. What happens during their rematch that causes a disturbance in the Force? It will be interesting to see what Lucasfilm does to explain this occurrence, since this tremor can no longer be tied to the events around Order 66 and the fall of the Jedi Order.
LEIA KNOWS OBI-WAN GOES BY BEN KENOBI
I’m here to rescue you. I’ve got your R2 unit. I’m here with Ben Kenobi.
Ben Kenobi! Where is he?
Leia doesn’t question the name “Ben” at all, and immediately uses it herself as the known name for the old Jedi. This presents an interesting question that needs to be answered in the Kenobi series, the whole “Ben” thing. I think this name is going to carry more weight than just a cover up for Kenobi while hiding on Tatooine. Why would Leia know he goes by that name?
I also don’t think Kenobi can meet Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi, as that wouldn’t make sense based on her famous message to Obi-Wan sent through R2-D2. In her message she clearly addresses him as someone she has never met, though she does refer to him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, which makes things interesting as she appears to know him as both Ben and Obi-Wan.
General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
I think it’s possible Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa in Obi-Wan Kenobi. If we see a 10-year-old Leia it will take place on Alderaan assuming the series decides to involve Organa in some way. My guess is we will see Bail, Breha, and Leia at some point in the series because Lucas/Lucasfilm loves a good tie-in, and it would make sense to have them appear without it feeling forced or wedged in for no reason. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll see Kenobi meet up with Bail in the series. In Rogue One Organa acknowledges Kenobi’s service of him in the Clone Wars and that he has lived in hiding since Palpatine’s purge.
He served me well during The Clone Wars and has lived in hiding since the Emperor’s purge. Yes, I will send for him.”
Having Bail and Kenobi meet up before this time would be a bit strange to me, as this moment in Rogue One feels like “the moment” that Yoda was talking about in Revenge of the Sith.
Until the time is right, into hiding we must go.”
Yes it’s possible they can make events in Kenobi important enough for everyone to reconvene, but it doesn’t make sense that Kenobi then goes back into hiding as a mysterious old hermit again after something of that magnitude. So my guess is, or at least what I think should happen, is Kenobi and Organa do not meet up or cross paths in the Kenobi series.
This begs the question then, how does Leia know Kenobi goes by “Ben”? While the whole name thing seems minor on the surface, it needs a solid explanation. Why go by “Ben” but still Kenobi? Is Kenobi the “Smith” of the galaxy? Where did he get the name from? I know this is explained in the non-canon novel Kenobi, but that’s not canon, so an explanation awaits. But as I said, more importantly, I think Leia knowing him as Ben Kenobi is something that needs explaining. I could see them doing something like Kenobi and Bail speak via hologram messages and Leia sees it happen, to which Bail refers to Kenobi as his friend Ben Kenobi or something. I don’t know, it’s beyond my pay grade but I am very curious to see if they tackle that, and how.
WHY OWEN WANTS TO KEEP LUKE AWAY FROM KENOBI
That wizard’s just a crazy old man….I told you to forget it.”
Owen and Beru warmly accept Luke from Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it is very clear since then Owen has tried to keep Luke away from knowing Kenobi or what he represents. This can of course be as simple as Owen knowing the danger Obi-Wan has been involved in and wanting to keep Luke safe. Though if that were the case, Owen wouldn’t be supportive of Luke joining the Academy, which would certainly involve him in dangerous entanglements if pursued. Joel Edgerton played Owen in the prequels and has said he would love to return if they explored a Kenobi series, well good news for him, they are. I think Edgerton will definitely return as Owen and we will witness a verbal dispute between Owen and Obi-Wan which leads to an elevated tension pushing Owen to want to keep him away from the Jedi.
I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there’s nothing
I can do about it right now. It’s such a long way from here.
That’s your uncle talking.
Kenobi knows Owen’s narrative and beliefs. I believe we will see this come to a head to explain how they got to this point from the prequels, where Owen didn’t express much contempt for Obi-Wan or the Jedi.
KENOBI VERSUS VADER
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.
Only a master of evil, Darth.
Your powers are weak, old man.
You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
The entire interaction between Vader and Kenobi will force Lucasfilm and its writers to really earn their pay. There isn’t a lot of dialogue but if Kenobi and Vader are indeed going to be actually dueling in Obi-Wan Kenobi, we will be forced to look at their exchange while fighting in A New Hope a bit differently. If Vader is still the learner after a fight. in the Kenobi series, does that duel end with Obi-Wan the victor once again? It sounds like that may have to be the case, though Vader acknowledging Kenobi’s powers are weak would mean they were not weak when they fought in the Kenobi series. So does Vader do something to Kenobi to weaken him during that encounter, or is Kenobi forced to do something during that battle that causes his powers to weaken? Both characters obviously survive whatever duel they have in Obi-Wan Kenobi, so my conclusion is that something disrupts their fight and they go separate ways without be able to end it on their own terms. I believe Kenobi could come out on top but Vader does something that severely weakens Obi-Wan’s powers, or perhaps that the fight itself is so taxing on Kenobi that it leads to a weakening of his physical powers the next time the two meet on the Death Star, which would explain Vader’s line.
OBI-WAN LEARNING HOW TO BECOME ONE WITH THE FORCE
The final thing that A New Hope tells us is that Obi-Wan Kenobi learns how to become one with the Force, which takes us back to the end of Revenge of the Sith where Yoda informs Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon Jinn had learned how to communicate beyond the physical world.
I believe we will see Liam Neeson return to visit Obi-Wan in the series to teach him final lessons in learning how to become one with the Force. It just makes too much sense for him to appear. Liam Neeson has recently spoken fondly about his time with The Phantom Menace, returned to do voice-work during The Clone Wars, and I can’t imagine him declining to return for a project of this magnitude at this point in his career. I consider Liam Neeson returning a lock, and it will only strengthen how we view and understand Obi-Wan becoming a “Force ghost” in A New Hope.
Star Wars: A New Hope really helps us form solid guesses as to what will happen and what we’ll see in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. This doesn’t mean this is all we will see in the limited Disney Plus series, but in terms of preserving and making sense of what happens with Obi-Wan Kenobi and those around him in the original film, we have a pretty good idea of what has to, and what can’t happen, in Obi-Wan Kenobi which starts filming this Spring and will debut on Disney Plus in 2022.