Some Star Wars fans worried that Obi-Wan Kenobi would undermine A New Hope, but the Disney+ series finale explains the film’s major controversy.
The following contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1, Episode 6, “Part IV,” now streaming on Disney+.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi was announced, not all fans were elated with the prospect of Ewan McGregor returning to Star Wars. Some had their reservations about the Disney+ series. Because of its place in the timeline, some fans worried that Obi-Wan Kenobi would alter A New Hope continuity and lay waste to some of the oldest canon material in the historic franchise.
Director Deborah Chow confirmed that Obi-Wan Kenobi would change some of Star Wars‘ canon, but she assured fans that it would do so “respectfully.” Chow was referring to Darth Vader’s line in A New Hope: “I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since…” For years, fans assumed that the Dark Lord was talking about his and Obi-Wan’s confrontation on Mustafar, but now, his line refers to their duel in “Part VI.” While that has caused consternation for some viewers, the culmination of their rematch also fixed another line controversy from the film.
For two-thirds of the original trilogy, Star Wars fans thought that Obi-Wan was an unquestionable hero. He saved Luke’s life on Tatooine, he started Luke down his Jedi path and then he sacrificed himself on the Death Star. However, that changed at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. In the biggest twist in cinematic history, Darth Vader revealed himself to be Luke Skywalker’s father. By doing that, Vader also proved that Obi-Wan had flat-out lied to Luke.
In A New Hope, Obi-Wan told Luke that Vader had killed his father. From a certain point of view, that was correct — but Vader’s reveal confirmed that Obi-Wan didn’t give Luke the full picture. At best, his statement was his own consciousness misconstruing events and at worst, he was manipulating Luke to into becoming a Jedi. Neither option was great for Obi-Wan’s reputation, though, because either way he became a liar.
Obi-Wan Kenobi doubled down on this bad habit, but the finale took another route in addressing it. Besides coming clean and telling Princess Leia Organa that he knew her parents, “Part VI” found the perfect way to explain why Obi-Wan told Luke that Vader had killed his father.
At the end of “Part V,” Obi-Wan and the proto-rebels barely escaped an awesome Darth Vader, so as “Part VI” opened they were on the run. In order to save the group, Obi-Wan separated from their damaged ship and Vader chose to peruse his former master. What followed was a role reversal. Vader embarrassed Obi-Wan in “Part III,” but this time it was Obi-Wan who got the better of the Dark Lord. He easily could have killed his former apprentice.
Instead, he unexpectedly apologized — for everything. This could have been a touching moment… but Vader wouldn’t give Obi-Wan credit for killing Anakin or creating Vader. He distanced himself from the idea that Obi-Wan was responsible and embraced his split-personality, saying that he killed Anakin Skywalker. “Then my friend is truly dead,” a saddened Obi-Wan admitted as he abandoned hope of redeeming Anakin.
Looking at A New Hope from that perspective, Obi-Wan really did believe that Vader had utterly destroyed the last remnants of Anakin’s Jedi nature — so when Obi-Wan told Luke that Vader killed his father, he was echoing Vader’s words. Like he tried to explain in Return of the Jedi, Anakin had been Luke’s father, but Vader had effectively destroyed him. Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t totally validate Obi-Wan lying to Luke, but he was legitimately explaining his view of a tragic reality.
All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are now streaming on Disney+.
Blake Hawkins has written TV and movie features and recaps for CBR since March of 2021. He writes about everything from NCIS to Stranger Things to The Walking Dead and everything in between. Mostly, though, he most enjoys writing about Star Wars. In fact, as recent graduate of Greensboro College’s honors program, Blake wrote his thesis on Star Wars and its religious connections. He now lives with his family in Lynchburg VA and is an avid outdoorsman. Feel free to contact him by email at email@example.com, or find him on Facebook.