We’re running a recap series of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
We’ve bounced between two primary antagonists during Obi-Wan Kenobi’s six-episode run: the Third Sister, Reva, and Darth Vader. One of these characters is the most iconic villain in cinema history. Vader’s fall to the Dark Side was the driving force of an entire Trilogy of films some twenty-ish years ago, and his eventual redemption and turning back to the Light was the emotional, victorious climax of another Trilogy twenty-ish years before that.
We know where Vader has been. We know where he’s going. The most Obi-Wan Kenobi could ever deliver are embellishments and details to Anakin Skywalker’s story that, while entertaining and even thrilling, aren’t necessary.
The same can’t be said for Reva Sevander. When this series began, Reva was the up-and-coming and highly ambitious Imperial Inquisitor obsessed with rooting Obi-Wan Kenobi out of hiding. Having left the Grand Inquisitor presumably for dead at the series’ beginning, Reva’s murderous pursuit of General Kenobi was rivaled only by Vader himself. Vader’s motivations we’ve understood from the start. But Reva’s were a mystery both to us in the audience and her fellow Inquisitors.
Like all Inquisitors, a lust for power and position and proximity to Lord Vader seemed to be at play here. But while these goals are ends to themselves for the rest of her Dark Side squad, we now know Reva had another purpose in mind.
It all goes back to Order 66. Reva was one of the younglings present during Anakin Skywalker’s slaughter of the innocents. Like most Padawans, a Force-sensitive Reva had left her family at an age when she was probably too young to fully understand what was happening to her. She had been set on a path in accordance with the Jedi Way.
This ripping of the Force-sensitives from their families was seen as a necessary evil. “He will not be safe until he masters his abilities,” is the way Luke Skywalker described this terrible exchange in The Mandalorian‘s second season finale, giving Din Djarin the assurances he needed when his journey to bring Grogu to the Jedi had come to an end.
I’ve shared before how this is not unlike the decision many parents make when bringing their children forward for adoption, hoping for better, safer lives for their sons and daughters than the ones they know they know they can provide. As an adopted son myself, this is what happened to me.
But all of that ended in the age of the Empire. The Star Wars galaxy became littered with scores of parents who thought they ensured their children’s security, only for those same children to be massacred at the hands of the Emperor and his new apprentice, Darth Vader. So while Darth Vader’s heart pulses with revenge for the man who mangled and burned him alive, Reva’s burns to kill the Dark Lord who murdered the Padawans and left her for dead.
This is why she’s after Kenobi. Obi-Wan in Reva’s custody is her best chance at making herself indispensable—and within striking distance—to the man who slew the only family she had left.
But as we now know, Vader was one step ahead the entire time. Fully aware of Reva’s intentions, he allows the Third Sister to bring her plan to full fruition. And once Reva left Obi-Wan and the fledgling Rebellion limping away from Vader’s flagship Star Destroyer, she sprang the trap not knowing the trigger had since been pointed her way.
The confrontation leaves a wounded Reva for dead. In my last recap when I predicted Reva wouldn’t survive this series, I foolishly neglected to consider how leaving people for dead is a weird, recurring theme in Star Wars—a theme that played out at least four times in the course of this series alone.
In the dying throes of her vengeance spree, Reva learns that a child of great interest to both Kenobi and Vader lives in hiding on Tatooine under the refuge of a man named Owen. She tries to kill the child but is unable to do to Luke what Luke’s father had done to her and her friends. And so it came to be that in the course of Kenobi’s confrontation with Vader, it was Reva, not Vader, who was stricken by a recovered conscience and a newly repentant heart.
A new heart, a new spirit. Out with Reva’s heart of stone and in with her heart of flesh. At the end of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s a new hope for Reva.
In much the same way that Luke Skywalker would buy time for a retreating Resistance to escape the First Order by confronting Supreme Leader Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi, Obi-Wan’s self-sacrifice to confront Vader gave all the distraction a young Rebellion needed to escape the Empire’s chase for now.
The Dark Side may be a pathway to many abilities, but vengeance and blind rage is a pathway to losing the forest for the trees. Vader not only takes Kenobi’s bait, but he brings the Executor ship and all of its military capabilities with him.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, with recovered strength and lightsaber skills (somehow), bests Vader, leaving Anakin wounded and gasping for breath for the second time in ten years. “I’m sorry, Anakin,” a shaken Kenobi confesses. “For all of it.”
“I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker,” Vader wheezes back. “I did.”
This is a mercy Obi-Wan didn’t know he needed.
There’s something to be said of the wisdom (or perhaps lack of it) when Obi-Wan Kenobi left Vader alive at this moment. We know the Dark Lord will survive to kill and destroy countless more lives, including the lives of Alderaan.
But that’s not how any of this works.
For the past ten years, Obi-Wan has lived a shadow life in hiding, in fear of the Empire, and keeping watch over Luke. But more than that, Obi-Wan’s heart is consumed with guilt, regret, and shame for killing Anakin. This is the millstone that dragged the Jedi to the bottom of the sea.
Now, at the end of their second duel of the fates, Vader granted Obi-Wan a second chance. Obi-Wan never killed Anakin, after all.
With the millstone finally cut loose from his neck, Obi-Wan isn’t about to tie it back on again.
“Goodbye, Darth,” he bids his friend’s killer. And walks away.
Nine years later, Obi-Wan will distract Vader one last time to give his friends a chance to escape. Only this time, it will come moments after laying eyes on the Skywalker twins finally reunited. Obi-Wan’s ghost lives on to guide and mentor Skywalker’s son to complete the work and bring about not only Anakin’s salvation but that of the entire galaxy.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Do not repay evil for evil. Do not be overcome by evil. Overcome evil with good.
This isn’t the forest for the trees. It’s the return of the Jedi.