Welcome back to the Sarlacc Pit everyone! Last week I wrote about Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life from being a Jedi padawan to earning the rank of Jedi Master. This week I’m going to focus on a period of Kenobi’s life that may be a little less-familiar to casual movie watchers. This week I will focus on Obi-Wan’s life during the Clone Wars. As you may expect, this will focus on content from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and will continue through “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” I will also mention content from the novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple. There are some major spoilers below, so read at your own risk! I want to go ahead and say that if you have not at least watch “The Clone Wars” and have any interest in doing so, please watch the series before reading this post!
As you may remember, I left off last week mentioning how Kenobi obtained the rank of Jedi Master as well as a seat on the Jedi High Council soon a little after the Battle of Geonosis and the opening of the Clone Wars. During this time, his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker, was also promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight, foregoing the Jedi Trials as the Council agreed that his duel with the Sith Darth Tyranus and the subsequent loss of his arm served as his true trial. So, now that we’re all caught up, let’s get started.
“You fought in the Clone Wars?” – Luke Skywalker, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”
With the creation of the Grand Army of the Republic, Jedi were all given the rank of General as well as a clone battalion to command. General Obi-Wan Kenobi commanded the 212th Attack Battalion, which he led with the assistance of Clone Commander Cody (CC-2224). Being given a military title and command of a battalion of soldiers did not change Obi-Wan as it did other Jedi (*coughcough*AnakinSkywalker*coughcough*). As I mentioned last week, his duel with Darth Maul changed Kenobi, making him less eager to pick up a lightsaber and more likely to negotiate with the enemy, understanding that war does not just affect those fighting. This behavior became well-known throughout both sides of the Clone Wars, earning Kenobi the epithet (nice SAT word) “The Negotiator.” Throughout the war, Kenobi could be characterized as extremely thoughtful, wanting to take time and examine consequences of actions before acting (much in contrast with Anakin Skywalker). This was noticed by many, and I believe rubbed off on the clones under his command. Kenobi led the charge on many battles, winning some stunning victories for the Rebellion. These victories all seemed short-lived, however, as the strain of war continued to take its toll.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan
“Yes, I was a Jedi Knight, the same as your father.” – Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”
While the war took its toll on the Jedi, Obi-Wan was one of the few, in my opinion, who continued to behave in a manner suited to that of a Jedi. Kenobi constantly questioned the ongoing battle, and fought to make sure that the Jedi Order did not lose itself in the seemingly unending war. A good example of this comes from the novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple. Towards the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi Council, desperate to end the ongoing hostilities at any cost comes up with the idea to use Asajj Ventress, a former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter with a grudge, to assassinate her former master Count Dooku. Many on the Council believed that removing the Separatist leader would end the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan, knowing that assassination was not exactly the sort of thing peacekeepers are supposed to carry out, fought against this decision. The plan was put into motion however, with disastrous consequences.
Battling the Sith
“I am fear. I am the queen of a blood-soaked planet and the architect of genocide. I helped crack the galaxy in two with this war and conquered every enemy I have ever faced—including death. All except for you.” – Asajj Ventress “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
While Kenobi may have been less eager than some to fight, he understood the danger that the Sith posed to peace in the galaxy and went head-to-head with quite a few dark lords during the Clone War. He had a strong rivalry with Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress, who was often used as an assassin for Count Dooku. Kenobi faced off with Dooku as well numerous times, although Dooku was always able to escape the numerous times he was captured. Seriously though, the Jedi were pretty good at catching Dooku, pretty terrible at keeping him though. He even faced off against the dark side incarnate on the Son on Mortis and survived (with some help from Anakin). However, the battle that took the biggest toll on Kenobi would be his duels against a shadow from his past: Darth Maul.
The Darth Maul Saga
“Well, Master Kenobi, my shining Jedi Knight to the rescue once again.” “After all these years, you’re even more beautiful than ever.” – Satine Kryze and Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
“You think you know me? It was I who languished for years thinking of nothing but you! And now, the perfect tool for my vengeance is right in front of us. I never planned on killing you, but I will make you share my pain, Kenobi.” – Darth Maul, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
Warning: This storyline is my absolute favorite story arc in “The Clone Wars.” If you have not seen this show and have any interest, I urge you to check out the series before reading this next section as spoilers abound. Here’s a cool shot from this arc though:
At the end of “The Phantom Menace,” Kenobi cut Maul in half and tossed him down a seemingly bottomless energy shaft. However, this was not the end of Maul’s story. His anger at his defeat engulfed him, keeping him alive but driving him insane at the same time. He was able to pull himself into an air shaft and make his way to a trash container, from which he was transported to the junkyard planet of Lotho Minor, where he survived for years until his brother, Savage Oppress, found him.
After being found and brought back to his senses by Oppress and Mother Talzin, Maul focused on his anger at Kenobi. Oppress and Maul were able to go out an capture Kenobi, but he was rescued by Asajj Ventress, who had recently loss her status as Dooku’s apprentice and had attempted to use Oppress as her assassin. Afterwards, Maul and Savage wreaked havoc across the galaxy, eventually facing off with Kenobi again, who had help from Jedi Master Adi Gallia. Gallia was killed, but Kenobi managed to defeat the Dathomirian brothers.
After their defeat at the hands of Kenobi (again), Maul and Savage decided on a new approach. Claiming the title of Sith Lords, the two brothers accumulated a following of the most dangerous gangs in the galaxy, eventually making their way to Mandalore and recruiting Death Watch (which I have mentioned in earlier posts). While at first Maul agreed to assist in Death Watch gaining power, he eventually betrayed Pre Viszla, their leader, killing him and claiming the darksaber as well as the loyalty of most of the terrorist group. Death Watch was able to imprison the Mandalorian Duchess, Satine Kryze, and reinstate former Mandalorian Prime Minister Almec, with Maul ruling from the shadows.
As I mentioned last week, Kenobi and Duchess Satine had a history, so when he found out that Death Watch had assumed control of Mandalore and imprisoned Satine, he did what he had never done before: something that was not fully sanctioned by the Jedi Council. Mandalore was a neutral planet, and as such the Jedi Council could not official intervene during this coup. Kenobi then took it upon himself to save Satine from Maul’s clutches.
The plan failed however, and Kenobi and Satine were disarmed and brought to the throne room in the Mandalorian palace. There, Maul offered Kenobi a choice: he could turn to the dark side, leaving behind his whole life and everything he knew in order to gain the power to save the woman he loved, or he could watch as Maul killed Satine in front of him. Obi-Wan resisted the temptation of the dark side, and watched as Maul stabbed Satine with his darksaber. Satine died in his arms as they both acknowledged their feelings for each other. Obi-Wan was able to escape from Maul with the aid of Satine’s sister, but not without suffering a harsh loss.
So, why did I just take up probably a third of a post about Obi-Wan Kenobi to talk about Darth Maul? The first reason is this: during this plotline in “The Clone Wars,” Kenobi was once again faced with the shadow of his brutal victory over Maul during the Battle of Naboo. However, at this point he had grown both in ability as well as in wisdom. Kenobi knew that it would be easy to give in to his emotions and kill Maul which he failed to do all those years ago. However, he knew doing so would only lead down a path of suffering and ultimately even the woman he saved would come to fear him or reject him. Second reason is that once again, this perfectly exemplifies Kenobi as the ideal Jedi, for all the reasons mentioned above. Finally, this story perfectly contrasts with the story of his padawan. While Kenobi and Anakin both developed feelings for a woman, Kenobi followed his duty as a Jedi, while Anakin gave in to his emotions, starting and maintaining a relationship in secret. Finally, both were given the opportunity to follow the dark side in order to save the women they loved, but while Kenobi was wise enough to see the folly of this path, Skywalker was not. Who knows really, maybe if Obi-Wan had turned to the dark side he would have become the next Sith Lord, not Anakin.
Teacher, Mentor, and Friend
“Obi-Wan, have you done as I asked, have you trained the boy?” – Qui-Gon Jinn, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
While the Clone Wars raged on and Kenobi was often called on to serve in a military capacity, Obi-Wan still had the duties of a Jedi Master to attend to. He was often called upon to teach lessons to younglings, a task that I believe Kenobi enjoyed, as seeing the next generation of Jedi continue to grow must have been a relief for a Jedi watching the Order change around him. He taught numerous groups of young Jedi and formed many friendships with other members of the Order, but no relationship came close to his friendship with Anakin Skywalker.
While his former padawan had gone on to become a strong Jedi Knight, Kenobi still served as a mentor to him. Due to their vast experience working together, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were often paired together for missions, during which the two often saved each other’s lives. While their relationship began as that of a student/teacher, it quickly evolved into a brotherly relationship. As Anakin began training his own padawan, Ahsoka Tano, he often looked to Kenobi for advice (just as often ignoring it as taking it to heart, however).
As the two became closer, and the Clone Wars took its toll, Obi-Wan became more and more troubled with the changes he was seeing in Anakin. Towards the end of the Clone Wars, especially after Ahsoka’s trial and leaving the Order, Anakin began question the Council and the role of the Jedi. Obi-Wan also began to worry about Palpatine’s increased interest in Skywalker. I also believe that he began to figure out about Anakin and Padmé’s relationship, which only added to his worries about his padawan. Throughout the Clone Wars, Kenobi and Skywalker had become brothers, bonded by shared triumphs as well as shared losses. This is why the end of the Clone Wars, and the loss of Skywalker, hit Kenobi so hard.
The End of the Clone Wars
After a mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from the hands of Count Dooku, which resulted in the death of Dooku, as well as a subsequent mission that resulted in the death of the Separatist General Grievous, the Republic seemed to be all but victorious. However, the increasing alienation that Skywalker felt from the Jedi Council, as well as visions of the death of his secret wife, brought Skywalker to the path of the dark side. After Skywalker declared his loyalty to Darth Sidious (aka Sheev Palpatine, see my earlier post), Sidious executed Order 66, which turned all clone troopers against their Jedi generals. Sidious also sent Anakin, now Darth Vader, to the Jedi Temple, to kill all who were there. Anakin then set up a distress signal, telling all Jedi to return to the Temple. The idea was that any Jedi who showed up would be executed by clone troopers who were stationed there.
Obi-Wan and Yoda, both having escaped from the troopers who had attempted to kill them, arrived at the Temple. After dispatching the troopers left as a trap and recalibrating the distress signal to tell Jedi to avoid the Temple, they reviewed the security footage, where Kenobi saw his padawan murdering Jedi younglings.
At this point Padmé, who was concerned after hearing the rumors that the Jedi had turned traitor to the Republic, turned to Obi-Wan, who had been a long-time friend after his role in protecting her during the invasion of Naboo. At this point Obi-Wan realized the truth about Anakin and his secret wife, and followed Padmé to Skywalker’s location on Mustafar, where Anakin had been sent to execute the remaining Separatist leaders.
It was on Mustafar that Obi-Wan faced his greatest challenge. After an argument between Skwalker and Amidala, Anakin blamed Kenobi for turning his wife against him. Obi-Wan, knowing that his former padawan and friend had turned to the dark side, embracing the Sith, had to make another choice, the choice to kill the Sith who had been his closest ally.
Obi-Wan and Anakin engaged in a fierce duel through the lava fields of Mustafar, ending in Obi-Wan leaving Anakin for dead, dismembered and burning alive.
First of all, I just want to say that this scene on Mustafar is absolutely heartbreaking. Obi-Wan has lost yet another loved one to the dark side, but this one he was forced to kill himself. Many point out that leaving your BFF dismembered and burning alive on the banks of a lava river is kind of a messed up thing to do, but I think the emotions of this moment really messed with Obi-Wan. This moment was his greatest failure. He was entrusted with Anakin’s fate by his old master Qui-Gon Jinn. He believed that Anakin was the Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force, yet he betrayed the Jedi and caused the destruction of the Order. Finally, Anakin was Obi-Wan’s closest friend, and yet Anakin felt like he could not ask for Kenobi’s help when he needed it most, turning to a Sith lord instead. Obi-Wan had always been a committed Jedi, but he failed anyways. After all this, I do not think he could bring himself to finish off Anakin, choosing to leave him on that lava bank, not knowing that Anakin’s new master would find him and save him from death.
Padmé did not survive long after her husband, staying alive just long enough to give birth to twins: Luke and Leia. Yoda, Obi-Wan, and a few senators still loyal to the Republic and the Jedi, determined it would be best to hide the fact that the children survived. Leia was adopted by Senator Bail Organa and his wife, who were close friends with Senator Amidala. Obi-Wan, perhaps eager to find some sort of redemption from his fallen friend, took Luke to Tatooine, where Anakin’s half-brother Owen Lars was willing to raise him. Before heading to Tatooine, Yoda told Obi-Wan that he had spoken with Qui-Gon Jinn through the Force, and that for the first time in known history, a Jedi had found a way to break the bonds of death. Before the two masters went their separate ways, Yoda gave Obi-Wan his last assignment from the Jedi Council: Kenobi was to protect Luke, as well as to continue training in the mysteries of the Force under the tutelage of his late master Qui-Gon Jinn.
(Unpopular/Popular) Opinion Time
This is where we will leave off for this era of Kenobi’s life. I want to express an opinion here that many may disagree with, so I want to star off by saying that if you would like to discuss your opinions I encourage you to leave a comment, but let’s keep all discussions friendly. Three major actors have played the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sir Alec Guinness was the first, playing Old Ben Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy. Guinness did a fantastic job, however Kenobi had a relatively minor role in the movies, so it is a bit difficult to judge his character.
Ewan McGregor picked up the role in the prequel trilogy, playing Obi-Wan in Episodes I-III, as well as doing a short voiceover later in Episode VII. While I would not really consider myself a “prequel hater,” there are some major shortcomings to these three movies, including problems with the directing and the script. However, I believe that Ewen McGregor shined during these movies, doing a great job of bringing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi to life. The Mustafar scene (see the gifs I posted above) is an especially amazing performance that he delivered exceptionally. I would love to see him reprise this role in a standalone Kenobi movie, as I think he deserves another shot at this character.
The third Kenobi is one that many will not recognize, and that is James Arnold Taylor. Taylor voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi in the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV series, as well as in any video games. He does an exceptional job of staying true to the character played by Guinness and McGregor, while at the same time making it his own. Just due to the sheer amount of content in these TV series, Taylor plays Kenobi for more time than either actors, and because of this we get a much better picture of Kenobi’s character through this series. This is why, in my humble opinion, my favorite incarnation of Obi-Wan Kenobi is James Arnold Taylor’s. This man deserves some major recognition as he is an amazing talent. Fun fact: James Arnold Taylor also voiced Jedi Master Plo Koon.
So, now we are all caught up on Kenobi’s life from a padawan through to his days at the end of the Clone Wars. Next week, we will finish this Kenobi trilogy, covering his life post-Clone Wars and even post-death. I know this post was crazy long, probably my longest post yet, but I want to thank you once again for reading and as always, may the Force be with you.