The message of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series has always been clear; you can try and run from your trauma, but it will catch up to you. At the series's opening, we find Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi broken and dejected. His entire world and everyone in has been wiped out by the mighty Empire and he can’t help but wonder if it’s all his fault. Having learned that his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker, is not only alive but has become the fearsome Darth Vader has left Kenobi shaken. Was it his failings as a teacher that caused this? What will become of the children Vader doesn’t know to exist? In a recent interview with GQ, actor Ewan McGregor says that Kenobi is “...carrying a lot of grief. He’s carrying a lot of pain. He’s tormented by this guilt about losing Anakin [to ‘the dark side’] and not being able to stop that from happening. So that’s where he is.”
Most of us understand the burden of trauma. Whether our pain is from personal loss or an event, grief has a way of twisting around our minds and consuming us. The characters of Obi-Wan Kenobi are no exception. Kenobi’s guilt stems from Anakin’s downfall. After the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, we saw a side of Kenobi that he kept buried: his rage. Although still a padawan himself, he obeys Qui-Gon’s last words and trains Anakin in his place. The burden that has been placed on the young Obi-Wan is incalculable. He must be a father figure, a leader, and a mentor to this young boy he barely knows. When Anakin falls, Kenobi thinks it must be his doing; after all, who else could hold the responsibility?
All past feelings come bubbling to the surface in Part V of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi’s trauma and guilt from being unable to prevent Anakin’s downfall play in contrast to Reva’s. A witness to the horrific events of Order 66 as a youngling, Reva carries with her the memories of her friends’ deaths. She cannot escape what she has witnessed so far, as it drives her to seek personal revenge on Vader himself.
As Kenobi understands her motivation, she asks him a single question, “Where were you when he was killing my friends?” It’s a question Kenobi has mulled over many times in the past decade but has never confronted. “He was your padawan,” Reva continues, “Why didn’t you stop him? Why didn’t you save us?”
At that moment, the weight of the two characters’ past is laid bare. Kenobi’s inability to confront his past, living as a hermit on Tatooine and running from the truth has caught up to him. Reva’s constant reliving of the trauma she witnessed and the answers to the questions she always pondered are now facing her head-on. The truth is that Kenobi did play a hand in Anakin’s downfall and, therefore, in the life that Reva experienced. While he did not perhaps open the door for the Dark Side to take over, his inability to understand the loss of his own master and the burden of taking on a padawan who was christened The Chosen One left little room for imperfection.
The heaviness of personal trauma may ebb and flow throughout our lives, but the pain builds unless we tackle our pain and confront it. Healing from trauma takes time and the Kenobi we see in A New Hope is a different man than the one we are seeing now. He will find mental peace, with perhaps the series finale being the key to this moment, but for now, he remains shattered by what he did and didn’t do all those years ago.
Written By Elizabeth Reese
Syndicated from Culture Slate