Warning: full spoilers for the Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale ahead!
With the Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale offering a re-rematch for the ages between Old Ben and his fallen former apprentice, Darth Vader, Star Wars fans were treated to an iconic moment from the Rebels animated series brought into live action. So we’re going to break down how they did it, and how it enriches three different eras of Star Wars.
We’ve Seen Darth Vader’s Helmet Sliced Open Before
The finale sees Obi-Wan Kenobi lead Darth Vader away so the refugees of the Path can escape, and he meets him on the surface of a rocky planet for a good old fashioned lightsaber duel. As the fight reaches its climax, Obi-Wan is able to gain the advantage and land a strike across Vader’s helmet on the left side, exposing the scarred and corrupted man beneath. This isn’t the first time Star Wars fans have seen this particularly awesome visual. In the Rebels Season 2 finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice,” which takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Ahsoka Tano fought her old master and similarly sliced into the right side of his mask. Both instances have direct parallels.
Upon seeing the man inside the helmet, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka call out Anakin’s name, shocked to see the face of their former friend and how corrupted he’s become.
Both Obi-Wan and Ahsoka are dismayed by what they see, and making eye contact with Anakin–a direct human connection–makes them drop their guard and remember what he meant to them. Both trained with him in the Jedi Order, fought alongside each other as heroes, and loved him like family. And despite all the evil they know Vader has done, this intimate human connection granted by the broken helmet allows them both to express a desire for reconciliation.
But, Vader gonna Vader, and he makes it clear to his former allies that their old friend Anakin Skywalker is dead, and eliminating that part of himself was a decision that he made.
Those are cruel replies to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka’s heartfelt attempts to reach the Anakin they once knew, but in a way it absolves them from any further guilt. They did what they could to help Anakin, but he ultimately chose to turn them down. Vader makes it clear that he no longer values their love, and in fact he relishes this Sith abomination fueled by hate that he’s become. And to that end, in another direct parallel, he makes the same pledge to both of them when they say they will try to stop him: “Then you will die!”
A Purpose for the Parallel
Yes, these two scenes are incredibly similar. Maybe too similar? But then again, Star Wars is chock-full of parallels and callbacks, so this kind of thing is par for the course for the franchise. Besides, the Ahsoka/Vader scene is one of the all-time greatest moments in the history of Star Wars, so we can’t blame Lucasfilm for wanting to recreate it in live-action for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
That said, there may be a good reason for repeating that same moment with two characters. Showing Vader refusing help from his old friends two different times emphasizes just how far gone he was–how completely consumed by the Emperor’s evil he had become. Which in retrospect makes his ultimate redemption in Return of the Jedi all the more moving. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but we choose to see a strong symbolic message in how Ahsoka could only break the right side of Vader’s helmet, and Obi-Wan only the left, but it took the love of Vader’s last Luke to fully remove it– and finally bring his father back to the Light Side.
For more on Obi-Wan Kenobi, check out our review of the Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale and why the Obi-Wan Kenobi series may have created more problems than it solved.