On Obi-Wan and Loss


The Season Five episode “The Lawless” certainly had a major impact on The Clone Wars series with two original and rather significant characters becoming one with the Force.

While Darth Maul certainly has his own loss to deal with, the more interesting character to analyze is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

In many ways I think Lucas’ portrayal of Obi-Wan is to provide the audience with the “perfect” Jedi. This use of Obi-Wan as an exemplar provides different story telling morals in the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars.

In the Original Trilogy, Obi-Wan is the wise old teacher, who no matter how noble, strong or correct he was, still failed as a master because of a decision of his pupil.

In the Prequel Trilogy we see Obi-Wan as a padawan, full of brashness and emotion. As the movies move forward we see Obi-Wan grow not only as a Jedi but also in maturity.

In the Clone Wars we get to see more of what makes Obi-Wan tick. The more sedate character of the Original Trilogy is replaced by a much more complicated and flawed individual who has to deal not only with his own emotions but the emotions, needs and desires of others.

If Obi-Wan has all this emotion and angst to deal with in The Clone Wars, than how is he the “perfect” Jedi? It is his ability to find balance, to approach the precipice of emotional attachment, look over it and step back. Obi-Wan isn’t the perfect Jedi because he his flawless, he is the perfect Jedi because he is able to overcome his flaws.

It is clear that at one point Obi-Wan passionately loved Satine. There has to be some question about what his true feelings for her at the time of her murder were. Had his passions cooled to a more familial affection or had he simply convinced himself so. Perhaps deep down he still labored under the delusion that someday he may be able to leave the order and run away with Satine, perhaps after the Separatists were defeated and the galaxy returned to order. After all with the galaxy at peace, what was the loss of one Jedi to the grand scheme of things?

Whatever his internal struggle, Obi-Wan was always able to overcome it for the mission. After helplessly watching his master be killed, Obi-Wan was able to defeat Maul in battle. After seeing Anakin murder younglings and others in the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan after some reluctance duels and defeats his apprentice. After watching Satine be killed because of him, Obi-Wan is able to keep his composure and escape Mandalore, even cracking wise along the way.
I am far from a theologian  but I wonder if in someways the relationship of the Jedi to the Force is akin to the Catholic idea of the church being the Bride of Christ. Members of the Jedi Order are devoting themselves to the Force in much the same way members of the church be it priests or nuns are being asked to devote themselves to God and forsake the more earthly emotional attachments and physical relationships that come with romantic love.

It is interesting that various Jedi have romantic relationships to different extents. It is also important to think about attachment and it’s role as a gateway for emotions that can lead to the dark side. It is not attachment in and of itself that is wrong, it is the inability to let go of that attachment or accept loss that is the true flaw.

The prequel and Clone Wars Obi-Wan is significant because it provides a view of what Anakin may have been able to become if he could have overcome the demons of his past and let go of his fear.

Both Obi-Wan and Anakin lose a parental figure in their life. Obi-Wan’s loss of Qui-Gon results in a surge of emotion that certainly looks like anger in the moment. But Obi-Wan doesn’t fall to the dark side at that moment, he re-centers himself.

In contrast Anakin when he finds his mother in the Tuscan Raider camp and she dies in her arms, he losses control and gives in to the dark side. This act is something that Obi-Wan would never have done.

We saw Obi-Wan witness the murder of Satine by Maul for the sole and express purpose of causing Obi-Wan emotional pain. Even this loss isn’t enough to drive Obi-Wan into the embrace of the dark side. Contrast that to Anakin. The very threat of loss of his wife, based on a nightmare/Force vision, he surrenders himself to the dark side on the fleeting hope that it will preventing anything from happening to his wife.

Loss and how they deal with it is a river of lava that Anakin and Obi-Wan can never cross together.


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  • ctrent29

    I don’t think that Lucas ever intended to portray Obi-Wan as the ideal Jedi. I think that he used Obi-Wan’s “ideal” reputation as a snow job to hide his true nature from moviegoers in the 1977 film. Yet from “The Empire Strikes Back” and onward, Lucas’ portrayal of Obi-Wan has never struck me as “ideal”.