When Star Wars has a lot of poetry, what happens when it feels like robbing parts of itself?
It was a thought that crossed my mind as I watched the sixth and final episode of Obi-Wan. After a brief match at the halfway point of the series, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan roared to life on an unknown, rocky world, and with it, a series of connections. The opening statements of Obi-Wan and Anakin are similar to the ones they made before they fought on Mustafar. In The Last Jedi, Obi-Wan summons the Force to throw rocks at Vader, which is similar to how Rey cleared the path to her friends in The Force Awakens. The fight's most interesting rhyme is saved for the end. In a moment of clarity and even anger, having just wailed on his opponent with a series of lightsaber strikes and pommel blows, a determined Obi-Wan leaps at Vader, carving a gash that melted open the Dark Lord's mask.
This isn't the first time we've seen such a thing happen, for a determined ally of Darth Vader to literally carve open the truth of his identity as a Jedi. Ahsoka Tano did the same thing on Malachor in Star Wars Rebels. A shocking realization for the person behind each strike to see is that the person they used to call a friend is now trapped inside a monster.
Don't get me wrong, the aftermath of the moment is a highlight of Obi-Wan's finale, and far from a hollow repeat--Hayden Christensen manages to say so much with just a single visible eye. There is something to be said in the idea that Obi-Wan and Ahsoka could only cut away at Vader's mask, and that eventually it would take the Jedi to lift it. It was hollow to see Ahsoka's strike echoed by Obi-Wan.
The emotionality of Obi-Wan's choice is powerful enough to make the scene connect in all the ways it needs to, an important step in the finale of Obi-Wan's story. The repetition of the iconography from Rebels made me angry. The old Expanded Universe, cut off from the continuity of the present, has proven to be a fertile ground for concepts and characters to leap back into current stories. There is something different about Rebels bringing Grand Admiral Thrawn into the current canon, giving him an origin story that borrows elements, but is not a carbon copy of his tale in the EU.
The latter is part of a pattern that has persisted over this current wave of Star Wars TV, of characters and ideas from the franchise's post-prequel period being pulled over into the realm of live-action. The lines between cinematic and televisual Star Wars have always been blurry, but now they are, and anyone can show up in them. When Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan are rendered in live-action, it feels like they are more important than before. With Star Wars focusing on these streaming shows and all the borrowing that comes from that animation legacy in them, it is possible to see where people come from.
When people think of that one shot, will they think of Ahsoka or Obi-Wan? Is it really important that it is in Star Wars? It will be determined by time. I hope that audiences and Star Wars will remember that cycles are made by honoring the moments that came before, as much as they are by simply replicating them.
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