It’s a thought that crossed my mind watching this week’s sixth and final (at least, for now) episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. After a brief match at the series’ halfway pointthe long-awaited duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan roared to life on an unknown, rocky world, and with it, a series of connections strewn from across the Star Wars saga. Obi-Wan and Anakin mirror their opening statements here to the words they traded before fighting on Mustafar, their blades clash with parallels of both that fight and their eventual duel in A New Hope. Even the Star Wars sequels get some nods, as Obi-Wan summons the Force to fling a barrage of rocks at Vader, levitating them in a evocative moment of Rey clearing the path to her friends in The Last Jedi. But the fight’s most interesting rhyme is saved for its dramatic climax. 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 melts open the Dark Lord’s mask … revealing the man beneath the layers of machine.
Star Wars fans will of course know that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen such a thing happen, for a determined ally of Anakin Skywalker to literally carve open the truth of his identity as Darth Vader. Ahsoka Tano does the same—Albeit, chronologically speaking, a few years after this duel — on Malachor in Star Wars Rebels. Obi-Wan’s gash takes the right side, hers the left, but the iconography there is striking, and much the same: the visage of Darth Vader, smouldering and sliced open, to reveal the damaged flesh of Anakin Skywalker underneath. The emotional circumstances, too, are the same — a shocking realization for the person behind each strike to see that deep down, the person they once called a friend is now trapped inside the body of a monstrous evil.
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