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Encountering Negative Emotion in Obi-Wan Kenobi – Episode 2

Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi – Episode 2 are discussed in this article.

Star Wars has always been a tale of duality–Light side and Dark side, The Empire and the Rebellion. Episode 2 of Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, is merely cloaked in duality. At its core, both its titular protagonist Jedi Knight and its ambitious Imperial Inquisitor antagonist–the Third Sister, Reva–are broken people fueled by doubt. 

The episode opens with Obi-Wan, reluctantly back in the saddle of his adventurous days traveling to the planet Daiyu in search of the kidnapped child, Princess Leia. Daiyu feels like a cyberpunk Hong Kong from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, awash in neon as bustling masses push past street vendors. Kenobi’s path leads him to one who appears to be a fellow Jedi, but is really just a conman named Haja Estree, who nonetheless provides some crucial intel that leads the real Jedi straight to Leia’s kidnappers. 

Image courtesy of Disney.

The years have not been kind to an out-of-practice and older “Ben” with the exfiltration being harder than Obi-Wan would have hoped. However, he’s able to escape with the sassy child. But as Admiral Ackbar once said: “It’s a trap!” Inquisitor Reva orchestrated the entire scheme to flush Kenobi out of hiding, as she is obsessed with bringing him in, for reasons that remain unknown so far. Obi-Wan and Leia are able to escape to a cargo ship and get off the planet, but, as they leave, Reva shocks Obi-Wan with the news that his former Padawan, friend, and brother, Anakin Skywalker, is still alive as Lord Vader.

We must make space for our doubts and insecurities, even our anger and fear. Ignoring them does not make them go away. Negative emotions are still emotions, and as humans, we were created to feel the full cycle of them.

While Episode 1 served as a methodical exploration of Obi-Wan’s doubt, insecurity, and depression, this episode gives us some concentrated, pivotal time with the “Third Sister.” Reva’s burning fanaticism to capture the rogue Jedi Master should be seen in the same light as Obi-Wan’s experience–it’s simply refracted through a different prism. Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley once said that “a fanatic is a [person] who consciously over-compensates a secret doubt.” Reva barely bothers to care for the disdain of her from her fellow Inquisitors, who are quick to remind her that she came from the gutter. The insecurity drives her into a berserker-like rage as she parkours across the rooftops of Daiyu. Obi-Wan explains to Leia that many of the Inquisitors were Jedi Knights who turned to the Dark side and now serve the Empire, hunting their former comrades. As the prior episode opens in the midst of the horrors of Order 66–increasingly a rich vein for Star Wars stories–we see a group of Jedi younglings escape the massacre at the Temple on Coruscant. Was Reva one of them? Does she seethe against the ones who were supposed to protect her and her friends, misplacing her aggression due to trauma

Image courtesy of Disney.

Whatever her origin, we find in Reva a different breed of villain. Not the self-assured hero of her own story, but an angry, uncertain person desperate to be seen. As Master Yoda warned young Anakin, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Our discomfort with uncertainty can lead to dark places. One need look no further than a social media thread on any contentious topic to see this on full display. Confusion, fear, worry, and doubt bubble over into vitriol and rage. To paraphrase Yoda further, we must unlearn what we have learned. We must make space for our doubts and insecurities, even our anger and fear. Ignoring them does not make them go away. Negative emotions are still emotions, and as humans, we were created to feel the full cycle of them. We must learn to process these feelings, especially in safe communities with trusted friends or with the support of therapists or caregivers.

Episode 2 ends with the ominous sight of Darth Vader immersed in a Bacta tank as he breathes through his oxygen mask. Obi-Wan, having hidden from his feelings of failure for some time, must now come face to face with them. Almost assuredly, Reva will have to confront something similar. Almost assuredly, we all will in our own ways, too.

Paul's nerd journey began when he watched The Empire Strikes Back in a hotel room as a child. By trade, he is a sustainability client manager and you can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn. He lives with his wife, daughters, and Goldendoodle in Goshen, Kentucky.

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