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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Darth Vader mask scene is taken from Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars’ Disney Plus series Obi-Wan Kenobi ended with a bang, a crash and a lightsaber phwum as Ewan McGregor’s former Jedi hero faced off once more with his ex-padawan Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).

And while there were plenty of big moments (and cameos) in chapter six, one scene in particular will stand out to fans due to its emotional resonance…and the fact that for some of them, it’ll be oddly familiar.

Look away now if you haven’t seen the Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is where the fun… and spoiler chat… begins.

After a bit of back and forth, some inspirational rock-moving and some pretty slick skills from the newly confident Obi-Wan, Vader ends up defeated by his old teacher. In the course of this, Obi-Wan slices off part of Vader’s mask, revealing the disfigured face of Anakin to allow for an emotional tête-a-tete between the former friends (with Christensen’s voice mixing with the modulated tones of Vader voice actor James Earl Jones).

There’s no reconciliation possible – Anakin has fallen too far, and Obi-Wan eventually accepts that he’s truly lost. It’s a charged scene that sums up a lot about the pair’s relationship, so it’s no wonder fans are already taking to it.

However, it’s also a scene we’ve seen before. Viewers have been quick to notice parallels between this mask-cutting convo and a similar sequence in popular animated series Star Wars Rebels, specifically the finale to season 2 in 2016.

In that episode, fan-favourite character ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who previously appeared in the Clone Wars cartoon as Anakin’s apprentice) battles Vader, similarly cutting off part of his mask to stare into the lone eye of Anakin Skywalker for a quick chat (where Anakin’s voice, here portrayed by Clone Wars actor Matt Lanter, is mixed with that of James Earl Jones).

In that case, she hadn’t truly known Vader was Anakin – only suspected – and Vader had a moment of weakness where he seemed to speak to her as his former self, so it goes slightly differently.

But their interaction does still conclude with Vader reaffirming his commitment to the Dark Side and insisting that he “destroyed” the “weak” Anakin Skywalker, and generally speaking it’s not hard to see the parallels. Some of the dialogue is even the same. But when is something a parallel, and when is it just ripping off an idea?

Fans have been fairly generous to the doubling up so fair, praising the Rebels “homage” that only strengthens the “rhyming” style of Star Wars. Arguably, it could even be an intentional follow-up – neither Obi-Wan nor Ahsoka can fully break through to Anakin, whereas Luke (Mark Hamill) manages to completely remove the mask in Return of the Jedi to bring his father back. It’s a metaphor, innit.

But given that only a relatively small percentage of viewers would recognise the repetition – and that it’s followed so exactly, for essentially the same emotional beat of recognition – it does seem more like Obi-Wan Kenobi just wanted to recycle a cool moment for live-action rather than coming up with something new.

Given how much of Obi-Wan Kenobi also seems lifted from the recent Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order game (there have now been two, count ‘em, two Jedi infiltrations of the Fortress Inquisitorius where someone blows out a window and floods the place – their insurance must be a nightmare), it seems more and more like LucasFilm is sneakily pilfering from its own more niche products to pad out its shop-window projects.

If nothing else, you might wonder if Darth Vader would consider getting a slightly tougher helmet after TWICE having it sliced open by a former Jedi partner who would gaze into one of his eyes with a soulful, sorrowful plea.

To lose one helmet-vs-lightsaber clash may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney Plus. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.

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