Taking place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith and nine years before the events of A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi will fill in the gaps of what happened in between the Star Wars prequels and original trilogy when it debuts next month on Disney+. But it will do more than just that. The six-episode series will also forever alter the way we think about certain original trilogy scenes and the meaning behind particular lines of dialogue — including one line in particular.
Think back to Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope. After the Millennium Falcon has been brought aboard the Death Star via tractor beam, Darth Vader instructs an Imperial officer to "Send a scanning crew aboard. I want every part of this ship checked." Okay, nothing remarkable there. Sounds like pretty standard Imperial protocol. But then the Dark Lord of the Sith mysteriously adds, "I sense something. A presence I've not felt since…"
It was, of course, a reference to the presence of Obi-Wan. At the time of the film, all we knew was that Kenobi was Vader's former Jedi mentor before the pupil turned to the dark side. "The circle is now complete," Vader tells him when they meet up later in A New Hope. "When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master." They then engage in a painfully slow lightsaber duel to the death… or afterlife, as it were.
We later learned in The Empire Strikes Back that Vader was actually Anakin Skywalker, father of Luke. And then, thanks to the prequels, we saw Obi-Wan and Darth's showdown on Mustafar, in which Kenobi gained what is apparently the greatest advantage in all of combat: HIGHER GROUND! That resulted in the master chopping off his former padawan's three remaining limbs. And that was their last interaction until A New Hope… until now.
Lucasfilm Darth Vader (David Prowse) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in 'Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope'
With a seemingly inevitable matchup awaiting us in Obi-Wan Kenobi, it would seem the last time Vader felt that presence is no longer Mustafar. We brought this to the attention of the actors who actually play the characters, Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, and the two played predictably coy.
"Maybe?" responded Christensen, a big smile taking over the face of a man who clearly knew something he was not supposed to say.
"Maybe," McGregor agreed before expanding on how the new series changes things in all directions. "It's fun. It's very clever how all these threads are created. It's like working backwards and forwards at the same time for the writers and for Deborah."
That would be series director Deborah Chow. Just how mindful was Chow about not only filing in gaps in the Star Wars timeline, but thinking about the way those gap-fillers would change the already established story?
"It was definitely something we were very mindful of," she said. "And for me also taking on [George Lucas'] legacy, it's an honor to take these characters and be able to tell a new story with them. So I wanted to be very respectful to what exists and not change anything that George intended originally or anything like that."
Of course, when breaking new story, one can't help but impact what has already come… or is to come. "Obviously there is room for interpretation here," Chow said. "And telling [the story] that they did have these 20 years, and obviously something happened in these 20 years, and that there are some things from our series where there's going to be a little bit more room for interpretation on."
Matt Kennedy/Lucasfilm Ltd. Ewan McGregor in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi'
McGregor has nothing but raves for his director and the way she handled the entire process. "Deborah Chow is unbelievable," he gushed. "What an amazing director. And what an amazing leader for us in the show. It's so great working with her. Just so exciting. She has got such quiet authority and she's really, really on it. She really knows this world backwards and inside out, and there was never a moment where she didn't know exactly what was going on, what she wanted, what she needed. It was brilliant working with her."
And McGregor said that extended to Chow's work in merging their new world with the two established decades ago: "For her, in the pre-production process, making all of that work and taking things that were said on the set in 1975 and trying to link it into what we said in 2003 and making it all work — it's a really interesting prospect, and they did such an amazing job with it."
That job will be on full display when Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts May 27 on Disney+, as we wait to see exactly when and where that last presence was indeed felt.
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