'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Shows the Jedi Aren't so Different From the Dark Side – Collider

The Inquisitors hunt down Force sensitive children, but the Jedi weren’t any different.
Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of the Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
It's clear that Star Wars has always been about found family and the bonds that are forged beyond blood. The original trilogy explored this through the friendship between Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han (Harrison Ford), who were more so family than Luke’s actual father in Darth Vader. The sequel trilogy, too, picks up on this theme, as Rey (Daisy Ridley) refuses her familial link to Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in favor of her friendship with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac). As the most direct follow-up to the prequel trilogy that followed the tragic dissolution of brotherhood and friendship between Obi-Wan Kenbobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), the spinoff series Obi-Wan Kenobi follows in the same footsteps of what came before. As orphans after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Luke and Leia Skywalker find their adoptive families in the Lars and Organas respectively. However, Episode 3 gives us a less direct portrayal of found, or even "forced," family, and how the Jedi aren’t so different from the Dark Side in their recruitment tactics.
In Episode 3 of Obi-Wan Kenobi, young Leia laments not knowing her parents. When Obi-Wan makes up a story about seeing her mother's face in her, Leia sees through his facade and surmises how Obi-Wan truly knew her mother. She presses him, further asking if he is in fact her father. Without revealing too much about his history with Padme and Anakin, Obi-Wan deflects her attention by explaining his own family backstory.
“As Jedi,” he explains, “we’re taken from our families when we’re very young.” Obi-Wan, apart from experiencing the Jedi’s recruitment tactics himself, witnessed this when his master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) took a young boy with a high Midichlorian count away from his mother and under his wing, a young boy who would become Obi-Wan’s Padawan student, brother, and ultimate failure. But while Anakin still had strong attachments to his mother, whom he sought out when he grew older in Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan only had “glimpses” and “flashes” of his parents, as well as a brief recollection of a baby brother.
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While it is generally accepted that the Jedi take in students as young children, this is the first we are hearing of Obi-Wan’s own childhood. That he has a younger brother is another significant revelation, a parallel to his older brother relationship with Anakin which, too, was ill-fated. “Then I joined the Jedi,” Obi-Wan concludes, “and I got a new family.” While these are comforting words meant for Leia, who also found an adoptive family with the Organas, Obi-Wan’s experiences paint a darker portrait of the Jedi’s history of separating children from their families.
This recruitment tactic, however, is not so different from the Dark Side. Obi-Wan and Leia seek refuge with Tala (Indira Varma), an Imperial officer working with Rebels and Jedi to safeguard runaways and refugees through an underground network called the Path. She explains to them, “These days, the Empire hunts anyone who’s Force sensitive…even children.” For fans who have been following Star Wars since Disney’s acquisition, the Empire’s search for Force sensitive children is further explored in the animated series Rebels in which a surviving Jedi, his Padawan, and a group of rebels must stop the Empire from doing so. It is also in Rebels that the Inquisitors made their debut. They are the Empire’s primary task force in hunting the remaining Jedi and gifted children with Force powers.
In Obi-Wan Kenobi specifically, this is one explanation as to how Reva (Moses Ingram) came to be the Third Sister. In Episode 2, the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) asserts his authority and dominance over Reva, calling her “the least of us.” “You came to us from the gutter,” the Grand Inquisitor says. “Your ability gave you station, but all the power in the world can’t mask the stench beneath.” Clearly, this kind of found family is not as welcoming as Obi-Wan’s Jedi order. There is a sense of community and fellowship among the Jedi, which makes Anakin’s turn to the Dark side all the more tragic. Not only did Anakin betray his brotherhood with Obi-Wan, but he also left behind his own Padawan in Ahsoka Tano, voiced by Ashley Eckstein in The Clone Wars and Rebels and played in live-action by Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian.
But among the Inquisitors, there is always a tension and competitive sense of sibling rivalry among the “Brothers” and “Sisters.” This is most evident in episode 3, when Reva and the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) butt heads in their plans to capture Obi-Wan, all in an effort to claim the title of Grand Inquisitor and find favor with Lord Vader, who serves not only as their boss but also as a pseudo father figure to the contentious siblings. Of course, we know Darth Vader is actually the father of Luke and Leia.
Their respective backstories make for an interesting comparison between Obi-Wan and Reva, both of whom were taken as children because of their Force powers. While the Jedi and Sith intended for them to have a sense of belonging and purpose, they are ultimately left alone and disillusioned. Obi-Wan not only lost his biological family but also his found family. He believed Anakin to have died after their battle on Mustafar while the rest of his Jedi family was executed on the spot or hunted for the rest of their lives. Obi-Wan is left completely alone in the desert of Tatooine. Even when another runaway Jedi confronts him — Nari, played by Benny Safdie — Obi-Wan pushes him away.
On the other hand, although Reva is surrounded by her so-called Brothers and Sisters, she would rather fulfill her mission alone than be part of some facade of a family. The Inquisitors are more so a toxic team of Force wielders rather than a tight-knit crew of agents for the Empire. And Vader knows this, as he appeals to Reva's craving for power by playing both her and Fifth Brother in their groveling. What Vader is doing is not so different from the Jedi who took him away from his mother and trained him back in The Phantom Menace. Sure, there may be a difference between the Jedi and the Sith, but their methods are far too similar.
Patrick Caoile is a freelance writer for Collider. While he calls New Jersey his home, he is now pursuing a Ph.D. in English–Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. When he’s not at a theater or investing hours in a streaming service, he writes short fiction.
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