During the massive, four-hour Disney Investor presentation last week, Lucasfilm was able to present its upcoming slate of projects. During that time, they were able to make a number of announcements. So many announcements were made that we’re still sifting through the ramifications of them. The Star Wars universe is going to look very different in a few years, and that’s not a bad thing.

One of the things I love about Star Wars is how malleable it is, and how we’re able to derive new context and understanding out of the original texts as new chapters of this intergalactic gospel are created. There is something so pure about rewatching A New Hope with the new context from Empire Strikes Back, trying to make sense of the idea that Darth Vader was really Luke Skywalker’s father. There is nothing more terrifying than watching Luke Skywalker teeter so close to the dark side after watching his father struggle with the same failings in the prequel films. The Skywalker Saga is rife with these re-contextualizations. Watching Revenge of the Sith after the entirety of The Clone Wars is something like a religious experience.

What new thing will we learn that forces us to reevaluate our understanding of the sacred Jedi texts?

Revealed in that metric ton of Star Wars news was an acknowledgement that the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series coming to Disney+ will be set 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy also dropped some bombshell news: Hayden Christensen would be back in the role of Darth Vader, promising us the “rematch of the century.”

The Hollywood Reporter had access to the preview footage that wasn’t shown to the general public and quoted Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) in the interview footage as saying: “The most beautiful thing of all [about the series] is that it’s brought me back together with Hayden.” They noted that he also mentioned that “the two will have ‘another swing at each other’ before the end of the series.”

How Can This Be?

As Yoda asked the younglings in Attack of the Clones when Obi-Wan seemingly lost a planet, many fans were asking “How can this be?”

Some insisted that A New Hope gives us all the proof we need that such a meeting would be impossible, but I would hesitate to characterize anything in A New Hope as proof that Kenobi and Vader haven’t met since their fateful duel on Mustafar. In fact, I think the rest of the Star Wars universe has been hinting for a long time that it would be impossible for Obi-Wan and Vader not to have met again.

Perhaps the best place to start is Obi-Wan’s statement to Luke in Return of the Jedi (that also doubles as the theme for the utterly brilliant masterpiece The Last Jedi):Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” We’ll find that all the evidence that Obi-Wan and Vader can’t possibly meet again before A New Hope is subjective and completely non-specific.

We can start with the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi knows that Darth Vader survived. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan was under the impression that Anakin was left for dead. Through the other parts of the canon, we know that Vader and his existence were kept as largely secrets or myths through the broader part of the galaxy. Word of Vader’s existence wouldn’t reach Kenobi’s ears on Tatooine casually. He likely would have had to do some firsthand investigating. 

When Darth Vader first senses Obi-Wan’s presence on the first Death Star, his line of dialogue ends with an ellipses. “I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since…”

That ellipses can mean anything in the past.

The thing that will hang many people up is another Vader line: “When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.” But what does this really mean?

Some take it to mean that Vader is speaking literally, that the last time they met was on Mustafar and he was but the learner with Obi-Wan as the master, but their roles had changed. However, I think this actually refers to Vader’s status as a Dark Lord of the Sith. By the time of their duel on Mustafar, Anakin was already an advanced Jedi Knight (not a master, thanks Mace Windu). He hadn’t been elevated by the Sith as anything but an apprentice at that point.

There’s nothing in the statement that specifically refers to when they last met, only that they had met in the past. This is a perfect gray area for Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow to explore and if we get a great story out of it, why not?

How Could It Play Out?

There is nothing that says that Obi-Wan Kenobi has to remain on Tatooine during the dark times. We know he spends a lot of time out there. But if he perceived a threat to Luke off-planet, don’t you think he’d go address it? If whispers were to reach him that his apprentice had survived his apparent death on Mustafar, don’t you think he’d go investigate? Could Yoda have sent him on such a mission? Or Qui-Gon’s spirit?

This confrontation could be quite meaningful to both Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.

In Star Wars Rebels, we see an Obi-Wan who has transcended to a new level. Truly a master of not only his teachings as a Jedi, but his emotions, and his abilities in the Force. Could his promised rematch and ordeal in this new series help Obi-Wan transition into that masterhood? Could it help Vader take that next step on his own path?

There’s another line that gives us a clue. This one comes from Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker tries to turn his father back to the good side and Vader is having none of it. “Obi-Wan once thought as you do,” he tells his son. 

But when have we ever seen that from Obi-Wan? He didn’t think he could turn him back on Mustafar and it wasn’t a topic of discussion then. Could that be what this new series hinges on?  That idea excites me.

Ultimately, I think this confrontation will leave Vader thinking that Obi-Wan is gone forever, one way or the other. But anything is possible.

We shouldn’t cling to the truths that we think we know. As new information becomes available, we ought to be open to it. Understand that there’s nothing that says it has to be this way. That’s just how we had it in our heads. We took the information we had and inferred a story. Sometimes those stories don’t play out like we think they might and we’ll have to change our minds about what we thought. It’s like the scientific process. Truth is a moving target and we strive to understand it as best we can with all the available information.

And we’re still going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

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