The great writer Flannery O’Connor once offered this insight into her works: “There is a moment of grace in most of the stories, or a moment where it is offered, and usually rejected.” O’Connor would be smiling now. Her remark translates all too well to the much-anticipated Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney Plus, where the relationship between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader (i.e. Anakin Skywalker) further unfolds.
The moment of offered grace arrives toward the end of the series, where we see the climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Vader. Ten years after their battle in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan once again defeats Vader. At the battle’s conclusion, he lunges toward Vader and slashes him in the face, breaking half of his mask and revealing a disfigured Anakin. Obi-Wan looks upon his old friend with horror and emotion.
The following exchange ensues:
VADER: Anakin is gone. I’m what remains.
OBI-WAN: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Anakin. For all of it.
VADER: I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker…I did. The same way I will destroy you.
OBI-WAN: Then my friend is truly dead.
First of all, Obi-Wan gives the viewer a masterclass in how to restore broken relationships and reach out to the lost. Obi-Wan starts by quite literally destroying the mask behind which his friend is hiding. Fellow sinners, how often do we act just like Anakin, using “masks” in our own lives to prevent others (and the Lord) from seeing the broken figure within? Obi-Wan sees Anakin underneath the mask, calls him by name, and says, “I’m sorry.”
Isn’t that response from Obi-Wan remarkable? If anyone needs to be sorry, it’s surely Anakin. If anyone deserves to be angry, it’s surely Obi-Wan. Yet the great jedi chooses to lower himself before his friend, take blame, and stretch out his arm in reconciliation.
Here is Anakin’s moment of offered grace. It’s an opportunity to repent and be restored. However, like a good O’Connor story, Anakin rejects the offer. Overcome by what St. Augustine calls the “libido dominandi” (the “lust to dominate”), he chooses evil once again. He chooses to retreat behind his mask. This scene from Obi-Wan Kenobi reminds us of what happens when we reject grace. Namely, it leads to spiritual death: “Then my friend is truly dead.”
As we Star Wars fans know, Darth Vader eventually will accept another offer of grace via his son, Luke, and be restored to life. May we all choose to do the same.
The Third Sister and True Freedom | Fr. Patrick Gilbreath
REVA: Have I become him?
OBI-WAN: No. You have chosen not to. Who you become now, that is up to you.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi series gave great insight into the “hidden years” of Obi-Wan while he was watching over the young Luke Skywalker in solitude. The series has some very profound and memorable scenes with Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, but what stuck out to me was the newly introduced character of Reva Sevander, who was also referred to as the “Third Sister”.
Reva is one of the “inquisitors”, a group tasked with finding and capturing any Jedi who are still alive throughout the galaxy. Reva is filled with rage. She is defiant. She is envious of power. In the beginning, we believe that Reva is obsessed with finding Obi-Wan so that she can prove herself and amass great prestige, yet, as the show goes on, it is clear that Reva is plagued by a different type of motivation.
Reva is motivated by revenge and anger. She desires nothing else than to seek revenge on Darth Vader for what he did to her and her other friends as a young Jedi. In seeking to overcome her anger, she almost becomes the very thing that she was trying to destroy. In one of the final scenes, Reva recognizes the folly of her desires, and realizes that anger and revenge had entrapped her into a life of evil and death, on par with Darth Vader. Her change of heart comes from an encounter with Obi-Wan, who shows her that she is more than her past. Her value in life is not according to what happened to her as a youngling, and she is not bound to the same fate as Darth Vader.
Reva is set free from her past by allowing her anger and hatred to not overtake her will, as it did to Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan shows Reva that true freedom consists not in the pursuit of her selfish desire of revenge, but her freedom consists in overcoming her inclination to evil and forging a different path for herself, while she puts to death the evil desires within.
Reva’s transformation shows us that we are not bound to our past sins, nor to what has happened to us out of our control. Holding onto something from the past can be so corrosive to our life and can taint the way that we perceive reality, as it did with Reva. She is set free from her burdens, and her life can now truly begin, and I believe that this is the great lesson of Reva Sevander.
This article was co-written by Fr. Patrick Gilbreath and originally appeared HERE. Fr. Patrick is a priest of the Archdiocese of Mobile, currently serving as a parochial vicar and high school chaplain in Montgomery, Alabama. He was ordained in 2019 after 7 years in seminary. He connected with the MTE team through a mutual friend of his and Brennan, and offers the priestly perspective of media and entertainment. As a priest, Fr. Patrick desires to bring people closer to Christ, and he has always felt that the arts can aid in elevating one’s mind and imagination to what is above and beyond.
Image credit: LucasFilm