*Spoilers are ahead for “The Phantom Apprentice*
In “Old Friends Not Forgotten,” the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano appeared a bit frosty, and understandably so.
But in “The Phantom Apprentice,” Ahsoka Tano speaks with Obi-Wan Kenobi one more time, and it’s a far more heart-felt, and heart-wrenching, conversation.
It’s a heartbreaking scene, and for a number of reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Kenobi is conflicted about Dooku’s death
Something we never really saw in Revenge of the Sith was Obi-Wan’s reaction to Anakin killing Count Dooku because, well, he was unconscious at that point. But the animation of this episode is so good that we can read Kenobi’s body language and facial expressions, and my read is that he’s a bit conflicted about it. Obviously part of this is because Anakin killing Dooku is moving him closer to the dark side, but this episode points out a more practical reason: with Dooku dead, any hope of finding out more about Darth Sidious from him is lost.
It just goes to show how Palpatine took advantage of the situation aboard Grievous’s cruiser, luring Anakin to kill Dooku. Anakin’s wise mentor and voice of reason was unconscious, it would bring Anakin closer to the dark side, and it would cover up any trail back to Sidious’s identity. It makes a lot of sense why Obi-Wan wouldn’t be thrilled about hearing this.
2. Kenobi disagrees with the Council’s assignment for Anakin
When Ahsoka pushes back on Kenobi a bit regarding the Jedi Council’s new assignment for Anakin (to spy on the Chancellor), Obi-Wan says, “Ahsoka, the Council isn’t always right. That’s why I’m asking for your help.” To me, that’s an acknowledgement that Obi-Wan disagrees with the Council’s decision to assign Anakin to spy on the Chancellor. He seems to have the same questions about the Chancellor that others on the Council do, but that he’s torn between wanting answers and wanting the best for Anakin. That’s something he articulates in Revenge of the Sith as well, as he tells Anakin that he didn’t want to put him in this position and is on his side.
But I’m not sure that’s the only thing happening with that statement.
3. An indirect apology
We obviously know what happened to Ahsoka Tano: in her moment of need, the Jedi Council – including Obi-Wan Kenobi – didn’t stand by her. And they were wrong. So here, when Obi-Wan asks Ahsoka to speak with Anakin, Ahsoka responds, “And what? Defend the Council’s actions? I hardly think I’m the best person for that.” Because, after all, she’s been wronged and hurt by the Council’s actions. But that’s when Obi-Wan says, “Ahsoka, the Council isn’t always right. That’s why I’m asking for your help.”
To me, that can be taken as a way of Obi-Wan apologizing, albeit indirectly, for what happened to Ahsoka. By admitting to her that the Council isn’t always right, and by approaching her to help, I think Kenobi is also sending an apology message to the former Jedi – one that it seems he’s long believed but not articulated. His desire to come to her asking for help is a sign that he still believes in her, while his statement on the Council is an acknowledgement that Ahsoka is right about many things regarding the Council. Think about it: he believes the Council wasn’t right with Ahsoka and they lost her (as she left the Order); so here, he’s not sure the Council is right with Anakin and doesn’t want to lose him too (thus asking Ahsoka for help).
4. A plea for help
But most heartbreaking of all is that Obi-Wan is pleading with Ahsoka for help – for Anakin. It’s been a trying few days for Skywalker, and between his killing Count Dooku and his anger about his new assignment, Anakin isn’t in the best place. Kenobi is concerned about him. And so here, Obi-Wan Kenobi – Anakin’s master, friend, and the closest thing he has to a father – is pleading with Ahsoka to help his longtime friend. He thinks that if Ahsoka were to talk with him, she could help.
It’s hard not to wonder whether Ahsoka could have helped save Anakin from the darkness he would soon succumb to, but obviously she never got the chance. But here, two of the closest people to Anakin (and two of the people who care most about him) are talking about how they want to help him. It’s so heartbreaking to think about what happens so soon after this.