In a line in Revenge of the Sith, early in the film after surviving the Battle of Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that he owes him for saving his skin for the tenth time. To this, Kenobi counters by saying that it’s only the ninth time, since that business on Cato Neimoidia doesn’t count.
But what was that business on Cato Neimoidia? The recent novel Brotherhood, by Mike Chen, answers that for us! In explaining what it is I’ll delve into some select spoilers for the book, but not every detail.
In the earliest days of the Clone Wars, a bombing rocks the neutral world of Cato Neimoidia, leading newly appointed Jedi Council member Obi-Wan Kenobi to travel to the planet to investigate. Count Dooku blames the Republic, and Kenobi discovers some evidence that the Republic is indeed complicit – while also discovering that so too are the Separatists, meaning that someone is playing both sides. But thanks to the subtle machinations of Dooku’s own emissary, Asajj Ventress, Kenobi’s investigation is derailed and he winds up on trial for crimes of supposedly covering up evidence. The trial on Cato Neimoidia is broadcast across the galaxy, but Anakin Skywalker doesn’t need to watch it on the holonet, as upon discovering that Kenobi was in trouble he traveled to the planet, looking for the moment to act.
Kenobi pleads his defense on trial, exposing the truth of the investigation, but it leads nowhere. That forces him into his backup plan, calling his lightsaber to his hand and launching into defense mode. At the same moment, Skywalker leaps into the arena, coming to the rescue. Only, as Anakin gets involved, he actually winds up derailing Obi-Wan’s own rescue plan. So, after they wind up working together and make their escape, they have a brief moment of arguing who actually gets credit for it.
And the brilliance of the way Mike Chen tells it is that you can actually see why Anakin would claim he saved Obi-Wan, while Obi-Wan would claim that’s not what happened. Obi-Wan was in trouble and Anakin came to help him, but Obi-Wan had already begun enacting his own rescue plan – which was disrupted by Anakin, who thought that he was saving Obi-Wan instead. I suppose one might say it all depends on a certain point of view.
For my part, I’ll side with Obi-Wan here, as I wouldn’t necessarily count this the same way as some of Anakin’s other rescue attempts. But it’s also true that Obi-Wan was in a jam and the whole reason Anakin came to the planet at all was to help him. So yeah, it’s a bit up in the air, which is exactly the way it should be.
So I’m a big fan of this explanation, and I think Mike Chen did a great job at telling it. Even better, though, was the fact that this answer to a much-discussed line in Revenge of the Sith didn’t just lead to a fan-servicey answer packaged as a book idea but instead told a truly and thoroughly compelling story about Obi-Wan, Anakin, and their evolving – and deepening – relationship. That business on Cato Neimoidia might not count, but their friendship as brothers counts even more than they know.