In A New Hope, Owen and Beru Lars are minor characters who basically serve to stand in the way of Luke Skywalker’s growing ambitions. Luke’s aunt and uncle, his adoptive parents, don’t want him running off to the Imperial Academy. Beru knows that Luke has too much of his father in him, but that’s precisely why Owen is afraid to let him leave.
They are unceremoniously killed, murdered by the Empire all the while they presumably sought to protect Luke. It’s a tragic ending, but one that doesn’t necessarily create much emotional impact beyond being the event that ultimately causes Luke to leave the planet with Ben Kenobi and embrace his destiny.
But Star Wars fans have long known that the narrative of Owen and Beru standing in Luke’s way is skewed, and other material has fleshed that out in various pieces over time. But the story of these two has been forever changed by Obi-Wan Kenobi, and in the best way possible. For really the first true time, and certainly the first time on-screen, Star Wars gave Owen and Beru a chance to shine – and they more than lived up to it. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse were fantastic, and we saw a side of them we hadn’t before.
In this series, Owen Lars stands face-to-face with Reva, his family threatened by the Inquisitor, yet doesn’t reveal Kenobi’s location. Owen doesn’t want Ben’s help, but neither does he hate him. Owen truly wants to protect Luke, and he views Ben as the biggest threat to that. And when he sees the Inquisitors come to the planet, hunting Jedi, and killing them – well, why wouldn’t he think that? Beru chides him a bit later on as being the reason Ben isn’t there when they need help, but then again it’s not exactly like they need a ton of help. Beru and Owen fight back against Reva, defending their homestead and, more importantly, Luke. They put up a very impressive fight, and it shows that there is more than meets the eye with these two.
But most of all, what this series shows is that Owen and Beru care deeply about Luke. He’s their own son. And whatever they do, they do it to protect him. Even if that means keeping Ben Kenobi at arm’s length, something that even the Jedi himself comes to recognize by series’ end as appropriate. This series highlights how drastically different the childhoods of Luke and Leia are, but it also underscores what they had in common: loving adoptive parents who sought to protect them.
It sheds brand new light on how we watch A New Hope. They aren’t the ones trying to stand in Luke’s way; they’re trying to keep him from falling into the same fate his father did. And though that movie moves beyond their deaths without much acknowledgement, they were willing to give their lives to that cause. As Beru says in this series, they knew the day might come when Luke would be in danger, and they were ready and willing to do whatever it took to protect him.
They are brave, good-hearted, and caring. It’s a side of them the film(s) never showed, but that is long overdue to be highlighted. Owen and Beru Lars are heroes, and I’m glad we finally got to see it.