Okay, Star Wars nerds (sup fam!) I have a multi-part theory on Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. In an attempt to explain the infamous duel between Vader and Obi-Wan, I needed to explain two other theories I have. (Apologies if any of these theories are already floating around on the Internet. Send a link if there is one!)
In A New Hope, we meet Obi-Wan played by Alec Guinness. He appears to have ages greatly in the 19 years since we last saw him in Revenge of the Sith. Ewan McGregor was about 34 during filming. In A New Hope, Alec Guinness was around 63. Now, we can chalk this up to the harsh conditions on Tatooine. However, this wouldn’t explain Obi-Wan’s weird death. So, let me posit a different theory.
Obi-Wan finds himself on Tatooine as a sort of guardian for Luke. What is weird is that he has a sort of distant relationship with Luke. They know each other, but it isn’t like Luke is going to Obi-Wan’s house for Tuesday Tea. If Obi-Wan was totally sure Luke was the “new” chosen one, then why wasn’t Obi-Wan secretly training Luke? Perhaps he was just being cautious, but this caution would all be for naught if he was sure Luke was the next Jedi.
It also isn’t like Obi-Wan was busy jet-setting across the galaxy. What if… he was using all his free time to create a Holocron. We know he was familiar with holocrons from Star Wars Rebels. Now, there are a lot of weird little details about holocrons I won’t get into. But some things you need to know are that they need the Force to be activated and there are also different capabilities of holocrons. One of these is capturing the essence of a past Jedi and sort of conduit for the dead.
What if Obi-Wan was creating an insurance policy. He was spending a lot of time and energy in creating a holocron capable of recreating his persona with his knowledge. Whether he was successful or not isn’t important. What is important is how much Obi-Wan was investing in himself to creating. He was going to great lengths to create a perfect conduit for himself after his death. This process was so tolling, it not only aged him, but put great stress on the very fiber of his being (literally). More on that later.
Say, you’re Obi-Wan. You believed in this prophecy about a chosen one. You thought it was Anakin. You become not only his mentor, but his best friend. You see the man you thought would bring balance to the force fall into the dark side. This would make you pretty jaded. Yet you continue to look over Luke. What if he isn’t the chosen one either? Maybe he is just too close to Anakin: lost both parents, seeks adventure off a planet made of sand. Obi-Wan just isn’t ready. He is waiting for a sign. What if Vader has to die before the force can be balanced? By then, Luke may be too old, too set in his ways. He wouldn’t leave Tatooine though. He would probably have a family, and kids. Maybe one of those children would be the chosen one. Obi-Wan needs to figure out a way to train this future generation. So he resolves himself to create a holocron. A special one, that doesn’t need the force to be unlocked, or maybe only the force from a specific blood line. This overexertion leads to my theory on Darth Vader.
What we have gathered in the dozens of scenes involving Darth Vader, since Episode IV came out in 1977, is that he was clearly holding back. Okay, in reality it was a (relatively) small budget film that couldn’t create some grand set piece for Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s fight. Saying that is just boring though. And again, what the heck happened to Obi-Wan at the end? No Jedi or Sith has ever ‘evaporated’ on their death. It isn’t like Lucas and co. couldn’t recreate this effect in subsequent media. It is more of a choice. There is one exception, Yoda. Yoda, who was almost a thousand years old. Perhaps, after his battle with Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, his health started to deteriorate. Much like Obi-Wan, Yoda had one last mission in life, to realize the potential of one final Jedi. Using sheer willpower, he kept himself alive for that one, which turns out to be Luke. When he succeeds, Yoda let’s go, and upon dying he disintegrates on the molecular level, appearing to evaporate.
So, in this pattern of logic, Obi-Wan had overused the Force in an attempt to create an advanced holocron. He began to die as a result. He had to consciously prevent the force from ripping his body apart. He was still able to do rudimentary force maneuvers like Force persuade a Stormtrooper. However, fighting one of the most powerful force wielders ever was just too much. He’s just doing his best to prolong the fight for a specific reason. Which brings back to Vader. He is the fight in all it’s low-budget glory.
What is up with that fight? First of all, Vader is waiting for Obi-Wan. They then have a lacluster duel resulting in Obi-Wan letting Vader strike him down. Why does Vader play along? Well Obi-Wan and Darth Vader both think their sides of the force are greater than the other. In this, they think their side will always reveal itself to be the ‘true’ side of the force. Ironically, this creates the same goal for both of them in this battle. Both want Luke to see Obi-Wan be killed. Obi-Wan wants to show Luke that sacrifice is necessary in being a soldier for good. Vader’s side needs to take one assumption, but that’s why we’re here.
The Force is a strange things. I find it hard to believe Vader did not sense Luke was on the Death Star. For Christ sake, Force-wielders can sense things in far off planets, let alone a comparatively small moon-sized military base/ship. Is the Death Star a base or a ship? Also this video gives you an idea how tiny the Death Star compared to the galaxy. I digress.
If you need further proof, I feel Vader could have totally taken down Luke in the Death Star trench.
If we really break this down there are two odd moments which support this theory. The first is that Vader shoots at the X-Wing and only hits R2. Is this luck? Probably, but most Jedi don’t believe in luck. Is this a test, to see if this pilot can actually blow the Death Star up without a droids help? And then there is that weird moment, right after we see Luke in Vader’s crosshair and before Han shows up to save the day. We actually see Vader shoot at Luke when Luke is in his crosshair! (see 3:04 crosshair, 3:06 shots) How do we explain this? How could Vader have missed? Well, as seen earlier in the clip, it seems the tie fighters have guns that can move independently (see 1:00). What if Vader force shifted his lasers to shoot in a different direction than his cross hairs? How else can you explain him missing Luke?
At this point in the story, I think he has decided he wants to unite with Luke, as he reveals in The Empire Strikes Back. In the clip, he begins to sense Luke is the pilot. If Luke missed his torpedo shot, he would surely kill himself in subsequent attempts to destroy the killer of planets. The only way out of this conundrum is to let Luke blow up the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarken and all.
One potential counter-argument to all this is “how come Vader didn’t sense Leia was his daughter when he tortured her?” My personal counter to this is that Leia would have reminded Vader of Padme too much, potentially making him a catatonic shell when faced with the reality of his past. He subconsciously blocks out his sense of Leia’s true lineage to protect his ego.
So, Vader senses Obi-Wan, and let’s assume he senses Luke. If Vader believes the dark side is the side to be on (power to rule the galaxy and all that), wouldn’t he want Luke to watch him slay Luke’s recently embraced mentor? So Vader just plays along with Obi-Wan, thinking “this old fool is playing right into my hand.”
Obi-Wan has put so much of himself into a holocron as an insurance policy, leaving himself a shell of the man who cut down Anakin (skip to 2:03 if you don’t want to experience the glory). Which begs the question: will Disney bring back that holocron in episode IIX or IX? Or will the be a stand-alone series a la Han Solo? Is Boba Fett still alive on Tatooine? A force wielding bounty hunter?!? Whaaaaaaaat?