Obi-Wan Kenobi brought the Jedi Master face-to-face with his old Padawan. But Anakin Skywalker is not the only figure from the past that Obi-Wan is thinking about on the show. Little Leia Organa reminds Ben of her birth mother. And his experiences with his late friend’s daughter has served as a touching tribute to one of Star Wars best characters, Padmé Amidala.
It’s possible to know something, even for a long time, without feeling the emotional weight behind it. Like how anyone who has ever watched the Star Wars prequels knows how Padmé and Leia were similar. Each was fierce and uncompromising, the kind of person to head straight into danger while others ran. Both mother and daughter were also headstrong and determined. And they were both fully committed to doing what was right no matter the personal risk. And yet, despite knowing all of that, the connection between the two never resonated as deeply as it did when Obi-Wan Kenobi made the connection himself.
As he watched a 10-year-old in grave danger order him around and do what she wants, Obi-Wan realized exactly who this young girl was. “You just remind me of someone,” he said to Leia. “She was fearless too. And stubborn.” Leia asked if this person was a Jedi like him, but he said no, “She was a leader.”
It was a beautiful but sad realization for Obi-Wan. In that moment he felt both the full weight of his past failures and the loss of a dear friend. Standing here before him in the flesh was her daughter, exactly like her mother in the best ways. Seeing someone who knew Padmé—a person he served with, cared for, and admired—made that connection between Leia and her mother powerful in a way that simply knowing they’re alike never could. It’s the difference between knowing the sun will set and seeing it with your own eyes. And sometimes, like when Obi-Wan realized Padmé was not truly gone, a sunset is so beautiful it overwhelms your heart.
If that scene had been the only time Obi-Wan thought about Padmé during his time with Leia, it would have been enough to pay fitting tribute to Naboo’s late queen and senator. Her indefensible death in Revenge of the Sith was a total betrayal of the character. She deserves to be remembered for how she lived, and Obi-Wan recognizing how her daughter carried Padmé’s legacy forward did just that. But in its third episode the series did more than remember the best of Padmé. It addressed a long-standing inconsistency about the two women’s relationship, in a way that showed that Padmé was more than just a memory.
The prequel trilogy seemingly created a huge plot hole when it came to Leia’s birth mother. In Return of the Jedi Luke asked Leia what she remembered of her. Leia said, “Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.” When Luke asked for specifics Leia answered, “Just images, really. Feelings.” Leia described her mother as “very beautiful, kind…but sad,” while Luke remembered nothing at all. But then we learned Padmé passed away moments after giving birth to the twins. Therefore, how could Leia have had any memories of her birth mother?
But when little Leia realized Obi-Wan had known her birth mother, he shared a story that not only made Leia’s memories of Padmé plausible, it made them all the more moving. Jedi took babies from their families at an age when no child can retain memories. But somehow Obi-Wan remembered his family. “I still have glimpses. Flashes really—my mother’s shawl, my father’s hands, I remember a baby,” he said. “I think I had a brother, I really don’t remember him. I wished I did.”
Force users, at least the most powerful ones, retain memories from the very start of her life that others can’t. Leia told Luke she had “images” and “feelings” about her mother, same as Obi-Wan’s “flashes” of his family. So Leia wasn’t lying or imagining things in Return of the Jedi. And the plot hole created by Revenge of the Sith is no more. Leia really did have memories of Padmé, even if Luke didn’t. And in that sense Leia isn’t just like her mother, she carries Padmé with her. The senator who fought for the Republic lived on in her daughter who ultimately saved the galaxy.
Even though she never met her, and even if she didn’t realize it herself, Leia always felt her mother’s presence. Padmé was a part of her, not just a feeling. And without the best of Padmé, Leia would never have become the person she was. Just as Darth Vader was a necessary warning for Luke, Padmé was a necessary light for Leia. Padmé’s heart and her hope for a better world helped guide one of the galaxy’s most courageous figures, her daughter.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is telling a lot of different stories. But its most emotional, and maybe its best, is the story of how a sad old man realized his fallen friend lived on in her child. And knowing Padmé ultimately helped save the galaxy far, far away is a far, far better ending to her story.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.