Owen and Beru Lars have been part of Star Wars from the very beginning, and yet they were never a big part of it. Stormtroopers burned them alive at the beginning of A New Hope. And they only had a handful of brief scenes in the prequel trilogy. But Obi-Wan Kenobi forever changed their roles in the franchise and gave us a new appreciation of who they really were. They were not just Luke’s Aunt and Uncle, nor simple moisture farmers. Neither were they unfortunate victims of the Empire. They were two heroes who did the right thing.
Until Obi-Wan Kenobi, the live-action versions of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were minor characters in their nephew’s story. They knew something about his father’s past, and that made the gruff Owen reluctant to let his nephew leave their farm. But that’s all they were: obstacles stopping Luke from fulfilling his great destiny. It’s why their deaths in A New Hope never resonated the way other characters’ final moments did. We hardly knew them. Their deaths had little to do with them and everything to do with what it meant for Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t clear they ever even fully understood the risk of raising him.
The Star Wars prequels did give us a greater appreciation for the pair, despite their general lack of screen time during the trilogy. Luke was Owen and Beru’s family by marriage only, and that was no typical marriage. Owen’s father had purchased Shmi Skywalker as a slave. He then freed her and married her. Luke was the son of Owen’s mysterious step-brother, a man Owen only met once before Anakin betrayed the Jedi and the Republic. The fact the Lars willingly took Luke in showed how kind they were. They brought an innocent boy without a family into their home and raised him as their own. But being really nice people didn’t make them complex characters in an epic space saga.
Now Obi-Wan Kenobi has changed that. It showed the Lars took in Luke fully aware what that meant. “We both knew this day might come,” Beru said to her husband as she gathered the weapons she’d kept hidden for such a day. Reva was coming for Luke, and though overmatched, they would stay and protect the nephew they raised as a son. Not only that, they wouldn’t even ask for help, lest they risk putting others in danger. They would stand up to an Inquisitor, just the two of them.
They were the ones who opened the door when a Jedi came knocking with a child in his arms. And they refused to make someone else answer that call. Owen and Beru willingly became part of a war that otherwise might never have touched their lives. They took Anakin Skywalker’s secret son and loved him.
Owen and Beru Lars weren’t merely a part of Luke’s life. They were real people who made choices, including accepting a responsibility that would reverberate throughout the galaxy.
In that way Obi-Wan Kenobi has given their deaths in A New Hope a deeper resonance then ever before. We’ll never again be able to see their sad ends only through Luke’s eyes. Nor can we ever again define them by what their death meant for his journey. We’ll see them for the brave people they were and for what their sacrifice truly meant. By showing who Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were, so much more than passive players in someone else’s tale, the Disney+ series gave them an agency the couple never had before.
And part of that agency included being the first and most important guardians of the Rebellion. They looked after the galaxy far, far away’s greatest hope as best as they could for as long as they could. And they did so fully aware that a dark day awaited them. They’re the type of unlikely heroes that eventually brought down the Empire. Which is why it’s only fitting that on his show, that Obi-Wan realized his loving aunt and uncle were all the protection Luke Skywalker ever really needed.
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.