Darth Vader might have killed Anakin Skywalker, but in Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s season finale the Sith Lord failed to kill his old Jedi Master. During their lightsaber duel Vader created his own high ground by destroying the floor beneath Obi-Wan’s feet. He then tried to bury the Jedi under a mountain of rocks. Obi-Wan’s renewed connection to the Force kept him from being crushed. But fear and desperation can only bring you so far. What truly saved the Jedi Master was finding strength in Star Wars greatest and most enduring power: hope.
Vader was so sure of his dark side superiority he made a classic mistake. The Sith Lord assumed his enemy was dead without checking. It didn’t matter he’d just learned Obi-Wan had found his old strength. Vader believed his former Master’s weakness— a refusal to seek total victory—remained. “And that is why you will always lose,” Vader told him.
For a moment it looked like Vader might be proven right, but for a different reason. Obi-Wan’s weakness had nothing to do with his adherence to the Jedi code. His weakness was holding on to the pain of his past. Beneath the weight of those rocks Obi-Wan felt the weight of his greatest failure. He heard Anakin’s voice from long ago. Obi-Wan remembered Anakin’s hatred on Mustafar and when his Padawan claimed victory against him while training on Coruscant. He also heard Darth Vader’s voice from Jabiim, when Vader credited Obi-Wan for creating the monster Anakin became.
As he remembered his past, Obi-Wan was afraid—afraid of how he’d failed Anakin, afraid of the man Anakin had become, and afraid of failing now. And that fear brought him close to death, both physical and spiritual. Because as Yoda once said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” What stopped the Jedi’s suffering was turning away from both his fear and his anger. He rejected hate and instead embraced a far greater power.
Obi-Wan stopped listening to Anakin’s voice and closed his eyes. That’s when he let go of the past that threatened to destroy him. Instead he thought of the two children who represented the love Anakin and Padmé had for one another; he thought of Luke and Leia. When he did, a small ray of light briefly fell on his face as remembered that for all the darkness consuming the galaxy there was still hope. Those two kids represented a better future for everyone. And by embracing the power of that hope he finally found the strength he needed not only to toss away those boulders but to defeat Darth Vader.
His thought of Luke and Leia was a brief, but beautiful moment unto itself. But it’s also the foundation of Star Wars itself. Because hope is what Rebellions are built on. It keeps people fighting no matter the odds. It makes regular people like Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Rose Tico, and Tala Durith risk everything. Hope is the spark that burns down the First Order. It’s what inspires thousands of ships to answer the call at Exegol. Just as hope once made a son believe he could save his dad’s soul from the dark side, a belief that ultimately saved the galaxy. Hope kept a scavenger from Jakku from giving up as she faced her own family and all the Sith that ever were.
That’s what Star Wars has and always will be about. There can be no light without dark, and sometimes the darkness wins. But where the Sith find power in pain, fear, hatred, revenge, and all the emotions that destroy humanity, the Jedi represent the light. At their best they embrace peace, compassion, love, and empathy.
And no matter how dark things get, you can always find your way out of it—even when a mountain of boulders and your own past threaten to crush you—if you never give up hope that you will.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm
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.