The finale of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series gave us one of the most epic moments between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader when the latter told his former master that he was the one who killed Anakin. This was a moment of catharsis for Kenobi, who always believed that he was the one that failed Anakin and made him go to the dark side. But, at that moment, Obi-Wan realized that his former Padawan was now gone and had become consumed by Vader. So, how did Vader “kill” Anakin back on Mustafar?
Darth Vader killed Anakin back on Mustafar when he shed all that remained of his former self as he was dying due to his burn wounds. He held on to his rage and hatred for Obi-Wan so that he could stay alive long enough for the Emperor to rescue him. Essentially, he died on Mustafar and was reborn as Darth Vader.
There are a lot of philosophical nuances in Star Wars, especially when it comes to the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which explores the deeper side of the story between the master and his former student. In that regard, Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker when he was defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi and when he realized that shedding his old self was the only way for him to continue on.
How Was Anakin “Killed”?
When we look at Star Wars, we often look at the greater narrative between good and evil, and that usually involves the Jedi and the Sith. Of course, the original trilogy allowed us to see Luke Skywalker going up against Darth Vader, his own father, in an epic battle that concluded with the Sith Lord returning to the side of the light and regaining his former identity as Anakin Skywalker.
However, one of the other narratives that involve Darth Vader is in relation to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who we met in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. But we didn’t really understand the relationship between the two until the events of the prequel trilogy, where we were able to see how Anakin became a Jedi and how it was Obi-Wan who raised him like an older brother and trained him in the ways of the Jedi.
This relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was so tight-knit that they were, at certain points in their lives, willing to die for one another. However, Anakin became desperate when it came to Padme Amidala, his wife. He had foreseen his death, and that became an entry point for Darth Sidious, hiding in plain sight as Chancellor (future Emperor) Palpatine, to seduce him and turn him to the dark side.
Anakin was rechristened as Darth Vader as he slaughtered the younglings over at the Jedi Temple. He was already a Sith Lord that was under the direction of Darth Sidious during Order 66, which resulted in the death of countless Jedi all over the galaxy. And this culminated in a battle between him and Obi-Wan, who understood that his former student needed to be stopped.
In the end, Obi-Wan defeated Anakin when he had the upper hand on the high ground and when his former student believed himself strong enough to overcome Kenobi’s advantage. Obi-Wan cut off Anakin’s limbs and allowed him to burn near the lava river of the volcanic planet of Mustafar before leaving him to die. And it was revealed during the events of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which took place ten years after the Duel at Mustafar, that Obi-Wan thought that Anakin had died then and there.
Kenobi, in the Obi-Wan series, was visibly depressed and bothered by the events that took place ten years ago. This weakened his connection with the Force because he wasn’t at peace with what he had to do and with what had to happen during the events of Order 66 in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. But he realized that he needed to confront Anakin, who had now completely adopted the Darth Vader persona.
The finale episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi allowed us to see a battle between the master and his former student. Vader was seemingly stronger than his former master, but Obi-Wan found his strength in the connection he had with Luke and Leia. As such, he was able to overwhelm his former student and disable him. At that moment, Obi-Wan apologized to Anakin for failing him ten years ago.
However, Darth Vader said that Anakin was no more because he himself killed him. Kenobi left Vader beaten and accepted the fact that Anakin was already dead. This is consistent with the events of A New Hope, where Obi-Wan told Luke that Darth Vader had killed his father, Anakin Skywalker. But how was Anakin Skywalker actually killed?
Technically speaking, Anakin wasn’t killed. When Darth Vader said that he killed Anakin, it was a metaphorical way of saying that he had already done away with his former self during the time when he was burning to death.
Anakin burning to death on the molten rivers Mustafar was a symbolic death for the character because, although he didn’t die, his former self died because all that remained from that moment were his rage and anger. In that regard, he died when he held on to his anger so that he could stay alive long enough for the Emperor to rescue him. As the Grand Inquisitor said in Obi-Wan Kenobi, revenge does wonders for the will to live, and Anakin’s anger was what kept him biologically alive even though his old self had already died back then.
How Did They Turn Anakin Into Darth Vader?
Anakin was already rechristened by Darth Sidious as Darth Vader right after he pledged his allegiance to him when he maimed Mace Windu and allowed Palpatine to finish off the powerful Jedi Master. The moment he decided to become a Sith Lord, he was already Darth Vader.
However, Anakin only truly became Darth Vader when he shed his former self and was basically given new life when he was supposed to die back in the fires of Mustafar. Through the use of technology, the Emperor was able to save Anakin and complete his transformation into the cold and heartless machine called Darth Vader when he replaced his lost limbs with robotic parts and placed him in a suit that had a life-support system so that he could stay alive despite his severe injuries.
So, essentially, Anakin was already Darth Vader when he betrayed the Jedi in favor of the Sith. But he turned into the black-clad killing machine when all of the technology in the galaxy was used to keep him alive inside a suit.