Why Did Obi-Wan Kenobi Spare Darth Vader?
The finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi allowed us to see the much-awaited true rematch between master and pupil when Obi-Wan squared off with Darth Vader for one more time before their next fight in A New Hope. It was in this battle that we saw Kenobi regaining his strength as a Jedi and was able to defeat Vader decisively. However, after seeing his old Padawan’s face under the helmet for the first time in ten years, the Jedi Master spared his life. So, why did Obi-Wan let Darth Vader live?
Obi-Wan Kenobi spared Darth Vader’s life because the battle wasn’t about him and Vader. Instead, it was about him and Anakin. When he realized that Anakin was already truly dead and had already been fully consumed by Darth Vader, Kenobi no longer had a reason to kill him.
This isn’t the first time that Obi-Wan didn’t deal a fatal blow to Anakin, as that was what also happened during their first fight back in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. However, he had a true reason for not wanting to kill Vader in this fight, as it was never a battle between him and the Sith Lord. Things probably wouldn’t have changed had he killed Vader. So, with that said, let’s talk more about this topic.
What Happened Between Obi-Wan And Darth Vader?
Ever since the beginning of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, it was clear that the titular character was suffering from the effects of what happened back in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Ten years ago, he realized that he had failed his old Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, who got consumed by the dark side and was partly responsible for the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Empire. Since then, he has been living in exile while rotting away with the pain of not being able to do anything about the Padawan that he thought had perished during their last battle.
However, Kenobi realized that Darth Vader was still alive, and that meant that the mission involving Leia’s retrieval was something more than just bringing the princess back home. Kenobi himself realized that Vader had been searching for him for ten years as the dark lord formerly known as Anakin was now in the best position to strike a killing blow to his former master once and for all when Reva, one of his Inquisitors, located the Jedi Master.
In that regard, it was inevitable that a showdown between master and pupil was going to happen once again, especially with the fact that Darth Vader was still tailing Obi-Wan after their escape in episode 5 of the series. As Kenobi and the refugees of the Path were escaping from Vader’s Star Destroyer, the Jedi Master realized that the only way for Leia and the others to evade the Empire was to separate from them. And that was when he boarded a separate ship that Darth Vader, in his quest for vengeance, followed instead of tailing the refugees.
Obi-Wan landed on a remote planet, and Vader followed him without the assistance of any of his underlings because he wanted to finish this chapter of his life himself. That was when it became clear that a rematch between Obi-Wan and Anakin was about to happen.
At first, Kenobi was clearly rusty from being away from battle for ten years because he struggled against Vader. Nevertheless, the Sith Lord realized that his former master was getting his old strength back when he struggled to find an opening against Kenobi’s defensive form. It was his strong connection with the Force that nearly allowed him to kill Obi-Wan, who he tried to trap underground.
Still, Kenobi reconnected with the Force and found a way to counter Vader’s own Force powers. Realizing that Vader was simply functioning due to the life-support system of his suit, he targeted the Sith Lord’s weakness and sliced nearly half of his helmet open to reveal part of Anakin’s face. This was the first time in ten years that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker came face to face.
Thinking that he was no longer looking at the Sith Lord but was now speaking to his old Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi apologized for failing him all those years ago. In a way, he probably thought that he could bring Anakin back.
However, Vader told him that Kenobi wasn’t the one that killed Anakin all those years ago. Instead, it was Darth Vader who killed Anakin metaphorically by allowing himself to get fully consumed by his new identity as a dark lord of the Sith. That was when Kenobi realized that his old Padawan was now truly dead. He left Darth Vader unable to pick himself back up as Obi-Wan could have dealt the final blow but decided not to do so.
Why Did Obi-Wan Spare Darth Vader?
When Obi-Wan Kenobi realized that Anakin Skywalker was now metaphorically dead, he left him all alone on that planet and decided not to kill the Sith Lord. So, why did Obi-Wan spare Darth Vader?
As mentioned, Obi-Wan’s journey in this series is all about him finding a way to atone for what he perceived to be a mistake on his part when he thought that he failed Anakin. For the most part, he believed that Vader’s attempt to locate him was personal, as that was made clear when the Sith Lord decided to chase after him instead of Leia and the other refugees. Of course, Kenobi also knew deep inside that he wanted to end things with Anakin once and for all.
So, when Darth Vader said that he had killed Anakin Skywalker, Kenobi had no more reason to feel sorry for himself after spending ten years in exile trying to repent for what he thought was his mistake. The fact that Vader said that he was the one who killed Anakin allowed Obi-Wan to realize that he did not fail his old Padawan. Instead, it was Anakin who failed himself when he allowed himself to fall to the dark side.
Because he no longer had a reason to end things with his former Padawan because Anakin was already metaphorically dead, Kenobi decided to leave Darth Vader then and there. He had no reason to kill Vader.
Even if he did kill Vader, things wouldn’t have changed. The Empire would still be in control, and the death of Darth Sidious’s apprentice would only mean that a slot has opened up for a new Sith Lord to take over. Someone else would have taken over Vader’s place, and the Empire would still be as powerful as ever.
There is also the fact that killing Vader there would change the course of history as we know it. In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Vader was very much alive and was responsible for Kenobi’s death. Had Obi-Wan killed Vader in the series, the events of the original trilogy would not have happened.
Anakin’s metaphorical death in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series also answers the plot hole in A New Hope when Kenobi told Luke that Vader was the one who killed his father long ago. It is worth noting that George Lucas was yet to decide that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker all along. So, when Old Ben told Luke that his father was killed by Darth Vader, he was referring to the metaphorical death that happened in their encounter in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series when Vader told Kenobi that he killed Anakin himself.
All that said, Obi-Wan sparing Darth Vader was done out of convenience as well so that the entire Star Wars timeline would not get messed up. And it was done in a way that allowed us to understand that Kenobi was not looking to take revenge on Anakin but was merely trying to redeem himself for what he always thought was his mistake.