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Obi-Wan Kenobi: How the Inquisitors Tap Into the Predictability of the Hero’s Journey



Ewan McGregor

Spoiler Warning: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+

Star Wars is famous for following the Hero’s Journey. George Lucas made a note of telling audiences that he studied Joseph Campbell’s tome and applied the narrative structure to his movie. As such, with the Jedi being the main subject of the Star Wars movies, they traditionally follow that structure as a form of character development. They move around that precarious circle to find the things that make them true Jedi. But in Obi-Wan Kenobi, there is no journey to become a Jedi. The Jedi have been driven into hiding, and our story follows someone that continually resists that growth.

Obi-Wan Kenobi gives regular Star Wars fans an interesting view of the Jedi. One where the mystical order is not in power or on its way to rising to it. Our familiar character Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor), is forced into hiding and actively tries to avoid helping people, even his fellow Jedi. And as such, his story may be just that, his tortured self necessarily witnessing these terrible things in order to keep himself and Luke Skywalker safe. But the one thing Obi-Wan might have forgotten about his nature as a Jedi is that his “refusal of the call to adventure” is the first step on the Journey.

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In the series, the Inquisitors say on several occasions that “the Jedi will hunt themselves.” At one point they explain this to mean that “their compassion leaves a trail.” In the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, we see the method by which the Inquisitors hunt Jedi. The Grand Inquisitor steps up to a barkeep and begins a monologue detailing how a Jedi cannot resist helping those in need. He tells the story in such a way that describes a wanderer seeking shelter and gains what he was looking for through their selfless act.

Related: Can Obi-Wan Kenobi Escape the Reputation of the Star Wars Prequels?

This can be seen as a tiny microcosm of the Hero’s Journey. The Jedi are safe in the Jedi Temple, beginning in a world that requires no challenge or change. But he is forced on a journey when Order 66 is issued, and despite his refusal to leave, he must begin an adventure anyway. When he comes to Tatooine, he crosses the threshold into the strange world and enters what Campbell calls “The Belly of the Whale.”

The status quo of this place is that the bartender is being extorted, harassed, etc., and the Jedi upsets this balance by helping the bartender. As a result, he is rewarded with a boon to help him get through his journey, which, in this case, comes in the form of shelter in the bar. But the next phase of the Journey is where the Inquisitors cut him off. The phase after the first boon is a difficult trial. Traditionally initiated by the father in ancient tales, this one is created by the Inquisitors because the dark side, especially Darth Vader, has been used as that father figure.