Warning: Full spoilers follow for Episode 3 of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
If the wide world of Star Wars likes one thing, it’s a tragic backstory that puts your favorite Jedi through the wringer. No stranger to heartache is Obi-Wan Kenobi. After having his master slain by Darth Maul and training Anakin Skywalker before his turn to the Dark Side, Obi-Wan left his protege as a smoldering heap on Mustafar. If that wasn’t enough, Obi-Wan went into exile for decades and then returned – only to be slain by his former Padawan under the guise of Darth Vader. Obi-Wan has it tough, and to make things worse, he’s got no family to lean on… or does he?
Ewan McGregor is back in his best dresses for Deborah Chow’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, as the six-episode miniseries fills in the gaps between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The long-awaited Obi-Wan standalone fleshes out his backstory by revealing he didn’t spend all of his exile trapped on Tatooine, but if you were listening carefully during Obi-Wan Episode 3you’ll hear an emotional throwback to his shadowy younger years.
Does Obi-Wan Kenobi Have a Family?
When we first meet Obi-Wan Kenobi (chronologically, that is) in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, he’s a 25-year-old Padawan apprentice to Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). There’s no Karate Kid-inspired training montage, so we’re left imagining his younger years under the tutelage of Qui-Gon. What’s clear, is that Obi-Wan thinks of his master as something of a father figure.
In Obi-Wan’s third episode, McGregor’s titular Jedi says, “As Jedi, we’re taken from our families when we’re very young.” He adds, “I still have glimpses. Flashes, really. My mother’s shawl. My father’s hands. I remember a baby. … Yes, I think I had a brother. Really don’t remember him.” But this seemingly obscure reference actually finds its roots in the extended canon of Star Wars and a certain Owen Kenobi.
Who Is Owen Kenobi?
Lucas’ original trilogy loves a family twist, and when Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, the screenplay originally revealed Obi-Wan as the brother of Owen Lars, aka Uncle Owen, who was left in charge of Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Although this didn’t make the final cut, Return’s novelization still includes a line referring to “[his] brother Owen.” The 1995 Premiere Limited set of the Star Wars Customizable Card Game also named Owen Lars as “the brother of Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
This thread continues in the 1999 novel Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past, which follows Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s adventures before The Phantom Menace, with Obi-Wan having another dream of Owen. Even though this is typically confusing continuity from the galaxy far, far away, George Lucas eventually attempted to tighten things up. 2002’s live-action Attack of the Clones canonized Owen as Anakin’s step-brother when Cliegg Lars married Shmi Skywalker. Many assumed that this was the end of the notion of Owen Kenobi. But the Disney+ series kind of puts things back in a strange place.
Thankfully, Abel G. Peña’s Lone Wolf: A Tale of Obi-Wan and Luke could explain the whole thing. The short story was published on the official Star Wars website in 2015 and revealed that Obi-Wan’s brother “Owen” is actually just a vision from the future. The short story gives Obi-Wan an origin by confirming he was born on the planet Stewjon, and then taken to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant for his training.
Here, Obi-Wan thinks his visions of Owen Kenobi meant he’d returned to Stewjon at some point to revisit his family. It turns out, however, that instead of Obi-Wan having flashbacks to his own childhood, he was actually seeing the future with Luke and Owen on Tatooine.
Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Great Moments
So Does Obi-Wan Kenobi Have a Brother?
The fact that Joel Edgerton reprise his role as Owen Lars from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith for Obi-Wan leaves a number of options. We’ve seen a tense face-off between the pair, with Owen telling Obi-Wan to leave a young Luke Skywalker alone. It would definitely add a different dynamic to their relationship if there is a biological connection, but it would be a retcon of a retcon. Added to this, if Owen were to be revealed as Obi-Wan’s brother, the fact that the latter has no reaction to the deaths of Owen and Beru in A New Hope would make him colder than Vader.
Remembering that the novelization of Return fits into the Legends era, which is largely considered non-canon these days, should draw a line under things. It seems likely that Obi-Wan’s mention of his brother is just one of those famous Easter eggs that the likes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have hidden in plain sight. There is a chance that Obi-Wan’s younger brother could still be out there somewhere, but if he wasn’t Force-sensitive like his sibling, don’t expect him to pop up as one of the ever-growing number of Jedi who escaped Order 66.
Then again, if Boba Fett’s Sarlacc survival and Grand Admiral Thrawn can be resurrected from Legends, who’s to say Owen Kenobi won’t be another forgotten plot point to find a new home? Star Wars loves expanding the family tree, and if there’s something more to Obi-Wan’s brother line, the potential of it being someone we already know is a tantalizing prospect. With three episodes left, we’ll be keeping an eye on that Kenobi bloodline.
For even more on Obi-Wan Episode 3, check out the story behind the Jedi Kenobi mentioned this week – Quinlan Vos.