re: the final exchange between Obi-Wan and Maul in ‘Twin Suns’
Below the cut I've posted an edited version of my response to ~ this tumblr discussion ~ regarding the mention of ‘The Chosen One’ in the final scene between Obi-Wan and Maul. While I understand (and empathize with!) the fandom's frustration over the use of this term, I feel that, on a meta-textual level, the conversation as a whole refers to both Luke and Anakin, aka the ‘Twin Suns’ of Tatooine.
To be perfectly honest, when I first watched this scene I had such a viscerally negative reaction to Ob-Wan’s response that I nearly decided to stop watching Rebels altogether right then and there. What distressed me so much was not the idea that Obi-Wan might believe this to be true (because it’s always been fairly clear that, post-RotS, he very likely does—his line ‘that boy is our last hope’ in ESB even insinuates this), but rather the fact that they had him SAY IT OUT LOUD.
It seemed a decidedly odd choice to have Obi-Wan ‘confirm’ this aloud, not in the least because it is so potentially misleading. I feared greatly that this would only further muddy the waters for the audience (the newer fans, especially). Because, as it is, the general audience is still often quite confused about Anakin’s role as the Chosen One, and there are even those who outright dislike this aspect of Lucas’ story, either because a) they think Luke should have been the Chosen One instead, or b) for some baffling reason, they can’t stand the fact that the SAVIOUR OF THE GALAXY spent half his life trapped in darkness (never mind the fact that he returned to the Light in the process of finally fulfilling his destiny).
But all of that is neither here nor there. Because Anakin *IS* the Chosen One. This is Lucas’ gospel. It is irrefutable. To quote Matthew Stover, “nothing can be done to change it.” If Disney were truly claiming otherwise, in any seriousness at all, they would not merely be going against Lucas’ canon (which they have already tried to do—see: the various and sundry implications of TFA that render this a legitimate concern for many of us), but also their own definition of what makes up the ‘new’ canon. After all, The Clone Wars animated series, developed under the auspices of Lucas himself prior to any Disney interference, is considered to be part of the ‘new canon’. And in that series, the Mortis Arc states outright that Anakin is the Chosen One. That’s it. The End. Any residual confusion among the fan-base about Anakin’s cosmic/esoteric role in the saga is resolved by those episodes.
Given that Filoni was directly involved in the development of that arc, I find it hard to believe that he’d now not only be trying to overturn Lucas’ canon, but also his own. Whatever one might think of Filoni’s approach (I have nitpicks at times, sure, but overall I have thus far greatly enjoyed his contributions to the SW universe), he is not one to try to erase Anakin Skywalker from the story. Disney and Abrams, yes.
(See their inability to even refer to him by name in TFA.) But, if anything, in the Rebels series, Filoni usually goes out of his way to keep Anakin’s memory at the forefront of our thoughts. From the frequent humorous references to sand, to the ‘he’s no Skywalker’ line earlier this season, to the entirety of Ahsoka’s s2 arc, which culminated in the first and, thus far, ONLY on-screen glimpse of Anakin Skywalker post-RotS and pre-RotJ we’ve ever had ….Filoni always seems to try to weave in as many references to our beloved Skyguy as possible, both directly and meta-textually. This is one of the main reasons I have always enjoyed this show, and thus why it felt like such blow to the heart to think that the series was turning its back on my Ani now, of all times.
But after mulling this over for a while, I realized there are several things about this scene that are important to keep in mind. The first being the fact that this is not the entirety of the exchange. As he is dying, it is Maul who asks, ‘is he the Chosen One?’ Obi pauses for the briefest of moments, almost as though he is thinking how best to respond. He then says, simply, ‘he is’. This can be interpreted several ways, but my feeling is that we are meant to see that, regardless of what Obi-Wan truly believes (I personally think that, after everything that happen with Anakin, he is still not really sure, and the most he can muster is to want to hope/believe that Luke is one instead), he first and foremost is responding out of compassion. He perceives that his old enemy desperately wishes to hear a favourable answer to this particular question, and thus allows Maul to die, at long last, with some faint glimmer of hope in his dark heart.
What strikes me most, however, is Maul’s response. At Obi’s words, the relief that crosses his face is almost palpable, and what he says next is key: ‘He will avenge us.’
Now, this is interesting. Who, exactly, ‘will avenge us’…and who is ‘us’? While Obi’s answer may be, on his part, a tentative reference to Luke… Maul’s last words are most decidedly not. Therefore, if we take the exchange as a whole, we are then left in no doubt of who is really being referred to here (in a meta-textual sense). It is Anakin who fits this description, not Luke. Luke’s story is not about ‘avenging’—if anything, it is about the complete opposite. And while it contains an inner struggle between dark and light, it doesn’t directly revolve around the greater historical conflict of Jedi vs. Sith. Luke’s is a deeply personal journey, and one that, once he realizes that his father is, in fact, still alive, revolves entirely around bringing his father back to the Light. What Maul is speaking of is something far more cosmic in scale: the age-old struggle between Jedi and Sith, and the prophecy that foretold the end of it, once and for all.
And so, in this scene, we have an ex-Sith Lord with an unfulfilled vendetta against his former master, Sidious, dying in the arms of one of the last remaining Jedi Masters of the Old Order. The Jedi master speaks of the ‘new hope’, Luke, whose love will help restore his fallen father to his True Self; the former Sith-apprentice speaks, unwittingly, of Anakin. Because it is Anakin who, in ending Sidious’ reign once and for all, fulfills the Chosen One prophecy, brings ‘balance to the Force’, and, on a symbolical level, ‘avenges’ ‘us’—aka, the fallen Jedi Order, as well as all those whose lives have ever been destroyed…all those who had ever had everything taken from them…. all those who ever had their bodies, hearts, minds, and souls enslaved by Sidious, and all the Sith before him.
Another thing to bear in mind is the context of this episode within the series as a whole (or at least, what has been aired of it thus far). ‘Formerly Darth, now just Maul’ was (re)introduced to the series during last season’s finale, Twilight of the Apprentice. It was in that episode that the Sith holocron was brought in to the story as well—and it was in preventing Vader from retrieving the holocron on behalf of his master that Ahsoka broke open his mask, brought him to his knees, and gave us that brief but haunting glimpse of Anakin, imprisoned inside.
As we know, earlier in s3, the Sith and Jedi holocrons were combined together in an attempt to find ‘the key to destroying the Sith’. Both Maul AND Ezra were desperate to find said ‘key’—each for their own reasons. Interestingly, both of these characters were shown in this episode that this destiny was not theirs, and was, in fact, outside the scope of their individual stories. This episode might not technically have been the season finale, but it felt like it was tying things up nonetheless. (The actual season finale had to focus on on the Rebellion vs. Empire conflict at the battle of Atollon, and thus it was necessary to cover this part of the story in the penultimate episode, instead.) And so, imo, all of this can be viewed as the resolution of several of the esoteric elements of the storyline introduced in last year’s finale. The circle is now complete—the episode in which were given the heart-wrenchingly beautiful glimpse of Anakin now culminates here with the episode in which we get that briefest little flash of Luke against the binary sunset.
The title ‘Twin Suns’, like TotA itself, has many possible meanings, but for me, the twin suns of Tatooine are, and will always be, representative of Anakin and Luke. The Dark Sun, and the Light.
And not only that, but I like to think that the visual parallel between the broken-open Anakin/Vader limping away into the fading twilight on Malachor (watched from afar by
*cough*Ahsoka*cough* the Convor) and Luke standing/running against the sunset on Tatooine (observed from a distance by Obi-Wan), is entirely intentional.
So, imo, this episode links Anakin and Luke in a very strong way. Maul once came after little Ani on Tatooine, and Qui-Gon defended him. And it was Maul who later killed Qui-Gon, and, in doing so, removed what was very likely Anakin’s greatest and only true chance for lifelong freedom. Here, Maul threatens Luke’s safety, and Obi-Wan, of course, stands in his defense (using Qui-Gon’s signature lightsaber form, no less—the very form that Obi-Wan had abandoned after his master’s death at Maul’s hands in the Duel of the Fates). As he dies, Maul’s final hope is at once deeply ironic but strangely beautiful— that ‘the Chosen One’, whoever ‘he’ is, will ultimately, ‘avenge’ him and Obi-Wan *both*… by destroying the Sith.
And of course, it is Anakin who will finally fulfill this…and it is Luke who will help him do it. :)
*** Original post here.