matril: (matril)
[personal profile] matril
Now let's move on to the first quip of many that we'll hear from Obi-Wan. You all probably knew I was going to include this one. But did you know that I would use it as a jumping-point for a long discourse on Obi-Wan's character development? Well, if you've read any of my other long-winded posts, then yes, you probably could have guessed that as well.

"You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short."

Obi-Wan is not the central character of Episode I. Not even close. Depending on how you look at it, you could probably argue for Qui-Gon or Amidala/Padmé as the main protagonists, and then maybe Jar Jar just from his considerable screen time. Obi-Wan, meanwhile, spends the entire middle of the film waiting on the queen's ship on Tatooine, doing almost nothing to drive the plot, only taking messages from Qui-Gon and frowning at impending sandstorms. Even when he's involved in the central plot, it's mostly as a reactor to Qui-Gon's actions, culminating in his fateful pledge to train Anakin in fulfillment of his master's dying wish.

This was an interesting choice given that he's one of the few characters who carries over from the original trilogy. A lot of people assumed the prequels would be as much his story as Anakin's, starting from the very beginning. But setting him up in a secondary role is, I think, far more intriguing. That he will begin his training of Anakin with the shadow of Qui-Gon's death looming heavily over both of them; that he's barely a Jedi Knight himself and hasn't really learned who he is without his master's guidance -- of all these factors make his relationship with Anakin troubled at the very onset. The prequels are a story of things going very, very wrong. Establishing Qui-Gon as a heroic figure only to kill him off in the first episode? That's just the sort of jarring paradigm shift we're forced to cope with in a galaxy that's falling dramatically out of balance.

And of course Obi-Wan's role expands greatly in the second and third films of the prequels, as we see how his tutelage of Anakin and his life as a Jedi Knight and Master has changed him. So where does he start? Who is he at the beginning of Episode I?

He is a dutiful, deferent Padawan to Qui-Gon, clearly respectful of his master's teachings but not opposed to raising questions now and then. We see this in their opening scene, as they discuss Obi-Wan's elusive "bad feeling" (and I love all the "I have a bad feeling" lines, but since they're not unique to the prequels, there's no need to discuss them here) and explore how to follow Yoda's advice about being mindful of the future, without neglecting the living Force.

But once he and Qui-Gon have fought their way through the Federation's trap and made plans to get to the planet's surface, Obi-Wan can't help making a little jab at his master's previous assurances that the negotiations wouldn't last long. And this moment is so important. Obi-Wan is not a maverick like Qui-Gon. He believes in following the Council; he has idealized the honor of becoming a member of that Council and doesn't understand his master's indifference to it. He follows the rules. And honestly, if that were his only dominant personality trait, he would become tiresome very quickly. Catching a glimpse of his snarky sense of humor makes him human, not so stiff and unapproachable. It also lets us know that however Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon might disagree on certain points, their relationship isn't so strained that Obi-Wan never dares to crack a joke around him. Just look at how proud he is of his little witticism. Qui-Gon is surely rolling his eyes, not bothering to dignify it with a response.

As we know, Obi-Wan will go from having a maverick master directly into having an unpredictable and willful Padawan. His sense of humor might be the only thing that keeps him sane over the next ten years.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Next -- a powerful line from Queen Amidala.
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