“Master and Apprentice” by Claudia Gray (from From a Certain Point of View)
Did you guys hear? As of this year, a good friend of mine and yours is officially 40 and Fabulous — yes, Star Wars has officially crossed the 4-decade-mark. (Don’t worry honey: you’ve still got great hair, even after all these years.)
To celebrate this milestone, Star Wars recently put out a collection of 40 short-ish stories in an anthology called From a Certain Point of View. And while normally I reserve most of my book-recap-yelling for Ye Old EU, because it was insane, the New Canon EU has absolutely had its recap-worthy tearjerker moments, and this book is no exception.
So today, we’re going to take a look at one particular installment from this book, which was written by Claudia Gray, who I think does a really lovely job writing for this franchise (especially in how she writes Leia.) I chose this story in part because I enjoy her writing, and in part because it made me do that thing where I read or watch something Star Wars-related and I clutch my heart while whimpering.
Let’s queue things up: the entire anthology is told from different characters’ points of view, all concurrent with the events of Episode 4. This particular piece occurs just after this moment, where Luke goes tearing off back to The Homestead, fearing the worst for his aunt and uncle:
Whose point of view are we going to hear from? Well, I guess we’ll just have to read on and find out! (And with that: spoilers abound, as always.) (PS: I highly encourage you to seek out this book at the retailer of your choice. As always, my recaps are no substitute for the real deal!)
Recurring Theme: I Am One With The Force and My Kid Keeps Calling Me
We begin with some nice nature-y descriptions of the desert, which we are told is not the barren, empty wasteland many think it is: life is everywhere, and the Force flows through all of it. Well, we’re a few sentences in and the person telling this story officially has way more affection for Tatooine than virtually everyone else who’s ever been there.
Slowly, someone is being pulled from the very Force itself, gradually becoming more and more aware of who it is…
Yes, turns out Obes phoned his dad after Luke went barreling back into possible death just now. And as his name is spoken, Qui-Gon starts to take on a physical form, right down to his gigantic dramatic Jedi robe.
Recurring Theme: Qui-Gon Loves Obi-Wan
He’s pretty pleased about having been called on, too:
Awwww! Damn it Star Wars, I didn’t want to be emotionally moved by space wizard ghosts, but here we are. AGAIN. Sigh.
He takes in Obi-Wan’s appearance: the white hair, the lines on his face, the tattered robes he calls an ensemble these days (c’mon, Qui, his outfit’s not actually THAT beat-up, geez,) and observes that most would just walk right past this man now, unaware that he was more than the hermit he pretends to be. Did…did people used to NOT just walk past Obi-Wan? Was he mobbed down the streets of Coruscant like The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night?
I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if it HAD happened. And I’d wonder how I could get in on this action.
ANYWAYS. All right, so he takes in the sight of Handsome Weathered Hermit Kenobi, but he doesn’t JUST see Old Ben: he sees the Handsome Hero General, the Sassy Little Space Peanut that kicked Maul’s ass, and…
Oh, great. So we’re keeping the “nobody loved Baby-Wan or wanted to train him” thing from the old Jedi Apprentice books, are we now, Star Wars? You guys are doing this JUST to ensure I get my annual allotment of Kenobi Feelings, aren’t you? God bless you/curse you, you magnificent nerdy bastards.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Worried That a Skywalker’s Gonna Get Himself Killed
Qui-Gon notes: you’re scared. Obi-Wan is like HELL YES I’m scared! There might be a bunch of stormtroopers back there! I JUST SPENT TWO FUCKING DECADES IN THIS SAND TRAP, so please FORGIVE ME if I’m a LITTLE ON EDGE THAT THE WHOLE REASON I STAYED HERE IS ABOUT TO DIE ON MY WATCH. (OK fine, Obes is a bit more chill than this about it but you KNOW he was thinking it.)
Qui-Gon, probably while playing with a hacky sack or braiding a flower into his beard, is like “mellow out, maaaan! If he gets in trouble, you’ll save him. Or he’ll figure it out. Or Leia will come save him or whatever. Hakuna Matata, my good dude!”
Obi-Wan is not on board:
At this, Qui-Gon thinks to himself that all human lives are so short, and that time has no meaning, and blahblahblah Forcery. He cuts to the heart of it:
…well, no, because of course as we all know Luke will NEVER EVER BE DONE DEALING WITH THE FALLOUT OF ANAKIN’S FUCK-UP. WAY TO GO ANAKIN, ONCE AGAIN YOU’RE NOT EVEN IN THIS STORY AND I’M YELLING AT YOU.
Obi-Wan asks: you’ve seen this? Qui-Gon confirms that he has, and Obi-Wan is like OH THANK GOD THE FORCE IS CUTTING ME SLACK FOR THE ACTUAL FIRST TIME EVER.
Recurring Theme: Time Is A Flat Circle, Man
Qui-Gon takes in the surroundings: the poor little Jawas who were murdered by the Empire, and the pointlessness of their having been killed. (Sniffle!) He then sees Artoo and Threepio and just…AWWW:
You know what? Seeing those guys always comforts me too, Jinn. Also if the beginning is the end, and Disney’s decided I have to keep watching this crap for the rest of eternity, will every single trilogy from here to Episode 30 (The Revenge of Sheev’s Ghost’s Clone’s Hand’s Brother) or even Episode 150 (The Absolute Last Jedi No Really We Really Definitely Mean It This Time) involve someone having to go back to Tatooine? Is this the actual curse of Anakin Skywalker’s existence? Not only is he going to live forever, he’s going to have to watch his bloodline from here until the end of time be forced to go near sand? Star Wars IS suffering, I swear.
Recurring Theme: The Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan
Obi-Wan tells Qui-Gon about how Luke came to find him earlier that day — Bail had sent Leia to find him! And Leia looked so much like Padme — and even a little bit like Anakin, too. OH GOD STAR WARS WHY. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME. Do you guys remember Obi-Wan’s FACE when he watches that hologram?
I am convinced more with each passing day that Alec Guinness was a time-traveler. HOW DID HE MAKE THIS SCENE SO PERFECT WITHOUT KNOWING HOW PERFECT IT WOULD BE. I LOVE OBI-WAN SO MUCH. (And props to George Lucas for always being like “Hmm, that thing I wrote was sad. But I bet I could make it sadder if I add this other stuff!” THANKS GEORGE.) (And I love how other authors writing for Star Wars, like Ms. Gray here, are also like “YEP, LET’S KEEP PILING ON THE FEELINGS.”)
Well, Anakin’s Gonna Be Super Into This
Obi-Wan sighs: well, it looks like my time in this hellhole is nearing an end. And would you believe, I’m actually kinda SAD to see it go, Master?
Qui-Gon considers this, and is like “well, you adapted because you had to,” while thinking about how easily Obi-Wan is going to flip the switch back into Glorious Ass-Kicking Jedi Knight. I wonder if Qui-Gon already knows how smugly satisfying Obi-Wan’s final smirk at Anakin is going to be. If he does, I am in awe of his ability to not spoil the surprise.
Obi-Wan frets that it worries him to see everything he’s worked for endangered just as it was only truly beginning. Qui-Gon sets him straight:
Oh! Oh man, OK, so does this mean Obes gets to call Anakin his Padawan again in the afterlife? We all know Anakin barely ever stopped actually calling him “Master,” so I feel like he’s going to be SUPER excited about this. It’s just like Old Times! Anakin can go back to looking at him with starry eyes of awe just like he did through that entire comic book series set when he was like 12.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Best Person Who Has Ever Existed
Obi-Wan says something about how it’s just been so long since the Clone Wars, and he’s been nothing but a whisper of the Jedi he used to be for all these years. Qui-Gon tells him that it’s not about how many asses you’re kicking, or even how swooshy your hair is — Obi-Wan has shown tremendous, superhuman patience:
Wow. OK. Well, goodbye everyone, I’m going to go quietly sob for a while. Needless to say, I am completely on board with this story’s overall take on Obi-Wan. HE IS SO GOOD AND I LOVE HIM.
Recurring Theme: I Have Failed You
Obi-Wan sort of smiles and is like “oh Space Dad, and Claudia Gray, and The Lady Who Writes Snark Wars, you guys see me in a much kinder light than most would” because on top of being handsome and amazing and made of goodness, he is also humble. Swoon.
Qui-Gon’s like “well it’s the LEAST I could do after all The Things…you know, like how I obviously failed you,” and Obi-Wan doesn’t follow: failed me, Master?
Qui-Gon lets it all out: he knows Obi-Wan wasn’t ready, and Qui-Gon saddled him with the responsibility of training Anakin, who was too powerful and too old and Way Too Needy and asked for pancakes way too often and probably used up all the hot water in the shower every morning and one time posted all those embarrassing photos of Obi-Wan on the holonet and then got his secret wife pregnant without telling anyone and murdered all those people…
Recurring Theme: Truth Bomb
Obi-Wan cuts him off, and lays down this Amazing Nugget of Pure 100% Organic Wisdom:
YEAH. THAT’S RIGHT PEOPLE. ANAKIN SKYWALKER WAS A GROWN-ASS MAN AND HE MADE HIS OWN CHOICES. Ahem. God, I can sleep easier at night knowing that Obi-Wan’s finally come to a place where he doesn’t see himself as the entirety of the reason for Anakin’s failure. I presume it took him many long nights crying alone in his hut to get there, but I’m so proud of him. (Also, Skywalker, you know I love you and all, but you better be treating him well in the afterlife. I AM JUST SAYING.)
Qui-Gon acknowledges this truth, even while knowing it doesn’t absolve everything Qui-Gon may have done to contribute to The Badness. He determines that all of this is better suited to a discussion when they’re in the Force together. Which, as it happens, he knows is coming SOON.
Recurring Theme: The Clone Wars Were So Insane That Even In-Universe No One Can Believe They Were Real
Both of them now sense Luke’s pain at discovering his aunt and uncle’s bodies, and they both feel sad for him. Qui-Gon also thinks to himself that Owen and Beru are heroes themselves for having taken Luke in and loved him as their own all these years and just OH GOD YOU GUYS. I love Episode 4 so much. This book was such a nice little perk to celebrate its birthday with, and also just in general I REALLY LOVE STAR WARS. These characters. I love them.
OK. I’m fine. Obi-Wan then turns to Qui-Gon and admits:
Qui-Gon backs him up here, because this story is all about confirming things I have long believed to be true: if he HAD told Luke everything, Luke would have been totally overwhelmed. His poor Skywalker brain might have overheated and gone Rage Mode, too, if you had, because you know how those guys aren’t the brightest bulbs in the galaxy.
LOL! OK, so, regular readers will know that I have said on numerous occasions that I die laughing thinking about the idea of Obi-Wan laying down the Unabridged History of the Clone Wars on Luke, so I cracked up at this. Fair enough, Obes: he probably wasn’t ready for the Mortis arc just yet. So few of us ever truly are.
The Slightly More Bearable Sadness of Obi-Wan
Obi-Wan remarks that Qui-Gon’s practically corporeal now — he’s never seen him look this real! Qui-Gon notes that it was hard work learning how to be a Completely Full Ghost:
Awwwww. I…this is so sweet. God, I will be so disappointed if the sequels never have Force Ghosts that I will probably not ever get over it. I’m not even exaggerating.
Obi-Wan makes a joke about how he plans to learn how to ghost it, too: but hopefully WAY WAY OFF IN THE DISTANT FUTURE! HA! Qui-Gon is sad for him, because he already knows Obi-Wan is going to die in like 4 hours:
Recurring Theme: See You In The Next Life
They sense that Luke’s on his way back now to do some yelling and to scare the hell out of Obi-Wan by determinedly insisting that he wants to learn how to be a Jedi like his dad (mixed bag right there, Luke,) and so they wrap things up. Obi-Wan thanks him and tells him that Qui-Gon’s wisdom sustains him (awww!), and Qui-Gon tells him that Obi-Wan’s strength sustains him. He then says they’ll meet again soon, and Obi-Wan, obliviously, is like “yep! I’ll make sure to place a holo-Skype to the afterlife whenever I need you, Master!” and Qui-Gon just sort of takes this in, bittersweetly, since of course that is not how they will next meet again.
And so, at that, Qui-Gon spreads back out into the Force, and Obi-Wan, as we know, gets back to doing what he excels at the most: dealing with These People:
That’s all for today’s recappery! Thanks for joining me — I’ll catch you next time for whatever Drama and Feelings Star Wars has for us!