“Time of Death” by Cavan Scott (from From a Certain Point of View)
Oh, this book. (Yes, I know I say that about all of them. I’m easy to please, OK? Star Wars knows how to push my buttons.) Look, there are a lot of gems in this anthology overall, but there’s a few in particular that seemed practically MADE for this blog to recap, and today’s entry? IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM.
It’s not often you get to describe your favorite character’s death as one of the less-depressing things that ever happened to him. Leave it to Obi-Wan to be the exception, because A) his death is such an interesting, emotional, supernatural thing and B) the rest of his life was just that shitty that pretty much anything that increased the chance that the man would get a goddamned NAP — even if it involved being murdered at the hands of his former BFF — was maybe an improvement. Bravo, Star Wars.
This story, called “Time of Death”, should — for one thing — really be commended for its title. It takes us into the mind of our favorite sad ginger(ish) space peanut at the exact moment that he gives up the ghost — so it really is about Obi-Wan’s “time of death” — but it works on two levels, because as it turns out, this installment is so full of Feelings that it is also about my time of death. (If you thought crying over the Qui-Gon story from this book was fun, BOY HOWDY PLEASE SETTLE IN AND PREPARE TO WEEP, MY FRIENDS.)
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Big Fan of Gallows Humor
So: here we are, aboard Death Star I (“The Only Superweapon You’ll Ever Need Ha Ha JK Motherfuckers” — Galen Erso) and Anakin and Obi-Wan are staring meaningfully into each other’s eyes and well, you guys know the deal:
We join Obes’ Deep Thoughts at the exact moment that Vader slices through him (HOW COULD YOU ANAKIN), and he’s all like “oh hey, readers! I didn’t see you there! Anyways, ahoy: I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi, Saddest Man Who Has Ever Lived, and the weirdest thing just happened — I’m Dead! Ha! Strange, amirite? I know, I know: you think this is just Crazy Ben and his Crazy Stories, but this time something actually for-real crazy IS happening to me!”
I’m…already a little worried about our pal Obi-Wan, here. I mean, I presume this was his Dry Humor, but like…all of Obi-Wan’s OTHER Crazy Stories ALSO really happened to him. His entire life has been like a very, very upsetting fever dream.
Recurring Theme: Force-Fueled Freakout
Anyways, today is no exception: yes, our dear pal Obi-Wan appears to have died. And what’s more, at the moment he dies, he gets sucked into a loop of that last moment:
…and then, suddenly, he’s…not stuck in that moment anymore. He’s back in his hut on Tatooine, although it’s not all as he left it:
OK, first off: Obi-Wan, you seriously bought shit from Watto? The guy who owned Anakin and his mom at one point? Dude. (OK FINE, maybe there weren’t a lot of humidifier retailers in the area, although since it IS a fucking DESERT, I have to believe there’s a big market for that type of stuff. YOU SHOULD HAVE SHOPPED AROUND, KENOBES. Does Amazon not deliver out there?)
Secondly: we’ll discuss this more later, but please note that Obi-Wan built himself a fucking chair at one point. This is gonna come up again later, but the bottom line is that in addition to being the handsomest, best person in the entire Star Wars franchise, this man also builds his own furniture. Just one more thing for us all to be in awe of. He’s amazing.
THIRDLY: we learn, as Obi-Wan tells us in the next paragraph, that this is what his house looked like only just about three years after he moved in. HE HAD NO MATTRESS? FOR THREE FUCKING YEARS? HE SLEPT. ON A CONCRETE SLAB. FOR THREE. FUCKING. YEARS. Oh my God, WHY STAR WARS. He didn’t even HAVE A MATTRESS TO STAIN WITH HIS TEARS LIKE I ALWAYS ASSUMED HE DID. (We know it’s been three years, because evidently, Rey-style, Obes was marking the days of his desert exile in the wall with hash marks. No calendars for desert folk, I guess!)
Househunters: Outer Rim
Star Wars, at long last, canonically answers another of my burning questions: where the fuck did Obi-Wan get his house from? The answer is suitably entertaining: it’s an old “prospector’s hut” that was abandoned, and he literally just showed up and moved in. I get that Tatooine is lawless and Obi-Wan is supposed to live way the fuck in Nowheresville, but squatting in a house you don’t own seems risky. Ah well.
He sits up, and when he does, something else becomes obvious to him:
*bawls* OH GOD. His hands were shaky? Oh! And it just goes on and on: he flexes his fingers, expecting them to creak and hurt and I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY HE HAD TO GO THROUGH SO MUCH AND BE SO ALONE HE TRIED HIS BEST YOU GUYS.
With this new information, he touches his face, and then bolts for an old, dirty mirror he knows is in the house, and that’s when he sees: he’s not Old Old Ben just yet! He’s just a slightly-older Ewan McGregor still, and the book makes sure to note his “thick” “tousled hair” for me (thank you, Star Wars, really. I love you, too, honey.)
That’s when he realizes: it’s not that all that stuff he noticed wasn’t there before was missing. It’s that none of it’s gotten there yet. He’s back in time! Aaaaand with that, everything lurches sideways again and he’s back on the Death Star, getting slashed to death again.
I’m Holding You To This, Filoni
Before he can even fully get his head around this, he starts getting pummeled with flashbacks now:
DID YOU SEE THAT, STAR WARS? MAUL’S FUNERAL PYRE. HE IS DEAD AND HE HAS BEEN CREMATED AND OBI-WAN PROBABLY RE-CREMATED THE ASHES JUST TO BE SAFE AND THEN SCATTERED THEM EVERYWHERE JUST IN CASE THEY EVER TRIED TO REASSEMBLE. He probably built a rocket and shot some of Maul’s remains into one of the twin suns, too. SO DON’T TRY ANYTHING FUNNY, GUYS.
He continues to freak out: he hears his name being called. He ends up back in the hut again. Then suddenly he’s in the Jedi Temple, and he sees Yoda, who more or less just looks at him and tells him everything happens for a reason. And Yoda, I like you and all, and I know as an especially elderly Space Wizard with all sorts of insane powers, you enjoy going for the Vague Important-Sounding Proclamations because it goes with your whole Vibe, but JUST ONCE I’d love for you to be like “…fuck if I know why any of this is happening.”
Recurring Theme: The Eternal Obsession
Now, Obi-Wan observes a ghost version of his younger self (oh, do I ever like what this being a thing that can happen opens us up for) having a nightmare that I, in keeping with this site’s proud tradition of having exactly zero chill, am going to once again go ahead and declare was a Shirtless Nightmare (you don’t honestly think Anakin was the ONLY one having them, right?)
You know, I joke a LOT about this guy and the Skywalker clan and how none of them could ever let go of him, but let’s be real: IT IS A TWO-WAY STREET.
Recurring Theme: St. Kenobi of Assisi
Seeing this, he panics slightly, because he knows what day he’s been transported back to. He bolts upright at what is apparently Qui-Gon’s Force Ghost telling him to go to Luke, who is in trouble. Obi-Wan charges out the door into the blinding sun (let’s hope he got dressed first or at least applied sunscreen) and heads towards his eopie, Neda — who had long since died in the years since then, and whom Obi-Wan feels an overwhelming urge to wrap his arms around. I am officially DONE with Star Wars throwing Obi-Wan’s animal friends at me. JUST SCREW ALL OF YOU I CANNOT HANDLE ANY MORE OF THIS HE’S TOO GOOD AND TOO SAD.
He restrains himself, and gets ready to ride over to the Lars Homestead:
Recurring Theme: Luke Gets Stuck With Anakin’s Tab
As he rides, he wonders to himself about what it could be THIS time that’s causing a Skywalker to almost die: the Sand People? He knows Owen is good at fighting them but also:
LOL. Wait, everyone knows Anakin mowed down the Sand People now? Obi-Wan didn’t even know that, did he? How did he find this out? That must have been a bad day for him — “Oh good, turns out Anakin was mass-murdering shit long before I was even aware. Hooray.” Also does this mean EVERYONE knows Anakin is Luke’s dad? Or just the Larses, Obi-Wan and the Sand People? So many questions.
Obi-Wan keeps panicking: it could be Jabba. Or it could be something much, much worse. The Empire. He frets: have his worst fears come true? Are they are already on their way? Owen can’t handle Imperial Stormtroopers! (We’re only 3 years after Episode III, so wouldn’t most of them still be the Clones, too? OH WHY STAR WARS.)
…oh yeah RIGHT, Obi-Wan. As if Anakin’s going to set one single foot on sand, especially on this planet.
Before he can see any more of this day, though, he’s whirled BACK yet again to the Death Star, this time to just about this point, right as he first sees Vader:
He is perplexed at Anakin’s attitude. Why won’t he say anything? After all this time? After — and this is literally in the book — nineteen years of Anakin’s fall haunting Obi-Wan’s dreams every single night? (Oh sure. Like I’m gonna believe those were his ONLY Anakin-related dreams. Mmhmm.) (Sorry.)
Awww! God, this story is the best and the fucking worst. He thinks to himself that Anakin is so controlled, so calm — but of course, he can sense the 100% Pure Unfiltered Economy-Sized Drum of Rage inside of him, too. He wonders what garbage Sheev has been feeding him all these years.
Vader speaks, and Obi-Wan has the instant reaction of speculating about how much of his friend could be left in there. He thinks about Padme’s dying words, and whether or not she really believed them, and I think that I really didn’t deserve any of this BUT OK STAR WARS YOU KNOW BEST.
The usurper. Just…why. ANAKIN YOU FUCKING IDIOT GOD WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST TAKE A NAP.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Loves Anakin
So then Obi-Wan starts getting angry himself, because he and I understand each other, and just then he sees not just Vader, but a sort of quick Anakin Slideshow: Anakin as a small boy, Anakin as a shell of his former self being pickled in Bacta Brine, etc.
They continue to sass each other, and at Obi-Wan’s “Only a master of evil, Darth” comment, Obi-Wan notes that he could never use his real name — it would hurt too much. Great. I’m doing fine, by the way.
As they start to duel, Obi-Wan is hit with a memory of Tweenage Anakin bitching about how Obi-Wan won’t let him practice with actual weapons that could kill people:
My poor babies.
Vader starts getting the upper hand and there’s all kinds of Feelings about how Obi-Wan can see his own reflection in Vader’s helmet and he thinks about how maybe they are more alike than he realizes and on and on until I beg for mercy.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Loves Luke
But this is Star Wars, so no mercy for me! Now he’s BACK on Tatooine, back on the day he dropped off Luke, being lectured by Owen about how he’s to keep his distance and never tell Luke anything about his dad and probably never love Luke because everyone is always promising not to love stuff they end up loving anyways in this stupid series.
And then, he’s pushed forward, back to riding his eopie out to the homestead: he doesn’t see any fires or anything, so he briefly relaxes — maybe his instinct was incorrect. He rides up to the house and there, playing in the sand (!!! NOOOO!) with a toy spaceship is Wee Little Luke Skywalker.
DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN BEGIN TO COMPREHEND HOW MUCH I BOTH LOVE AND DESPISE THIS? HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE CUTEST MOST HEARTBREAKING THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE.
Obi-Wan. Made toys for Luke. And left them on Shmi’s grave. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS, STAR WARS.
Also, I would remiss if I did not ask the same question here that I have elsewhere: given this tidbit of info, I have to assume that Obi-Wan made this one, right? THAT ONE I HAVE BEEN MAKING FUN OF LUKE FOR FOR THE LAST ZILLION YEARS?
IT IS ACTUAL CANON THAT OBI-WAN MADE HIM THIS; DON’T EVEN TRY TO ARGUE IT.
Sooo with this thing I will never be over for the rest of my life now thrown at me, Obi-Wan is back on the Death Star, being mowed down. And then he’s on Tatooine. And back. And forth. Etc.
Recurring Theme: I Am Suing This Series For Pain and Suffering
Obi-Wan is flipping out now: this is too much. He has no idea what’s real or not, and this isn’t exactly what Yoda and Qui-Gon had laid out in their How To Die Like a Jedi 101 webinar. This is awful! And scary! And so then Star Wars is like “OK, the old guy and the Snark Wars lady have had enough, let’s go easy on them and have Obi-Wan remember some good times” HA HA HA NO, I KID, IT GETS WORSE:
…So, great. Yes, Star Wars, really, THANK YOU SO MUCH for making sure that I knew that, as he died, Obi-Wan saw into Luke’s future and learned that ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT THEY ARE ABOUT TO DO FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS WILL BE LARGELY POINTLESS BECAUSE LUKE WILL END UP OLD AND ALONE AND BROKEN JUST LIKE OBI-WAN WAS IN THE END ANYWAYS.
This part made me sad on a first read-through, because why the fuck does Star Wars hate this man (and me) so much, but now I’m just confused. What are they saying here? That at the Ewok party Obi-Wan’s ghost already knows that this isn’t the happy ending they all think it is? Or does his ghost think that what he saw was just a vision, a possible outcome, and not necessarily what was definitely going to happen, and now he thinks they’ve saved the day and avoided that terrible fate for Luke? Or is he just happy because hey, even if the universe is still ultimately fucked and the Skytwins are in for a bad time, at least Sheev’s dead and also Anakin is back and he’s handsome again?
Does this mean Yoda and Anakin have seen the same thing, too? Seriously, were the Ghosts just standing there staring at this Happily-Ever-After Cuteness…
…and being like “AWW. Also death and misery and loneliness awaits them all”????
Honestly, Ben. I get that you’re probably distracted by the return of Anakin’s hair and abs by that point, but this seems like info you should not just be sitting on.
I suppose Obi-Wan seeing this doesn’t mean he necessarily has any insight into why or how Luke comes to be an old shattered hermit (join the club, Kenobes,) so maybe he didn’t have enough to go on to warn Luke about anything specifically. But still. THIS RAISES SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Skywalker-Saver
At this, he’s thrown yet AGAIN back to the past, to the Lars homestead, where now that he’s found Little Luke, he sees that he was right: there are bandits breaking into their house and Luke’s in grave danger. Obi-Wan Kenobi, He Of The Most Dramatic Lineage of Jedi In A Very Dramatic Order, goes riding toward him full steam ahead, flips himself off his eopie, and flings himself down into a melee while yelling at Luke to flee.
He goes into full Ass-Kicking Mode, and as he does, this battle keeps getting jumbled with the Vader Duel on the Death Star. And then — AND THEN — in the Tatooine timeline, Obi-Wan’s attacker is halted by something hitting him from behind.
Luke has THROWN HIS TOY SPACESHIP AT A BAD GUY TRYING TO HURT OBI-WAN.
Secure now in the knowledge that I am never going to be OK again (I never was anyways but whatever,) Obi-Wan dispatches the rest of the baddies and Luke goes flying at him WITH HIS ARMS SPREAD OUT FOR A HUG WHILE CHEERING AND I AM EXAGGERATING NONE OF THIS RIGHT NOW, and Owen helpfully stops Obi-Wan from sealing this hug deal by punching him square in the nose.
Recurring Theme: Uncle Owen, Understandably a Bummer But Still a Bummer Nonetheless
Owen is like “GTFO haven’t you DONE ENOUGH TO THIS FAMILY?” and like, I KNOW this guy doesn’t know the whole story but FFS OWEN STOP IT. You don’t even know.
Obi-Wan is like “um, HELLO I was just SAVING you guys”, but Owen is having none of it and FOR REAL PULLS A GUN ON OBI-WAN. Jesus Christ on a cracker.
Owen goes on: Luke tried to save Obi-Wan. And isn’t Luke supposed to be like 3-4 years old here? Holy shit. The Obi-Wan Protectiveness takes hold early, I guess. The family leaves Obi-Wan behind with a pile of dead bodies, and only Luke spares him a backwards glance as they do.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tried To Help You And Now Hates Himself
BONUS Recurring Theme: We Are Officially Out of New Dialogue
Obi-Wan thinks to himself that he knows why Owen lost his shit so badly that day: they’d both seen it. Luke wasn’t just scared; he was angry. He was briefly intoxicated with Skywalker Rage. They’d seen it in his eyes:
Mm-hmm. And at this, Obi-Wan also kicks himself — he’d always assumed Owen would change his mind, would let him train Luke, but it never happened. And now? Now he’s here on the Death Star, about to die, and he’ll never be able to do it. (And entertainingly, he also thinks to himself that Luke doesn’t exactly have an A-Team of cohorts to help him now, HAN SOLO. LOL.)
But then, there’s Luke, on the Death Star, calling out to him. And suddenly, Obi-Wan realizes that everything is going to be OK (HAHAHAHAHA WOW. Talk about eternal optimism.)
LOL. Well I don’t know about you, Kenobes, but I can begin to imagine what Vader made of it, and speculating about this very thing has provided me actual hours of enjoyment over the last 25 years.
Recurring Theme: Star Wars Makes Me A Promise It Likely Won’t Keep
He sends a message through the Force to Luke — the same message he sent him when he came to rescue him that day on Tatooine: he tells him to run.
…oh! Did you hear that, Star Wars? EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. And last I checked, our pal Luke, however grizzled and hermit-y and bedecked in Depression Robes, was still taking steps. So all I’m saying is that given this, I am left to conclude that Old Ben’s Force Ghost is surely hanging out with him on Planet Ireland, naming all the porgs and brushing Anakin’s ghost hair and whatnot. Don’t let me down, Star Wars. If nothing else, just think of how much fun it’ll be for you to make Obi-Wan’s ghost sadder when Kylo pulls some more bullshit.
Finally, this story decides to stop repeatedly running over my heart, and we’re done — thanks for joining me for today’s edition of Snark Wars, readers! I hope you are not too emotionally ruined (and if you are, well, I’m going to guess that you’re kinda here for that experience anyways, since you’re reading this site in the first place.) I’ll catch you next time!
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