1 Star Wars Line Completely Changes Darth Vader's Kenobi Torture

Darth Vader's cruel abuse of his old master in Obi-Wan Kenobi is indicative of his fall to the dark side, yet one Star Wars line explains why Obi-Wan was still able to walk away from the encounter. Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 3 showcased Anakin Skywalker at his most wantonly masochistic, yet for all his rage and hatred, he did not manage to kill his former friend. While this can be attributed to his explicit desire to see Obi-Wan suffer, there is another possible explanation – later alluded to by his son Luke.

"Chapter 3" provided Star Wars fans with arguably the most viscerally terrifying version of Vader yet. Having tracked Obi-Wan down to an Imperial mining planet, the Sith massacred and tortured innocent civilians in an effort to coax the Jedi out of his hiding place. After pursuing him out of the village, Vader easily bested Obi-Wan in combat, before kindling a blazing fire and dragging the titular hero through the flames. Although the Jedi was successfully rescued, Vader's superior strength and sadistic inclinations were on full display.

Related: We Already Know Who Wins Kenobi's Real Obi-Wan vs Vader Duel

However, for all Vader's obvious evil, the scene raised a key question about the true nature of his character. Having used the Force to drag Kenobi over the coals, Vader would have been more than capable of finishing the job, even after his rescuers arrived. Yet he is mysteriously content to let Kenobi escape, despite his determination to make him "suffer" in the flames. This seemingly out-of-character decision correlates with Luke Skywalker's later remarks in Return of the Jedi, that there "is still good in him". For all his apparent rage, the sight of his friend burning stirs something within him that causes him to hesitate, highlighting that Luke actually had good reason to believe the best of his father.

A more cynical interpretation of Vader's actions is that the Sith was actually just enjoying the spectacle of watching the anguish of his mentor and is simply biding his time before bringing him back into his clutches. After all, his actions throughout the rest of "Chapter 3" certainly make it clear that he's not averse to the sort of evil-doing that inspired his reputation as the Empire's most feared enforcer. Yet this analysis doesn't adequately explain why, after having waited so long to have Kenobi within his grasp, Vader simply lets him walk away and run the risk of escaping once again.

Instead, it seems much more likely that the goodness at the heart of Anakin Skywalker sparks into life – however momentarily – at the sight of his friend suffering as a result of his actions. This temporary lapse is enough to allow Kenobi to escape, while also revealing hidden depths to the surprisingly multi-faceted Dark Lord. In some ways, this moment parallels the climax of Return of the Jedi, in which the sight of Emperor Palpatine torturing his son prompts him to reject his master. While the Obi-Wan Kenobi scene doesn't go this far, Vader's hesitation when faced with the suffering of a loved one is eerily reminiscent of this classic moment.

Luke's determination to prove his father's morality, coupled with Padmé's assertion that there's "still good in him" has sometimes seemed confusing, as both characters' belief seems to be more motivated by faith than any actual evidence. However, in showing Vader's inability to finish off Obi-Wan in one swift stroke, Obi-Wan Kenobi actually proves that there has always been a complicated moral core to the character. While there's no doubt that Vader's torturous actions on the one hand represent a moral nadir, it's equally true that he is not as coldly evil as a character like Emperor Palpatine. It seems that, even though he has been twisted into believing that his monstrous transformation is Obi-Wan's fault, he is not so lost that the reality of killing his friend doesn't force him to hesitate.

More: Star Wars Already Revealed What Happens To The Third Sister After Kenobi

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