I have been a Star Wars fan for really all of my adult life. As part of the “Star Wars Generation,” I grew up with a passing familiarity with and enjoyment of the original trilogy, but became more familiar with it as a teenager, first through video games and even a Dungeons and Dragons-type roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe, and later through the Special Editions of the original trilogy released in theatres in the mid-90s. Since then, I have found the various Star Wars media—including movies, television, novels, and games—to be a type of easy escapism. They are not great literature, nor does the quality of the stories stand up to the intense scrutiny brought by a “toxic fanbase” that is looking for existentially significant experiences through popular media that are not designed to provide such. But again, as easy entertainment, Star Wars works just fine, and provides a break from my usually considerably weightier reading.
But that doesn’t mean that there are never moments of particular poignance in Star Wars, and one of these came during the finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was released a few weeks ago. While the initial focus of this episode is on a duel between the titular character and his former apprentice and friend Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, after Kenobi defeats and abandons Vader the focus shifts to the desert planet of Tatooine, where Skywalker’s young son Luke is in danger from Reva, a fallen Imperial Inquisitor determined to somehow exact vengeance upon Vader by destroying his son. (Ignore for the moment that Vader is at this point in the story unaware that he has surviving children, and will not become aware of this for over a decade.) Kenobi realizes Luke’s danger and rushes back to render aid, but is too late to be particularly effective.
Happily, in the meantime, Luke’s adoptive parents, Anakin’s stepbrother Owen Lars and his wife Beru, mount a heroic defense of their home and nephew. While they are no real match for Reva, they are able to delay her long enough to allow Luke to escape into the desert. Reva finds him, but thanks to a change of heart on her part (and the ironclad “plot armor” provided by the necessity that Luke survive to take on his role in the films and other media that occur later in the story’s timeline), she returns him unharmed, and all is well.
My point in writing today is the touching heroism of Owen and Beru Lars. That couple initially occupied a minor role in the story, and meets a violent demise in the original Star Wars film (which takes place about ten years after the events of Obi-Wan Kenobi). That their roles and their relationship with Luke are more fleshed out here is a nice addition to the story. Though Luke is not a blood relative of theirs, they not only gladly took him in as an infant, but they are clearly prepared to defend him at all costs, including at the risk of their own lives. In this context, Owen’s opposition to Luke undergoing Jedi training becomes not just a reactionary resistance based in his own conservatism and desire to “keep his head down,” but a well-intentioned desire to keep him safe. Put simply, Owen and Beru think of Luke as their son, and treat him as such. One cannot imagine there being any difference in their relationship if Luke were their own “flesh and blood.”
As an adoptive parent, this part of the story resonates deeply with me. Not only can I not imagine that our relationship with our son would be any different were he our biological child, I really don’t think about this very much at all. He simply is our son, and we are determined to love, teach, provide for, and defend him as we would had he been our biological child. While the particular circumstances of the Lars homestead might be different (i.e., we do not have caches of weapons strategically placed in our home in case of invasion), the self-sacrificial love that they are willing to show is, I’m sure, familiar to just about all adoptive parents. Most of us have heard the occasional “adoption horror story,” of course, but the “adoption love story” is much more common. While every adoption story brings with it some degree of pain and loss, our stories bring a much greater degree of love, joy, and fulfillment. Seeing that little subtext at the end of Obi-Wan Kenobi brought just a bit more depth to an already enjoyable series.