Obi-Wan Kenobi writer, Stuart Beatie, has recently given an inside look to how different the series could have been if his script was used.
SPOILERS for Obi-Wan Kenobi
In a recent exclusive with The Direct Stuart Beatie revealed a much different version of Obi-Wan Kenobi he had written when the series was planned to be a trilogy of feature-length films. Beatie still received writing credits for what would eventually turn into the Disney+ series that we got, even though his description of his original work had some major changes.
When Beatie was first working on the concept, he had to get Disney on board, who initially turned him down before he revealed certain lines from Return of the Jedi that made the entire concept make sense.
“So it’s actually how I got it all going. I convinced them. I said to them, ‘So, the big radical idea was Obi-Wan must have left Tatooine at some point in these 19 years. And further than that, he must have had a confrontation with Darth Vader.’ And they were like… ‘Neither of those things can happen. I was like, ‘Well, no, [that] must have happened.’ And they’re like, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well, there’s a moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke hands himself over to Vader. And he says, there’s still good in you. I still believe there’s good in you.’ And Vader’s reply is, ‘Obi-Wan once thought as you do.’ And I pointed out to them that at no point do you ever see that happen in Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan just goes to Mustafar and they have their big fight and he leaves him to die. And they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re right, there must have been a point.'”
The curious part about this tidbit is that the concept of Vader’s redemption was hardly explored, instead being replaced by the large presence of Leia and Obi-Wan’s drive to save her. It’s curious that the entire reason Disney chose to greenlight the story became somewhat of an afterthought in the final product.
“And I followed it up with, ‘How does someone talk about Darth Vader betraying and murdering Anakin and actually believe it? There’s got to have been more there.’ And then Padme saying to [Obi-Wan] as she died in his arms, ‘There’s still good in him.’ And then the idea that he thought Anakin was dead. He thought he killed his brother this whole time. So she was wrong, but now he’s alive. And, ‘Oh, my God, maybe she was right. Maybe there is still good in him.’ So where did Vader get that sense that Obi-Wan thought there was still good in him? It was really that line from Return of the Jedi that convinced them to hire me to write the story.”
While the series did touch on Vader’s obsession with attaining revenge on Obi-Wan, the presence of Palpatine was only briefly felt compared to what Beatie described from the film’s script. Palpatine only briefly appeared in the final episode for a short scene, instead, it was the Grand Inquisitor who told Vader to forget Kenobi in favor of destroying the alliance. Although, it was once again just one brief scene in the series finale.
“To me, Vader in this period is just so obsessed with Kenobi, so obsessed with revenge and what you did to me, you know that he just wants to put a lightsaber to him. And he doesn’t want this to last another second. He wants to kill this guy. In my film he was under pressure from the Emperor from the beginning. ‘Forget Kenobi. Forget Kenobi. That’s Anakin, let that go. Focus on the present, we’ve got this problem and this problem, this problem,’ you know, and Vader just can’t let it go.”
Beatie’s script seemed to capture the subtle details of the Original Trilogy and Prequel Trilogy in a way that the series seemed to throw to the wind.
“In mine, he really did believe that Kenobi was dead at the end, which was the thing that allowed him to finally let Kenobi go and focus on ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. Because it always seemed that in [A New Hope] he was shocked when he was like ‘I sense something, a presence I’ve not felt since…’ Why do you stop talking to yourself? It’s because you’re that shocked, you know?”
“So I always felt that that was a moment when he suddenly realized, Oh, my God, he’s alive. I mean, in the next scene, he’s talking to Tarkin and Tarkin’s like, ‘What? No, he’s dead. He’s got to be dead,’ you know, (but) no, no, he’s alive. So I felt that was justified and really the only way that Vader would have stopped hunting Kenobi is that he believed Kenobi was dead.”
Beatie next shared a big detail that was changed between the two versions: In his og script Vader beat Kenobi, tying together his character motivation from Obi-Wan Kenobi to A New Hope.
“In mine, Vader won the fight. They were fighting on this space station. It was falling apart in the atmosphere of this big planet and Obi-Wan basically fell off. Vader pushed him off and they separated. They didn’t get the chance to find Obi-Wan, basically. But what was going through Obi-Wan’s mind is the same thing which is, ‘My brother is truly dead. He’s gone. And while I absolve of that guilt because I didn’t kill him, Vader killed him, I’m still just devastated. I’m absolutely devastated.'”
Another big change that Stuart addresses is that Kenobi allows Vader to live in the series, whereas Beatie thinks this doesn’t line up with Kenobi’s ideals.
“To me, if Obi-Wan has a chance to kill Darth Vader, he would do it. I mean, you know, how many countless lives would you save? Right? Especially knowing that Vader would be hunting other Jedi, which was established in the show. My film began with Vader taking on five Jedi at once and killing all of them, you know, so it established that he is the big Jedi killer. The Inquisitors are capturing them, but Vader is the big daddy who comes in and just lays waste to any Jedi all while hunting Kenobi.”
Beatie also addresses an interesting concept: that Obi-Wan would have tried to save Anakin from Vader for a team-up against Palpatine.
“Yeah, to me, he’s looking at Anakin and Anakin does come through. That’s the moment where Obi-Wan is thinking ‘Is this a moment to rescue my friend and bring him back and end all of this?’ Because remember, all the guilt goes away, all the problems go away if Anakin is still alive and can be brought back to the light.”
“That’s option B that Obi-Wan never thought was an option, because he thought Anakin was dead. So option A, the only option, was Luke. So, all of a sudden, he’s now presented with option B and, instantly, you don’t have to wait for Luke to grow up and then get his powers and training. You can do this instantly, right now. Bring Anakin back and boom, the two of you go pay a visit to Palpatine and it’s over.”
This aspect stayed pretty close to the original in the Disney+ series that we got.
“To me, what the whole story was building to was that moment when I had Obi-Wan take the helmet off or slash the helmet and give him that scar. That was what it was all building to and the whole reason to tell the story was that moment for him to see Anakin, and in that moment to realize Anakin has been killed. He said, ‘This is Vader now.’ So that understanding to go through Obi-Wan so that now he knows, Vader did betray and murder Anakin Skywalker, and they are two separate people.”
Beatie also wrote what he thought was a clever exchange of words between the Emperor and Vader, going back and forth between the failures of their matches against Yoda and Obi-Wan.
I also don’t want to speak for all Star Wars fans but I think it’s safe to say that seeing Vader crush a rebel uprising and taking out five Jedi all at once would’ve been a fantastic start to the film we never got.
“[Palpatine] was sending Vader to crush a Rebel uprising on a moon somewhere. And he was saying… ‘Forget Kenobi, forget Kenobi.’ And I had this really funny line, I thought was funny. But it was, you know Vader saying, ‘Look, Kenobi is one of the two biggest threats, you know, in the galaxy.’ And the Emperor responds, well, you know, ‘Pity you didn’t kill him when you had the chance.’ And Vader responds, ‘The other one is Yoda.’ And the Emperor just gets really pissed off at him. ‘You forget your place.’ [Laughs] You know, so he’s on him from the start, ‘Let this go. That’s Anakin. You’re Darth now.'”