A new Star Wars novel provides a religious basis for why Obi-Wan Kenobi lied to Luke Skywalker about Darth Vader’s true identity. Chuck Wendig’s new book Aftermath: Empire’s End - which is approved by Lucasfilm’s story group and therefore considered official Star Wars canon - sheds a little light on Obi-Wan’s white lie, but first, let me get you up to speed with the relevant info.
Wendig’s Empire’s End reveals a selection from the Journal of the Whills, a book within the Star Wars universe that explains the light and dark sides of the Force. The Whills have a complicated history, but they were originally intended to be immortal beings who were narrating the entire story of the Star Wars saga. George Lucas ended up scrapping that idea and the Whills morphed into the Force itself. But the name still popped up around the edges of the stories throughout the years. The Whills are referenced in a few deleted scenes from the prequel trilogy. And remember Donnie Yen’s blind monk Chirrut Imwe from Rogue One? He was part of a religious order called the Guardians of the Whills.
After Luke makes the horrific discovery in The Empire Strikes Back that Vader is his father, he confronts Obi-Wan’s Force ghost in Return of the Jedi about why Obi-Wan lied to him. Obi-Wan’s response is a masterclass in bullshit: he explains that Anakin Skywalker was seduced by the dark side, and when Anakin became Vader, Anakin was destroyed. So technically, Obi-Wan says, what he told Luke at the time was true… “from a certain point of view.” For those who saw Empire in the theater for the first time back in 1980, this probably seemed like a pretty blatant retcon.
"The truth in our soul
Is that nothing is true.
The question of life
Is what then do we do?
The burden is ours
To penance, we hew.
The Force binds us all
From a certain point of view."
So it turns out Obi-Wan was just quoting from his religion’s scripture when he lied to Luke. I have to imagine Wendig was pretty pleased with himself for coming up with that, because he must have known that hardcore fans would be nodding and saying, “I see what you did there.” Retconning a retcon… that’s some expert-level trolling, sir.
Update: An earlier version of this article was unclear about the film in which Luke confronts Obi-Wan. It has been updated for clarity.