Editor’s note: The below article contains spoilers for the first five episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.Week to week, Obi-Wan Kenobi continues to deliver a rich story of a broken man finding his will to fight. Reprising his role, Ewan McGregor bridges the gap between the prequel era and the original trilogy through his journey across the six-episode limited series. Though the primary focus of Obi-Wan’s internal turmoil lies with the broken friendship with his former Padawan turned Sith Lord, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), it’s often through the side characters that help bring more depth to Obi-Wan’s story. Such is the case in Episode 5 with Reva (Moses Ingram) and Tala Durith (Indira Varma). In it, their backstories are uncovered. Reva and Tala’s histories being juxtaposed with each other creates new layers to these complex women as well as challenges Obi-Wan’s self-imposed isolation and passivity.
The opening scene of Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s first episode returns audiences back to Order 66 and the fall of the Jedi Temple from Revenge of the Sith – only this time it’s seen through the perspective of the Jedi younglings, as they try to find their escape. At the time, it was a horrific reminder of what was lost when Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) took control over the Republic and Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side. Because of Episode 5, we now know the cost and impact of that night on the Third Sister herself, Reva.
Like most Inquisitors, Reva comes from the Light Side of the Force, trading the Jedi Code for allegiance to the Emperor as a means of survival. However, it goes further than that – she was in the Jedi Temple the night of Order 66. She was a firsthand witness to Anakin leading the attack on her friends and classmates, the only family she’s ever loved, though she herself survived the night by pretending to be dead. As a little girl, she was betrayed by Anakin, the person who was supposed to protect her, but also Obi-Wan, who she directly accuses in Episode 5, asking why he was not there that night. Order 66 changed many people’s lives that fateful night; in Reva’s case, her front seat to the violence and death inflicted on children put her on a path of revenge to the Dark Side.
Reva wasn’t the only person impacted by the slaying of children that prompted them to change paths. Tala and her journey start on the opposite side; she was an Imperial officer, assisting the Inquisitors and their hunt to find Jedi. In fact, the disguise she uses to infiltrate Imperial bases, even the Fortress Inquisitorius in Episode 4, is actually her uniform from her past life. She reveals to Obi-Wan in Episode 5 that it was during one of these hunts that she witnessed fourteen Force-sensitive people die, including six children. The slaughter of these Force-sensitive children woke her up to the surrounding horrors inflicted by her employer, the Empire.
Though Tala was just following orders as an Imperial officer, she’s still haunted by those families and children who lost their lives that fateful day. Where Reva’s trajectory shifted towards the dark side, Tala’s led her to the underground movement known as The Path, whose mission is to smuggle surviving Jedi to safety. She marks her holster for every person she successfully leads to safety. Tala takes her guilt from her previous inaction, and it spurs her on; Instead of dwelling in her shame or leading her down a vengeful path, she channels it to fight back in order to make things better.
It’s intriguing how Obi-Wan Kenobi tells the stories of these two different women from opposite sides in the fight. Both Reva and Tala witnessed the traumatic loss of youngling life at the hands of dark Force users. What’s fascinating is how this horrifying attack was the catalyst for them both to change course and motivation. Reva and Tala are fighting for survival, abandoning what they’ve known to fight on different sides in the battle for the Jedi’s existence.
This fight has a high price, especially for Tala. Even in Episode 4, as Reva accuses Tala of betraying everything she was, Tala defiantly tells her that being an Imperial officer was never who she was. Not only does she betray the Empire, but in Episode 5 it costs her her own life. When Reva and the Stormtroopers attack Jabiim and threaten their escape, Tala does not hesitate to sacrifice herself in order for the others to stay alive. Tala’s life may have ended sooner when she switched sides, but by doing so, she got to reclaim who she was before she met her end.
While Tala had been driven by justice to atone for her involvement with the Empire, Reva is fueled by anger and a thirst for revenge. The Third Sister has been playing the long game by rising to prominence within the Inquisitors, even stabbing the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) and garnering favor in the eyes of Darth Vader. Because of the penultimate episode, we know what her endgame is. Reva’s goals are more than a mere promotion as the next Grand Inquisitor – she’s on the path to kill Anakin Skywalker, the man who killed the only family she ever knew. Since the Dark Side has been leading her, she will do whatever means necessary to make him feel the pain she’s felt (which could mean a trip to Tatooine to threaten the life of a young farm boy).
Even further, Tala and Reva’s stories intersect in Episode 5 with the character of Obi-Wan. With him, both Tala and Reva confess their hidden histories with the Jedi Master before each of them makes drastic decisions that could cost their survival. This is the case for Tala when she sacrifices both herself and NED-B to stop the ongoing siege, which serves as a reminder to Obi-Wan of the cost of the cause and why it’s worth fighting rather than hiding away from the world in the shadow of shame. Now with Luke (Grant Feely) in jeopardy, Obi-Wan can no longer just watch silently from the hills. Both Tala and Reva have revived Obi-Wan closer to the man he once was, one ready to face his former brother again in battle.
Star Wars has always been about balance in the galaxy– between the light and the dark. The way Reva and Tala’s histories are revealed and juxtaposed in Episode 5 continues to deepen not only their individual stories but the Star Wars galaxy as a whole. Their stories reveal the variety of ways we respond to the trauma in our lives and how they can completely change the trajectory of our paths. For Tala, her road led her to lay her life down so that the others could escape Jabiim. For Reva, she’s so blinded by her revenge that she’s willing to let history repeat itself in order to make her enemies hurt. These details add complexity to these two women, strong in their own right yet guided by different morals.