January 23, 2012

From Obi-Wan to Ben?

After a severe lack of Obi-Wan so far in this season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we finally got a hefty dose of the Jedi knight in last Friday's episode (Deception). Obi-Wan went undercover to halt a plan to assassinate Chancellor Palpatine (oh, if they only knew). He assumed the identity of a bounty hunter headed for prison. While there he runs into some familiar faces that fans of the Clone Wars will be happy to see. It was an action-packed, shoot 'em up sort of episode and one in which James Arnold Taylor's voice talents really shined. Something in particular caught my attention though. When Obi-Wan called the Jedi Council to check in with his latest report, he referred to himself as Ben.

Of course Ben is the name he used while in hiding on Tatooine. Nevermind that he forgot to alter his rather memorable last name. When Threepio mentioned the name, Luke connected Obi-Wan Kenobi to Ben Kenobi in about a second. Anyways. We've never heard Obi-Wan refer to himself by this name before. Not in the prequels, and Pablo Hidalgo confirmed we haven't heard it on the Clone Wars yet either. The source of his chosen alias hasn't been identified. It could be entirely random. I mean, if I were to choose an alternate identity for secrecy, I'd go with something like Zelda for no other reason besides the fact that it sounds cool (or maybe something more subtle).

Does this first instance of him calling himself Ben mean it's the first time he used it? Not necessarily. It's just the first time we're hearing it. I think maybe the transmission reveals this was his preferred name to use whenever he went undercover throughout the Clone Wars and then later on Tatooine. What do you guys think?

One Year Ago
Katie Cook's F**K YOU, BOX Cat Mini-Book


  1. I've always seen "Ben" as a convenient and reasonable version of "Obi-Wan", worn down in a verbal-linguistic way like so many other words and names. Similar to Penelope -> Penny, less obvious perhaps than Robert -> Bob, and much less convoluted a trek than Richard -> Dick or John -> Jack.

  2. I'm of the same mind as Peregrine John. I've always looked at Ben as just a shortened version. Sort of a, "Hey, the name's Obi-Wan, but you can call me Ben," kind of thing.

  3. I've always thought that Kenobi must be a common name (like Antilles, Johnson etc.) but not very common on Tatooine (a place Vader would never set foot on again)...And since the only Kenobi Luke knew was Ben, he thought it'd be worth a try. (Plus, Luke asked Owen and Beru about it beforehand, so two-plus-two I've always assumed.)

    Anyway, given The Clone Wars habit of going back to previous narratives for setups and such, I wouldn't be surprised if they did a whole episode where it explores 'Ben'...And it would have to be without Anakin too, for obvious reasons, which in itself raises an interesting point, because by the time of the Jedi Purge, Sidious & Vader had the only people killed that knew Obi-Wan's alternate name!

    Okay, okay, I'll go about my business! *Moves along*


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  5. I always thought it was a more poetic type of story-- that when Obi-Wan gets to Tatooine and drops off Luke, he has to get a new name (not last because we all know no one would think to pay attention to a last name haha).

    He meditates and realizes his name is now Ben. Short for has been. He has been all over the galaxy, he has been a Jedi Master, he has been a leader, a teacher, and soldier. He's also giving up his attempt to make things right in taking down Vader and Palpatine. He is a has been and therefore takes the name Ben.

    Perhaps if Owen knew the whole story, especially how Anakin is now Vader and such- I could see Obi-Wan sitting down with a bottle of something and telling Owen the story- just once, just in case of crazy things like Luke wanting to run off to the academy and how that would Not Be A Good Thing... and Owen stays a little more sober and gets right po'd about the whole thing. The great and powerful Jedi, whom we're supposed to trust, who did what they did to his family, who helped create Vader, who let Palpatine play them like puppets, who so severely disappointed everyone who still had faith in them... who has now given strength and ammo to all those who called them elitist and were against them-- Has Been Kenobi.

    Because until Leia's message, he wasn't going anywhere. He hadn't trained Luke in the slightest... he was a has been.

    Ben Kenobi.

  6. It is possible that Obi-Wan has several aliases he uses during undercover missions. I mean after all when solving the Galaxy's problems you really can't always show yourself as a Jedi. Thus, it could be possible that Obi-Wan has the documentation to go along with these names and thus when the Republic falls he has to hide in one of the fake identies he had been using for years. (and if we continue to suppose that he had multiple identies) It is also possible that "Ben Kenobi" may be the only identity Anakin was not aware of (as it is possible Anakin often accompanied him on many of these undercover operations.) Maybe its an identity he creates later on in the war when Anakin is not with him so much.

    Also as to why the Empire can't just open a holonet terminal and serach everyone with the last name "Kenobi," I like to think that Anakin just sort of let's it go. It seems to be documented that Anakin's transformation into Vader takes a lot of the passion out of his life, even to point he seems like a different person. Maybe Vader decides to just leave the past in the past. I doubt he was one to pop in for Sunday dinner at the Lars residence to visit his step-brother. So maybe he just decided to let his old master be so long as Obi-Wan didn't come back to start snooping around his moon-sized battle station.

  7. I'm just glad I wasn't the only one to catch that.

  8. Just a bgc, but why the blazes doesn't anyone write a series about Obi Wan/Ben's time after dropping off Luke and settling in on Tattoine? I always KNEW there was a back story where he had told Owen Lars not to let Luke find out about him until the time was right, and to keep him moisture farming until the time was right. Also some weird foreshadowing of Owen and Beru's impending doom should Luke ever run into Ben. I mean do I have to write the blasted thing myself???

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