Fandom Fun: What Did Obi-Wan Really Know?
Or, we stan a Queen [Amidala]
WARNING: There are spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the Star Wars films ahead!
I recently completed the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars after years of resistance (no pun intended). And let me tell y’all…it lives up to the hype. Holy cow, was that an amazing show. Especially that final four-episode arc, which runs concurrently with Revenge of the Sith. I didn’t actually know that that was going to be the case beforehand, so when Obi-Wan tells Ahsoka that Anakin has killed Count Dooku in “The Phantom Apprentice”(S7E10), I was shooketh to my core. My stomach literally started hurting as I knew what events were immediately forthcoming: Anakin’s fall, Order 66, and Padmé’s death. Of course, of those events, we only see Order 66 on The Clone Wars (“only” being an understatement there), but the tangible dramatic irony of the situation is one of the series’ greatest successes. The day I finished the series, I knew I had to rewatch Revenge of the Sith (RotS) to put it all together in my mind.
For starters, I was a bit confused by the timeline. In my mind, I had always assumed RotS took place over the course of a few months, or at least a few weeks. But according to The Clone Wars (TCW), there are only about 3–4 days between Count Dooku’s death and the enactment of Order 66. Why was I so bothered by this chronological revelation? Simple: because of Padmé’s pregnancy! In the beginning(ish) of RotS, Anakin finds out for the first time that Padmé is pregnant, and by the end of the movie, she gives birth to her twins. Her bump is obscured by flowing clothes for most of the film, but when she’s on Mustafar shortly before going into labor, that bump is out there for everyone to see. Again, because of this, I always thought a decent amount of time passed over the course of the movie. Also, is it not strange that Anakin is only just now finding out about this pregnancy when she’s apparently full term? Worry not, though — I did some research on the matter.
When watching “A Distant Echo” (TCW S7E02), I was struck by a scene early in the episode in which Anakin has a secret video call with Padmé (which I’m deliberately calling a video call and not a “holo chat” or some shit because I’m not that much of a nerd, thank you very much). Padmé definitely seems to be rocking a small baby bump in this call, which she not-so-subtly cradles with her hands. Anakin, though, is stupidly oblivious to this, which honestly kind of tracks with his character. His life is pretty much totally consumed by the war at this point, so 1) it makes sense that he probably hasn’t seen Padmé in person for a while, and 2) Padmé might not want to share “the big news” until they do see each other in person. From there, we can conclude that they really just don’t meet in person again until after the attack on Coruscant seen in RotS. But when were the babies conceived, then? Thanks to the broader Star Wars lore (novels, comics, and the works), we know that Anakin and Padmé were last together on Batuu (of Disney parks fame) several months before RotS. The timeline still seems a bit wonky there, but hey, it is Star Wars after all. I’m more or less satisfied with this information.
Which brings me to the main thing I want to discuss today. An oft-debated topic surrounding Anakin and Padmé’s romantic relationship is whether or not Anakin’s master Obi-Wan Kenobi was aware of it. For a long time, the only “evidence” fans really had to go off of was Obi-Wan’s famous question to Padmé in RotS: “Anakin is the father, isn’t he?”
Some interpret this question as incredibly naive, wondering how Obi-Wan could have only just realized the truth in this moment. Others view it as more of a rhetorical question, feeling that he was simply revealing what he already knew to Padmé. I think I find myself somewhere in the middle of these two schools of thought, and I believe that other moments in TCW and the prequel films support my thinking. First, let’s examine some key moments.
Anakin is constantly being warned by Obi-Wan and other Jedi masters to be careful with his feelings and attachments. In The Phantom Menace, almost right off the bat the 9-year-old Anakin is told to let go of his attachment to his mother (which is pretty harsh, but that’s a conversation for another time). In TCW, he’s frequently lectured — usually by Obi-Wan — about his attachments to characters such as R2-D2, his padawan Ahsoka, and, of course, Padmé. Obi-Wan even goes so far as to bring up how difficult it was for him to overcome his romantic feelings for Duchess Satine Kryze in “The Rise of Clovis” (TCW S6E06), desperately trying to make some kind of man-to-man connection with Anakin. Additionally, after the secret video call scene I mentioned earlier (from TCW S7E02), Obi-Wan questions Anakin about what he was up to, eventually remarking, “I hope you at least told Padmé I said hello.” This snide comment seems to catch Anakin off guard, but he chooses to ignore it.
Because of this evidence (Obi-Wan comparing Anakin’s feelings for Padmé to his own for Satine, Obi-Wan’s apparent knowledge of Anakin and Padmé’s secret video calls, and other occurrences), many fans believe that he knew of their romantic relationship. But there’s one aspect of all this everyone seems to overlook: Padmé herself, and the perception others have of her. Though she is relatively young, Padmé is an active and respected member of the Senate who is frequently dispatched on dangerous diplomatic missions. She is known to be witty, brave, intelligent, skilled, and, frankly, very attractive. Padmé could have pretty much any guy she wants, and everyone knows it. She is also known/suspected to have had prior romantic relationships, whereas Anakin has only had eyes for her since they first met on Tatooine. Further, Anakin is five years younger than Padmé and can barely devote any time to her due to his duties as a Jedi Knight fighting in the Clone Wars. So, while Obi-Wan 100% knew Anakin always had feelings for Padmé, I honestly don’t think he believed she reciprocated them. Sure, he knew they talked, he knew they were close friends; since the two had known each other for several years at that point, that probably made sense enough to Obi-Wan. But I truly don’t think he believed her to be dumb enough to actually engage in a full-on romantic relationship with Anakin.
Again, Obi-Wan (and others) often point out how Padmé seems to be very capable at taking care of herself when Anakin expresses concern about her. Padmé is also a vocal proponent of democracy, whereas Anakin…has been known to express some questionable political beliefs. He is rash, often aggressive, and frankly not mature enough for Padmé. As a viewer of the films and TV series, I sometimes find Padmé’s attraction to Anakin difficult to buy, which is why I think Obi-Wan probably felt that way, too. However, I guess I ultimately don’t fault Padmé; shit happens, and sometimes we fall in love with stupid boys. She also might have feared what Anakin would have done had she continued to deny him, which is pretty messed up (and also maybe a conversation for another time).
To summarize: I think the prequel movies and The Clone Wars make it obvious enough that Obi-Wan knew of Anakin’s feelings for Padmé. However, Obi-Wan’s knowledge of Padmé’s reputation and personality leads me to believe that he did not know she fully reciprocated those feelings, and thus did not know of their freakin’ marriage. So when he asks, “Anakin is the father, isn’t he?” he really is just realizing for the first time that they had a legitimate romantic relationship. Sure, he may have suspected it at times, but I truly think he thought too highly of Padmé to believe it to be true. And that’s on Padmé is a bad bitch!
Originally published on September 2, 2020