Obi-Wan Kenobi just broke Star Wars canon — or did it?
Unless there's an impending twist, it would seem the events of Star Wars Rebels have been altered or ignored.
The most shocking moment in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 2 might not have had anything to do with Darth Vader or the Skywalker twins. Instead, when one character pulled a lightsaber on another character, a million voices suddenly cried out — is Star Wars Rebels still canon?
Let’s get into that big moment for Reva (Moses Ingram) and the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) — and what it might mean for the larger Star Wars canon. Spoilers ahead for Obi-Wan Kenobi through episode 2.
Did Reva murder the Grand Inquisitor?
If you’re familiar with the story of the Inquisitors from Star Wars Rebels, this is doubtlessly your number one question about Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the first two episodes, the various Inquisitors, including the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), discourage Reva from trying to track down Obi-Wan Kenobi. In Episode 2, even when they find him, Reva is taken off the case by the Grand Inquisitor. But because she’s not having that, she busts out her lightsaber and stabs him.
So the Grand Inquisitor he dead? If you’d never seen Rebels, you may not care. But if you had, this would be a huge moment. Originally voiced by Jason Isaacs, the Grand Inquisitor first appeared in the Rebels debut episode “Spark of Rebellion.” That episode takes place in 5 BBY (or roughly five years before the events of A New Hope). But Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place in 9 BBY, which puts it four years before the events of Rebels and nine years before A New Hope.
So if Reva murdered the Grand Inquisitor, how he is alive in Rebels four years later?
Is the Grand Inquisitor a clone?
In Star Wars canon, the Grand Inquisitor is a member of the Pau’un species, and both Friend and Isaac’s versions of the character seem to both be from that species. If you ignore internet debates about how long the Grand Inquisitor’s head is supposed to be, it seems like the character we see in Obi-Wan Kenobi is the same guy we saw in Rebels Season 1.
One solution to Kenobi’s potentially canon-breaking scene is that the Grand Inquisitor is a clone and Darth Vader will simply grow a new one before the events of Rebels. It’s equally possible the Grand Inquisitor will simply be nursed back to health. Darth Maul famously came back from the dead after getting cut in half by Obi-Wan, and Fennec Shand returned from getting shot in the stomach in The Mandalorian Season 2. Considering the Inquisitor is employed by Darth Vader — someone well versed in figuring out how to fix your body after you get hit with a lightsaber — there are several options here for the Inquisitor to be not dead.
In other words, don’t worry Rebels fans, your favorite Star Wars show is still canon.
Will the Grand Inquisitor reappear in Obi-Wan?
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rupert Friend hinted that his character’s background might be elucidated in the new series. Most Inquisitors are fallen Jedi, so will we learn how the Grand Inquisitor got on that path?
In Rebels Season 2, the episode “Shroud of Darkness” reveals the Grand Inquisitor was originally a Jedi Temple Guard, sometimes called a “Jedi Protector.” In fact, Dave Filoni confirmed that when he was still a Jedi, the Grand Inquisitor was one of two helmeted guards who escorted Ahsoka to her trial when she was accused of treason.
In 2016, Filoni drew a link between Barriss Offee’s frustration with Jedi corruption and the Inquisitor turning to the Dark Side.
“He hears Barriss' complete speech about the corruption and the state of the Senate and Jedi Order,” Filoni said. “And that is kind of like a seed that gets planted in his mind about she's right. And when Order 66 comes out, he further realizes how right she is about all of the corruption. So it was like the beginnings of his descent into the Dark Side.”
But is this backstory still legit? And does it apply to the Obi-Wan Kenobi version of the Grand Inquisitor?
Friend told EW: “All will be revealed in a couple of weeks, but I can say it really helped me to have as my backstory this sense of awesome power and knowledge where he's effectively hunting the folks he once was.”
This seems to confirm that this version of Grand Inquisitor was once a Jedi. However, Friend’s comment about “all will be revealed in a couple of weeks,” referred to the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi, so will this character actually show up again?
Most of the trailers seem to indicate Reva is leading the Inquisitors in the coming episodes, which could mean the Grand Inquisitor will not reappear in Obi-Wan Kenobi. If that’s the case, then the nature of his resurrection (or replacement) might end up like the plot hole with Yoda’s lightsaber in The Book of Boba Fett. In other words, there might be an in-canon explanation for the Grand Inquisitor’s demise, but it’s equally possible it may not be revealed onscreen in Obi-Wan Kenobi at all.
The Grand Inquisitor eventually dies in the Rebels episode “Fire Across the Galaxy,” while fighting Ezra Bridger and Kanan Jarrus. Everything that happens to those Jedi directly impacts the events of The Mandalorian because Ahsoka’s post-Return of the Jedi backstory is essentially crafted by Rebels. If the Grand Inquisitor is removed from Rebels canon, there’s a domino effect to Mando, The Book of Boba Fett, and the impending Ahsoka TV series, too.
For now, all we know is this: Jason Isaac’s version of the Grand Inquisitor is around in 5 BBY, and Rupert Friend's version of Grand Inquisitor got stabbed in 9 BBY. The rest, as Yoda would say, is still in motion.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney+.