Lucasfilm and Disney+’s next endeavor with the Star Wars franchise is arguably the biggest of all the known projects so far. Longtime fans have been clamoring for Ewan McGregor’s iconic Jedi Master to pick his lightsaber back up, and after years of rumors and misdirection, Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to present the character with one of his most grueling trials yet. At the same time, this highlyanticipated limited series will be a landmark for some of the villains Obi-Wan will face.
The Emperor’s Inquisitorius so far have appeared in Dave Filoni’s animated Star Wars series, Marvel’s comic books, and Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game. It’ll be their first live-action appearance in the franchise, which will bring these cold, calculating villains to a whole new mainstream audience. The Star Wars IP as a whole is incredibly dense with plot and lore, but newcomers only need to know the following before Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s summer premiere on Disney+.
The Emperor’s dark side fox hunters
While many veteran Star Wars fans might be generally burnt out over the post-Revenge of the Sith and pre-A New Hope content, Obi-Wan Kenobi is surely the biggest exception. Aside from the beloved Jedi Master himself, part of this is likely also due to the context of the show’s premise and setting.
Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith was a respectably operatic high note for the controversial prequel trilogy to end on, with the story delivering on its emotionally resonant and tragic promises. Senator Sheev Palpatine, now the Emperor, successfully executed a coup on the Republic and installed himself as the new head of the Galactic Empire. In doing so, he turned Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force as Darth Vader and all of the Republic’s former Clone Troopers against their Jedi bosses with the infamous “Order 66.”
This bleak new era would last over 30 years in Star Wars canon until the original trilogy and is known as the Dark Times, where the Sith had successfully turned the Jedi into the galaxy’s persecuted and endangered species. However, even with the one-man apocalypse that is Darth Vader as the Emperor’s right hand, the newly christened Sith Lord is only one man. Emperor Palpatine would still need a highly trained unit to help hunt down the scattered Jedi in what would become known as the Great Jedi Purge.
Enter the Inquisitorius, who were a mysterious collection of dark side agents working under Palpatine as cavalry to flush out any Jedi hiding in exile across the galaxy. On top of being Force-sensitive, Inquisitors were also skilled in lightsaber combat. However, while everyone in the Empire technically serves Palpatine, the Inquisitors were more directly governed and trained by Darth Vader himself. In terms of in-unit leadership, that villain was given the title/rank of Grand Inquisitor and is played by Rupert Friend under some heavy makeup in the Kenobi trailer.
Bright past, dark present
Of course, these Imperial Inquisitors didn’t come out of thin air. Each of the members of this group was once affiliated with the light side of the Force, including some former Jedi. The Grand Inquisitor’s identity is mostly a mystery, however, it is known that he used to not only be a Jedi Knight, but he was also a Jedi Temple Guard as well. Each of these dark side agents was broken down by the Emperor to be refashioned into hateful, vindictive, and dangerous lapdogs in an attempt to snuff out any embers that were left of the overthrown Republic.
And though the exact number of members in the Inquisitorius was kept secret, there have been at least 12. Those that rank under the aforementioned Grand Inquisitor includes the Second Sister, Third Sister, Fourth Brother, Sixth Brother, Seventh Sister, Eight Brother, Ninth Sister, and Tenth Brother.
Several members have been featured in the animated Star Wars Rebels series, but the Second Sister was the main villain hunting down the Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis in Fallen Order. As for Obi-Wan Kenobi, the show will be the first to feature the Third Sister, who is played by Moses Ingram.
Having these rogues nipping at Obi-Wan’s heels across the galaxy should make for a compelling dynamic, even though they wouldn’t match — let alone exceed — the Jedi Master’s skill and discipline under normal circumstances. As foreshadowed by the Grand Inquisitor in the recent trailer, they will be looking to put his inner moral conflict to the test to see how truly committed he is to remaining in the shadows.
But it’s the Inquisitorius’ secondary objective — and Obi-Wan’s real reason why he is in hiding — that will make the conflict in Obi-Wan Kenobi so tantalizing.
The embers of the Rebellion
In addition to hunting down any Jedi that survived the initial wave of Order 66, the Inquisitorius were also tasked with kidnapping any Force-sensitive children they found. They weren’t above anything so long as it meant quelling a potential Jedi uprising, plus it gave the Emperor more pawns to torture into becoming Inquisitors — assuming they weren’t killed in the process.
That brings us to the crux of Obi-Wan’s dilemma. These long, cruel decades of somber introspection were also spent assuring that the galaxy’s next prophetic hero and future fire of the Rebellion — Luke Skywalker — was kept from Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader’s cold hands. Whether the Inquisitors hot on the Jedi Master’s trail know it or not, the mission that Obi-Wan is on is far more than mere self-preservation. It’s the handicap that he has to carry during this grim fox hunt, and it’s what makes this premise so much more thrilling and anxiety-inducing.
Fans will be hoping that director Deborah Chow (Better Call Saul, The Mandalorian) and showrunner Joby Harold (Army of the Dead, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts) will nail the execution, but if the hype is of any indication, this series has amassed an impressive amount of enthusiasm for a story most of us know the ending to already.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres its first two episodes on Disney+ on May 27.
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