From the first time I saw Star Wars as a kid, Leia Organa was my favorite character. She is now one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. It wasn’t just that she looked like me (brown eyes, brown hair, short). It was that she was strong, intelligent, resourceful, and no-nonsense. And she was fighting against tyranny and oppression. For me, the most delightful pleasant surprise of Obi-Wan Kenobi was the significant presence of 10-year-old Leia, played by Vivien Lyra Blair. Audiences got to see her relationship with her adoptive parents and watch her establish a bond with Obi-Wan, played by Ewan McGregor. The future resistance fighter and General can be glimpsed in the little girl who gets her first taste of adventure in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place with the Empire in full control of the galaxy. “I thought the Empire was supposed to be helping us,” Leia says at one point as Obi-Wan tries to get her back home after she is kidnapped. It’s understandable that she thinks this because her affectionate adoptive father, Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), is a Senator and trying to do good from the inside. Through her journey on this show, she will learn that she is wrong about the Empire. She will see the violence of the Empire firsthand. This is important because it will lead to her being the capable rebel leader we know from A New Hope.
Even at this young age, Leia exhibits the qualities that make her a heroine to emulate later in the Star Wars saga. No jerk is safe from her comebacks, not even a cousin.
She withstands the threat of torture without revealing important information to the Empire, just as she will do in the future on the Death Star. When a problem arises, she will try to do something about it. “She’ll make a good fighter one day,” Tala (Indira Varma) tells Obi-Wan. And we know it’s true. She’ll make a good General, in fact.
The strength Leia exudes is probably her most outstanding quality. Especially when you consider the fact that she will lose her adoptive parents and Obi-Wan in a short space of time. Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s child version of Leia already demonstrates this fortitude.
And it is a good example for Obi-Wan. At this point, he has been watching over Luke from afar for 10 years. Guilt about Anakin has overwhelmed him. Leia is just what he needs to jolt him back to himself. She gets him out of the rut he’s been stuck in, both physically and emotionally. By simply being who she is, Leia prompts Obi-Wan to face things he hasn’t been able to yet.
When you think about it, strength is a hopeful act. It implies the belief that things will get better. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the title of Episode IV is A New Hope. While Obi-Wan may spend most of the time with Luke during that film, the audience sees Leia first. And when the word “hope” appears in the dialogue of the original trilogy and Rogue One, it’s in connection with Leia.
That is what Leia Organa does for Obi-Wan — she gets him to hope again. Obi-Wan describes the Force as being like turning on a light in the dark, and Leia reconnects him to that feeling.