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Why do I sense that we've picked up another pathetic life form?

When Qui-Gon Jinn says he is going back, Obi-Wan Kenobi says:

Why do I sense that we've picked up another pathetic life form?

In the context of the conversation, both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan know that he is going back for Anakin, so I don't understand why Obi-Wan would say something like this.

Obi-Wan was the one who measured Anakin's blood for Midi-chlorians and said they were off the chart, quoting him:

The reading is off the chart, over 20,000, even Master Yoda dosen't have a Midi-chlorian count that high...

Being that Anakin has a Midi-chlorian count higher than Yoda which obviously is something very special, how could Obi-Wan say:

Why do I sense that we've picked up another pathetic life form?

I would think the topic of conversation would be, when are you going to bring that little boy back to Coruscant with us? Not "Why do I sense that we've picked up another pathetic life form?"

The meaning I take from that is that he does not think Anakin is worth bringing with them.

  • 5
    Keep in mind that Obi-wan was against training Anakin at this point. The kid was too old, and they had more important things to do. Plus, Anakin can't use the Force yet, so he is still pretty pathetic. – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 7 '16 at 14:21
  • @DaaaahWhoosh, really, when did he say that? – KyloRen Oct 7 '16 at 14:22
  • If I had the time to find the quote, I'd write up an answer. As it is, maybe I'm wrong. I'll see if I can follow up later. – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 7 '16 at 14:39
  • Having some natural talent does not preclude one from being pathetic. In fact, that can actually underscore the point. – candied_orange Oct 7 '16 at 18:07
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    The vibe I got from Obi-Wan when watching this in theaters (and every time since) is that he was utterly unimpressed with what he had seen from Anakin thus far. So, like Jar Jar, Anakin was just another pathetic life form in Obi-Wan's eyes. – TylerH Oct 7 '16 at 18:54
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This is actually a very reasonable thing for Obi-Wan to say. He's clearly calling back to an earlier statement, regarding Jar-Jar:

Obi-Wan: Master, why do you keep dragging these pathetic life forms along with us?

The Phantom Menace (1999)

He's making a small (and admittedly unfunny) joke at his master's expense.

  • That being said, it's not at all clear that Obi-Wan actually knows who Qui-Gon is bringing back; notable is Qui-Gon's next line (emphasis mine):

    Obi-Wan: Why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic life form?

    Qui-Gon: It's the boy who's responsible for getting those parts.

    The Phantom Menace (1999)

    But perhaps he did know, or else made an educated guess, in which case I fall back on:

  • "Pathetic" need not mean "useless"; in fact, one definition1 is:

    Arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.

    By any measure, regardless of how powerful he is with the Force, Anakin qualifies as that. Although the word "pathetic" can be used as an insult, in this context it seems doubtful that Obi-Wan is using it that way; it's not very Jedi-like, and Obi-Wan has no reason to insult Anakin2.


1 Arguably the primary definition, even if it's not the one commonly intended in the modern, cynical 2010's

2 Yet.

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    @KyloRen You did read my answer, yes? That's one definition of the word, but is not the only one; words can mean more than one thing – Jason Baker Oct 7 '16 at 14:16
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    @KyloRen On the Internet, "pathetic" is an insult approximately 101% of the time. But Obi-Wan isn't on the Internet and has no reason to insult Anakin. From context, it's vastly more likely that he means that Anakin is pitiable, similar to how I call my dog "pathetic" when she gives me puppy-dog eyes – Jason Baker Oct 7 '16 at 14:20
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    In Legends continuity, Qui-Gon had a bad habit of allowing creatures to tag along with he and Obi-Wan, even the ones that caused them trouble. It was all part of his "Living Force" philosophy, whereas most Jedi preferred the "Unifying Force" philosophy. Basically, Qui-Gon believed that the NOW was more important than any long-term plans. – Omegacron Oct 7 '16 at 15:30
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    I like to think it's an in-joke between Qui-Gonn and Obi-Wan that came about because on one occasion the lifeform Qui-Gonn brought with them turned out to actually be pathetic and useless. "Obi-Wan, I'm going out for groceries, be back soon." "Do try not to bring home any more pathetic life forms, master." "IT WAS ONE TIME, OBI-WAN!" – DisturbedNeo Oct 7 '16 at 16:26
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    @DisturbedNeo The one occasion you're referring to is Jar Jar. And Obi-wan has rights to bag on Qui-Gonn forever over picking up that pathetic life form. – SethWhite Oct 7 '16 at 17:38

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