It has come to my attention that some Star Wars fans do not like Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s antagonist Inquisitor Reva, played by Moses Ingram. And to that I say: Are we watching the same show? Because Reva absolutely rules.
The backlash against Reva has less to do with her character’s actions than the fact that she is a Black woman in the Star Wars universe. Following the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s first two episodes on May 27, Ingram posted examples of the racist vitriol she has been receiving on Instagram. This prompted the official Star Wars social media accounts to issue a statement telling viewers: “There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.”
Obi-Wan himself, Ewan McGregor, also posted a video condemning toxic fans’ actions towards Ingram, saying, “if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind. There’s no place for racism in this world.”
There is no doubt that the vocal hatred of Reva and Ingram’s performance stems from racism.
There is no doubt that the vocal hatred of Reva and Ingram’s performance stems from racism. Racist trolls in the Star Wars fandom have notoriously attacked cast members of color in the past, including sequel trilogy stars John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran. Now they’ve turned their wrath on Ingram. It’s proof of the ugliest side of fandom, one that refuses to believe that people of color, and especially Black woman, have a place in massive franchises like Star Wars.
Racism and misogynoir — anti-Black misogyny targeted at Black women — are vile constants in fandom. Just look at reactions to the casting of Leah Jeffries in Percy Jackson and the Olympians or DeWanda Wise in Jurassic World: Dominion. Jeffries and Wise deserve far, far better, and so does Ingram.
Although it can in no way make up for the racist attacks on Ingram, or the racist history of the Star Wars fandom in general, both Ingram and Reva have thankfully received a lot of well-deserved praise. If you look through the Reva hashtag on Twitter, you’ll find fancams, fanart, and appreciation posts celebrating the character and actor instead of tearing them down. And it’s no wonder people love them: Ingram’s performance is excellent, bringing Reva’s intensity and determination to life. As an intriguing new addition to the Star Wars universe, Reva is hands-down the most interesting element of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Who is Inquisitor Reva?
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Reva Sevander (aka, the Third Sister) is a member of the Imperial Inquisition, meaning she’s a Jedi who turned to the Dark Side and now hunts Jedi herself. She’s the youngest member of the core group of Inquisitors we meet, which includes the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) and the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang).
To be perfectly honest, I’m not familiar with Star Wars Rebels, so I went into Obi-Wan Kenobi with little knowledge of the Inquisition. But as soon as the trio of the Grand Inquisitor, Fifth Brother, and Reva first appeared, I was obsessed. They ooze menace with just the right amount of theatricality — one of the most important qualities of a Star Wars villain — and their presence immediately ups the stakes of the show.
As much as I love the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother (they’re just so perfectly sinister), Reva immediately stands out from the trio. While the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother are caked in gaunt, disfiguring makeup, Reva still looks human, setting her apart from her compatriots. It gives her a greater sense of vulnerability within the organization, which is then paid off by the Grand Inquisitor dismissing her as lesser than them. From there, we know she has something to prove.
As much as I love the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother, Reva immediately stands out from the trio.
But her clear humanity isn’t the only thing distinguishing her from the others. Reva’s approach to hunting Jedi varies greatly from the Grand Inquisitor’s. She’s brash, she defies authority, and she’s willing to stop at nothing until she reaches her goal of capturing Kenobi. Her fellow Inquisitors, while still clearly evil, have a more clinical approach. To them, this hunt is an important job. To her, it’s personal. It’s so personal that she’ll do anything to achieve her goal. She’ll fully cut off people’s hands and threaten innocent families just to find one man. When you reach a point where even the Grand Inquisitor needs to go, “Whoa there, too far,” you know you’ve reached top-tier villain status.
We don’t know why, exactly, Reva is so hellbent on finding Obi-Wan herself yet — although I suspect it has to do with that opening Order 66 flashback — but the tension and the mystery are half of the fun of Reva’s character. We do know that Reva, like the other Inquisitors, was once a Jedi or at least training to be one before joining the Inquisition. What prompted her to defect and hunt her own kind? Was it self-preservation in the face of Order 66? Or was it because of a vendetta against one Jedi in particular? These are such fascinating motivations to play with, getting at the show’s core mystery of why Obi-Wan matters so much to Reva.
In fact, as much as I love the dynamic between Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan, the show’s main relationship so far is that between Reva and Obi-Wan. It’s the driving force behind all the action, including the kidnapping of Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), and it all comes back to Reva’s singular obsession.
In a show that feels so similar to other Star Wars properties, Reva stands out
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Look, the show may be called Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I find myself paying far more attention when he’s not around. Don’t get me wrong, I love the character and McGregor’s take. However, his “lone wolf has to transport important child” plotline feels far too close to what we’re already seen in The Mandalorian.
Between seeing young Luke (Grant Feely), Uncle Owen (Joel Edgerton), and Alderaan, Obi-Wan Kenobi feels in part like a Star Wars nostalgia fan service tour. That feeling even extends to scenes featuring Vader. We already know these characters. More than that, we know how their stories end. That knowledge diminishes much of the show’s stakes moving forward.
But you know whose story we don’t know? Reva’s. As one of the few new characters introduced in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Reva is a wild card. I get more invested when she’s around because I don’t know if I’ll get another episode with her, or what she might do next. Take her murder of the Grand Inquisitor in episode 2. I absolutely did not expect that, but I loved it as a display of her ruthlessness. Let Reva be as evil as she wants whenever she wants. It makes for great villainy.
Let Reva be as evil as she wants whenever she wants.
Speaking of great villains, Reva definitely displays traits of other well-known Star Wars bad guys. Her ambition and frustration with the Inquisition call to mind Anakin’s journey in the prequel trilogy, and her killing her evil boss is pure Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. But despite these similarities, Ingram makes Reva her own. She plays her with the confidence of someone who has a badass lightsaber and knows how to use it, but also with the vulnerability of someone who’s been hurt before and has spent her whole life trying to avenge that hurt.
So while we don’t know why Reva is so dead-set on capturing Obi-Wan herself, Ingram’s performance gives us more than enough information to know that Reva has been waiting her entire life for this. Once Obi-Wan and Reva finally clash head-on, we’re in for one hell of a showdown. And I can’t wait to watch.