Obi-Wan Kenobi Review

Well, it’s been teased for literally years but it finally arrived: Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a story set in between the Prequel and Original trilogies. It didn’t stop there though! Darth Vader / Anakin (played by Hayden Christensen no less), live action Inquisitors and even child versions of Luke and Leia.  Throw in some amazing scenes I can’t talk about until the Spoiler section and I was one pleased Star Wars fan!

As mentioned this story takes place roughly ten years after Episode III and therefore roughly ten before Episode IV and sees Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi living on Tatooine and watching over Luke like a hawk as he grows up on Owen and Beru’s moisture farm (the couple being played by Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse). Poor old Ben is having a hard time of it though, he’s living in a cave, working for scraps and has completely lost touch with the Force due to being pretty depressed about the whole Jedi Order being wiped out thing, so much so that when a fellow Jedi survivor comes to him for help he tells them to hide and run, and to never bother him again, seeing no point in trying to assist his fellow man. Ewan really goes to town on the old, sad and depressed lonely vibe, you really feel for him during the first half of the series.

Hmm… should I type “Hello there!” or not …. Nah.

He finally gets up off his arse when Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) contacts him and informs him the other half of the Anakin’s children problem, Leia, has been kidnapped and he needs Obi-Wan’s help. It takes a good bit on convincing but eventually Obi-Wan agrees and heads out into space and begins to travel with the child version of Leia (played by Vivien Lyra Blair, who as child actors go, isn’t too bad!), all the time being stalked by Vader’s Inquisitors, ex-Jedi who have been corrupted by the Dark Side and forced to hunt and kill any remaining Jedi. This includes the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Fiend) straight from the Rebels cartoon, and the Third Sister, otherwise known as Reva (Moses Ingram) who seems to have a personal beef with Kenobi and was behind the kidnapping of Leia thanks to knowledge that Obi-Wan and Bail used to be friends. A lot of criticism was levelled at Ms. Ingram and her acting, and while Episode 2 was a particularly poor one for her (she obviously can’t do shouty evil dialogue) she settles into her role and actually her inability to act convincingly evil ends up working in her favour…

It’s amazing how between Rebels, comics and games the Inquisitors have become so firmly established as a threat in between the two trilogies. Great to see them in live action!

Other supporting characters include Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani), a con artist who pretends to be a Jedi in order to gain money, though actually does point Force Sensitive children towards legitimate help so isn’t all bad, and Tala Durith and Kawlan Roken (Indira Varma and O’Shea Jackson Jr., respectively) who help run “The Path”, a secret underground movement dedicated to helping Jedi and Force Sensitive children move about the galaxy unseen. Durith is particularly interesting as she is an Imperial Officer who realised a few years in that she was very much on the evil side so decided to use her position in the Empire to help the good guys.

As the series progresses some things become obvious: Darth Vader and Obi-Wan will duel, and Obi-Wan, who keeps trying to contact his old master Qui-Gon based on the instructions Yoda gave him at the end of Episode III, will inevitably contact Qui-Gon as he completes his heroes journey from hitting rock-bottom to reclaiming his position as Jedi Master, and I can say without spoilers that all of those things happen, and they’re all pretty damn amazing.

Overall Thoughts:

Not quite Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian, but nonetheless still an entertaining duo!

As of the end of Episode 5 the series was looking like a strong 4 out of 5, but then the final episode came along and made it an easy 5. Obi-Wan Kenobi manages to be a stand-alone story about a hero reclaiming his lost hope while also complimenting the two trilogies either side of it. As life-long Star Wars fan, this was nothing short of magnificent.

The two main things here are Reva and the fated duel between Obi-Wan and his old apprentice. We’ll start with Reva, who as it turns out was a Jedi Padawan that was stabbed by the newly Christened Vader during Order 66 but survived due to tapping into the Darkside’s power thanks to a strong thirst for revenge. She became obsessed with Kenobi because Vader was obsessed with him and she wanted to get her would-be killer alone so she can complete her vengeance, and she does eventually get the chance… but sadly Vader is in full-on “end of Rouge One” level of over-powered and makes short work of her. She manages to once again cling to life and focuses her vengeance on Luke back on Tatooine (thanks to a dropped communicator), seeing his living as unfair or something like that. She hunts the poor kid down after a scuffle with Owen and Beru but ends up unable to kill him, realising that she had nearly turned into the very thing she tried to destroy. She isn’t dead, so it’ll be interesting to see where she’ll pop up next…

But let’s get to the big one, or as it turned out, big two! Vader and Obi-Wan duel in Episode 3 (fittingly!) but Obi-Wan is still unable to really tap into the Force and is easily bested, Vader begins playing with his food by dragging Obi-Wan across burning fuel as payback but a large explosion puts distance between the two. Obi-Wan slowly but surely reconnects with the Force over the course of the next two episodes, leading to a re-rematch in Episode 6, one that shows Obi-Wan had re-found his power as the two have a great back-and-forth. In a scene lifted straight from the Rebels animated show, Obi-Wan slashes Vader’s mask open and sees Anakin within, and he speaks in half Hayden Christensen, half James Earl Jones claiming that Obi-Wan didn’t kill Anakin, he did, leaving a tearful Obi-Wan to apologise and leave, still unable to kill his former brother. Fantastic stuff, and makes the “Obi-Wan once thought like you did” line in Return of the Jedi make sense (plus the “true from a certain point of view” lie one that came from Vader’s own lips rather than Obi-Wan’s I guess!) There was some great use of blue and red lightsabre lighting during the moment showing us viewers the truth that there is some good in there, but Obi-Wan obviously couldn’t see it.

I’d type “Not Again!” but Rebels takes place a good long time after this series, so…

Then we get a few questions answered in quick succession: Why doesn’t Vader continue to search for Obi-Wan? Well, we see the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid, naturally!) tease Vader by saying that this obsession is a lot like Vader still having feelings for his old Master, leading to Vader quickly claiming that he only serves him and clearly later proving this by allowing Obi-Wan to disappear. How does Leia know how to contact Obi-Wan? He tells the Organa family to contact him any time, with Bail hoping it won’t be anytime soon. How does Luke know “Old Ben Kenobi” who lives a good distance away? Well, as a quick but bitter thank you Owen allows Obi-Wan to say a quick “Hello there!” to Luke before leaving. How does Obi-Wan learn to become the kind and relaxed older Jedi who can “become one with the Force” in Episode IV after going through hell in Episode III? Well, we’ve seen how he finally found peace and reconnected to the Force throughout the story, so of course the final scene has Obi-Wan finally see the Force Ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) who will no doubt teach him the required technique as teased at the end of the third film.

From bitter, beaten down man to Jedi Master in hiding, these six episodes were a perfect gap filler, even if it didn’t necessarily need to be filled.

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