Right now, we’re in the middle of a Star Wars renaissance. The Mandalorian Started it, The Book of Boba Fett came out recently to continue it, and as Star Wars Celebration noted…we got a lot coming out in the next few years.
But the question that will continue to pop up from series to series is one of, “Can it be meaningful and be quality?” The Mandalorian has done that, Book of Boba Fett…depends on who you talk to. And as this Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review will show you…you can make quality…while still stretching things to breaking point at times.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, played once again by Ewan McGregor, was one of the best parts of the prequel trilogy in most people’s minds. This 6-part series shows what happens to him between the events of ‘Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘Star Wars: A New Hope.’ Or at least, part of that period of time. As we find out, it’s been 10 years since the fall of the Jedi Order, and he is maintaining his promise to Yoda and Bail Organa by watching over Luke on Tatooine. And what’s very clear in the first episode that…he’s a broken Jedi.
Haunted by what happened to Anakin (by his own hand) and the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan is merely “existing” in the world. Doing a meaningless job to get by to watch over Luke until “it’s time to train him.”
I want to pause here to talk about that. I don’t mind him being “broken” in terms of mental depression, but like with a certain Star Wars movie that I won’t name (you know which one I speak…) we only get to see glimpses of what made him this way and it hurts the narrative at times. Because remember, it’s been ten years, and you’re telling me (and fans) that in the ten years that have passed by, nothing has happened to help him overcome, or, to follow his Jedi creed, “to mind your thoughts, Obi-Wan, they betray you.” Instead, he’s so broken that apparently, his Force powers don’t work (more on that later), he only answers to Ben even when approached by another Jedi, and he refuses to help an “old friend” in a time of need.
That’s…not really Obi-Wan Kenobi, just like it wasn’t Luke Skywalker “before him”. And this was just one of many lore stretches that the show did.
Because the main plot of the story involved the Inquisitors and their hunt for Obi-Wan on the orders of Darth Vader. I liked having the Inquisitors back as many people know about them via Rebels and Jedi Fallen Order and they fit the mold here as they are the ones who would hunt down Kenobi as Vader looms in the background. Having them appear early on to set the stage, and then having the “3rd Sister” (aka Reva) go so far as to take a certain someone (I’ll get to them, don’t worry) to get to Obi-Wan was really clever.
Here is where I must pause once again. Because you might recall that especially after the first three episodes or so, there were a LOT of negative people talking about Reva, her “bad acting” and her “dumb character.” It eventually devolved into very racist comments that both Ewan McGregor and those at Lucasfilm made statements about stopping the nonsense. Allow me to be very clear on this matter.
First, that wasn’t bad acting, at all. She’s a nominated actress, she knows what to put into the role, and Moses Ingram did very well. Second, as for her “bad character”, if you think that’s the case…then you don’t know the Sith or the Inquisitors that well. Even before her “revelation” in episode 5, she acted exactly how one in her position would. Remember, the “Rule of Two” in Sith Culture is to be the student long enough to kill or overpower the master to overtake the title. She did everything she could, aggressive and rageful or otherwise, to get her goal. It almost destroyed her multiple times over, but she acted exactly how she felt she needed to. Plus, the other Inquisitors also did similar things…and no one talked about them.
Anyway, the catalyst for the plot was Reva figuring out about Obi-Wan’s connection to Bail Organa…and which evolved into kidnapping his daughter…Princess Leia. Yep, they were able to keep yet another “youngling secret” from us and…I’m honestly mixed on it. Because as I noted in my review of ‘The Book of Boba Fett‘, that story didn’t seem content on expanding the lore, but bringing everyone that they could from the known lore to make it “more fun” instead of “more unique”.
This was another example of that. Did we really need a young “sassy Leia” to barb with Obi-Wan? Not really, and given that we KNOW that both she and Obi-Wan make it to A New Hope, we always knew that the end was never in doubt, the only real question was how they got there.
What’s more, they never really could decide how Leia should act, because one moment she’s giving speeches with wisdom FAR beyond her own age, and then the other moment she’s acting like…well…a 10-year-old kid. She would flip between them on a dime and it showed. She wasn’t a bad character to be clear, and she did have some great moments with Ewan/Obi-Wan, but overall…we didn’t need that plotline overall to make this feel good and special.
That is in contrast however to a certain another character…
Oh yeah, this part will be fun. Because from the moment this series was announced, they made it clear that Darth Vader would be back, and that Hayden Christensen would reprise his role for the first time since Revenge of the Sith. Now, on the surface…we didn’t really need him back, just look at what they did with Rogue One. But here…they made it important to see Hayden, both in Darth Vader form…and in Anakin Skywalker form. The episodes where Darth Vader was there the most (Episodes 3, 5, and 6) were the best episodes by far because of how they used the history of Obi-Wan and Anakin to the fullest. The “temple duel” from the prequel era was something no one saw coming, and the way they used it to mimic what was happening in the present time was masterful.
We also got to see a side of Vader that we honestly hadn’t before. We’ve seen him be a monster (Rebels, Fallen Order, Rogue One, the comics), but here…he was a single-minded terror because he KNEW that Obi-Wan was close. His scene in the village where he was killing and torturing people just so he could draw Obi-Wan out was straight-up terrifying. As was his desire for revenge by attempting to burn Obi-Wan alive so that he could feel what Anakin felt on Mustafar.
Fast forward to the final episode and the “epic rematch” was everything we needed and more. There was a small issue I’ll address later, but everything they showed from near start to finish with that fight was one of the best things Star Wars has done. The banter, the battle, the use of The Force with the fight, and even the lighting was beautiful! There’s a shot where Anakin’s face is exposed and you see Obi-Wan’s blue lightsaber light on it and you think, “That’s Anakin we’re hearing”, and then when the tone shifts, the light fades, and the red saber light glows and it’s clear, “That’s Vader.”
As one fan pointed out on Twitter (and I pray this was intentional), in ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, Ashoka cut up the right side of Vader’s helmet, in this show, Obi-Wan cut up the left side, but only Luke could truly remove the helmet to see Anakin. That’s poetry right there.
If nothing else, watch this series to see what they do with Obi-Wan and Vader, it’s totally worth it.
Another plotline that I honestly really enjoyed (and hope we get a spinoff of) is the tale of “The Path”. And it’s something that I don’t think (to my knowledge) that has been touched upon in Star Wars lore before (please correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read all the books and comics). Basically, the Empire wasn’t just trying to hunt Jedi, they were trying to get rid of all Force Sensitive people, young or old. The Path was their “underground railroad” to freedom, and it featured not just future Rebels, but defector Imperial officers who learned the truth.
The MVP of this series for me despite her short timespan on-screen was Tala Durith. She made you care for her, her mission, how much she wanted to save lives after she took many herself, and when she died…it hurt. Plus, through The Path, we learned that other Jedi did survive Order 66, including a big name drop that could lead to more in the future.
I was also surprised by how much they gave Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (who definitely deserved more screen time given how great she was in the final episode), as we saw yet another side to this conflict that reflects what we saw in A New Hope. Between The Path and these two, I wish we got more instead of the “save Leia” story that dominated much of the series.
Arguably the biggest fault of this series by far was the stretching of lore and logic. For example, the weakest episode in terms of “logic breaking” (IMHO) was that of Episode 4. Because there was a LOT of “plot armor” and just plain dumb luck that allowed that plan to “work”…and I was laughing (in the bad way) at how things went from scene to see. Not the least of which was Tala telling Obi-Wan where to go on a comm…while Imperial officers are literally feet away and apparently…don’t care. Then when she took care of one just FEET AWAY…no one noticed, or cared.
Also, in the final episode, Reva finds out about Luke and goes after him…and yet it’s not clear how she got to Tatooine, at all, and in a timeframe that made it so that a whole day passed basically before Obi-Wan could get there to “save Luke”. It was noticeable.
This brings me to the lore. The series did its best (as noted by the showrunner, writers, and director) to not “break the lore” in terms of what was said in things like Rebels, Rogue One, and A New Hope. But I would argue that they stretched it to a breaking point…and they didn’t really need to. The Leia situation is one example, where apparently she ‘didn’t reference him in the R2-D2 message’ because Obi-Wan told her not to…but that doesn’t make sense for various reasons. Same with Luke coming under attack from Reva (it’s not stated how she understood Luke was Vader’s son since the message was broken) since he clearly hadn’t mentioned being attacked by a Sith in the past. You could say he “didn’t remember” because of his fall…but that’s weak.
Then there was the Qui-Gon cameo. Which we all knew was coming…but it came REALLY LATE! What’s more, their logic for not having Obi-Wan hear him for TEN YEARS was that “he wasn’t ready to see”. That’s…also really weak.
Finally, in episode 6, Obi-Wan makes it clear that he’s willing to kill Anakin this time around. He even tells Qui-Gon (in spirit) that he’s going to do so. Yet, when he has him beaten, broken, and even has been absolved of all sins by Darth Vader himself…he doesn’t do it. This really doesn’t make sense due to how Obi-Wan had witnessed firsthand the threat he was, and how he would kill more people…so Obi-Wan essentially sanctioned every death that Darth Vader caused…even though he could’ve killed him with a clear conscious this time. Plus, the whole “weakened Force powers” angle really didn’t make sense at all because Obi-Wan was a master Jedi…and yet because of his “feelings” he couldn’t use the Force until the end? …really?
To be clear here as I end my Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review, I really did enjoy the show overall. Ewan McGregor shined, the storylines with The Path, Reva, Obi-Wan vs. Vader, and others were fun, and I wouldn’t be opposed to a second season…depending on what they do. But this series could’ve been so much more…if…like Obi-Wan…they had just let go of the past…and the future.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review
The Force called upon Obi-Wan Kenobi once again, but was this show worth his time in the sun? Find out in our Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review!
- Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review