One of the things the Star Wars fandom has been clamoring for for years is the return of Ewan McGregor as a live action Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, after years of broken dreams, cancellations, lackluster content, a new trilogy to hate on and the smash hit that was the Baby Yoda show (A.k.a. the Mandalorian), we finally have the Obi-Wan Kenobi show! Not only that, but they dropped two episodes the first day instead of just one. I’ve watched them both, and I think they’re everything most Star Wars fans hoped for, myself included. I’ll start with a generalized review that will have spoilers for the first two episodes in it, so just be warned! But if you want to go watch it but aren’t sure if its worth the time, I can assure you that it is well worth it. With that said, here come the spoilers.
So for starters, this series takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, and 8 years before A New Hope. I was able to avoid the trailers for the series, so I went in almost completely blind. However, I did have some expectations. Generally I figured that Luke and Leia would be put in danger somehow, that we would probably see flashbacks to the Clone Wars and that Obi-Wan would be required to leave Tatooine to protect the secret of Anakin and Padme’s children. We were also pretty much promised a duel between Vader and Kenobi. I did not expect the direction Disney decided to go however.
The first episode started with a flashback to Order 66 as the Clones, led by Anakin Skywalker, attack and destroy the Jedi temple. We follow five terrified younglings as their master tries to lead them to safety, but is killed. For whatever reason, Order 66 always seems to be very popular when it appears on screen. The most recent iterations have included a flashback that Grogu/Baby Yoda experienced, as well as the opening sequence of the Bad Batch. In Revenge of the Sith, where we first experienced Order 66, that was always one of the best sequences from that movie. I still remember Joshua showing me that scene when we were in middle school. The John William’s soundtrack, the many Jedi being killed, Yoda dropping his stick as he feels their deaths through the Force; basically, choosing this as the opening scene was a genius move, because it immediately sets a darker tone for this series, and it reminds us of the best things that the prequel trilogy had to offer. And as the re-cap before the episode established, this is supposed to be a continuation of the prequel trilogy characters, which means we are heading into the so-called ‘dark times’ between a New Hope and Revenge of the Sith. They got us into the series with a gripping and dark opening sequence, but can they maintain that darker feel yet still show us a glimmer of hope?
As it turns out, yes. I think I almost expected Obi-Wan to show up and be his cheerful sarcastic self from the prequels and the animated series. But I had forgotten just how dark the ending of Revenge of the Sith was, especially for Kenobi. Obi-Wan loses his best friend, and the man he was supposed to mentor, to the dark side. His entire order is destroyed. The war he thought he was fighting in for a just cause for three years has turned out to be a Sith plot. (Also if you watch the Clone Wars, the woman he fell in love with, Duchess Satine, got killed by Darth Maul, who amazingly is still alive at this time despite being cut in half in the Phantom Menace). Most of his friends, the clones whom he fought alongside have turned against him. Basically, the whole galaxy kicked Kenobi to the curb, and he ended up on Tatooine, a hellish wasteland, trying to protect a boy who holds the future of the Galaxy in his hands, a future that Obi-Wan himself cannot hope in. All these things have been weighing heavily on Kenobi the last ten years, which he has spent as a hermit watching out for Luke, who is in the care of his uncle and aunt. Oh I also forgot, his uncle wants nothing to do with him and rejects any kind of contact from Obi-Wan towards Luke. Ouch. So understandably, Obi-Wan is a pretty bleak character for these first couple of episodes. Only two minutes in, he sees a fellow butcher receiving only half the pay he expected, and his Jedi instinct is to step in. But as soon as he steps forward to confront the foreman who is cheating them, he just looks at him hopelessly and moves on. Later on in the episode, an escaped Jedi encounters him in the desert. Kenobi tells him to get lost. The Jedi persists, trying to get Kenobi to help him. The ‘help’ that Kenobi offers is the advice to bury his lightsaber in the sand and leave it all behind. Later we find out that this Jedi was caught by the inquisitors and killed. Obi-Wan is not a happy camper on Tatooine.
But something has to awaken the hero in our title character, and that comes in the form of my favorite part of this series so far: A 10 year-old princess Leia, played by Vivian Lyra Blair. She’s no stranger to film, having already acted in something like 12 movies, including Bird Box, and it shows. As far as child actors go, they are often not good enough to match the gravitas of the adult actors, but Blair steps into this role with charm and wit, and enough gravitas to engage in a lengthy dialogue with the acting powerhouse Jimmy Smits, who plays her adoptive father Bail Organa. They live on the planet Alderaan, which is the planet we see destroyed in A New Hope. Unfortunately, one of the inquisitors is aware that Bail Organa and Kenobi were friends during the Clone wars, and decides to kidnap Leia to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding. Some spice smugglers take her to Daiyu, which is just a seedier version of the City-Planet Coruscant. Bail figures out where they have gone, and contacts Obi-Wan to go save her. At first Kenobi won’t do it. He has to protect Luke on Tatooine (We see a brief cameo of Luke himself early in the first episode). Finally Bail goes in person, and after seeing the body of the Jedi who came to him for help strung up in the town, Kenobi finally works up the resolve to go after Leia. Bail has to tell him to let go of the past, that they all failed when it came to Anakin, and that he trusts no one more with the safety of his daughter than Obi-Wan. Here we finally see the toll that Anakin’s betrayal took on Kenobi. He no longer trusts himself as a Jedi at all.
Thankfully for us, and the plot, he goes to rescue Leia, and the second episode picks up with him landing on Daiyu. This is the episode where we start to see the old Obi-Wan returning. He gets offered spice at one point (Going back to the guy who wanted to sell him death sticks in Attack of the Clones) and he also sees a lot of Padme in the young Leia, which he tells her indirectly by saying that she reminds him of a friend. They have a lot of great dialogue together, further demonstrating Blair’s acting abilities. There’s a great moment when Ewan McGregor walks into the cell that she is held captive in, and she hides next to the door and kicks him as he enters. Needless to say, this was a hilarious start to their relationship, and despite the fact that they get off world by the end of the episode, I hope we haven’t seen the last of their adventures together. Also, Blair just looks so much like a young Carrie Fisher, its uncanny. (Also just realized that she’s actually 9 years old while playing a 10 year-old character, usually its the other way around!)
So despite the despair that Obi-Wan is obviously feeling, it seems like this adventure is starting to bring back the Jedi we all know and love, and even just hinting at that keeps me invested for this series. It also gives Kenobi some character development to work through, and it emphasizes the dark times he’s living in. It’s good to see that Disney is willing to be as dark as these first couple episodes are. A lot of that darkness comes from the inquisitor who has it out for Kenobi that I mentioned earlier. She casually strolls into a market one day and cuts off someone’s hand because they won’t tell her where Kenobi is. She has a dangerous feel to her that other villains haven’t had, mainly because she followed through on a threat she made right then and there. I do want to know why she is so obsessed with Kenobi though.
All things considered, a very strong start to a long expected show, and I look forward to the next four episodes! Hope y’all have a blessed week and summer!
Now I’m going to do some lore breakdown, and it will be extremely nerdy, so please don’t feel the need to read this…
Theory: The Inquisitor is one of the younglings we see escaping the temple in the first scene. Its possible that she feels anger against Kenobi because he came to the Temple too late to save her master, however there’s a second possibility as well. In Revenge of the Sith, when Yoda and Obi-Wan return to the destroyed temple, the latter deactivates a homing beacon that is calling all Jedi to return to the temple. Obviously this is a trap, so Kenobi changes the beacon to tell Jedi not to return. However, it is possible that the inquisitor and her master returned to the temple before this change was made, and the Inquisitor captured as a padawan and her master killed. This would make her angry that Kenobi did not change the beacon sooner. Someone else pointed out to me a third theory, that the reason the inquisitor is after Kenobi is on Vader’s special request. The inquisitor knows that Anakin is Darth Vader, and taunts Obi-Wan with this knowledge in the second episode, so clearly she has some connection to him, and perhaps is trying to get into his good graces. My guess is that Vader will kill her, and then fight Kenobi, she won’t be the first inquisitor he has killed for failure.
The Homeless clone: When Obi is on Daiyu, he comes across a clone trooper, played by Temuera Morrison, who plays Jango Fett, from whom all the Clone troopers are derived, who is holding his helmet out to passers by, hoping to receive a few credits. All clones, with the exception of Boba Fett, age at twice the normal rate of humans, so this clone, despite being only 23, has the body of a 56 year old. Either way, it is an interesting point because right after this we see two stormtroopers, obviously not clones, walking by in gleaming armor. A big plot point of the Bad Batch was the replacement of expensive clone troopers by cheap conscripts. Clearly, ten years later, we are seeing the effects of that.
Fun fact: The bald smuggler who leads the trio who kidnaps Leia is played by Flea, the Bass Guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Alderaan: While it was briefly seen at the end of Revenge of the Sith, we got to see a lot more of Alderaan than previously, and it was extremely cool. It seems like a kind of idyllic world where man has worked side-by-side with nature to create a kind of utopian sci-fi city. Leia can step out of her penthouse tower into a forest, and the streets are clean and sleek along with the airspeeders that hover through its tall buildings. Too bad the whole planet blows up in 8 years.
In the old Legends books, there was a series called the Last of the Jedi that featured Obi-Wan working side by side with a Jedi who had left the order before Order 66 named Ferus Olin. Ferus was assigned to watch Leia on Alderaan while Obi-Wan stayed with Luke. Clearly Ferus is not supposed to exist in this new timeline, but the Jedi who came to Obi-Wan for help seemed to be based off of him very slightly. There was also the con-artist who helped Leia and Obi escape after the spaceport was locked down on Daiyu. Although that character felt more like Jax Pavan, who was kind of a Robin Hood investigator in the Coruscant underworld during the Dark Times who was weak in the force but had good investigative street smarts.
The Grand Inquisitor dies…Twice? So at the end of the Daiyu episode, the inquisitor (The Third Sister) stabs the grand Inquisitor through the gut. (With whom she had been at odds over what to do about Kenobi). This is odd because in Star Wars rebels, which takes place several years after this, that same inquisitor was killed by Kanan Jarrus after he fell from a walkway into a starship reactor. So I guess he’s not dead? I mean, Darth Maul survived getting cut in half, so this is not unlikely, but it also seems weird because the Third Sister has clearly committed an act of treachery against the other inquisitors, so I don’t know how she will continue the search for Kenobi. Maybe this is what will lead Vader to killing her in the end.
While Leia is watching Ships leave the port of the Capital of Alderaan, she sees a ship called the Tri-wing, and remarks that it is probably an Aquillian Ranger. In the second draft for the script that would become A New Hope, the Aquillian rangers were the soldiers of the rebel alliance that used laser swords and had telekinetic powers, which of course eventually developed into the Jedi Order. However, this rejected concept would eventually be developed into the Antarian Rangers, which were a paramilitary force that aided the Jedi Order in the old Legends.
The actors for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru reprised their roles from Revenge of the Sith, along with the actors for Bail Organa and his wife.
At one point Leia’s adopted mother mentioned something about Leia going to University in a few years, followed by Senate school. That’s what I call some advanced placement courses!
There were a ton of interesting games on display. The con-artist character is playing with Sabacc cards and gives Obi-Wan coordinates on a fake sabacc card. There were also a couple of dice games being played by the locals that Kenobi passed by in both Mos Espa and Daiyu. Lots of great background action that will certainly be turned into merchandise and games that have actual rules that nerds will play in real life. (I am ashamed to admit that I have a sabacc deck myself).