The day Lucasfilm announced a live-action Obi-Wan series, I, like many Star Wars fans, were incredibly excited about the possibilities of what they could do with the show. Maybe they’ll pick a time during the Clone Wars when he’s a general and fighting, or training under Qui-Gon, or borrow one of the story arcs from the Clone Wars animated series.
Instead, the creators specifically pick one of the least interesting times of his life; the period where Obi-Wan is hiding in the sands of Tatooine and keeping an eye on the “boy” in order to protect him.
We more or less knew that going in, especially after the trailer. So, okay, maybe the show will be a character study, with Obi-Wan trying to deal with the aftermath of the war, Anakin’s betrayal, the end of the Jedi, etc.
Maybe it won’t suck.
The first two episodes of the show premiered this week on Disney+, and while I didn’t have high hopes for the show after the trailer appeared, I was pretty bored by the end of the second episode.
It’s so bad that I half hope/wonder if Lucasfilm will pull a Book of Boba Fett and have a couple of episodes where Kenobi isn’t even in them.
Instead of crafting a series around one of Star Wars favorite heroes, the current stewards of George Lucas’ legacy are dead set on destroying Lucas’ creation. We waited decades to see a live-action Star Wars television series, and now that it’s here, you find yourself wishing they’d just stuck with the animated shows.
That’s not a knock on Ewan McGregor, who does the best he can with what little he’s given. Although you’d think even he’d have concerns with the approach to the character.
It’s not as bad as Fett, which was a complete mess. The first opening sequence was great, if not unfortunate, due to recent real-world events. We then move onto a second opening that introduces the Inquisitors and Reva, the only bad guy with a name, so she’s clearly going to play a major part in the show. Finally, we move onto the third opening, which takes us to Obi-Wan.
Two episodes in, and the show already feels bloated. There are only six episodes, and it still feels like that the whole thing could have been condensed down to a film. There are a couple of good scenes, but those could have been kept in the film. The inquisitors try to be intimidating, but they can’t come close to Darth Vader, who is one of the best villains in sci-fi.
So far, there’s nothing all that interesting to see in Obi-Wan. While they’ve borrowed some of the elements from the animated shows and Dave Filoni, this series is completely in the hands of Kathleen Kennedy. The show runners can’t seem to make up their mind on what they want Obi-Wan to be, and so far, the main antagonist is as one-dimensional as they get.
Strangely, Disney is already playing the race card on critics of the show before it even aired. If the rumors are true about the show, and based on the first couple of episodes, it seems like there’s a pretty good chance that they are, then fans will not be happy with how the series ends. Disney knows they have a stinker on their hands, and their already preemptively attacking “toxic” fans and blaming them in case the show bombs.
I can’t really say much beyond that without getting into spoilers.
I didn’t enjoy it. I’m not even sure I’ll finish the show.
Besides McGregor, there’s no real reason to watch Obi-Wan. As much as I despise the prequels, I’d say if you really want an Obi-Wan fix, you’d be better off re-watching those films or watching Clone Wars.
Okay — Spoilers incoming. Don’t read beyond this point if you don’t want the show spoiled.
You’ve been warned!!!
So, yeah, Obi-Wan is a broken man.
Obi-Wan is plagued with guilt from both the betrayal and the death of his “brother”, Anakin Skywalker. As we all know, Anakin succumbed to the Dark Side and betrayed his fellow Jedi by joining up with Chancellor Palplatine (aka Darth Sidious aka the Emperor). Anakin led the attack on the Jedi temple and killed both Jedi AND younglings. With Anakin at his side, Sidious was able to defeat the Jedi and take over as Emperor.
Part of this feels deliberate; the current stewards of Star Wars (Kathleen Kennedy and her minions) are dead set on destroying any of the heroes from the original films. So, once again, we’re presented with a broken hero (arguably, over anyone, Obi-Wan has more reason to be broken than anyone else in Star Wars at this point in the timeline).
Not that this is a bad thing; the show could have built an interesting story about Obi-Wan struggling to deal with his anguish of how things turned out and his duty to protect Luke.
But, no, Obi-Wan has abandoned his Jedi training, even hiding and backing down when there’s potentially bad things happening. Yet, he still clings to the duty that he’s to protect Luke and train him when the time comes. He’s treated like he’s a complete amateur when it comes to fighting and using the Force, and he also seems to keep himself oblivious to the world around him.
It all feels out of character for Kenobi. Even if he’s torn with guilt, his sense of duty to protect Luke would motivate him to keep up with his Jedi training and to be keenly aware of any threats that may head their way. He would know that he would need to be ready, and even after 10 years, he’s spent a lifetime training and fighting as a Jedi. He might get rusty, but the skills are still going to be there.
There are a couple of scenes that reinforce this idea that Obi-Wan, now Ben, is in hiding and will not risk revealing himself, even if it puts others at risk. A young Jedi is loose on Tatooine, and he somehow recognizes Obi-Wan and pursues him out into the desert. Ben tells him the Jedi are dead and that the Jedi should bury his lightsaber out in the sand and hide.
Then, Ben has a confrontation with Owen Lars, Luke’s uncle, and despite his anguish, insists that Luke should be trained (this is the great “like you trained his father” moment from the trailer). Owen is later confronted by Reva and the inquisitors while Ben hides in the shadows and does absolutely nothing while Owen faces off against them. Not only is Obi-Wan broken, but he’s now a coward. He defies the logic of the inquisitors, who tell us that “the Jedi hunt themselves” because they will always help someone in need even if it means putting themselves at risk.
But, the show doesn’t open with Obi-Wan. Instead, it opens back at the Jedi temple. We’re shown a group of younglings training with their master at the moment Order 66 is executed. It’s not clear, but it’s a safe assumption that Reva is one of the younglings. They have to watch as their master tries to save them from the clone troopers and ultimately sacrifices herself to protect them.
Reva, strangely, seems to be obsessed with capturing Obi-Wan. It’s not clear why, but she’s obsessed to the point of completely ignoring the chain of command. The show could have tried to work this into a subplot, where maybe Vader shows favoritism to the inquisitors in a way to keep them motivated and to create a cutthroat level of competition between them, including the High Inquisitor. But, so far, the show doesn’t explain it. It just sticks with making Reva as unlikeable as possible with no explanation.
Speaking of unlikeable, the show does the same with young Leia. She’s a precocious 10-year-old, and the show tries to make her some kind of child prodigy. She’s taunted by a cousin, but she comes back with a long and bitter retort with a sense of perception and intuition that would make Sherlock Holmes jealous.
But, even this doesn’t hold up, because when the plot needs her to be, she’s completely clueless, like when she runs right up to the kidnappers.
The entire Leia kidnapping subplot makes no sense. Bail Organa is well aware of Leia’s parentage; he and his wife are very public figures and appear to have Leia in public as well. So, it makes no sense that Organa has done nothing to keep his daughter safe. It seems like Leia would have been taught some awareness that there could be individuals in the galaxy who would do harm to herself and/or her family.
Reva hires thugs kidnap Leia. She somehow knows about the relationship between Organa and Kenobi. Reva also seems to know that despite Organa’s wealth and resources, he’ll go to Kenobi for help. She expects Kenobi, being the Jedi that he is, to agree and ultimately fall into her trap. She also expects that her thugs will have no problems capturing a Jedi Master and General of the Republic.
And this is where the show begins to fall apart. There’s an absurd scene where Leia manages to elude the kidnappers for several minutes. Organa, as predicted, reaches out to Kenobi, but he refuses. So, Organa shows up on Tatooine at Kenobi’s cave (if Reva had been so smart, she should have just tailed Organa and would have been taken right to Kenobi).
Kenobi initially refuses again, but then, he sees the young Jedi he encountered “hanging” in town (in a totally safe PG-13 way), and he changes his mind.
Instead of discreetly transporting Kenobi to the planet where Organa has trapped the kidnappers, he lets Kenobi board a public transport ship carrying a lightsaber. Regardless of how clueless Kenobi might be about the Inquisitors, Organa would absolutely be aware of them and that both they and Vader have been searching for Jedi, especially Kenobi. So, it seems pretty dumb that Organa wouldn’t help Kenobi stay undercover because if he’s exposed trying to save Leia, it’s going to put Leia in even greater danger.
But, nope, it’ll be fine. Kenobi goes to the planet, and despite keeping his cover about half the time, nobody seems to know him. He runs into a fake Jedi, and convinces him to show Kenobi where the kidnappers are.
The fake Jedi guy is just odd. Sure, maybe this is still in the outer rim, but what idiot would run around pretending to be a Jedi when there are inquisitors, not to mention Vader himself, running around hunting and killing Jedi?
Kenobi finds “Leia” and springs the trap, where Reva’s thugs easily overtake him. But, luckily, Kenobi has an ace up his sleeve and escapes the kidnappers. Then, magically, he finds the real Leia. Does he use the Force? The show needs him to find Leia, so he does.
The writers could have played up that Bail told Leia stories about the Jedi and his friend Obi-Wan. She could have taunted “Ben” with “you don’t look like a Jedi” and be stubbornly unconvinced of his true nature based on her father’s stories. Instead, after seeing his lightsaber, she wants Kenobi to “make me float.”
And then, things get silly. The inquisitors arrive, and while the others are on the ground, Reva takes to the rooftops, for reasons. She also spreads the word to the criminal element of the town that Obi-Wan is there and puts a bounty on him. Kenobi and Leia discover this, and Leia, suddenly decides that the guy who is trying to rescue her must be one of the bad guys and runs off.
So, once again, we get a ridiculous chase scene where a 10-year-old girl easily outruns an adult, a Jedi no less, and Kenobi runs around without any cover, so anyone can see who he is. Leia tries to jump across a wide gap between buildings and falls. Kenobi has to use the Force to save her, and the show makes it clear he struggles to access his power and barely saves her in time. Again, the show wants Kenobi to have abandoned a lifetime of training and is now, somehow, a complete novice in using the Force.
Fake Jedi shows up and decides he’s going to help Kenobi and the girl rather than turn them in. He assures Kenobi out there that there are people willing to help the Jedi; he gives them a location to an automated transport that will get them off-world.
But, Reva, using all of her Inquisitor parkour skills, catches up to them. While they hide, she boasts to Kenobi the big, dramatic reveal of the second episode: Your boy Anakin is alive, and he’s Darth Vader. Obi-Wan is shocked, SHOCKED, to learn this.
I call bullshit. Kenobi saw the security footage in Episode III. He knows Anakin turned to the dark side. Even if he thought he’d killed Anakin on Mustafar, Kenobi should be able to sense whether Anakin truly died. Even if he didn’t, it’s hard to imagine Kenobi never heard anything about Darth Vader, the Emperor’s right hand man, and would have been able to put two and two together.
If Kenobi’s duty is to stay on Tatooine and protect Luke, then you’d think that Kenobi would at least try to keep up with was going on in the galaxy. He’d want to keep himself aware of any pending threats that could come their way rather than just be blissfully ignorant of everything.
Then again, how does Reva know this? Vader’s true identity is a massive secret, and both Vader and the Emperor have killed to protect that secret. So, why does she know? How is she not dead?
Anyway, the High Inquisitor shows up and challenges Reva. When she reveals that she has Kenobi trapped, he decides he’ll take Kenobi down himself and take all of the credit for finding him. So, Reva kills the High Inquisitor like a chump.
This gives Kenobi time to hop on board the transport, and he and Leia escape while Reva impotently screams at the parting ship.
While he’s on the ship, Kenobi does something weird. He reaches out with the Force and says “Anakin”, and we cut to Vader opening his eyes in his meditation chamber.
And… that’s it.
Obviously, now Kenobi has made Vader aware that he’s very much alive, it seems like the show will likely lead to a confrontation between Vader and Kenobi.
Will there be a fight? Maybe. If there is, the show is going to make sure Kenobi gets his ass handed to him, but somehow, he’ll be able to get away, and Vader will let him.
Speaking of, it’s hard to say if the show will bother to explain how Reva has all of this hidden knowledge and/or her obsession for Kenobi. Does she blame him for Order 66? Did she encounter him in the temple, and did he leave her? Is there some relationship between her and Vader, and she’s obsessed with Kenobi out of her desire to prove herself to Vader?
In the end, though, I suspect that the rumors about the show may be true. Instead of Obi-Wan being able to defend himself against Vader and successfully protecting the lives of Luke and Leia, he’ll fail. Then, for reasons, Reva will have a “moment”, and may discover (or already knows, since she knows everything else) who Luke and/or Leia are, and possibly what their future holds, and it will be her, not Kenobi, that saves the day.
Reva will get a redemption arc that will end at the end of Vader’s lightsaber.
(Update: I’ve seen the third episode, and well, the episode was pretty trash. Obi-Wan gets to face off with Vader, and he gets his ass handed to him. They’re already dropping hints that Reva is having “doubts” about being an inquisitor but at the same time is sucking up to Vader. There’s no consistency. I’m now betting that Leia will somehow use her 10-year-old genius intellect to convince Reva to switch sides.)
Kenobi will then slink back to his cave on Tatooine, and for “reasons”, Vader will not be able to track him. He’ll still be broken, and he may even be worse off knowing that when the time came, he failed in protecting those he was supposed to protect.
And that’s exactly where Kathleen Kennedy wants hm to be. Once again, the current creators of Star Wars are hellbent on destroying everything came that before because they want people to like their new creations. The problem, though, is that they’re completely unable to develop anything new that generates the same magic that caught the imagination of fans for the last 40ish years. The sequels were a joke. The Book of Boba Fett was a disaster.
Only the Mandalorian, with Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, have even remotely come close to creating a true live-action Star Wars series that’s enjoyable to watch.
Star Wars and Obi-Wan deserve better.