Obi-Wan Kenobi’s story post-Revenge of the Sith never really seemed like a story worth following. Star Wars canon told us that the Jedi waited out in the sands of Tattooine as a hermit, overseeing Luke Skywalker before he was ready to train in the ways of the Force. Sure, comics and novels have expanded his story somewhat, but not to the point where a full six-part Disney Plus series seemed warranted. Obi-Wan Kenobi had a big task on its hands, then, but its debut episodes work wonders in not only justifying its existence, but also laying the groundwork for a story that could pull off the unfathomable and simultaneously add to both the prequels and original trilogy in ways I wasn’t expecting.
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”
Star Wars has tried its damnedest to fill in all of the gaps from the prequels to the sequels, and this relentless pursuit to leave no stone unturned has been detrimental to the franchise overall. However, Kenobi provides a surprising twist to the Obi-Wan story that not only completely justifies him leaving Tattooine, but also provides a wonderful bit of detail to a relationship that previously didn’t exist.
Obi-Wan heading off Tattooine to rescue a kidnapped nine-year-old Leia is an excellent subversion of expectations. I expected Kenobi to feel like a side-mission for the Jedi, with him being thrust in Vader’s direction before returning back to Luke and Tattooine. But we know that Leia is just as crucial to the events of the Star Wars saga as Luke, adding a level of importance to Kenobi that was unanticipated.
Leia’s quote in the original trilogy about Obi-Wan being her “only hope” was rendered questionable by the events of the prequels. How did Leia know that he was so important to her cause? What could the pair’s relationship possibly have been, considering he was being a hermit on Tattooine for all these years? Kenobi creates a bond between the two that previously didn’t exist, and if continued effectively through the rest of the episodes, really adds to that message from Leia that winds up kicking off the events of the trilogy.
Hello there… again
Returning to the title role, Ewan McGregor excellently portrays a post-Order 66 Obi-Wan whose confidence has been all but shattered following the near-extinction of the Jedi. He knows what the Jedi have lost, he knows the mistakes he made that contributed to this, and now he’s conflicted about showing his face when there is once again so much at stake.
Of course, it isn’t long before he decides to pick up his lightsaber and rescue Leia — and after The Book of Boba Fett, thank the Ancients that we aren’t stuck on Tattooine again — but this isn’t the Obi-Wan we saw in the prequels. You wouldn’t expect this gruff and scraggy guy to gleefully plant himself in front of General Grievous with a quippy “hello there.” This is a tired Obi-Wan who isn’t using his powers, isn’t wielding his lightsaber, and very much doesn’t want to be on the mission he finds himself embroiled in.
This is where the Inquisitors come in, along with the looming presence of Darth Vader. Reva, the villainous “Third Sister” created for the show, is shockingly brutal in her approach to a point that even catches the Grand Inquisitor off-guard. Vader is behind them all pulling the strings, hinting at a far more manipulative side to the Sith Lord that we’ve seen in the animated series, comics, and games, but not necessarily in live-action.
The Vader from the original trilogy is certainly intimidating, but he’s still very much shown as the puppet of Palpatine. Kenobi’s second episode concludes with a tease that we will see a Vader who is operating not at the request of the Empire and his master, but out of his own need for vengeance — and a vengeful Vader has thus far eluded us in live-action. It remains to be seen how Hayden Christensen’s return to Vader is handled, but him covertly using Reva to flush Kenobi out is a good sign.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 1 and 2 Review: The final verdict
A Disney Plus series starting off incredibly strong doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll stick the landing, as we’ve seen multiple times now. However, with showrunner Deborah Chow being given control over the entire series, hopefully Obi-Wan Kenobi can prove to be far less disjointed than previous Star Wars works from the House of Mouse. Episodes 1 and 2 have easily done the hard part of justifying this chapter in Obi-Wan’s life being explored — now this is where the fun begins.