Spoilers ahead of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series finale.
There’s a lot to love about Obi-Wan Kenobi, the non-fiction-themed Disney series about the post-pre-prequel adventures of the titular Jedi. Vivien Lyra Blair is brilliantly cast as Leia, perfectly capturing the wit and spark of the powerful Princess Carrie Fisher. Ewan McGregor touts the exhaustion and spiritual defeat of his character brilliantly. The detectives are some of the most menacing villains I’ve seen in a Star Wars story. I loved it when that storm was cut in half by a laser fence. It’s an entertaining show, but I struggled to invest in it because I knew most of the key players would live to see another day.
This is a show where our characters are in constant danger. Leia is kidnapped by bounty hunters, and later, the Empire is kidnapped. Riva threatens to kill Owen Lars. In the last episode I descend on his farm on a mission to kill Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan clash in multiple duels using lightsabers. All this would be fine if I didn’t already know the fate of these characters. When Reva came for Luke, I didn’t feel a thing. I know he’s getting away. When Obi-Wan and Vader fought, the atmosphere seemed hollow. The fate of Obi-Wan is decided in A New Hope. Vader in Return of the Jedi. The stakes in this offering aren’t just low – they’re pretty much non-existent.
For the characters, the stakes are enormous. Protecting Luke and Leia is a matter of Hungarian importance to Obi-Wan. Leah desperately needs to return to Aldran. Reva secretly wants to assassinate Darth Vader. From their point of view, everything that happens on the show is very important. But to me as a viewer, already pained by the series’ schedule, it all just seems pointless. There is still value to moment-to-moment drama. Obi-Wan learns about Anakin’s new identity, witnesses Leia’s childhood to Alderan, and investigates with a sleepy young Luke. I enjoyed these parts of the show. But the overall plot left me feeling cold.
Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles to justify her existence. It adds nothing of real significance to the larger Star Wars canon, republishing the old and familiar ground. It’s another story set in part on Tatooine. More supporting material for the movie trilogy. More stories about the Skywalker clan. The same could be said of the Boba Fett book, perhaps. But at least this show tells new stories and offers the stories of beloved characters. Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like a rock band from the ’70s reunited for another expensive stadium tour, breathing through the same old songs. The songs are good, but come on: it’s time to move on.
Lots of new characters are introduced in Obi-Wan Kenobi, of course, including the aforementioned Reva, fake Kumail Nanjiani’s Jedi Haja Estree, and Indira Varma Empire Turncoat Tala Durith. These should have been the characters who invested their lives in their lives, but I didn’t get much time to hang out with them. When Tala sacrificed herself, she didn’t land as hard as she should have because I hardly knew her. I guess that’s the problem with squeezing a big multi-character sci-fi epic like this into 6 TV episodes. A few people may have given these new splint additions more time to get under my skin.
I desperately wanted Obi-Wan Kenobi to thrill, surprise, and excite me—something The Mandalorian does in nearly every episode. This show set a very high standard for Star Wars episodic elements, and I can’t help but compare every new show to it. But when the credits started in Episode 6, I was still waiting for that to happen. Me, no Dislikes the offer. It can be seen completely. I wish the creators would have done more with it, if at all they had to. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this kind. Cassian Andor and Lando Calrissian will both have their own shows, and more are sure to follow. Nostalgia is big business.
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