After a long wait, Obi-Wan Kenobi has finally arrived on Disney+. Deborah Chow takes a look back at the era that connects the events between the Prequel and Original Star Wars trilogies. Ewan McGregor returns to the role of Kenobi, who has gone into hiding keeping a close eye on Luke Skywalker and living with the regret of what transpired during Order 66. We meet a very different man than the one that heroically leaped into action all those years ago, as he’s also faced with quite a different kind of challenge as he soon finds the Inquisitor hot on his heel.
The review will include spoilers. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, take this as a spoiler warning and only continue at your own risk.
With the premiere of the Disney+ series, we get not one but two episodes. Obi-Wan Kenobi picks up quite a few years after Order 66, which is given a brief recap early in the episode. We see a group of younglings escape with their teacher before they are surrounded by the Clone Troopers. It’s a smart way to just showcase the regret that Kenobi lives with as we also get a few flashbacks to the previous films that highlight the inner turmoil he is going through. It was his former Padawan that unleashed the events of that night and he made it his responsibility that his children would not repeat the same mistake.
Many of us speculated that something was going to drag the Jedi out of hiding, but I am surprised by the direction they took it. At first, I believed it was the Inquisitors lucking out in stumbling upon a Jedi in need, which forces him to come out of hiding but they swiftly get rid of that idea in the series’ first episode. We spend quite a bit of time with his daily routine and even see the conflict when another Jedi pleads for his help only for him to push him away. He’s given up on everything and you can really feel the way he’s just lost faith in the Force. A lot of the series’ conflict is carried by McGregor‘s performance which is definitely a standout so far.
What truly caught me by surprise is that it’s not Luke that drags him back into the fold but rather Leia Organa. We get to spend some time on Alderaan, which is a novelty given its eventual fate, and actually see her life for a bit. It plays as a nice contrast to Luke’s as they both share similar traits from their parents; especially their love for what’s beyond their humble homes. It also finally fills in the blank on why Leia knew who Obi-wan was in A New Hope, as well as highlights their relationship that was mostly implied in the original. All it took for them to build a bond was one trip into the forest too many for a group of thugs to kidnap her, which turns out to be a trap by the new Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram).
Speaking of, Reva is an interesting character that is swiftly hinted at having a personal vendetta against Kenobi. Perhaps something even connected to the earlier flashback to Order 66. While later hints may suggest it is more due to Darth Vader seeking him out, it makes her stand out from the rest. Sung Kang’s Fifth Brother is seemingly being built up as someone she’ll have quite a few confrontations with, but the biggest surprise came in the handling of the Grand Inquisitor.
Rupert Friend gave a great performance but the fact he was taken care of in the second episode is rather surprising. It does feel like a “gotcha” moment for fans that may lead to some mixed reactions from those hoping to see more of the character in this season. Though, they may still keep that window open but it does feel like a way to take him out of this story to not overshadow the newly introduced Reva.
He had his time to shine in the animated series, but it still seemed like a bit of a wasted opportunity to not show this tug of war between him and Reva. Inquisitor feeling betrayed that she was given a direct command by Vader could’ve made for some interesting drama but it still was a surprising twist that’ll keep even long-time watchers on their toes. She’s definitely turning into quite the threat though she could reduce her backflips by one or two when chasing someone down to save on time.
Chow has made reference that the series was the Star Wars equivalent of Logan, and the second episode highlights that very direction. Most of this series will seemingly explore Obi-Wan’s relationship with Leia, as they try to flee Reva and the other Inquisitors. Her interactions with him and the distrust made for an interesting arc, as it also forced Obi-Wan to finally use the force again. While he still seems a bit lost, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him find some faith once again, which he’ll carry over to Luke when the time is right.
Kumail Nanjiani has a surprising amount to do as Haja Estree, and was a stand-out in the second episode. The idea of him using magnets to fake being a Jedi was a cute idea, and while I wished he was fleshed out more, him helping Obi-Wan and Leia was a sweet moment. Especially when he pretends to be some famous Jedi only for Reva to kind of shove him to the side. It did feel like he was more of a plot device to bring these two together, but he definitely had a great time playing the character.
Though the best supporting cast is the brief return of Joel Edgerton as Uncle Owen. I expected we’d see more of him but even with a limited time we get a very strong characterization and see just how much he cares about Luke. Even if we spend little time with him, he does a lot with just emoting and staring daggers at Obi-Wan whenever he could, which added a lot to the growing feud between them.
We’re two episodes in and it’s already promising a fun adventure. McGregor carries the show and you can see he’s putting in all his heart to bring this character back to life. The Clone Trooper cameo alone of Temuera Morrison actually hit harder than I expected, and there’s a lot of heart that makes this limited series stand out. The ending reveals of the second episode cemented the eventual clash between Obi-Wan and Vader, which will definitely be quite the build-up and hopefully give us that same feeling it did when we first witnessed it back in Revenge of the Sith. So far, Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like the tightest written of the Star Wars Disney+ series and may offer us the most emotional-driven story yet.