The wait is finally over. Obi-Wan Kenobi is back on our screens, and even typing that feels somewhat alien. Most of us haven’t seen Ewan McGregor as the wise and playful Jedi Knight since 2005 when Revenge of the Sith came out. It’s hard to deny how special that feels. As someone who grew up watching the Prequels, I knew that Obi-Wan Kenobi was going to hit very differently. It was an absolute certainty. However, despite the excitement that was bubbling from within, part of me definitely felt nervous…
As you’ll learn throughout this review, my worries were completely unnecessary and quickly extinguised. The first episode, titled Part I, delivered in every way imaginable. There is a huge void between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but Obi-Wan Kenobi gradually starts to fill those gaps with fantastic exploration, a gripping story that presents us with a very different Obi-Wan, and characters both new and old. Part I is a chilling reminder of the devastation caused by Order 66 and how Obi-Wan’s epic battle on Mustafar impacted him on an emotional and spiritual level. We never really discover how Obi-Wan coped with so many heavy losses, but Part 1 smacks us right in the face with a thermal detonator. The Obi-Wan we know and love is gone, and it is a heartbreaking revelation.
What separates Obi-Wan Kenobi from other Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian, for example, is that Obi-Wan feels completely character driven. That’s not to say that The Mandalorian isn’t. However, both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett relied frequently on very small and self-contained stories, as well as huge cameos and revelations. That format didn’t hinder the shows in any capacity, in fact it’s what made The Mandalorian shine. But for Obi-Wan Kenobi, the focus had to be on Obi-Wan. While Part I did take us away from Obi-Wan’s monotonous life on Tatooine, everything felt relevant to Obi-Wan’s character. It all related back to what Revenge of the Sith set up, and it expands on it.
It truly comes as a shock as to how different Obi-Wan is. He’s still our Obi-Wan, visually at least. But when it comes down to his essence, it’s like you’re watching someone else. Kenobi is weighed down by the past, and it continuously haunts him… It’s as though everything serves as a reminder of how he failed. This broken and worn-down hermit is brought to life brilliantly by Ewan McGregor. Of course, there were no doubts about Ewan’s ability, but I don’t think people anticipated to see an Obi-Wan that deviated this far from the Jedi Knight who could triumph regardless of the odds. It’s a rough, visceral, and tragic performance from McGregor, and considering that this was the opening episode, it was incredibly important to capture that change in attitude.
Surprisingly, despite Obi-Wan reliving the same day, like some cruel Star Warsian Groundhog Day, we don’t stay on Tatooine as I originally assumed. While this is indeed Kenobi’s story, there are still elements from across the stars that bleed into and invades Kenobi’s new life. To revisit Alderaan was an utter shock, purely because it seemed outside of Kenobi’s jurisdiction, and it actually is. However, the creators of Obi-Wan Kenobi have crafted a fantastic story that has the scope and range of a grand Star Wars adventure that ties into the canon beautifully. Yet, it achieves that without betraying Kenobi’s newfound pessimism. This series is very much character driven, but even though we wander every now and then, everything is connection and structured in a way that keeps Obi-Wan in the spotlight and extends his world well beyond the familiar sands of Tatooine.
Obviously, this show doesn’t just star Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi brings in a bunch of new and familiar characters. It was great to see so many returning faces like Owen Lars, Bail Organa, and Princess Leia who was just utterly brilliant. She really was an absolute delight. This series serves as a great example of how vast and wide the Star Wars universe is. Not just in terms of locations and environments, but also in regards to the characters and species.
The most notable additions were the Inquisitors, who many of us would have met in Rebels. I love the Inquisitors, and I really think the creators did them justice. They all looked fantastic, despite some controversies surrounding the design of the Grand Inquisitor. Even though we met a few Inquisitors, the focus seemed to be primarily on Reva who has this fixation on Obi-Wan. Originally, it felt somewhat personal but actually it appears as though her goal centers on getting recognition and approval from Lord Vader himself. There are a few ways that can go, and I’m willing to bet that they don’t end well. That’s a problem for the future though.
Reva is an incredibly exciting character that just reinforces my love for the Dark Side. I can’t wait to see where she goes next and what she does. But, based on her attitude in this premiere episode, her lust for power will only grow and intensify. That’s what I love about unhinged characters like Reva… They are completely reckless and unpredictable. Yet, despite their power and ambition they are usually brought down by their own self-assured hubris. Reva may be a villain who is defeated, not by Obi-Wan Kenobi, but herself. Which is ironic when you consider that the Inquisitor’s mentality surrounds the Jedi essentially hunting themselves through good deeds.
The first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi is pretty much everything I wanted. Not only did Ewan deliver a stellar performance that took Kenobi to a new level, but the world building surrounding the Jedi Knight was incredibly satisfying and adventurous. The worlds were rich, the characters were fun, and the many new additions kept us on our feet. This limited has so much potential and it has kicked off to a brilliant start. Let’s hope it keeps the momentum going, there is still so much to explore and discover.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is directed by Deborah Chow and executive-produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Deborah Chow, Ewan McGregor and Joby Harold.
The first two episodes of the series are available on Disney+ right now. Following the premiere, the series will stream weekly on Wednesdays, until the finale on Wednesday 22th June. Have you watched the Part I and Part II? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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