It’s been seventeen years since Ewan McGregor last played the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Prequel Trilogy and forty-five years since Sir Alec Guiness originated the role in the original Star Wars. The new limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi brings us back to the galaxy far, far away and picks up ten years after the events of the Prequel Trilogy, with Obi-Wan Kenobi in hiding on Tatooine, watching over the young Luke Skywalker.
But is Obi-Wan Kenobi any good? Emphatically Yes.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Part One of this limited series begins with one of the more harrowing flashbacks to the events of Revenge of the Sith, specifically the massacre at the Jedi Temple. A group of Jedi Younglings are going through what appears to be martial arts training when the 501st Legion attacks. The Younglings and their master attempt to traverse the carnage of the Temple, only for the unnamed master to be struck down, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
We pick things up 10 years later on Tatooine as an imposing ship descends on Mos Eisley. The Grand Inquisitor (portrayed by Rupert Friend in the character’s first live-action debut), the Fifth Brother (portrayed by Sung Kang, also this character’s first live-action debut), and the Third Sister Reva (portrayed by Moses Ingram) exit the ship and make their way to a nearby saloon. The Inquisitors have largely been seen before in the animated shows like Star Wars: Rebels but the live-action versions are just as intimidating. There’s an air of detached malice (with the exception of the Third Sister, who carries herself with barely-contained violence at all times) with the Inquisitors. The trio are looking for a Jedi hiding out in the saloon, who soon reveals himself when the Third Sister attacks the saloon owner. The young Jedi, named Nari, manages to escape the Inquisitors. We soon learn that the Third Sister is obsessed with finding Obi-Wan for an as yet specified reason. I have a sneaking suspicion that Third Sister is one of the Jedi Younglings that managed to survive Order 66 only to be indoctrinated into the Inquisitors (similar to Trilla Suduri, the Second Sister, from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order).
We soon find Obi-Wan Kenobi working at a meat-processing site in the deserts of Tatooine. To say that Obi-Wan is downtrodden would be an understatement. Ewan McGregor infuses Obi-Wan with a palpable layer of unspoken grief and melancholy. Instead of the Jedi Master and hero of the Clone Wars, we find a hermit who shuns interacting with other people and keeps to himself. Even when confronted by Nari after his escape from the Inquisitors, Obi-Wan refuses the call to action, admonishing the young Jedi for attracting too much attention and instructing Nari to bury his lightsaber in the sand and forget the fight. This is a defeated man who no longer hears the voice of his Master, Qui-Gon, and instead simply moves through life without any real purpose. We also see this in his interaction with Owen Lars (a returning Joel Edgerton), who straight up tells Obi-Wan to leave him and his family alone. Keeping the throughline with the Original Trilogy, Owen wants nothing to do with Obi-Wan, the Jedi, or the Empire, preferring to live out his life as a simple moisture farmer.Amazon Music: Six Months of Disney+
Purpose soon finds Obi-Wan, though, as we are introduced to the precocious Leia Organa on Alderaan. We didn’t get to see much of Alderaan in the films (largely because it was destroyed in the original Star Wars film). In Obi-Wan Kenobi, we get to see Alderaan in all its glory and it is a beautiful backdrop. Through the scenes with Leia, we get to see how this world will shape the freedom fighter we all know and love from the films. Leia is a rambunctious, courteous, and willful child, much to the consternation of her parents. It warmed my heart to see Jimmy Smits on screen again as Bail Organa. One of the best parts of the Prequel Trilogy was Smits’ performance as the deeply moral Senator Organa, one of the last remaining allies of the Jedi during the Purge.
We soon see that the Third Sister has orchestrated a plot to draw Obi-Wan Kenobi out of hiding by arranging for the kidnapping of Leia Organa from Alderaan. The fact that the Third Sister doesn’t know about Leia’s true parentage is a small blessing but it is enough for Bail to reach out to Obi-Wan to help Leia. When Obi-Wan resists the call to action again, Bail makes the trip to Tatooine personally. Between Bail’s impassioned plea for assistance and Obi-Wan finding the corpse of Nari hanging from the square in Mos Eisley, Kenobi finds it within himself to once again take up his lightsaber and join the fight. Overall, this is a fine start to the limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi and I’m excited to see how this story unfolds over the coming weeks.
My book series The Atalante Chronicles is now live on Amazon for Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover Print-On-Demand. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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