Readers of my previous Obi-Wan Kenobi reviews know that I have been a pretty harsh critic of the latest live-action Star Wars show on Disney+.
I think I came into this show with too high of expectations, and each subsequent episode left me feeling more and more disappointed.
The problems up to this point have been manifold. From casting choices to cheap special effects to editing and direction that feels rushed and all over the place, Obi-Wan has come across as a half-baked effort that could have used more time both in the script-department and post-production.
The show’s narrative has often cribbed other, older Star Wars stories—from A New Hope’s Leia rescue to some of the sequences from The Last Jedi. Even Leia felt like a knock-off Baby Yoda in many ways. And the first showdown between Darth Vader and our titular hero was pretty bad, to say the least.
Other fundamental issues with the series include:
- The whole thing fits awkwardly between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The inclusion of Leia as a central figure directly in the sights of the Empire and the Inquisition—including her own dad, Darth Vader—doesn’t make any sense. Her close relationship to Obi-Wan also doesn’t make sense with the message she sends him later via R2-D2.
- Reva, the Inquisitor who’s actually just out for revenge on Darth Vader for his slaughter of younglings, was a problematic villain from start to finish, including in the final episode. More on that in a moment.
- Even with a surprisingly great season (series?) finale, I’m still not entirely sure what the point of this story was other than fan-service.
The Season Finale
This was easily the best episode of the six-episode run, though I don’t think it was enough to justify the show’s existence. You can’t offer up a live-action Star Wars show that’s only 1/6th good while the rest is mediocre at best.
That being said, this was a mostly very entertaining episode. The highlight, of course, was the Vader vs Obi-Wan rematch. “I see your strength has returned,” Darth Vader says as Obi-Wan shows off his lightsaber prowess. “But your weakness still remains!”
And yeah, there’s no really super memorable lines in this fight. I was ready for Vader to say “Look who has the high ground now, Obi-Wan!” when he knocked him into the pit and covered him with rubble, but that would have been a little too on the nose.
The entire fight was pretty terrific this time around. Obi-Wan is buried but his visions of Luke and Leia revive him and he blasts his way out and shows off Force powers like he’s never displayed before, raising a fleet of boulders to rain down on Vader’s head before absolutely destroying his former pupil, leaving him wheezing for breath, his helmet smashed and his machinery fried.
The ensuing dialogue between Anakin and Obi-Wan is also quite good. “You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker,” Vader says, his yellow eye gleaming inside his warped face, “I did.”
I admit, however, two quibbles:
- First, this scene is meant to “fix” Obi-Wan’s faux pas in A New Hope, when the old Jedi calls Vader “Darth.” Here he does it again after he realizes, once and for all, that Anakin Skywalker is truly dead. He calls him “Darth” as he walks away. But given that Obi-Wan is a Jedi with knowledge of the Sith, he knows that this is not a name, not something you’d call anyone. You wouldn’t call the Emperor (aka Darth Sidious) Darth, either. It just doesn’t make sense. Rather than “fix” the first movie, he could have just called him Vader.
- I know why Obi-Wan let’s Anakin live. It wouldn’t really make sense to kill him because he’s in the original trilogy. But just in terms of the story in this show, in isolation, why doesn’t he kill him? If he’s accepted that this isn’t his former friend and pupil, that he is now a killer and a monster and a clear and present danger to Luke, Leia and the fledgling rebellion (not to mention himself) why not just end the bastard now? I don’t think the show does a very good job explaining that.
Elsewhere in the show we get the Reva storyline’s resolution. The disgraced Inquisitor heads to Tatooine to find Luke. We quickly learn that she’s actually there to kill him as some sort of second-best revenge plot since she can’t get Vader. She’s surmised that Luke is Vader’s kid and even though Vader himself doesn’t know it, I guess she thinks that killing a little boy will serve as enough vengeance at the end of the day.
Owen and Beru put up a fine defense—it goes better than when the Stormtroopers attack nine years later—but ultimately Luke has to flee into the desert where Reva tracks him down and knocks him unconscious. She’s unable to do the deed, however, since it reminds her too much of Anakin killing her friends. Yeah, no kidding Reva. What the heck.
This is the weaker story of the two. I think the bones of an interesting revenge tale were there throughout the season but it just never really came together in a very compelling way. I also don’t love that both Luke and Leia have now had these big, exciting, traumatizing experiences. Leia was supposed to be a sheltered princess. Luke was always dreaming of more excitement as though his like had been totally humdrum rather than, you know, getting chased by lightsaber-wielding Inquisitors.
We also got several cameos in the season finale. Palpatine shows up to chastise Vader over his obvious feelings toward his old master and basically tells him to stop obsessing over Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan, meanwhile, not only gets to meet Luke with a classic “Hello there,” but finally is able to speak with the Force Ghost of his own master, Master Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson).
The space chase was the other weak link of the season finale. This, again, reminded me too much of the lousy slow chase in The Last Jedi and I find it beyond silly to watch Vader’s Star Destroyer unsuccessfully chase one single transport ship that’s not even a fast or exciting ship like the Millennium Falcon. I also find myself more annoyed with Leia than anything during all of her scenes.
Or maybe I’m just still having a hard time buying that this tiny child is so outspoken, wise and clever. She’s supposed to be 10, but she seems 8 tops to me. I generally hate the whole “Mary Sue” accusation that’s so often leveled at female characters, but Obi-Wan’s writing team has done just that with young Leia. This episode she’s off comforting the poor kids with her droid, because I guess their lives of hardship and danger haven’t prepared them as well as her pampered life in the palace on Alderaan. Sigh.
So this was far from a perfect episode, but it did the best it could wrapping up these storylines and giving us a satisfying ending for our titular hero. He’s off on a new adventure when the credits roll, lending some credence to the idea that a second season could, indeed, happen. If it does, they need to abandon Skywalkers of all types—children and dark Sith lords—and focus on Obi-Wan and other slices of the galaxy. I would not be opposed to a Darth Maul encounter or other characters from The Clone Wars making an appearance.
- Leia using the holster Ben gave her as a pouch for Lola the droid is adorable. I may be annoyed with how Leia was portrayed and used in this show but I can recognize an adorable moment when I see one.
- Other ideas for what Vader could have said once he had the high ground: “I am higher than you, Master.” “The high ground, I have.” “Tell Yoda Vader sends his regards.”
- Aunt Beru might actually be the most badass female character in this show. Owen tells her the Inquisitor is coming for them and she’s just like, “RIDE OR DIE BABY!” I’m more confused than ever how the Stormtroopers bested these two in Episode IV.
- Still not a fan of the Inquisitors. Why would the Grand Inquisitor think that a transport ship with a bunch of civilians was more important than one of the most famous, powerful Jedi left living in the whole galaxy?
- The musical callbacks were nice there at the end but also highlighted just how weak the score was for this show. I can’t think of a single tune, whereas I still get The Mandalorian’s theme stuck in my head randomly. Like right now after typing this. It is now stuck in my head. Damn it.
Previous Obi-Wan Kenobi reviews and commentary:
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