Well, I’m quite late to the party with this, aren’t I? The six-episode miniseries wrapped up a couple of weeks ago now, and in many ways I find myself a bit flummoxed by it all, really. Spoilers are abound here, people, so please don’t read on if you haven’t yet watched it!
The show is a rescue mission, Princess Leia is captured and Bail Organa enlists the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi to get his daughter back. He is able to find her on the planet of Daiyu, where it transpires that Leia was kidnapped on the orders of Reva, an Imperial Inquisitor, who is obsessed with finding Kenobi and used Leia as a lure. While Kenobi and Leia are able to escape Daiyu with the help of a con artist, he is nevertheless horrified to have learnt from Reva that Anakin Skywalker is alive as Darth Vader.
They arrive on Mapuzo, and after a brief altercation with some local Imperials, Kenobi and Leia are rescued by Tala, a member of the underground movement called the Path who helps to hide outlaws from the Empire. Tala is herself an Imperial Officer, however, providing the perfect cover. Tala attempts to lead Kenobi to safety but Vader himself arrives. Kenobi confronts his former friend as a distraction to allow Leia to escape, and Vader easily overpowers him. Tala is able to distract Vader and his stormtroopers in time to rescue Kenobi, but Reva captures Leia and takes her to the Inquisitors’ fortress. On Jabiim, Kenobi and Tala plan to infiltrate the fortress to rescue Leia, but during their escape Tala’s cover is blown. Path Commander Roken arrives to rescue them, and Vader is about to kill Reva for her failure, but Reva is able to track them.
Vader tracks Kenobi to Jabiim, and Reva leads a siege on the Path members there. Kenobi stalls for time and learns from Reva that she was aware of Anakin’s identity because she witnessed Operation Knightfall as a youngling at the Temple. She joined the Inquisition in order to exact vengeance on Vader for killing her friends, and Kenobi offers her the chance to kill Vader by surrendering to her. The Path members are able to flee, and Reva attempts to kill the Dark Lord of the Sith, but is hopelessly outmatched. He toys with her before stabbing her and leaving her for dead. Reva finds Kenobi’s comlink with a message from Bail Organa that reveals the existence of Luke on Tatooine.
Vader pursues the Path network, but breaks off when Kenobi lands on a deserted planet to confront him. The two duel, and Kenobi at first appears outmatched. However, Kenobi is able to regain his full connection to the Force and damages Vader’s mask and breathing apparatus. Realising Anakin has been subsumed by Vader, he leaves his old friend for dead once more. Meanwhile, Reva arrives on Tatooine and is able to overpower the Lars’ but Luke escapes into the desert. She is unable to bring herself to kill him, remembering her friends at the Temple, and returns him to his family. Kenobi, who has arrived on Tatooine when he felt Luke’s distress through the Force, congratulates her from turning from the Dark Side. As he returns home, the Force spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn finally appears to him from the beyond, offering to train him further. The Emperor chastises Vader for his single-minded pursuit of Kenobi, questioning his loyalty to the Sith.
That’s a fairly rushed synopsis, of course, but gets the main points across!
Now, the show wasn’t bad – it definitely had a story to tell, even if that story felt drawn-out at times. Unlike the last Disney+ show, there was a clear thread moving throughout the series, and I think it’s a definite step up from the Book of Boba Fett. However, the story all felt kinda pointless. Nothing bad was ever going to happen to Leia, to Luke, to Obi-Wan, or to Vader, because they all show up again in Episode IV. So all of the jeopardy of the majority of the series, with Kenobi trying to rescue Leia, felt a bit pointless really, because she was never in any real danger. The same with the final episode, Luke was never going to be harmed, so what was the point?
The show, however, casually seemed to kill off both the Grand Inquisitor and then the Third Sister, only for both to be shown to survive lightsaber wounds to the stomach quite easily, cheapening the effect of a character’s death in any of these shows. But then, I guess Disney has already shown us that they don’t consider death the end with their treatment of Palpatine in Episode IX, so…
The Third Sister, Reva, has come under a lot of hate for the fact that a black actress, Moses Ingram, played her. Personally, I have no issues with that – a person’s skin colour is pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of life – but the character is nevertheless irritating to me. I wish she was either all-out evil, really trying to attach herself to Vader in order to kill him in revenge for his attack on the Jedi Temple. There’s at least one instance roughly in the middle of the series where she seems to be alone with him, so why she didn’t take that opportunity, if all she wants to do is kill him, is beyond me. The character in general just seems a bit ineffective, and there are many elements of the kind of emo-posturing we see in the sequel trilogy villains.
As a show that explores the fall-out of Order 66, and the post-traumatic life of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s actually really deep. The first few episodes go quite a ways into this, exploring how Obi-Wan is living now on Tatooine, keeping watch over Luke and just getting by. There’s a lot of show not tell going on, and it’s really quite powerful. Thankfully, most of the action takes place away from Tatooine this time, but the show still manages to play out as a character drama, even with the diverse locales.
There are several nice nods to the old expanded universe, such as having the underground Path movement being headquartered on Jabiim (although the planet doesn’t seem to be suffering the perpetual rains anymore) and mention of Quinlan Vos being alive and helping out. Maybe we see some exciting stuff there in the future, now that he’s a definite part of continuity? The Path was a really nice part of the story, and I thought having Tala being essentially a rebel spy in deep cover was inspired – hopefully we’ll see stuff like this in the upcoming Andor show, but it makes perfect sense that the rebels would either try to turn high-level Imperials to their cause, or else infiltrate someone with the specific goal of working up the ranks to try and get them into a position where they can help like this. I know the original trilogy was presenting the Empire as something of a faceless authority that was meant to be impermeable and all-seeing, and the rebels are a bunch of guys held together with hope, but getting this more nuanced view of the Empire makes it much more credible, and presents us with the opportunity for something more. Setting up the Rebellion as more of an organisation, with the ability to plan ahead like this, rather than the rag-tag bunch who just got lucky a couple of times, really makes the story exciting, in my view. I really hope we get to see more of the top-level of the Alliance undertaking this sort of manoeuvring, and I hope they don’t just leave it here.
Of course, the big headline was all about the show-down between Obi-Wan and Vader, which was making me twitchy before the show aired because of the fact it just felt wrong. The way Lucas left the movies, Vader’s line in A New Hope makes sense, and so it feels very much like a cheap shot to make them meet up again now just for views. Vader should never have been a part of this; if anything, we could have had a show where the Inquisitors discover Kenobi is still alive, and they try to bring him in to curry favour but he manages to escape. Or something. The show messes up a lot of the relationships from the movies, like Vader and Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan and Leia. The finale to the series, with Palpatine telling Vader to move on, and Obi-Wan telling Leia they should pretend like they don’t know each other or whatever, it sort of makes the show a bit pointless. Nothing meaningful has happened, you know? The show doesn’t exist to move the overarching story anywhere, so what’s the point of it? Just to see some flashy action and stuff? Hm.
But this is a problem I seem to be having more and more with Disney Star Wars, so I think I need to give it up and just accept these things for what they are, rather than anything else.
On its own, the show is pretty good. There is the slightly cartoony villain of the Third Sister, but it does look good, and it presents us with some very interesting insights into a lot of different aspects of the Star Wars universe. Little Leia is an absolute delight, and plays the part exactly as I imagine a young Leia would be. The Obi-Wan and Vader duel is pretty epic, and in fact all of their encounters are really quite tragic. I just find it hard to enjoy it outside of its own vacuum, really.
7 thoughts on “Kenobi!”
I’d really like to comment, but I’ve got nothing good, so that’s about as much as I can do 🙂
Go on, you’re among friends here… 😃
* edited edit edited *
And that about sums it up 😉
I’m not Dickens but I know how to edit 🙂
My take is pretty similar to yours. I’d never considered that Obi-Wan needed a “redemption” story, and while I was surprised to find myself invested in his emotional journey, there rarely felt like there were any stakes involved. I thought the characterization of Vader was great – moving faster, less in control of his emotions that in the original trilogy, I thought he was a nice bridge between the Anakin of the prequels and the Vader of the original films. I loved Vader and Obi-Wan’s scenes together – the scenes on Mapuzo are terrifying and the final battle was spectacular, particularly the emotional exchange at the end. But overall, I felt the show was trying to shoehorn a story into existing lore, and that the characters made odd or nonsensical choices because the writers’ hands were so tied by what already existed in the films. Glad I watched it, though I doubt I’d watch again.
Yep, I think we’re on the same page on this! I quite liked the way Vader and Kenobi try to anticipate each other’s moves based on their former friendship, and that scene where Kenobi gets dragged through the flames was quite difficult to watch. But there’s ultimately no real stakes because we know they all survive. Hm.