TV Review: Obi Wan Kenobi Episode One and Two

The first two episodes of Obi Wan Kenobi have made their debut onto Disney Plus, and they are excellent. They deliver on the excitement that has been built for years, with many surprises along the way.

As Hayden Christensen rightfully said at Star Wars Celebrations: “This is where the fun begins.”

Obi Wan Kenobi opens with a quick recap of the prequels and with another take on Order 66, and it isn’t done for a nostalgia trip. It highlights the events that are plaguing Obi Wan in his sleep and sets the darker tone of the show, Nightmares plague Obi Wan.

Ewan McGregor portrays a picture of a broken man haunted by trauma, and the scenes that follow the episodes show him as such. He is a shadow of the man he was in the prequels, he doesn’t want to help the citizens of Tatooine, his fellow Jedi or even Leia when she is kidnapped. Bail Organa has to come to his home and appeal to him directly, passionately pleading that Obi Wan is more than this shadow. 

Another concept this show introduces quickly is the Inquisitors. Fans who watch Star Wars Rebels or play Jedi: Fallen Order, will be intimately familiar with who they are, with the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) and Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) even making the jump into live-action. A quick note on their design, it looks horrible.

The more alien aspects of these characters have been toned down to the point where it is obvious that these are actors in makeup. The Grand Inquisitor fares better than the Fifth Brother, but neither reflect their counterparts in animation.

The Inquisitors are Jedi hunters, and demonstrate this fact really quickly by taking one out. Rupert Friend delivers the line about the Jedi Code being an itch with such calm menace, capturing what the perfect Jedi is like in a sentence. 

The conflict between the Inquisitors is written well, developing the organisation into more than just evil doers. Reva, the Inquisitor created for the show, is treated as the lowest member, with her methods constantly questioned and her talent doubted.

The Grand Inquisitor and Fifth Brother use coercive measures to achieve their aims, whereas Reva defaults to violence and threats. Hierarchy means nothing to Reva, not only the Inquisitor hierarchy but Imperial hierarchy in general, as she arranges for the kidnapping of the daughter of an Imperial Senator. 

The only complaint about this conflict is how it gets resolved at the end of episode two, where Reva stabs the Grand Inquisitor, hoping to strike a killing blow. The moment achieves its shock value, but nothing more. As Star Wars Rebels is set at a later time period than Obi Wan Kenobi, the audience knows he isn’t dead.

Furthermore, it feels like a cheap and rushed plot point. The conflict between the Reva and the Grand Inquisitor needed more time to develop, as it was enjoyable to watch. Reva knowing the identity of Darth Vader creates a small plothole, as no one except a very limited number of people are supposed to know that.

Going back to the daughter of the Imperial Senator, the show quickly reveals that it is none other than Leia Organa. This is a surprise, but makes sense for the time period. Both  Skywalker children are important after all.

Alderaan looks beautiful as well, and while the lack of Imperial presence is noticeable, it is understandable, reminding the audience that there are worlds that live in cooperation with the Empire, that did not see them as oppressors but as a government. Her distrust of Kenobi is explained extremely well, though comes off as spoiled at times.

On Alderaan, she is headstrong, and shown to be very much like Bail, with him finishing her sentences and them having similar interactions in social affairs. 

A final point that needs to be touched on is the Temuera Morrison cameo as a dishevelled, homeless 501st clone trooper, with overgrown hair and dirty. It is a heartbreaking moment, as it shows the clones as discarded by everyone, even the Empire, a point reinforced by Obi Wan witnessing some stormtroopers in perfectly clean armour go by in the next shot.

But it’s a heartbreaking moment for Obi Wan, as he knows all too well that the 501st were sent into the Jedi Temple to massacre them all, as the Order 66 scene reminds the audience. Ewan McGregor’s facial expression, the character’s hesitation and Natalie Holt’s music in this moment sells the audience that this trauma is replaying in Obi Wan’s mind, but he still helps the clone. It is such a beautifully sad moment.

Overall, both episodes managed to reach the wild audience expectations, being a brilliant opener with the show. While the Grand Inquisitor’s death fake out is unnecessary, this is a minor part of a show that hit the highs that it needed to.

The tone of the show is set excellently, exactly right for where Obi Wan is in his life. The tease of Vader at the end of the second episode is a threatening reintroduction to the character, hopefully there is more of him in the next episode.

By Kieran Burt

Feature image: Lucasfilm/Disney

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