Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first step into a . . . larger world?

| May 27, 2022

I do not step into a new Star Wars property with light feet.  I’m an original fan, Class of ’77.  In fact, I’m a super-fan, as is my wife.  We’re crazy for this stuff.  You should see our living room.  The occasion of anything new always comes with a bit of excitement, and the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series is no exception.  There are a lot of questions to be answered.  What exactly was Ben/Obi-Wan doing out there on the sands of Tatooine while Darth Vader and his space Nazis were bulldozing across the galaxy?  This is stuff that only a super-fan keeps close to the chest.

The new Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi” is set to answer these burning questions, but walking into the first two episodes, I wondered what it could tell me that I didn’t already know.  Yeah, I know that the Empire was hunting him.  Yeah, I know that he kept a watch over ‘lil Luke.  Yeah, I know that he had a tense relationship with Luke’s Uncle Owen who didn’t want Obi-Wan’s interference bringing the whole Galactic Empire to his front door (which, we know, they eventually did).


Actually, that’s exactly what the first episode is all about.  After a bulky recap of the Jedi Master’s journey through the prequels, we catch up with Obi-Wan (now using the name Ben) who is living in a cave on Tatooine, blocking himself off from The Force, and eeking out a small living for himself and his pet Eopie – which looks like a cross between a camel and an aardvark.  For fan service, this first episode is a full-service plate of goodies.  For originality, it’s not quite there, except for one thing: the performance of Ewan McGregor. 

Pulled out from under the weight of George Lucas’ clunky dialogue, McGregor’s performance here is quite good, especially during the moments when we just observe his daily routine.  His face bears the weight of his experience.  It is ten years since The Empire wiped all of his Jedi friends off the map and Obi-Wan’s still feels the 9/11-sized sting of that mass Jedi genocide down to his very bones.  The best moments in this episode are when the story isn’t upfront and we just hear the wind and the empty spaces surrounding him.  It’s all in his face, and it is quite effective.

Outside of that, the story is pretty basic.  The Empire sends its death squads across the galaxy to hunt down the last remaining Jedi and here the series falls back on it’s Western roots by having the bad guys wander into a bar and shake up the local folk for information.  What surprised me was the in-fighting among the Imperials who have different ideas about how to go about the hunt.  I liked this.  It taps into some of the best moments in “The Clone Wars.”

The second episode is where things get more interesting, and also where I am obliged to keep my trap shut.  The plot (finally) takes Obi-Wan off-world on a mission that puts him in jeopardy – and where he is forced to pull out his hidden talents as a Jedi master.  I’ll be mum, but I’ll say that I was more curious because this section seemed to be taking the series in a new direction, and seems to encourage an even bigger question.

We know that Hayden Christensen will show up to play Darth Vader.  Can this series redeem his bland prequel performance in the same way that “The Mandalorian” redeemed Temuera Morrison’s wooden performance in Attack of the Clones?  Its hard to say, because what kind of performance can he give under that black mask?  And what will be the nature of his conflict with Obi-Wan?

It is hard to say after only two episodes (there are four left).  These first two episodes do a very good job of recounting, but I’m ready for an original story.  In fact, once this series is over, I would love for folks at Disney to take a break from these ‘gap fillers’, these shows that essentially just recount the in-between stories that we already know.  As a super-fan, I like “Obi-Wan Kenobi” a great deal and I’m eager for the story that it going to tell, but I am ready for some original content, like what “The Mandalorian” is trying to do.  Let’s really explore this galaxy and take Star Wars into a larger world.

[I’ll be back for a full recap in a few weeks when the series is concluded.]

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Blog, Sci-Fi/Fantasty