By Josh Reilly B.
“This is where the fun begins.”
The limited series Obi Wan Kenobi came to a conclusion today with Part VI. After the five previous outings built up the return of Obi-Wan, now under the name of Ben, and developed his relationship with Leia. While this plot was very much still present, the finale returned focus to Kenobi’s inner struggles regarding his regrets of the past and his rivalry with Darth Vader.
Ever since this show was announced, it was teased as having “the rematch of the century”, a reference to Anakin and Obi-Wan’s epic fight on Mustafar in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Before that, though, plots that began in the first episode were resolved as Leia is ushered to safety after being captured in the very first episode. The journey to bring her home to Alderaan was long and often brutal, but Obi-Wan’s hard work made it possible. In doing so, this series creates an incredible bond between the two that explains fully why Obi-Wan was Leia’s only hope in the very first Star Wars movie.
Obi-Wan then goes on his way to fight Vader in a rematch on a rocky, eery planet. It’s a very different setting than that of their fight on Mustafar, for example, as well as their final duel on the Death Star. The two battle it out before an intense verbal confrontation as Vader’s mask is broken, revealing the scarred Anakin underneath (even with Hayden Christensen’s voice). Obi-Wan opts not to kill his former apprentice and leaves the planet, going to visit Leia on Alderaan to say goodbye before meeting Luke for the very first time (“Hello There”). Finally, Kenobi then sees his old master, Qui-Gon Jinn, as this chapter in the Jedi’s life comes to a close.
Interspersed amidst all of that story is the journey of Reva, who goes to kill Luke before eventually deciding against it. Reva has quickly become one of the most interesting characters in modern day Star Wars, as she is in no means pure evil in the way that Palpatine is, for example, but her past experiences have haunted her to such an extent that she acts with true hatred in her heart. Moses Ingram is excellent once again and deserves immense praise not only for her performance but the way in which she’s handled disgusting racist and sexist attacks as well.
Ewan McGregor is the stand out of this episode, though, and as he should be. The character of Obi-Wan has been improved so drastically in this series, and there was already a high bar beforehand, which is a real testament to McGregor and the writing team. Kenobi has such a fatherly warmth in this series, so much so that even the feisty and independent Leia quickly warmed up to him. Watching A New Hope now is completely different after this show, but it is far from just a fill in the gaps outing. Rather, it’s a story that is worth of a Skywalker saga film, such is its importance and impact on canon and the way in which the characters grow and evolve.
This is one aspect that has been a main part of Obi-Wan’s journey throughout the six episodes – his handling of the past. He was unable to commune with Qui Gon Jinn for years, despite Yoda telling him it was possible. The events of Revenge of the Sith haunted him so greatly that it prevented him from truly seeing the way, as Kenobi said in Part III and as Din Djarin says in The Mandalorian. Overcome with sadness, guilt, and despair, the Obi-Wan seen in the first episode is a shadow of the man that he is in the final moments of Part VI. Kenobi arguably would never go on to completely move on from those events, not until Anakin turned good at least (but by then they were both Force ghosts), but he’s clearly able to put that to the side and move forward. There’s an acceptance here, and one that sets him on the path to become the wiser, older Jedi in A New Hope.
The character work continues with Leia as well, and it was amazing to hear the Princess’ iconic theme from John Williams as Obi-Wan said goodbye. The reaction to Vivian Lyra Blair’s performance in the role has been so strong that it seems likely she’ll show up again somewhere, one way or another. The same praise can be said for Darth Vader and Hayden Christensen, as this series truly links the villain in the suit to the hero Anakin in the prequels. That the two are one and the same, despite the fact that Vader would try to deny it (as he does), has never been more clearer than here. Showing Anakin’s scarred face and hearing his voice only adds to this conflicted nature and sets the stage for Vader turning back to the light to save his son, Luke. Again, this is much more of an added context type story, aka one where there’s not a whole lot of new information. Instead, Obi-Wan Kenobi further informs virtually every character in the series and even the franchise more broadly.
As stated, the rematch of the century occurs in this episode, and in many ways it lives up to the billing. The fighting style is more akin to the prequels, something that is amazing to see as these two are seasoned warriors trained in the ways of the Jedi, so it makes sense that they would be able to excel in this type of combat. The sheer power of Obi-Wan in particular is also on display, but not just to satisfy those who want Star Wars to be nothing more than John Wick in space (which, contrary to what those individuals say, the franchise has never been anything remotely close to that). Rather, these moments go to highlight Kenobi’s evolution from an aging man out of touch with the Force, arguably without much spiritual belief, to one who has his faith back.
This fight was largely great, but there were still some issues present, and ones that have consistently been there throughout these six episodes. A combination of the set design and the directing has meant that it’s simply too obvious that the actor’s are standing in front of LED screens that create and project the background. This hasn’t been present nearly as much in other Disney+ shows, but it unfortunately appears here once again. Obi-Wan comforting an injured Reva on Tatooine is a prime example of this, along with the rematch with him and Vader. On the sand planet, there was nothing around the characters whatsoever, and the camera position made it abundantly clear the technology being used. During the majority of the battle, this isn’t an issue as the rocks and large structures give the background some added depth, but the initial stages as the two ignite their sabers highlight this problem once again. It’s unclear if it’s a budgetary restraint, but given that this issue rarely arises in other Star Wars shows and Obi-Wan is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise, it seems unlikely that finances are the cause of this.
FULL SEASON VERDICT: 9.5/10
Obi-Wan Kenobi goes out with a bang in a final episode that is as entertaining as it is emotional, and the series more broadly has added so much to these characters, a real testament to the writing, directing, and acting on display. It remains unclear if this is the last time fans will see Ewan McGregor in the role, but if it is, he certainly is going out on a high note.