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Director: Deborah Chow
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Vivien Lyra Blair, and Hayden Christensen.
This review covers the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Obi-Wan Kenobi has been played by several actors in the Star Wars franchise, but the most popular portrayal goes to Ewan (pronounced yoo-uhn) McGregor, who played him in the prequel trilogy. In his namesake series, he sports the same bearded look that he did in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith— although that's not to say we won't see his clean shaven look in The Phantom Menace in future episodes. And as much as the prequel trilogies have received much flak, McGregor's Obi-Wan is perhaps the best part of the three movies — as he is here, in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The miniseries is a space opera adventure set ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. It centres around Obi-Wan, who has been hiding on the planet of Tatooine following the defeat of the Jedi. However, a group of Inquisitors, evil lightsaber-wielding hunters, have come to track him down.
If you've missed the fights of the prequel trilogy (they've always felt more fluid and fast-paced compared to the original trilogy and even the sequel trilogy), Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn't disappoint. Although there are no lightsaber fights in the first two episodes (not a spoiler, I hope!), its action sequences are fairly satisfying, as are the Force feats of both the Inquisitors and Obi-Wan.
However, the series does feel constrained, story-wise. It takes place after and before events of great importance (both the prequel trilogy and original trilogy), and features characters that appear in both series. Whatever lore it introduces cannot contradict what has come after and whatever happens in the series cannot be of great importance, since it is never mentioned in the shows that come after. You're left wondering — what is it that happens in Obi-Wan Kenobi that will be of great dramatic importance?
In that sense, the series walks a very thin line with severe narrative constraints. Where is the series headed and what is the great conflict that the show is about? We know it has to end, somehow, with Obi-Wan back on Tatooine (in time for A New Hope). We know that the major characters will still be alive so that they're around for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. What is the raison d'etre for the show?
That's not to say it doesn't look good — it does, and it still manages to evoke the fantastical nature of the settings in the prequel trilogy while showing how it is all degrading to the level of what we will see in the original trilogy. McGregor's Obi-Wan is such a familiar and comforting presence that he alone manages to carry the whole show (perhaps with the power of the Force). And that, perhaps, is part of the mystique and the charm of the series.
Because when you think about it, the show ultimately has to be a character study of Obi-Wan Kenobi. We've seen other aspects of Obi-Wan's character, like his romantic dalliances in The Clone Wars, but we've never quite seen how he deals with loss. And if there's anything that his nightmares have shown in the first two episodes, it's that he has a pervading sense of loss in the series — the loss of his friends, his family (in the form of Anakin), and his world. He's grieving, and he's been doing so for ten years. That has got to take a toll on anyone.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is an exploration of how the Jedi Master copes with loss. Like WandaVision, it's ostensibly an adventure story that hides a person's journey with grief. While the much-hyped rematch between Obi-Wan and Anakin may be the high point of the series, the true climax will be Obi-Wan accepting what has happened, and being able to live in peace thereafter.