Everything works in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episodes 1 & 2, in a way that almost feels like it should be some kind of a trap. Even as someone who grew up with the prequels, and who had the typical love/hate relationship of the time with them, it feels like Obi-Wan Kenobi is just so much better than it had any right to be. In Episode 1, that is mostly because Ewan McGregor is Obi-Wan Kenobi for my generation. In Episode 2, that’s because …Leia Organa.
Sure, I watched the original trilogy before the prequels – I “indoctrinated” at a young age, but there’s still nothing quite like that first glimpse of Ewan as Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace. That’s the character that clicked for me. That’s the actor that made it click. And even though some probably feel this way for Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker, for me, most of the prequels related nostalgia had to do with this man, this character.
Ironically, even I didn’t think this show could be anything more than nostalgia. What storyline is there? Apparently, a good one, if the setup in the first hour two hours and the presence of a Leia Organa that is both so much more than we had a right to expect, and exactly what we always wanted is to be believed. So let us go into what the episodes set up, what it means for our characters and what comes next as we discuss the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a broken man when this show starts, and it’s hard to envision him as anything else in the time from Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope. And yet, the Obi-Wan of A New Hope had a twinkle in his eyes and clear hope in Luke Skywalker. So, how does Obi-Wan get from man who lost everyone and everything he’s ever cared about to …hope? That seems to be the journey of Obi-Wan Kenobi. But we cannot talk about this journey without underscoring how much the Obi-Wan we first meet just …makes sense.
We’re so used to thinking of Jedi as beings without emotions, or at least beings capable of controlling those emotions, and yet emotions cannot always be controlled, can they? In many ways, this was – has been – the biggest failure of the Jedi Order, the inability to understand human emotion. So yes, the Obi-Wan of Obi-Wan Kenobi is still plagued by the fact that he was forced to (or at least that’s what he thinks) kill the man he thought of as a brother, and the guilt that his actions contributed to the loss of Padme, the situation Luke and Leia find themselves in, not to mention, you know …the fall of the Republic.
It’s a lot to handle, and since grief isn’t linear, it all ends up tied to Obi-Wan’s traumatic loss of his Master, as well. He never truly gets a chance to grieve Qui-Gon, and though it’s been ten years since Revenge of the Sith, Yoda’s promise that there was a way to get in contact with his Master doesn’t seem to have come true. Obi-Wan is still alone, as alone as he’s ever been.
But his loneliness has a purpose. He’s there to watch over Luke, and Luke will end up saving them all. I won’t even go into how he seems to have decided Luke is more important than Leia without any hard proof, because it’s not even that he thinks Luke has more of a chance of being powerful, it’s that Luke just, physically, reminds him of the boy he met. Of Anakin. And he can’t let go of that. It’s the only thing that’s keeping him going, the idea that, through Luke, he can somehow save Anakin.
It’s what he tells himself as he turns his back on a fellow Jedi, as he tampers down the compassion that the Jedi are known for, as he just exists, instead of living. And then Bail Organa pleads, and Leia Organa just barges in and knocks down all of Obi-Wan’s carefully constructed walls, and it’s this girl, the one he’d never really given as much thought, that makes him use the force again. It’s Leia who pushes Obi-Wan to experience the world again, to feel, to laugh, to remember something else than his pain, and it’s thanks to Leia that he’s at the right place and time to find out that the man he thought he’d killed, the brother he thought he’d lost didn’t actually die …instead, he just became something worse.
Perhaps what the future brings makes sense. Because yes, Obi-Wan will go back to protect Luke, and then die and come back to help him, but many years later, Leia Organa-Solo will name her kid Ben, as the Jedi who once saved her life. And that …well, that means everything.
THE THIRD SISTER
Moses Ingram plays Reva with complete conviction, which is part of why she works, even if you’re rooting against her every step of the way. The fact that she can use the force, that she was likely one of the younglings in the temple, running as Order 66 was enacted, explains so much of her anger at Kenobi – and it also throws a fun wrench into the Darth Vader question.
Because… how did Reva survive and why is she so loyal to the man formerly known as Anakin Skywalker. Why such hatred for Kenobi, if not for Anakin’s sake? It’s not like Obi-Wan could have really been expected to save all Jedi, or like Anakin wasn’t an easier target for her hatred than his Master. That is, of course, unless it was Anakin who saved her as a kid.
It wouldn’t really be that surprising from the man who did so much evil, and yet never truly became the full villain the Emperor expected him to be. And, honestly, if this series is going to give us more of Darth Vader, it needs to be something other than the cruel, unfeeling man we already saw for most of the original trilogy. The depth of Anakin Skywalker is worth being explored, the rest we already know.
That Obi-Wan Kenobi uses Leia instead of Luke to frame Obi-Wan realization is not just great because it’s unexpected, it’s great because it allows us a closer look at the woman who is, arguably, the real hero of the Star Wars trilogy. It’s Leia who goes from Princess to Senator, from Senator to Rebel, from Rebel to General and who never, ever gives up.
Even after she loves her family, her planet, her brother, her husband and her son.
So, to see a young Leia Organa, to get to know her as she was a kid, is a real treat. Not just because there are so many callbacks to the woman she’ll become, or because our Carrie Fisher loving hearts grew three sizes at thinking about what Carrie would say, but because …Leia was always important. She was always a hero, perhaps the hero, as I said before. And we already saw so much of Luke’s journey towards becoming one. We even got to see some of Han’s. It’s Leia’s turn, and we’re here for every second.
Of sass. Of great instincts. Of childlike wonder. Of Padme and Anakin, combined into one amazing little girl who will one day help save the galaxy, not once, but twice.
We didn’t know what Obi-Wan Kenobi could bring us other than nostalgia, but if this is the answer, then it’s already better than anyone had a right to expect. And with four episodes to go, the show is sure to have a lot more tricks up its sleeve.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Obi-Wan Kenobi? Share with us in the comments below!