Obi-Wan Kenobi begins in the midst of Order 66 in the Jedi temple on Coruscant. This flashback shows a group of Padawans who escape the slaughter. Ten years later, a triad of Inquisitors descends on Tatooine in search of Jedi. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi etches out a meager existence working in an exploitative factory. One day, he stops by the Lars homestead and leaves a toy for Luke. That night, he encounters a Jedi – the same one that the Inquisitors came after. He begs Obi-Wan for guidance, and all the old master says is to abandon his lightsaber and live a normal life. The episode cuts to the young Leia Organa and her mother, Queen Breha(sp?), preparing for an important event. Back on Tatooine, Owen warns Ben to leave Luke alone. The Inquisitors come into town, and Reva threatens Owen. Fifth Brother restrains her, and they go. Leia leaves the family function and gets kidnapped. On Tatooine, Nari is hanged. Ben rejects Bail Organa’s plea for help rescuing Leia, but Bail comes in person to ask again. It is revealed that Inquisitor Reva orchestrated the kidnapping to draw out Kenobi.
In “Part II,” Obi-Wan heads to Daiyu in pursuit of Leia. There, he encounters a man named Haja (Kumail Nanjiani) posing as a Jedi. He helps Obi-Wan locate Leia. However, Obi-Wan’s success is short-lived, as Reva puts a bounty on him, and Haja comes after him to claim the reward. Leia sees the bounty and runs away. The two only reconcile when Obi-Wan saves Leia from a fall with the Force, finally convincing her that he’s a real Jedi. Reva catches up to them and is only stopped when the Grand Inquisitor arrives. This grants Obi-Wan and Leia time to escape, but not before Reva unsettles Obi-Wan by revealing Anakin’s fate.
Since this show seems so preoccupied with Inquisitor Reva, AKA the Third Sister, I’m going to talk about her first. The Grand Inquisitor calls her reckless, and I think that’s accurate. She’s willing to cause any amount of destruction in pursuit of Kenobi, and she screams and breaks things along the way. I know the Dark Side involves channeling your anger, but this is a bit much. This character is more distracting than scary or intimidating. They clearly wanted to create a character who doesn’t quite fit in with the other Inquisitors, but I think they went about it the wrong way. To make Reva a compelling antagonist, she needs to be just as capable as the others. But the Grand Inquisitor and Fifth Brother aren’t exactly underestimating Reva because their criticisms of her methods are right on; she’s messy, impulsive, and doesn’t care about the consequences of these desperate antics. If they’re trying to create sympathy for her as an outsider, they’re failing miserably. She deserves the flack she takes and has no grace or poise in what she does.
I also don’t understand why or how Reva is convinced Obi-Wan is alive; there has been no evidence of him for ten years. In A New Hope, it seemed like he had all but disappeared. What are the chances that only Reva suspected that he survived AND she was right? I also have concerns with the scene in “Part II” where she stabs the Grand Inquisitor in the gut with her lightsaber, bringing him to the ground. This is the GRAND Inquisitor, ergo the best and their leader. Why is he even in charge if “the least of (them)” can take him down in one move? This also looks like a fatal wound, which makes no sense because he appears in Rebels, which takes place five years after this. I know Rupert Friend isn’t concerned with the timeline implications, but I should hope the writers are. Plenty of Star Wars characters have survived such scrapes now, but why strain suspension of disbelief like this? And isn’t it a little convenient that Reva decides to kidnap Leia to draw out Kenobi? This is Anakin’s daughter, even if very few people know that. What are the chances? This is more of a nitpick, but I also don’t like how Reva moves. Her stunt choreography looks like something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and it doesn’t fit with the serious tone or the world of Star Wars at all.
There are other, smaller lines that prompt questions about the timeline and continuity. Teeka the Jawa seems to know that Obi-Wan is a Jedi, bringing him Jedi artifacts. I may have misunderstood the conversation, but that’s the sense I got from their dialogue. It’s also weird that the Inquisitors repeatedly cite the Jedi’s compassion as this defining trait that makes them easy to sniff out. That’s how the Jedi are supposed to be, but they weren’t like that during the prequels. That was the point of the prequels – that the Jedi didn’t see Palpatine coming because they were listening to politics rather than the Force. The rigid code came before compassion. When Owen tells Obi-Wan he didn’t lie to Reva for his sake, what does he mean? For whom else would he have done it? He told Obi-Wan to stay away from Luke, so it certainly wasn’t for his sake. Now that Reva and Darth Vader know Obi-Wan is alive, they’re going to have to do narrative backflips to make sure nobody knows his status or whereabouts at the end. I hope it’s worth it, but so far, I’m not convinced.
I want to take a moment to talk about the visuals and effects of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s first two episodes. The cinematography is breathtaking; it looks like a movie. Deborah Chow is a skilled director, and I admire her work and passion for Star Wars immensely. My problems lie with the writing and a few of the performances. The makeup does look better in motion, especially on the Grand Inquisitor. His eyes are the appropriate color, which didn’t appear to be the case in the trailers. The fight choreography leaves something to be desired, neither as spectacular as in the prequels nor subdued and intentional like the original trilogy. I’m not sure what they’re going for here, but I really don’t like the way Reva was moving in the “Part II” climax. I’m not too keen on Leia’s droid, Lola. This seems like an attempt to have something cute in every Star Wars story, and this just isn’t the time or place for it. It’s supposed to be sad when the kidnapper played by Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) smashes Lola, but do you know what I felt? Nothing; maybe a slight twinge of relief. The music by John Williams and Natalie Holt is, of course, amazing. No complaints there.
For that matter, I maintain that Princess Leia does not belong in this story. Obi-Wan should only leave Tatooine during this time to protect Luke or another Jedi. It’s still unbelievable that Reva would kidnap a Senator’s daughter against her superior’s wishes and that it would just happen to be her employer’s daughter. This show is relying on a lot of coincidences. Aside from all that, though, I just don’t like little Leia. She’s annoyingly snarky and thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. The insightful things don’t sound like the words of a 10-year-old, but this is distracting and breaks immersion. I also just find it difficult to imagine this annoying brat growing into one of the most beloved Star Wars characters of all time. And before someone mentions Ahsoka, we went on a 7-season (plus more content) journey with her as she grew. We already know Leia as a funny, thoughtful adult. I also have trouble believing Obi-Wan has met Leia before A New Hope. But I guess some retcons simply must be tolerated. I do like one moment they have together: Leia is being bossy and generally condescending, and Obi-Wan talks about an old friend she reminds him of. Padmé wasn’t like this at all, even in The Clone Wars, where she had more agency and personality. I’m left to assume (hope?) that this was in reference to Satine, with whom he was much closer than Padmé.
I don’t like Haja (Kumail Nanjiani). And I don’t mean because he’s the scum of the Earth (Daiyu?). This character is a little too silly for the tone they’re going for, and it’s obvious what’s going on from the moment we see him. He overacts to the point where you have to wonder how these people can fall for his snake oil. He isn’t in “Part I” at all and only has a couple of scenes in “Part II,” thankfully. It was sweet when he looked genuinely touched that Obi-Wan remembered his name, though. That’s the Obi-Wan I want more of. I know this Kenobi is “broken” and depressed in this time period, and that’s more than understandable. But I find him a little too detached. First of all, Nari is executed (by hanging!) by the Empire because Obi-Wan wouldn’t help him. How are we supposed to feel about this? At least, it should serve as a call to action for Kenobi, but he just looks sad and goes home. His reluctance to help Leia is despicable; Bail (Jimmy Smitts) calls him on his clear preference for Luke. This is just another reason Leia shouldn’t even be in this story. The rumors were saying that Reva would be the true antagonist of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and they are focusing too much on her and Leia. But they’re not coming off as any more likable than he is. This being said, Ewan McGregor does a fantastic job here. He sounds a lot more like Alec Guinness, and his mannerisms fit exactly what the writers are going for. I don’t like it, but it’s not his fault. The only performances I didn’t care for were Kumail Nanjiani as Haja and Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia.
Overall, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a mixed bag so far. Most of the performances are good, and the direction is solid. The desert is captivating yet imposing, and Daiyu is a cascade of eye candy. The dialogue and story direction leave much to be desired, and I still think they’re going too big with what should be a small story. One line addresses Qui-Gon, and one potentially mentions Satine, but otherwise, it’s gloom, doom, and a villainess who gives off Kylo Ren energy.