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Obi-Wan Kenobi review: entirely predictable but still fun

Given its placement in the Star Wars timeline, right between the end of the prequel trilogy and the beginning of A new hopethere are certain things that Obi-Wan Kenobi just can’t. At its core, the Disney Plus series is a slow-simmering battle between the titular protagonist and his former protege, Darth Vader. But as epic as the lightsaber battles are, we know neither can really die. The same goes for cute little princess Leia, every time she makes a daring escape with the help of Obi-Wan.

And that’s part of what makes the six-episode series, which just concluded its finale, so impressive. Even with so much already known and many of the characters analyzed and researched so thoroughly, it manages to keep the stakes and suspense high. Obviously Obi-Wan makes it through the show alive – but seeing him do that is one of the best Star Wars long time. Even when life and death aren’t at stake (for everyone), the emotional confrontations between these friends turned enemies can be as satisfying as a well-choreographed lightsaber duel.

This review contains spoilers for all six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi† For our review of the first two episodes, go here

As the title implies, Obi-Wan Kenobi is centered around the Jedi Knight played by Ewan McGregor. At first, he lives as a hermit on Tatooine, hiding himself and his Force powers from the Empire, which still plans to wipe out all remaining Jedi from the galaxy. He also makes sure to keep an eye on Luke Skywalker from a distance – in a way that’s just a little creepy. But as a retired criminal, he is drawn to one last job after Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped. Her parents, wanting to be discreet, enlist Obi-Wan to get her back to safety.

From there, the show expands into more than just Obi-Wan as an individual, focusing on his relationships with pivotal characters in the Star Wars universe. There’s Leia, who is slowly shifting from reckless child to the power (no pun intended) we know her as an adult, thanks in part to Obi-Wan’s guidance. Over the course of six episodes, Obi-Wan also changes and steadily becomes himself again, not only in terms of reviving his Jedi powers, but also in the compassion that is so essential to his character. And he does all this with a young and impressionable Leia watching him – her fiery personality helps pull him out of his shell.

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Darth Vader uses the Force to control an entire spaceship.
Image: Lucasfilm

Obi-Wan also brings in a few new threads. Reva (Moses Ingram) starts out as the main villain, a ruthless fighter completely fixated on Obi-Wan. And she makes a great classic Star Wars villain, one who initially has no conscience but eventually becomes likable — even if her parentage was very clearly telegraphed from the show’s opening moments. Plus, she has an extremely cool lightsaber. Most of the other new characters are mostly background material, though they’re still entertaining at times, like Kumail Nanjiani’s take on a con man masquerading as a Jedi.

But the most obvious focal point is between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader (played alternately by Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones, both of whom reprise the roles). Their fallout is the whole crux of the show. Leia is captured in an attempt to lure Obi-Wan out of hiding so that an inquisitor, Reva, who is part of a small group of terrifying Jedi-hunting elite commanders, can gain Vader’s favor. Dad, meanwhile, is clearly never over the events of Revenge of the Sith, which, to be fair, burned him so much that he needed a complicated robotic suit to function. Both Obi-Wan and Vader seem to dream about nothing but each other, as the events of the prequel trilogy haunt their sleepless nights.

Over six episodes, the show slowly builds up to that ultimate showdown between Vader and Kenobi. It spends much of that time showing Obi-Wan re-discovering himself with the Force, while also recovering just how terrifying Vader can be. While many of the Force users on the show are adept (or wrestle straight like Obi-Wan), Vader has a raw power that is clearly unmatched. There are scenes in which he drags victims behind him to scare people and a moment when he manages to stop a large freighter halfway through take-off with only the Force. This is Vader at the peak of his powers – and a reminder of why the galaxy is so terrified of him. And even if some of the tension is eased because we know they’ll both live, it’s still an incredible moment—and absolutely classic lightsaber duel—when the two eventually go head-to-head in the final. (In reality, Obi-Wan contains a handful of great one-on-one action sequences, most of which involve Vader and his laser sword.)

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Reva leads a platoon of stormtroopers.
Image: Lucasfilm

there is still enough Star Wars foolishness in Obi-Wan† Most of the big surprise revelations are easy to predict, the flashback sequences are very on the nose, and the Force remains a mysterious, uh, force that seems to bend to the will of the show’s writers, just like the Jedi and Sith . Characters also occasionally make mind-boggling choices; Obi-Wan would have been a very different show if people had really taken the time to make sure their victims were dead instead of just walking away. It never gets too blatant, but you’ll have to suspend your disbelief a few times in this show about space wizards.

With its series of upcoming books, shows and movies, Disney plans to re-fill every little void in the world Star Wars timeline. (RIP expanded universe.) So far, the results have been mixed. Despite what my Kenner action figure might have predicted when I was 12, Boba Fett’s inner life isn’t all that captivating. He’s more interesting as a mystery. But for Obi-Wan, a character who is an integral part of this universe and yet so often plays a supporting role, it makes a lot of sense to dig into this important part of his story, one that also helped shape the motivations of characters like Leia. and Father. It helps that Obi-Wan does a lot of classical Star Wars things very well – cool lightsaber battles; menacing villains; a beautiful, lived-in world — in addition to telling an interesting story.

So even though you know how things will end, the show manages to make the road to that conclusion a necessary part of the… Star Wars mythos – one that reminds you how much fun this universe can be.

All six episodes by Obi-Wan Kenobi streaming now on Disney Plus.

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