We’ve all been thinking about it for years, or at least since it was announced, but the day has finally come for more Obi-Wan Kenobi adventures. Out today are the first two episodes of the six-episode series focusing on Obi-Wan’s adventures 10 years after dedicating his life to protecting Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. With the production values up and key cast members returning, it’s a great start for the iconic character’s return.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 1!
After a four-minute recap of the prequel trilogy that helps remind us of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s journey so far that ends with younglings escaping death during Order 66, the episode opens with a foreboding ship landing on Tatooine. The Sith emerge hunting a Jedi, which we assume is Obi-Wan. They shake down some folks in a bar and soon get what they’re after. This scene does well to establish the Sith running out of Jedi to kill as well as their total disgust for them. They aren’t just criminals, but live a lifestyle that is deplorable to them.
The Sith revealed in the opening scene are Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram), and Fifth Brother (Sung Kang). Each is deadly serious, although Reva has a bit more liveliness as she goes against orders. It’s going to be fun unpacking their relationship and seeing just how evil they are in a world where they are unopposed. With Reva appearing a bit younger, one can imagine she is newer to being a Sith than the others.
Twelve minutes into the first episode and we’re introduced to Obi-Wan and his current lifestyle. He does manual labor, must travel quite far to get to his home after work, and lives a solitary life. This portion reveals a slower, movie-like pace one might not expect from a television miniseries. Shots linger on Obi-Wan riding his alien camel and scenes tend to hold on shots before Obi-Wan takes some action. It’s very casual in its approach knowing we’re hanging on every second. Your patience may vary depending on how much of a Star Wars fan you are.
If you were a fan of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan in the prequels, you won’t be disappointed with his performance here. He’s measured, sullen due to his great loss, but also still with some spark for life. You see it in how he talks to Jawa or looks upon Luke through binoculars. He acts as a kind of monk devoting everything to watching Luke and you’ll feel sorry for him.
Something completely unexpected is a subplot involving Leia on Alderaan. Vivien Lyra Blair stars as a young Leia who has a lot of spunk. We learn she’s whip-smart and a rule breaker. You can see the showrunners are mirroring her mother’s personality traits a bit here as well. As a longtime Star Wars fan, that’s exciting as the show is clearly trying to tie things together even more tightly.
Leia may have one of the worst scenes in the opening episode, though. In a chase scene, the very young Leia somehow can outrun some kidnappers. It’s painfully obvious the men are not running at full speed and the scene didn’t need to be as long as it is here. However, this scene leads to the main conflict and it’s entirely unexpected. Blair is a so-so actor, with some scenes working and others falling a bit flat. It’s hard to knock a child actor, but it’s apparent there are some growing pains to get through.
Themes in the show include fascist regimes pushing down the little guy, Leia dealing with bullying due to being adopted, and Obi-Wan desiring some kind of bond with Luke but not being allowed to. There’s also the whole issue with Jedi being hunted and Obi-Wan having to tamp down the mere thought of being a Jedi in the face of annihilation. These themes are established well enough to hang a 40 to 50-minute-per-episode show on.
Obi-Wan Kenobi S1E1 “Part 1” is a compelling new adventure in the Star Wars television lineup. This first episode shows Star Wars has plenty of room for story development in the pockets between films. It’s also evident the showrunners know they can get away with slower pacing and a more casual approach given most are very excited for this series. That said, McGregor doesn’t miss a beat as the even-keeled Kenobi, making for a nostalgic and exciting new chapter in Star Wars history.
Don’t miss our review of Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part 2” episode 2.
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