It’s hard to believe, but the years-old prequels featuring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan continue in the six-episode series Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first two episodes launched today and the first episode firmly establishes the world and the conflict Obi-Wan must undertake. The show features Ewan McGregor back as Obi-Wan, new Sith threats, and even a plot involving princess Leia. In the second episode, Obi-Wan is off Tatooine and looking to resolve a kidnapping as quickly as possible to get back to Luke.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 2!
Early in the episode, we’re introduced to Kumail Nanjiani’s character, a Jedi huckster with whom Obi-Wan comes into contact. He appears to have Jedi abilities and he’s using them to make a bit of coin from poor people. Obi-Wan disapproves although we soon see the mostly eradicated Jedi are being used for profit. It’s an interesting wrinkle to show how far the Jedi have fallen.
The alien world they’re on is very cyberpunk, littered with neon lights and tons of aliens milling about. A familiar clone even pops in to remind Obi-Wan of the old days of working with them. The episode does well to show us what other worlds are like without Jedi prancing around and acts to remind Obi-Wan how different the galaxy is now.
“Part 2” moves at a much faster clip than “Part 1”, maybe due to all the sights in the background as the camera pans around. It’s filled with colorful aliens, harkens back to older days, and even moves along the rescue of Leia. Given how slow the first episode was in its approach, this episode feels like it’s moving at a breakneck speed and may even give viewers a bit of whiplash. That said, it’s welcome to see more action and plenty of more sci-fi stylings.
Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram) continues to be a compelling Sith character. She’s played well by Ingram who infuses her with a bit of rage, but plenty of fight. Given the Sith are inherently evil, it makes sense she’d challenge her superiors. New information also helps establish she’s not welcome amongst the Sith elite, defining her as a rebel herself in some sense. It’s a bit confounding what her motivations are, but that’ll likely be revealed eventually.
Vivien Lyra Blair has some great moments acting as Leia. She’s got a lot of attitude showing how Leia lives in the moment. As a young actor, she’s a bit false in a moment or two, but overall she’s very good. Kids watching this show are going to gravitate to her infectious energy. She definitely isn’t the best in every moment, but you’ll warm to her character.
Meanwhile, Nanjiani is good in the role of a charlatan, but he’s not given enough time to earn his desire to make amends. It’s nice to see non-Jedi heroes, rebels if you will, but this character ends up being an element that could have easily been excised from the episode.
It’s not all chase scenes and escapes, though. Similar to the last episode, the showrunners are clearly trying to establish Obi-Wan’s interest in being a parental figure. He had a moment in the last episode around Luke and in “Part 2” he bonds with Leia more than once. They are quick scenes, but they establish a kindness to Obi-Wan that shows he enjoys connecting with children.
Everyone will be talking about the last scene no matter how good the previous scenes were. That’s because Darth Vader, who was absent from the first episode, finally enters the series here. There’s also some compelling stuff to think about as far as Sith and their rather complicated relationships.
It was smart of Disney to release the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi at once, as “Part 2” establishes the main threads of the series. The second episode is also far faster paced, showing us the show can play out in different ways, whether it’s slow and contemplative or action-packed. Make no mistake, “Part 2” makes it quite clear we’re in for a ride over the next four weeks.
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