Hello there! The Disney+ live-action series Obi-Wan Kenobi recently had its sixth and final (for now) episode, and in this entry into the FilmLore Journal, I want to share some of my thoughts about the series from a life-long Star Wars fan’s perspective.
As with earlier entries into the FilmLore Journal, it will be personal, subjective and even emotional. Here, rules are broken, and as a reader, you might disagree on some or all of it. And that’s fine with me. You do you, as they say. But before we continue, a fair warning: Here be spoilers!
This is not a review.
You could call me a Star Wars fan, even though the term has its baggage these days. I was born on the 28th of May, 1977, three days after the premiere of George Lucas’ first Star Wars film. In other words, I was born three days too late, but still, knowing this, more than a few people have jokingly told me how I was “born to love Star Wars.” And from the first time I watched it, I did.
From The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker and everything in between, I have always had a relaxed and positive view of the world George Lucas created. With one exception, I love the films and series of the Star Wars franchise. My favorite films in the franchise are Rogue One, Revenge of the Sith and The Last Jedi. What’s that exception, you ask? That would be Star Wars: The Holiday Special; the less said about that, the better.
But the reason I’m writing now is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even before there were talks of live-action series on Disney+, I was fascinated by the story of that “crazy old wizard Ben” living out in the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine. The American author John Jackson Miller’s novel Kenobi is still one of my favorites of the “Legends” stories. Although the new series doesn’t follow that novel, Ewan McGregor had it as a source of inspiration when going back to the character.
But before I continue, I want to comment on the state of the fandom. It’s not in a good place right now. Some people reading this will disagree with me, and they will feel an almost overpowering urge to let me know about it. Please don’t; I’m not interested. I promised myself years ago, after having written an 80-page academic thesis on the Star Wars fandom, that I would no longer discuss Star Wars with Star Wars fans. If you want to know more, check out my previous entry in the FilmLore Journal called “What? You Don’t Hate The Last Jedi?!“
The moment the first couple of episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi premiered, toxic and racist fans were already coming out of the woodwork to spew hatred and threats. Their hatred for anything not conforming to their view of what Star Wars is supposed to be was fanning the flames of outrage, and soon the list of grievances was long – and quite transparent. The plot holes they went on and on about were evidence of how little they knew about the franchise they professed to love and how lacking their insight was in both acting and character development.
There were complaints about the shape of the Grand Inquisitor’s (played by Rupert Friend) head, and they nagged on about how young Leia (played by Vivien Lyra Blair) took too much space. Some fans clearly didn’t understand the difference between talking to a friend and addressing a former military ally. And many fans had trouble waiting for the next episode to get answers to their burning questions, calling anything that wasn’t already explained a “plot hole.” Yet others were so out of touch with the series that one would think they hadn’t watched a single Star Wars film before. But the most distressing and disgusting were the racist threats and toxic abuse actress Moses Ingram got.
It never fails, and the old saying is confirmed time and time again: “No one hates Star Wars quite as much as a Star Wars fan.” And for some reason, a certain toxic and misogynic minority of Star Wars fans can’t watch Star Wars without someone to hate. Did they learn nothing of what George Lucas taught to the rest of us?
But I love Star Wars, and Obi-Wan Kenobi has become my favorite of the franchise’s live-action shows. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a story about a man broken from loss and exile. It is a story about a fallen hero, a Jedi Master who failed in his task as a mentor, a father figure, and later as a brother. And it is the story of how he rises up to face his past. Ewan McGregor is perfect in this role, portraying Kenobi with subtle nuances and a quiet, even shy, demeanor. And throughout the six-episode story, he stands up to his former brother and finds his role as a guardian. It is a tour de force of acting and character work on a whole different level than what we’ve seen in the Star Wars franchise so far.
And there are lightsaber duels in Obi-Wan Kenobi like nothing we have seen before. Nothing comes even close. In the first duel between Kenobi and Darth Vader (again played brilliantly by Hayden Christensen), Kenobi is shocked and driven back by the hate of his former Padawan. And let’s consider the genius storytelling of the flashback duel that lets Kenobi predict Darth Vader’s actions during an attack on a refuge hideout. But the final duel in the sixth chapter is, without doubt, the best one in Star Wars. Any good lightsaber duel should tell a story and develop a character; this one does both perfectly. Kenobi finds his role as a guardian and protector, and by that, his strength as a Jedi Master, in a duel that ends with some of the best lines in Star Wars. I was crying as I watched this:
Vader: “Anakin’s gone. I’m what remains.”
Kenobi: “I am sorry. I’m sorry, Anakin. For all of it.”
Vader: “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did. The same way I will destroy you!”
Kenobi: “Then my friend is truly dead. Goodbye, Darth.”
This was not a review. But if it had been, it would be top marks. Five stars. Ten out of ten. One hundred percent! A true love letter to us Prequel fans!