Previously on Obi-Wan Kenobi: After spending the last 10 years keeping a watchful eye on Luke Skywalker on the desert planet Tatooine, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is forced out of hiding when Luke’s twin sister, Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped by Reva the Third Sister (Moses Ingram). An over-zealous Inquisitor, Reva is obsessed with tracking down Obi-Wan even if it means angering her superiors. However, her plan is a success as Obi-Wan gives into a personal request from Leia’s adoptive father, Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), to rescue the girl. After tracking her location to Daiyu, Obi-Wan and Leia narrowly escape, but not before the Jedi master learns a terrifying truth. His fallen pupil, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), is still alive and serving the Emperor as the dreaded Darth Vader.
Damn, I did not expect to get so hardcore writing that quick synopsis, but folks, I love me some Star Wars. This franchise is in my blood. One of my earliest childhood memories is waking up from a nap to find a new Luke Skywalker action figure from Return of the Jedi waiting on my pillow. I couldn’t have been more than three.
Anyway, I’m not trying to gatekeep here. The opposite, actually. I think the best thing Star Wars has done in the past decade and a half is move past white male heroes. Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars is easily the pinnacle of that endeavor and hands down one of the best new Star Wars characters ever created. Rey is a close second and freaking slapped in my book (before her story and the entire Sequel Trilogy got mangled to shit in the third film). I still get goosebumps when I think of the moment in The Force Awakens when she Force grabs her lightsaber and fires it up to face Kylo Ren as the classic John Williams theme starts to swell. I get freaking teary-eyed remembering my daughter watching that movie for the first time at age five and excitedly saying, “Rey can do anything!” Christ, I’m almost a wreck just typing it.
My point is that I’m absolutely not one of the obnoxious Star Wars fans who are mad because the franchise isn’t just for me anymore. I’m completely onboard with Obi-Wan using Leia as the series’ MacGuffin, and it was genuinely delightful to be surprised by her inclusion. I actually smiled when I figured out what was happening. It was nice. That said, Leia’s presence isn’t the issue at all. You could swap in Luke, make him 100 times less precocious, and that still won’t fix the fundamental problem with this show: It’s mediocre as helllll.
In Episode 3 — or I’m sorry, “Part III” (they’re not even bothering to name these things) — Obi-Wan and Leia flee to the mining planet Mazupo after narrowly escaping Reva. We’re talking had the now-deceased Grand Inquisitor not shown up to bicker with her, she would’ve found Obi-Wan behind a box not even two feet away. The most wanted Jedi in all of the Empire, and the Grand Inquisitor is more concerned with micro-managing his underlings. What even is the writing on this show?
Strike that, what even is the set design on this show. I hope you’re sitting down for this, but Mazupo is yet another arid, desert planet that closely resembles southern California. Once again, I am truly gobsmacked at the lazy decisions being made left and right when all we’ve heard for years is how The Volume/StageCraft can easily transport actors to exciting new locations with the flick of a screen. Not on this show, apparently.
After being ditched at a rendezvous point, Leia channels her parents’ propensity for taking charge and/or bounding head-first into danger by flagging down a transport driver who gives them a lift to the nearest spaceport. However, in Leia’s haste, she doesn’t notice the Imperial symbol on the back of his speeder, and we soon learn that the Zach Braff-voiced alien loves him some fascist order. Case in point, he picks up a couple of Stormtroopers for yet another confounding moment in this show’s writing.
While Obi-Wan and Leia try to play it chill, the Stormtroopers say they’re looking for a Jedi on the run with a little girl as Obi-Wan sits right next to them looking exactly like a Jedi — with a little girl. He also screws up and accidentally says Leia’s real name instead of the aliases they were using. Gah! Fortunately, Obi-Wan comes up with a quick save by saying he’s old and gets confused and Leia is his late wife’s name. He then says how much the girl is like her mother, which is a truthful remembrance of Padme that Leia picks up on. When the Stormtroopers leave, Leia confronts Obi-Wan and asks him if he’s her real father leading to, what I feel, is the only pivotal moment in this entire series so far.
Obi-Wan says he wishes he was her father, which one could rightly say is a rumination on his regret of becoming a Jedi and not having a family of his own. It’s also a feeling of genuine regret because he knows the truth about Leia’s biological father. But, to me a perv and someone who’s old enough to remember Padme and Obi-Wan being heavily shipped going into the Revenge of Sith as fans theorized that betrayal what would send Anakin over the edge, Obi-Wan’s words to Leia said something even more:
He wishes he smooshed Padme.
BOOM. That’s canon, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise even though 98% of you could take me in a very quick and humiliating fashion.
After getting sold out by Alien Zach Braff at a checkpoint, Obi-Wan and Leia are saved by Tala (Indira Varma), a disillusioned Imperial officer who, along with Obi-Wan’s old friend Quinlan Vos, helps facilitate an underground railroad for Jedi.
Meanwhile, back at— oh snap, VADER’S CASTLE?! (This is nowhere near as exciting as I just made it out to be. I’m so sorry.)
After teasing him in the final moments of Part II, Darth Vader finally makes an appearance in Obi-Wan, and it’s fine. In another big reveal, James Earl Jones is back to do his voice, which as others have noted, raises the question: Did Hayden Christen seriously come back to just walk around in the suit? Which raises another question that I’m not seeing others ask: Wouldn’t you?
Anyway, Reva lets Vader know about the Obi-Wan situation, and he promises to make her the next Grand Inquisitor if she finds him. Apparently, she’s motivated by… wanting a promotion? We’ll never know because Riva is pretty much sidelined for the rest of the episode. Why’s that? Because we’re going to go ahead and do an Obi-Wan and Darth Vader duel right now.
Instead of building up to a climactic reunion, Darth Vader arrives on Mazupo and begins Force choking civilians left and right to smoke out Obi-Wan. Knowing he has to keep Vader away from Leia, Obi-Wan tells her to go with Tala to a transport waiting to get them off planet. He promises to be right behind her, but then tells Tala to get Leia the heck out of here no matter what.
After drawing Darth Vader to what looks like a generic construction site because the aesthetic of this show are garbage, the two finally lock sabers in a depressingly anti-climactic showdown. They exchange a few blows before Darth Vader easily Force pushes Obi-Wan around like a rag doll. The whole thing comes to a head as Vader lights a spilled container of fuel on fire and uses the Force to slowly pull Obi-Wan through said fire in a callback to Anakin’s body burning alive at the end of Revenge of the Sith. It is, admittedly, a surprisingly brutal moment for what’s been a low-key, family-friendly show for the most part.
Unfortunately, all of this has the dramatic tension of oatmeal because I truly cannot stress how frustratingly budget this whole series feels. Darth Vader practically looks like a Power Ranger fighting Obi-Wan. It doesn’t help that Stranger Things 4 is out here, and 14-year-long episodes aside, it has significantly set the bar for what you can do with millions at your disposal. Disney dropped no small amount of money on Obi-Wan, and yet, it wouldn’t look out of place on syndication in the ’90s. I would love to see the thought process that led to Lucasfilm and/or Disney execs going, “Eh, this is good enough.”
But back to the fight. In yet another jarring example of the writing in this show being complete butthouse, Vader Force pushes Obi-Wan away while simultaneously putting out the fire in one swoop. He plans to torture his old master slowly. However, Vader’s plans are thwarted when Tala perches on a hill overlooking the construction yard and shoots a nearby barrel to start another fire. Now, just seconds ago, we saw Vader effortlessly blow out flames with the Force, but this time, he just stands there like he’s never seen a fire before in his life. Meanwhile, Tala makes off with Obi-Wan because, again, a guy who can put out fires with his mind, and is also covered head-to-toe in freaking robot armor, suddenly can’t stand anything above a dry 98 degrees. God, I hate this show so much.
As for who’s watching Leia while Tala helps Obi-Wan, nobody! She’s easily captured by Reva who either has to never show her to Vader, or this series is about to not give a whole lot of f*cks. At this point, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter.
See you next week!
Obi-Wan Kenobi Recaps