Fan-favorite Ewan McGregor is back in his most well-known role for Lucasfilm's latest Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The streaming series, which sees the exiled Jedi Master entangled in a rescue mission he didn't want to go on, had the highest global watch record on Disney+ for its premiere episodes. But even though the show has been praised by many, with that many eyes on something, it's difficult to please everyone.
A huge criticism comes in the form of Moses Ingram's Third Sister skewering the Grand Inquisitor with her lightsaber, seemingly killing him. Of course, he can't actually be dead, as the character had a very prominent role in Star Wars: Rebels, which canonically takes place five years after Kenobi. But this knowledge has not silenced the uproar from fans.
Also of note is that the series thus far features a lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, when it was believed by moviegoers for over 40 years that the two met again for the first time since 2005's Revenge of the Sith in 1977's A New Hope.
So does Obi-Wan Kenobi add to the overall Star Wars continuity, or does it only serve to create inconsistency in the canon? A writer on the series speaks out.
A Kenobi Writer Explains the Series' Canon
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Obi-Wan Kenobi writer Joby Harold offers the following on the series' place in Star Wars canon and examines Obi-Wan as he transitions to the "zen-like calm warrior monk" of Episode IV:
"We all know where we’re going in the show. That’s not surprising to anybody, but there is undeniably a hole in the storytelling before we get to Sir Alec Guinness’ zen-like calm warrior monk. The fight between him and Vader at the end of A New Hope has a calm to it. It almost feels like everybody knows their positions there, with the things they say and with the way in which Obi-Wan resolves that fight. That’s very different from Mustafar at the end of Revenge of the Sith, so that chunk of storytelling felt like an opportunity, not something we were limited by. So I just ran towards that idea, and anything you can do in between those two things that’s surprising, interesting and goes against expectations is an opportunity as long as you’re not violating canon."
Harold also remarks that he views the show as "Episode 3.5," meaning that it's meant to be an interquel of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope:
"I have completely focused on [Obi-Wan Kenobi] being Episode 3.5, between the original trilogy and the prequels, as it had to marry the storytelling choices between those two trilogies. Ultimately, I’m an original trilogy kid; that’s what I love. And that’s the calm and the precision with which we tried to focus this show. We tried to echo that mythic-feeling storytelling."
The Kenobi scribe also breaks down the fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the show's third part, responding to a question about there being wiggle room for such an encounter by remarking that "it never felt wrong:"
"It was much the opposite. There was no line in A New Hope that said we couldn’t. One could argue that Obi-Wan’s “from a certain point of view” thing is obviously revisionist storytelling in regards to the original trilogy, or it’s another way of saying there are gray areas and things we don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with uncovering the past and its truths in storytelling, so it never felt wrong to me. There’s nothing that I feel like we’ve violated at all. If anything, we’ve informed those scenes so that some of the choices that we’ve taken for granted in the [original trilogy] actually make more sense now. If you came to the entire Star Wars storytelling world fresh and watched it all the way through from Episode I, this would feel like a natural link between those two trilogies."
And finally, he sidestepped discussing the Bantha in the room: The Grand Inquisitor's (played by actor Rupert Friend) supposed canon-breaking death:
"I know there’s speculation about that, but I won’t speak to that beyond saying that Rupert is just a champ in his articulation of the character. I love the rhythm of what he does with the voice for a character who’s that physically intimidating. He looks like a tank, but he speaks with such lyricism. So that juxtaposition is unique and interesting, and he’s not the aquiline, thin, sinewy school teacher-y, creepy guy. So I love what he did with the character."
Will Obi-Wan Resolve These Continuity Quagmires?
The thing to remember with Obi-Wan Kenobi is that only half of the episodes are currently available for viewing, and it might even extend into a second season. So, the story is clearly ongoing and is by no means over.
Sometimes, it's important to take a step back and find some perspective on a given series as one whole continuing story. Sure, the Grand Inquisitor was stabbed through the gut, but there are still three episodes left! The Empire could've found him and stuck him in a bacta tank before it was too late, thereby saving his life.
As for Obi-Wan dueling with Darth Vader before their fateful confrontation on the Death Star, if one goes back and watches that scene in A New Hope, there really isn't anything in it that says that the two didn't have an encounter prior to that, but post-Mustafar. Vader memorably utters the line, "I sense something. A presence I have not felt since..." and then trails off without finishing the sentence, leaving ample room for more storytelling that could even end up providing fresh context to their battle in the movie.
It's easy to jump to conclusions, but sometimes, it's good practice to detach one's self and evaluate from a calmer headspace, which is good advice for everyone, up to and including Star Wars fans.
Obi-Wan Kenobi releases new episodes on Wednesday, only on Disney+. The next episode drops on June 8.