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Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1: How It Succeeds & How It Fails (Review)

Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor, Darth Vader
By Russ Milheim

The build-up to Lucasfilm’s Disney+ show Obi-Wan Kenobi was an interesting one. Many were beyond excited to see Ewan McGregor back in his iconic role—in fact, it was one of the most anticipated events in recent Star Wars history as shown by the series' record-breaking viewership numbers. But there were still some who questioned if the show would've worked better as a movie or if the story needed to be told at all.

Now, with all six episodes out on the streaming service, we can ask the question: was the journey a worthwhile adventure?

Thankfully, it was, and while a mixed-bag experience at times, the show provided some much-needed moments that could rank amongst the best in the Star Wars franchise.

A Legend, Broken

Obi-Wan, Darth Vader
Star Wars

Ewan McGregor is back, and his return, thankfully, doesn’t disappoint. This is a broken version of the legend we left off with by the end of Revenge of the Sith, and time has not been kind to him.

It was intriguing seeing him not nearly as proficient as he once was, with the weight of his trauma having led him into a life of solitude in the desert of Tatooine.

While the show could have probably used some more time investing the audiences into his connection and desire to be with Luke, it was Leia who stood out. The two of them provided some of the best parts of the show, and the use of the princess to jumpstart this story was an organic way to go about it.

When it came to his meeting with Indira Varma’s Tala Durith, their connection probably didn’t hit as hard as the show wanted it to—though their interplay didn’t completely fall flat, and that’s what matters. As for the rest of the rebellion, their part in the plot felt forced.

Their base on Jabiim, in particular, felt inauthentic and screamed soundstage, which is a shame given how seamlessly The Mandalorian is able to utilize The Volume technology.

The other key member of the group who helped guide Kenobi where he needed to go was O’Shea Jackson Jr., who ended up giving one of the weaker performances in the show. The stale writing for his character certainly didn’t help either—there were times when he seemed like he was dully reading lines off-screen.

Something that Kenobi should have done was put the titular hero in some more fights. It was great to get our Vader duels, but the series had an entire group of Inquisitors, and not once did they give Obi-Wan a proper fight against them. It was a massive missed opportunity, to say the least, and a damn shame.

The Chosen One, Lost Forever

Hayden Christensen, Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker
Star Wars

Darth Vader is a force of nature—something that hasn’t been demonstrated all too much in the franchise’s visual media. The best examples would be his more recent appearances in Rogue One and Fallen Order. Thankfully, Obi-Wan Kenobi can be added to the list.

This series saw the Sith Lord in his prime, and it’s something the Star Wars franchise needs more of. He’s a scary villain, and it perfectly came across that way here. Yes, even if some of the special effects were a bit wonky at times (looking at you, decoy Rebel ship).

The biggest part of the character coming back was obviously the return of Hayden Christensen. Sadly, the actor wasn’t used nearly enough. The Sith Lord's big moment in the finale, however, was excellent —while also serving up a great parallel between his shattered mask in Rebels.

The most anticipated part of his return, though, was undoubtedly his interactions with Ewan McGregor’s titular hero.

Master and Apprentice Meet

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader
Star Wars

While the series may have missed the mark on a few points, it at least accomplished what it set out to do: provide meaningful closure between Vader and Kenobi. More specifically, that of Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of both of them—even if it was hard to tell who was under Vader’s suit at points.

Neither of their confrontations failed to disappoint. The first did a great job brutally showcasing Vader’s power and how out of his depth Kenobi was at the time. The second, the finale showdown, was the more emotional of the two, with Kenobi having become more prepared as he came to terms with just how far gone his former Padawan was.

One could make the argument that Kenobi let go of Anakin a little quickly, but it’s likely most will have felt the show did an excellent job at exploring the grief Obi-Wan has been saddled with for nearly a decade—and coming to the conclusion to ease himself or that burden.

With how conclusive their confrontations were, it’s hard to imagine a second season of Kenobi needing to have the two interact again. But will Lucasfilm be able to help themselves?

Additionally, when it comes to a master and apprentice meeting once again, the show 100% underdelivered with Liam Neeson's brief return. The moment should have been a significant one, with heavy emotional resonance—what the series delivered in its closing moments couldn't have been further from it.

Not Enough Prequel Era?

Obi-Wan, Darth Sidious, Clone Troopers
Star Wars

When it came to the proposition of Anakin and Obi-Wan meeting again, many fans also hoped they’d see more between the actors in the prequel era—especially during the Clone Wars. It was certainly possible, and with Ahsoka also having been in the public spotlight recently, many thought she could have made an appearance.

Sadly, the show offered us next to nothing. Brief glimpses of Order 66 were all audiences got, alongside a fairly isolated sequence of Kenobi and Skywalker dueling during his Padawan days.

Now, obviously, the show wasn’t about that timeframe. But, the story could have better utilized that point of time in his life where both Kenobi and Anakin were at their closest, in order to capitalize on the emotional core of the duo’s current predicament. 

Speaking of the Clone Wars, this would have been the perfect time to acknowledge his forbidden love with Satine of Mandalore—but nope.

The Judge, Jury, and Executioners

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Inquisitors
Star Wars

While Vader was certainly the main course when it came to the story’s antagonist, there was another group in play: The Inquisitors. 

It was great to hear how the entire faction of Jedi hunters was going to be in the spotlight. Sadly, the show’s use of them left a lot to be desired. They never came off as threatening as they did in Star Wars: Rebels or Fallen Order. In fact, they hardly got any action at all, as noted above.

Their live-action designs could have used a little more time and effort as well. The group’s suits sadly didn’t always play well on camera.

The worst part of the group was sadly the Grand Inquisitor himself, played by Rupert Friend. His character was an exciting piece of canon to see show up, but his live-action portrayal is nothing like his original counterpart; not all too notable on its own merits either.

This isn’t all that surprising, seeing as how the actor specifically avoided doing the research for the part. For any actors out there reading this, it's not a respectable habit—considering the fans in addition to the actors who took on those previous character performances is ultimately best for everyone.

The character’s death fake-out was also completely unnecessary and read as a lazy way of briefly getting the Grand Inquisitor off the playing field.

Out of all the Jedi hunters who made it to screen, it was the newbie who stood out the most.

Reva, the Double Agent

Reva, Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars

It’s great to have Moses Ingram in the Star Wars universe; she’s a wonderful actress, and her new character is an intriguing one. Sadly, the show did not make that immediately apparent.

The beginning of her time on Kenobi offered up more confusion than intrigue, and the writing did not do a great job at laying the groundwork for the character. Thankfully, that changed as the show went on.

By the fourth episode, not only did her performance land better, but Reva actually became a compelling part of the plot. Still, the show still could have done a far better job at making her a scarier threat—just look to Fallen Order’s Third Sister as a prime example.

By the end of the series, everything about her clicked into place far better. It’s a shame it took so long to get there.

Her showdown with Vader was probably the highlight of her time on Kenobi, with her final moments alongside Obi-Wan on Tatooine coming in a close second. With the character alive by the time the first season comes to an end, a big question is left hanging in the air: where does she go from here?

What’s Next for Kenobi?

Obi-Wan, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader
Star Wars

So did Obi-Wan Kenobi do everything it set out to do? Well, for those hoping to see the Inquisitors finally get the live-action treatment, they were likely left wanting more—even if Reva made it out the other end as an interesting addition to Star Wars mythos.

It was Kenobi and Vader who were the ones that got the most attention, and it showed. Thankfully, their interactions and moments together onscreen never once disappointed. While Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't deliver on every facet that fans may have been hoping for, there was still enough present to walk away mostly satisfied.

So, where does the series go from here if it chooses to continue? Well, maybe the Inquisitors can get the attention and care they deserve. After all, they had that weird basement of amber-ized Jedi in their fortress; that could use some elaboration.

There’s also still no proper explanation as to what happened with the Inquisitor program by the time A New Hope begins. It would have to have been discontinued by then, or else one would think they’d have shown up in those first films. Maybe Kenobi had something to do with ending it? 

The only thing that seems certain with a hypothetical continuation of Kenobi’s story is how Vader will need to factor in a whole lot less if they want to retain the emotional weight of both their interactions in the finale and subsequent reunion in Episode IV.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.