The first most important piece of advice in watching this show is “Don’t skip the recap, it’s comprised of superior scenes from the Prequels.” They are of a much higher quality than what follows.
The debut peaks when we get Jimmy Smits and Ewan McGregor together for some damn fine acting that absolutely rises above the material. Other than that? This two episode debut was bland and even boring here and there. Please consider taking the poll at the end of this review to have your say.
In Episode 2 of the double dose drop of content the sets and location are the best we’ve seen so far- but they still have things from our world just sticking out like sore thumbs. Like very bland and familiar fluorescent lights just like from your High School cafeteria. This happens enough to be a bit of a distraction. I found immersion a challenge throughout.
After the exciting recap this new Disney Star Wars show, falsely titled Obi Wan Kenobi, begins. If marketed honestly this show should have been named after the top billed star , Young Princess Leia played by Vivien Lyra Blair. In fact Ewan McGregor gets THIRD billing on IMDB- for his own show. Not the greatest sign.
We open with a confusing (but child murder free) action scene in the Jedi Temple immediately upon the execution of Order 66. We see what I’m pretty sure is the child iteration of the soon to be introduced female Inquisitor and some other younglings fleeing into the unknown. The next scene occurs after a hard time jump forward ten years specified with text onscreen.
We have three Inquisitors on another desert planet (later confirmed as Tatooine) and they are just acting bizarre. They cartoonishly engage the locals in what ends up being a game of cat and mouse. They show off some of their powers on the unimpressive set of a bar. Its about as well done as Book of Boba Fett as far as the production early on. The percussion driven Inquisitor theme we hear is loud and bland to the point of distraction. The music never feels like Star Wars and Obi-wan isn’t introduced with the Force Theme. I felt all the music is too prominent loud and trying too hard.
In the first few minutes we get some lens flare and some very TV-looking camera work. This does not feel cinematic.
In a weird speech that apes the introduction of Christolph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds we get, in so many words, that Inquisitors hunt Jedi. Then an edgy and weird action scene happens and the meanest Inquisitor tells the female Inquisitor that she’s obsessed with Kenobi and she agrees to give it up. He’s also needlessly confrontational and insulting to her.
At 12:58 on the timecode we have Obi-wan finally show up. He’s working as a butcher in some kind of factory and stealing food.
Unfortunately they’ve decided to start Kenobi out desperate and undignified. I always thought he had just built a hut, subsistence farmed, hunted and watched over young Luke. So this manual labor job is just to make him seem lowly. How’s that feel butchers of the world?
I found it silly they knock off when a steam whistle sound signals the end of the work day. Not very Sci Fi. The thoroughness of George Lucas is gone.
Two forms of transportation later we see that Obi-wan lives in a cave. We get immediate memberberries in some of the items he procures. He’s now a bad negotiator, buying back his own stolen gear from a jawa. He then spends some time stalking the Skywalkers, leaving a toy fans will recognize for Luke anonymously after dark.
He conveniently runs into the Jedi we saw hunted earlier and this sequence really broke my heart as a fan. The hero of the Clone Wars is now a broken man. Ten years later he’s not the man who Yoda instructed to train and plan for a their future move- a long term 20 year gambit similar to the one they were just beaten by. They were going to wait for Luke to grow up and take another crack at the Sith while communing with Qui-gon through the Force.
General Kenobi was still very much a Jedi and had a purpose when we saw him last. He was not the least bit broken. Angry, surely. Depressed? Probably. Rudderless and beaten though? Not at all. That’s why the way he responds to a fellow Jedi is out of character and very different from how he is at the end of Revenge of the Sith. It also doesn’t fit with his upbeat and defiant attitude when he reappears in the next installment A New Hope, where he’s even older. Kenobi is now like Luke in The Last Jedi.
Obi-Wan tells the other Jedi, who is considerably cooler than him, not to try to fight the Empire. He cynically says they’ve lost. He sounds more like Han Solo. This is not on point with inter-trilogy Obi wan at all. Obi wan Kenobi would have sensed out this guys intentions with the Force. Knowing he was a defiant fellow Jedi he would have given him some decent advice. Something like “You were wise to come to the Outer Rim, but this planet already has a renegade Jedi. Flee somewhere else, find a padwan if you can and wait. Our day will come again my friend. The Dark Times will not last forever. May the Force be with you.” He doesn’t though. He tells the younger man to bury his lightsaber in the sand and give up the cause. He doesn’t even offer him shelter. He comes off scared.
Kenobi’s inaction leads to this good man’s death. He’s far too cynical and unHeroic.
This show has a beaten Kenobi talking just like Last Jedi Luke Skywalker. At this point I became a bit angry. It’s a good thing i have a lifetime of being a New York Jets fan to help me handle stuff like this. I’ve seen so many promising prospects destroyed by the Jets just like Disney is destroying their characters.
By 26 minutes in this show had me bored and slightly angry. This looks like its going to be pretty bad. Episode 1 ends with an appeal to Kenobi to rescue insolent spoiled child Princess Leia. The best scene in episode 1 is Jimmy Smits and Ewan McGregor speaking. Not an action scene, not the new bad guys. The two familiar characters together talking was the highpoint. By far.
The second half of the two episode opener is Kenobi on a pretty high end Blade Runner planet that looks pretty good. This planet was the best thing we’ve seen as a location from Disney Star Wars on TV. It was a nice break from bars on Tatooine.
On Blade Runner world Kenobi’s gifted drugs by a friendly drug dealer, finds a fake jedi selling protection and uses the fake drugs as a weapon. Why does this work? Well we just don’t know but Kenobi puts on his covid mask as soon as he smashes the glass globe of powdery red drugs creating a fine mist and only he’s protected. No one looks very happy to be high but we can see through luck and coincidence he’s located the kidnappers.
He then rescues young Leia; who hits him as thanks. Sadly, ten year old Leia is written to be an asshole. It’s a terrible decision that I see as corrosive if sustained. So we already need damage control.
Young Leia’s a plucky MCU style youngling with the vocabulary and wit of a short tempered 35 year old. Kenobi is so taken aback he says “How old are you?” which is weird considering he was at her birth.
This was a bad sign. The show knows Leia shouldn’t talk like this so it makes a joke of it and moves on. It’s a technique known as”Lampshading” and it’s pretty cheap. They could have had a 10 year old as smart as maybe a 15 year old – which is pretty darn good and would be interactive enough. Instead they really went for broke. Ten year old Leia acts and talks like she’s 35 to 40. She’s soon doing things like taking charge of her own rescue- or at least trying to – while Kenobi attempts to talk sense to her.
They’re in a good deal of danger with three Inquisitors, Imperial Troopers and even some apparent bounty hunters actively looking for them.
That’s when Leia decides cringey old Ben is too weird and runs away from him to start the last action scene.
Kenobi just isn’t getting any help here til Leia again changes her mind and decides he’s not lying and that the rescue isn’t part of some second kidnapping- which is even weirder when you hear a child say it. It’s painful when Leia’s on screen. What kind of 10 year old is cool and defiant after a kidnapping? Crying at any point would have been more appropriate and would not be unbecoming of a child. In fact, it would have served to humanize her. I imagined what could have been. Like maybe Kenobi comforting her after this traumatic kidnapping rather than being another conversational rival.
Third Sister Inquisitor, Reva as she’s sometimes called, is now hot on Kenobi’s heels.
Princess Leia- who is absolutely just a confrontational 30 year old trapped in a child’s body – is smarter than everyone else and figures out Kenobi is a Jedi on her own in just seconds (because Obi Wan is wearing his light saber and only she’s noticed).
Most of the time is spent with the Inquisitors. They seem to all hate each other and of course Reva seems strongest.
The basic story is Princess Leia is kidnapped (by musician Flea) and “Ben” has to save her. He pulls it off cleanly enough. Now we have 2 characters with extreme plot armor in jeopardy for a time and Ben finally, awkwardly uses the Force. Kenobi is now less powerful than he was in The Phantom Menace.
The new Kenobi Theme is a mystery as to its origin and provenance. Until now Obi wan and Yoda were two characters who never had their own specific music. The Force theme played whenever they were on screen for George Lucas. This is why “Obi Wan Theme by John Williams” was an astounding part of the credits. Its possible Disney asked Williams to create a new song for the character because clearly someone else score the rest. It’s equally likely its just due to the one measure of the force theme and elements of Vader’s theme that show up late in the song.
If John Williams did write all of it? This might just be his least inspired and fussy sounding song ever. I suspect he was paid extra and given full credit to legitimize this non-interesting piece of music.
That said John Williams has given us so many iconic songs and is like 90. So whatever the case he gets, but the song doesn’t. Disney, PLEASE call the guy who scored Lord of the Rings or Kingdom of Heaven, those enhanced rather than distracted from the material.
I can’t recall hearing any Lucas music at all let alone any associated with Kenobi in this show, I don’t even think they use it during the recap of Lucas scenes. The John William’s Star Wars Era seems to be over.
I’ve listened to the song, it’s unfamiliar until they grudgingly play a new but somewhat recognizable version of the Force theme. Blink and you miss it.
Having a new theme for Kenobi is a real look into how much the story until now and its theatrical traditions have been simply dismissed. It’s riddled through the show and minimizes any kind of feeling of taking place “In a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”
Cinematic wipes are absent as well. These would have been easy ways to have added more Star Wars feel to the show, and these Star Wars needs to do some obvious things like respect tradition and try to make this TV show a little more like a movie. This show already needs help.
The rescue culminates in a non show down where Reva reveals to Obi Wan that Vader is alive. This seems pretty off the wall. How would everyone not know of Lord Vader ten years into the Empire? He’s Palpatine’s right hand man and chief enforcer. This is played like a major reveal but many may find it confusing. It was incongruous to say the least. Some have said Obi Wan shouldn’t recognize Vader’s name, but he does hear it in Revenge of the Sith.
As we end the second episode we use video game morality. RevaTeam-Kills the Inquisitor who was being the biggest asshole to her for wanting to “Kill Steal” her capture of Kenobi. This move facilitates his escape with Leia- not Obi Wan’s resourcefulness.
Anyway Reva’s apparent boss is dead by a lightsaber stabbing. I guess she’ll blame Kenobi? The character may not be dead; after all “No one’s ever really gone,” in Star Wars.
This two episode debut wasn’t a total loss or the worst thing we’ve seen- yet. There’s things to like if you’re a huge fan of Ewan McGregor’s acting. He’s still kind of playing it the same as he did in the movies despite the dialogue presenting him as pretty beaten and depressed.
The dialogue throughout the debut is incongruent and feels forced. The opening sequence with the Inquisitors showing off their Force powers while cartoonishly mocking and torturing people was a fail. Riva cuts off some rando’s hand for no reason to show she’s pretty evil- but I’m thinking that she’s one of the children who escapes Order 66 at the beginning and was flipped to the Dark Side rather than killed. She might flip to the Light Side or just stay evil. All we know is she is pretty angry all the time.
This poor woman has a terrible character and dialogue.
The whole thing felt like it fit in more with the sequels than the Lucas movies. It might self correct in the we have four episodes left, but one episode from mid-season this show is not all that entertaining and sometimes even a little annoying so far.
Rather than Jon Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy and her people seem to have charge of this production that uses much of what we saw in the Rebels cartoon. So these are more the people who bought us the Sequels Trilogy than the people who did the Boba Fett show. Whether they can make this project originally intended as a Star Wars Story movie into a good TV show is hard to say right now. I’m not overly excited for next week, but I will be watching and reviewing. My fear is this show will be about Leia and Reva as we go forward. While Reva is so badly written in the debut the actress is hard to assess, the young Leia child actor is ok.
Unfortunately Leia’s not written sympathetically – this is a one note Leia. She’s frustrated and pithy akin to her attitude during the rescue/escape from the Death Star- where shes about 20. Child Leia is immediately in there trading barbs with adults and older kids and easily getting the better of them.
For some reason everyone knows Leia’s adopted and that her parents are afraid to let her off world- which aren’t the craziest things but a mixed bag as far as caution, especially telling people she can’t go off world. She already was born at a pretty suspicious time and everyone knows she adopted. Why make another conspicuously odd thing known as well? Bail Organa was supposed to be smart and he’s well aware of who Leia really is.
When Leia’s older cousin mocks her for being adopted we see just how insulated from reality the show’s writers are. These people have never met an adopted person and have no idea how this affects children.
As an adopted person myself I found this sequence pure cringe. I’m old enough now to roll my eyes. At fifteen this would have bothered the Hell out of me.
For the record nothing akin to this ever happened to me or any of my adopted friends. This is out of touch with extremely relatable things from our world. Its needlessly insensitive. It would be great if this aspect of her story were just dropped.
Of course she verbally owns her cousin in a college-level series of put downs. Ten year old Leia is ready to easily win on ‘Jeopardy!’. This is when the character feels most like Mini-Rey.
Of note we do see young Luke in the distance, being watched dutifully by Obi wan. Luke’s uncle Owen Lars is a little cooler than we remember, but he still has a mean streak. Though he expressed contempt for Kenobi in A New Hope in this show he outright despises him. Owen says things no one would say to someone as formidable and dangerous as Obi wan. Owen knows this mans mere apprentice wiped out a tribe of Sand People easily. For Context- These Sand People were the bane of everyone’s existence. They killed Owen’s step mother and half the people who tried to rescue her. Owen’s father lost a leg to them. WHY anger a man you know is this powerful while betraying that you think he’s kind of insane to his face? I guess Owen has a death wish. Leave the subtitles on so you know Owen ‘scoffs’ at everything said to him by everyone. I was unaware of this til my second viewing.
I do like the new character we see of a “Fake Jedi” who shows he has some quality. I was glad this character made it to the end.
In a now common Disney practice we end with a tease. A glimpse of Bacta Tank Vader. This is weird because after ten years how much help can that still be? I was expecting him to be in his special chamber where he can remove his armor. The movies imply this chamber is his only relief and you’d think it would have been invented by now.
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Til Next time!