SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details about the Disney+/Lucasfilm Season 1 Finale Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Disney+/Lucasfilm season finale Obi Wan Kenobi completed its six-episode arc at what was an entire 4 hours and 40 minutes since its May 27 debut.
You could basically say it’s very long star wars film; 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi being the longest at 2 hours and 32 minutes.
Yes, hands down, this was a vastly improved series over The Boba Fett Book, who got all his mojo stolen by The Mandalorian, living in the shadow of this series. And there were some intriguing things happening here in the franchise after 2005. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
But overall was Obi Wan Kenobi good enough? How did he raise the star wars cannon? Half the time it didn’t, and half the time it did.
Little Princess Leia Organa’s early swashbuckling days were lovely enough, but how lame is it that she becomes the princess who is continually kidnapped by the Imperials? Surely she can’t be kidnapped again before being held hostage by Darth Vader and his planet Alderaan shattered. If Lucasfilm has this in the cards down the road, is Princess Leia falling for her Patty Hearst-style imperial captors?
The constant risk for Disney and Lucasfilm to expand the classic character stories of the star wars universe is that franchise architect George Lucas, at least on screen, hasn’t gone to the well often enough, unlike star trek, which has been exploited relentlessly since its appearance.
For decades, star wars fans have been stuck in their rigid ideology of what works, doesn’t work, and is appropriate in a universe that has a lot of black holes. When Disney starts filling in those gaps, say with the Han Solo or Obi-Wan backstory, it takes a steady hand and it’s an impossible task to make everyone happy.
What annoys fans the most? When the barrel is broken or tampered with (i.e., “Han shot first”), and Obi Wan Kenobi carries some guilt in that. More on that later.
The only advantage here for Disney is that everything lacks success in a star wars TV series, i.e. low viewership, can be hidden, especially from the public scrutiny of a box office upset (Han Solo: A Star Wars Story displeased the masses and ended up as the franchise’s lowest-grossing film with $213.7 million domestic, $392.9 million worldwide).
So what tried to move the needle here in star wars tradition in the Obi Wan Kenobi final season? Darth Vader was rather obsessed with a note of hunting his former master for nothing more than revenge, while in The Empire Strikes Back her pursuit of Luke was the simple fact that he is her long-lost son. Was Dark angry that Obi-Wan split his body in two Revenge of the Sith? Or is it just good and bad? Or the taxation of trade routes? What was the point of seeing Darth Vader and Obi-Wan fight again in a lightsaber battle – the aorta of the finale – which sees the latter momentarily buried under a pile of rocks? I would say the bow here in Obi Wan Kenobi is this old Jedi who regains his strength after hiding in the desert during an Imperial Jedi purge. Ben damages Darth Vader again, killing his helmet and shattering the control box on his chest. Ben sees Anakin’s face, shouts his name and apologizes. “You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker,” Darth Vader growls. “I did it.” And then in a play on a line of Luke Skywalker in return of the jedi, Obi-Wan replies, “So my friend is really dead.” Well, duh. We knew that from the start.
What now for Obi-Wan? He is once again a hermit in a cave in the Tatooine desert until the events of the 1977 film occur.
We had a feeling by the end of Episode 5 that Imperial Inquisitor Reva would survive when she looked for that comlink, learning where Luke was. She had clearly gone back to Tatooine to catch the kid. Seeing Uncle Owen with a laser rifle shooting after the Third Sister was a bit too much; he’s a farmer, not a fighter, and he didn’t have to fight space villains. When we first meet Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in the 1977 film, they are peaceful people in the middle of nowhere. They are massacred by the stormtroopers. Now Owen in his early days has the cajones take on a Dark Jedi with a blaster. Go figure.
What redeems Reva here is her transformation to the light side. She got emotional enough when she approached young Luke in the rocks of Tatooine to see herself when she fell victim to Order 66. That’s when Anakin and the clone troopers attacked the Jedi temple and killed the youths; little Reva’s life was spared as she played dead as we saw in the show’s flashbacks. Reva brings Luke’s body back to Obi-Wan. “You did not disappoint them by choosing mercy,” Obi-Wan told him. She throws her saber in the sand. “Now you are free,” Obi-Wan said. It’s a nice moment. Typically when the Dark Jedi have turned to the Light Side, i.e. Vader and Kylo Ren, it’s moments before they die. If they keep Obi Wan Kenobi ongoing, it will be interesting to see how Reva lives in the light and her struggle to keep up with that.
Two big cameos in the episode are Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn Force guest. That last one is just a blip at the end, and something fans have been dying to see for quite some time. “Come on,” Qui-Gon says to Obi-Wan as he walks with him through the desert. “We have a long way to go.” Where were you Qui-Gon Jinn earlier in the series? You could have been Obi-Wan’s only hope.
It’s good to see the Emperor, but what did his conversation with Darth Vader about Mustafar accomplish? “You seem restless,” Emperor Vader teases, as if the cyborg still has feelings for Obi-Wan. “Kenobi means nothing,” Vader retorts.
Leia is of course back with her adoptive parents, donning Tala’s holster (given to her by Obi-Wan earlier in the finale) and sporting pointy brown combat boots. She is a junior variant of Princess Lea from the original trilogy. She has a lot of courage after her last adventures with Obi-Wan, but we know she will be captured again.
But unfortunately, Lucasfilm ends up rewriting star wars legend at the end. The 1977 film left the impression that it was Leia’s first time meeting the enigmatic Obi Wan. We had no idea she galloped with him around the universe as a child.
Ditto for Obi-Wan’s encounter with Luke, which occurs at the end of the season finale. Owen gives the old Jedi the green light to finally introduce himself to the boy. The show spent the entire season making sure that Obi-Wan and Luke would never meet while being loyal to Episode IV; he would only be monitoring the boy’s well-being from afar in the desert. So far, after Ben gives Luke a T-16 toy skyhopper – the toy we see Luke picking up in the Lucas-directed film.
Certainly, the interaction opens up more opportunities for Obi-Wan and young Luke to go on an adventure in Season 2, if that happens. But why mess with the original star wars commandments? It’s smarter to write around the rules.
Obi-Wan surely had more important things to do in the desert before he entered the much older Luke’s life.