Obi-Wan Kenobi is truly a six-part event as there are no episode titles, making it seem more like the first act of a film. So let’s talk about that first act:
**Spoilers for Part One and Part Two of Obi-Wan Kenobi.**
The Prequel Recap
The first thing that you can’t help but notice is the four-minute recap of the three Prequel films before Part One starts. It is full of information and insight, not just for those who might not have seen the Prequels, but for fans who are looking for clues about how this series will play out.
The focus of this recap is on Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship and how, after Qui-Gon’s death, his former Master entrusted Obi-Wan with the care, guidance, and protection of Anakin. And we see the progression of their relationship through the four minutes, ending with Obi-Wan walking away from Anakin while he is burning to death. That was always a startling moment for fans, not just for the cruelty of leaving someone to burn alive, but it felt out of character for Obi-Wan. And it looks like that decision will be addressed in the show.
Another thing that stood out was the sheer presence of Padme and her repeated statement, “There’s good in him.” That she is in the recap heavily from Revenge of the Sith while pregnant hints at developments in Part One, but it also likely sets Kenobi’s decision to have another confrontation with his former Padawan.
We are left with where everyone currently is in the Star Wars universe, Obi-Wan as Ben on Tatooine watching over Luke, who is with his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. And Leia on Alderaan with her adopted parents, Bail and Breha Organa. This is the biggest hint of the surprise of Part One.
The Opening Scene of Order 66
As I mentioned in my Star Wars Ranking post, Order 66 was the most significant canon contribution to come out of Revenge of the Sith. It explains why there are almost no Jedi by the time Luke Skywalker joins the Rebellion. And it explains why Obi-Wan, Yoda, and many other Jedi are hiding. We will see it many more times in Star Wars content, and it was an inevitable part of this show. Part One starts with Younglings training under a Jedi Master Velti when Clone troopers come in and start shooting. The Younglings and the Master make their way down corridors to try to escape, and Velti takes out the troopers before succumbing to her blaster wounds, leaving the children to fend for themselves and their fates unknown. This scene in context with the whole episode appears disconnected, but it will undoubtedly tie back to the new Inquisitor, Third Sister Reva (played by Moses Ingram). The scene also sets up one possible theme of the series which is the young generation of Jedi being abandoned by the Jedi leadership. And Obi-Wan is the face of that, recording the holo to surviving Jedi not to return to Coruscant. Can you imagine being a Force-sensitive child on your own and hearing that no one is coming to help you? Put a pin in that feeling because it definitely has affected Reva.
It Was Leia All Along
When the trailers started releasing for Obi-Wan Kenobi, we got a look at other planets besides Tatooine and it was clear that Kenobi would be spending time off-world. But what was the reason? Some theorized that the Inquisitors would get too close to the Lars family for comfort, causing Kenobi to leave and divert their attention.
But the answer is Leia. Leia was a last-minute decision by Lucas and Lucasfilm to be a Skywalker in the Original Trilogy. A lot has been filled in with novels and comics of her life growing up on Alderaan (please read Claudia Gray’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan if you have not), but here we get to see a period of her life that has not been depicted…ten-year-old Leia. Vivien Lyra Blair takes on the difficult task of portraying a young version of one of the most iconic female fictional characters, and she nails it for the most part. Her introduction is great and Simone Kessell playing Breha is equally dynamic. But the family is on the radar of Reva, who is trying to smoke out Obi-Wan Kenobi. She hires a gang that includes Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Flea to kidnap the young princess, sending the Bail and Breha to Kenobi in desperation. When Obi-Wan responds that his duties are to the boy, the lines that I have wanted someone to say for so long come out of Bail’s mouth:
Damn right she is. And she is worthy of Kenobi’s reason to leave Tatooine to help rescue her.
A Clone Cameo That’s Depressingly Realistic
While doing press, Deborah Chow mentioned that there would be some surprise cameos. I predicted that Clone Commander Cody could be a possibility (and still might be with four parts to go). But what we got is so much better. And worse. But better.
While Kenobi is on Daiyu from a tracking signal planted on the kidnappers’ ship, he sees a homeless 501st Clone trooper (Temuera Morrison making the cameo) begging for credits. It is an unnamed Clone, so not one we have met before, but a homeless Veteran is unfortunately too common here in the US. Seeing a clone who served the Republic discarded while new Stormtroopers walk by is a slap in the face and was eery watching during Memorial Day Weekend.
There is a deeper story within this scene that could be explored in The Bad Batch. But Kenobi’s emotions are harder to read on whether he is sad or alarmed at seeing the face that betrayed the Jedi. But he does and gives the trooper credits. The streets of Daiyu could be streets in our world with people just trying to survive and some of the more helpless being ignored. I am not sure where Daiyu is located in the galaxy (there is an Imperial presence, so probably closer to the Core Worlds), but it is essentially a planet of the lost. Speaking of which, Kumail Nanjiani’s Haja is another lost soul stuck on Daiyu who does not know whether he wants to be a hero, a villain, or something else. He cons a mother and son into escaping Daiyu, then saves Obi-Wan and Leia from a bounty hunter. Haja pretends to be a Jedi, possibly because he idolizes the Jedi. During a time when the Empire is trying to erase the Jedi from history, a character like Haja trying to carry on their legacy, in his own way, is fascinating.
It was also correctly assumed that we would be seeing other Jedi on the run during this series. In the first two parts, we see an actual Jedi played by director/writer Benny Safdie and a charlatan played by Kumail Nanjiani. First off, it’s great to see both of these actors in Star Wars, though Benny’s character, Nari, was short-lived. And it is nice to see Kumail’s face not hidden behind make-up or voicing a droid. His character, Haja, is a con-man with a heart of gold on Daiyu who uses magnets and accomplices to help get people off-world (and make a few credits).
Having two characters that claim to be Jedi (one real and one fake and working underground) shows how dangerous the galaxy has become in such a short time for the Jedi. And how lonely it must be. Nari seeks out Kenobi because he is a Jedi leader, only to get a cold shoulder. It is a far cry from where the Jedi were before Order 66 and how crippling fear is for anyone to overcome, including Jedi.
This brings us to the star, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The recap at the beginning of Part One shows the stark contrast of the man we find working as a butcher on Tatooine. He works, takes a transport into town to retrieve his eopie, and travels back to his home in the desert. At night, he has nightmares about Anakin and wakes up trying to connect with Qui-Gon. Like the people on Daiyu, Kenobi is lost. With no Padawan and no Master to connect with, he still watches over Luke from afar and even delivers the toy we see in A New Hope.
This does not sit well with Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton also returning), who returns the toy and gives Kenobi a warning: Stay away from their family. Lars blames Owen for what happened to Anakin (he’s not wrong) and calls Kenobi out for just waiting for Luke to “show” his Force sensitivity (which is weird). Owen’s concern is proven warranted when the Inquisitors show up and start interrogating, and Reva hones in on Owen, sensing that he knows something. Luckily, Owen covers for him because it keeps his family safe but the whole encounter underlines how dangerous even helping Jedi is for citizens. But it also puts Obi-Wan on guard against the Inquisitors. When Reva corners him in a cargo bay and tells him that she wants to take him to Darth Vader (who is Anakin Skywalker) Kenobi is shocked, barely even registering young Leia, who he just saved asking what is wrong.
There are many questions raised in these two parts about the Third Sister. How does that scene in the beginning factor into her ultimate goal within the Inquisitorious and with Vader? How does she know that Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader? And how is the Grand Inquisitor going to get out of part two alive? I am not sure why Lucasfilm would put themselves in the predicament of having to explain that last one in Part Three. Unless they are retconning Rebels.
So focusing on the other two. There is no question that Reva is the Youngling from the opening scene. With that information, her obsession with Kenobi could be for two reasons: She wants a member of the Jedi leadership held responsible for abandoning the survivors. Or she is actually a direct messenger for Vader, unknown to the other Inquisitors. The latter would explain why she knows that Anakin is Vader and why she keeps undercutting the other Inquisitors. She is following a higher power.
We will find out some of these answers in Part Three (there is a deeply effective cut from Kenobi’s face to Vader’s at the end of Part Two), but it does not look like Reva will make it out of this show alive with what she knows. With one-third of the series complete, we have been given just the right amount of questions to set this up to be the most satisfying Star Wars series to date. Time will tell if it delivers.