Obi-Wan Kenobi finale assessment: a Star Wars present as damaged as its hero

At first, probably the most distinct factor about Obi-Wan Kenobi within the new period of Star Wars is that, for the primary time because the franchise transitioned to TV, it wasn’t a few man in a helmet. No disrespect to The Mandalorian or The E book of Boba Fett, however they’re exhibits that had been offered on iconography greater than character — one thing they reminded audiences of each time the Star Wars franchise brand appeared on display after flashes of robots and helmets. Just one character wears a masks in Obi-Wan Kenobi: Darth Vader, and its presence or lack thereof is all the time significant. Throughout its temporary six-episode run, Obi-Wan stopped the spectacle to deal with individuals — and it principally resonates as a distinction to how a lot I’ve missed them in different Star Wars tales.

On the coronary heart of this are Obi-Wan’s two central performances. As Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor performs a damaged man in exile, a soldier who is aware of he misplaced the struggle however remains to be being requested to battle it, retaining fixed vigil from afar over the younger Luke Skywalker. As befits the character that shares the sequence’ title, each word of Obi-Wan’s journey rings true, largely because of McGregor’s efficiency.

Historical past helps right here. McGregor returning to the position he first performed over 20 years in the past and redefined for a second era of Star Wars followers helps underline his depiction of a burdened man thanklessly safeguarding what’s left of his legacy. He doesn’t communicate as a lot as he used to, however his actions inform a narrative — hiding from view and scrambling from fights within the first half of the present, and transferring and combating with willpower within the second half. Throughout six episodes, Obi-Wan goes from a shattered Jedi barely comfy utilizing the Power anymore to a person who has as soon as once more discovered energy and function.

Reva stands in a doorway with light glaring above and behind her in the Disney Plus series Obi-Wan Kenobi

Picture: Lucasfilm

Opposing him is Moses Ingram’s Reva, a relentless, pushed Inquisitor working for Darth Vader to hunt Kenobi down. As Reva, Ingram is formidable, fueled by ardour and rage, an incredible bodily presence in a world more and more outlined by larger-than-life figures with obscured faces. Sadly, Ingram’s efficiency is underserved by the story she’s in. Clear motivations, as soon as revealed, result in baffling actions as her story reaches its climax.

Reva, because it’s slowly revealed, was a survivor of Anakin’s youngling bloodbath in Revenge of the Sith, and has grow to be zealous in pursuit of Obi-Wan as a part of an extended gambit to get shut sufficient to Darth Vader to kill him in revenge. There’s a tragic story right here, one that you may infer from Ingram’s efficiency — as Reva is frequently damaged down and constructed again up in her quest for revenge — however it’s one which strains credulity as Reva’s story ends along with her in pursuit of Luke Skywalker, even when her aim of killing Vader is now lengthy gone.

Despite the distinction in execution of their tales, each Obi-Wan and Reva’s arcs emotionally floor Obi-Wan Kenobi of their particular deal with loss. Put merely, they’re there for example the distinction between dropping and being misplaced. Obi-Wan by no means says this theme out loud, however it’s the rationale why the present can nonetheless really feel worthwhile despite its standing as a prequel the place the fates of most main characters are recognized from the outset, notably its protagonist.

What the viewer doesn’t know coming in is Obi-Wan’s interiority: Is outdated Ben Kenobi at his publish in A New Hope out of obligation or devotion? Has his loss in Revenge of the Sith crammed him with despair or resolve? The house for Obi-Wan Kenobi to say something significant in any respect is extremely slim, so it has no selection however to deal with emotions — to the credit score of director Deborah Chow and her many collaborators, it conveys them effectively sufficient that when Obi-Wan stands in entrance of younger Leia Organa or a ship stuffed with refugees, it’s doable to care about whether or not or not he can discover it in himself to encourage them.

Darth Vader stands in the darkness as flames reflect in his suit

Picture: Lucasfilm

Or that, when Kenobi has what seems to be his penultimate showdown along with his former apprentice earlier than they reunite as outdated males in A New Hope, it’s clear that they’re burying the individuals they had been within the prequels and changing into who they are going to be within the authentic trilogy. On this, Hayden Christensen’s temporary return as Anakin makes Obi-Wan Kenobi probably the most significant fashionable invocation of Darth Vader but, as his scarred visage briefly seen via a break up helmet within the closing episode offers viewers a glimpse of what the struggle has value. Darth Vader in title vows to grow to be Darth Vader in function, laying apart his failed makes an attempt at revenge to completely grow to be the gloved fist of a fascist Emperor.

It will probably’t be understated that the uphill battle for resonance Obi-Wan Kenobi confronted is an issue of Star Wars’ personal design. The present state of the franchise is one in every of timidity, preferring to financial institution on the fervour of outdated followers over the work of successful new ones. Finally, Obi-Wan Kenobi is an uneven work a few man not sure of his place in an enormous and still-ongoing endeavor.

In that uncertainty, cynicism took root, as it’s wont to do. However that cynicism — whether or not it stems from a fictional character processing his place after dropping a struggle the unhealthy guys gained, or the problem of artists and craftspeople making an attempt to make artwork in probably the most business setting possible — might be overcome, even when it’s justified. You simply must discover a approach, discover one thing human to carry on to. Obi-Wan Kenobi broke a Jedi down and constructed him as much as be an individual once more. You possibly can see it on his face.

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