The Jedi Master is finally back, as the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive on Disney+. With new characters, familiar faces, this new adventure is off to a great start.
As I sat down to watch the premier episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi this morning, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact we are now on our THIRD live-action Star Wars series. Not only that, but we’re getting to revisit classic characters we haven’t seen on the screen in decades.
Even a few years ago, it’s not something I imagined we’d be seeing…Regardless, as I did for The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, I’m going to be recapping/reviewing the series in my own way. Talking about things that worked, what could be coming next, and pointing out some of the fun Easter eggs along the way.
Since TWO episodes kicked off the series, I’m going to combine those into a single recap. Yeah, different things happen, but it’s my site and I do what I want. That said, we won’t be shying away from any spoilers so if you haven’t watched the episodes yet, be warned.
Let’s get to it!
What I’m loving, so far, about Obi-Wan Kenobi, is that being a limited series, there’s pretty much one overarching story being told through the episodes. Sure, we don’t know how it will all play out, but it’s more serial in nature rather than changing things up with each episode. In this regard, Part I and II give a solid start to the story being told.
Taking place 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, the Imperial Inquisitors are on the prowl throughout the galaxy hunting down any surviving Jedi. Though this group got their start in Star Wars Rebels (even including the Fifth Brother and Grand Inquisitor who appear in the show), they’ve been featured in the comics, novels, and even primary antagonists in Jedi: Fallen Order.
Their quest is a simple one, but after a decade of work, they’ve managed to root out almost all of them; leaving little for them to hunt aside from “small fish.” Among these smaller fish is a Jedi named Nari, who finds himself on Tatooine in search of the legendary Jedi Master Obi-Wan.
It’s Nari who brings the Inquisitors to Tatooine, but he’s not the one Reva, the Third Sister (Moses Ingram), wants. She’s after the white whale, Obi-Wan, though she doesn’t realize who close to him she actually is.
Going against the Grand Inquisitor’s orders, Reva initiates a plan to bring Obi-Wan Kenobi out of hiding. Having learned of a connection between Kenobi and Bail Organa from their cloesness during the Clone Wars, she hires a gang to kidnap Princess Leia Organa. Excuse me for a moment, but let me take this chance to say…
Last year, I reported that Vivien Lyra Blair had been cast to play the 10 year-old Princess Leia (same report also scooped Sung Kang as the Fifth Brother), and that she would play a significant role in the story which would ultimately take Obi-Wan off the planet Tatooine. Guess what happened?
Leia’s kidnapping prompts Breha and Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits is always a blast to see) to reach out to Obi-Wan in hiding to ask for help. Fearing a bounty hunter or anyone else would mess things up, or create a larger incident, they appeal to the exiled Jedi for help.
The rescue quest takes Kenobi off Tatooine for the first time in a decade and to the seedy planet of Daiyu, where lawlessness seems to be the order of business. There, Obi-Wan must dust off his investigative skills in order to find the missing child. Thankfully he gets the help of a “Jedi,” Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjia) who turns out to be nothing more than a con man. Even so, he points him in the right direction.
After sneaking, and fighting, his way through a Spice lab, Kenobi finds Leia and the two must find a way off planet. The problem, however, is that Reva’s plan worked perfectly and she’s already on the planet (along with the other Inquisitors) to lock things down.
In a very John Wick-esque scene, all of the bounty hunters on Diayu are given Obi-Wan’s information and set out to find him. Following several close calls and a near confrontation, Obi-Wan and Leia manage to escape on an automated cargo ship, with some vital information: Anakin Skywalker is alive.
It’s not hard to see where things are heading. Kenobi and Leia will undoubtedly head to the coordinates Haja gave them (it was nice to see him turn out to be decent) on Mapuzo where people will help them. I’m curious to see who this help will turn out to be, but considering Reva’s interrogation of Haja, we can assume she knows where the pair are heading as well.
I suspect Leia will be returned to Alderaan before too long, but with Kenobi now outed as being alive there’s no way he can safely return to watch over Luke without bringing the Empire down. He’ll have to find a way to get the Inquisitors off his back, and deal with his former apprentice.
Right off the bat, the thing I’m enjoying most about Obi-Wan Kenobi are the characters. They all bring a distinct engaging quality to them that managed to hook me even beyond the fun parts of the story. Let me talk about the things the stood out most to me real quick:
A Jedi Haunted – Ben Kenobi is but a shadow of his former self. This is not the Jedi Master we once knew, who was always willing to help others, regardless of the risk to himself. Instead, he’s haunted and defeated.
Even when Nari reaches out to him, the only advice he can give is to hide and try and have a normal life. While he takes his duty in watching over Luke seriously, it’s clear he’s lost pretty much all hope of things getting better. Rather, he’s contented to live his life in a cave and toiling away under the suns.
It’s crazy to see such a huge shift for the character, but Ewan McGregor plays it brilliantly. Through subtle body language and facial expressions, you can see the thoughts going through the character’s head. Even as he tells Breha and Bail he won’t help them with Leia, you can see how much it hurts him to do so, along with the fear that’s ever present.
Hell, even in the action sequences in the second episode, we can tell Obi-Wan is very rusty. Where he once went toe-to-toe with General Greivous, a fist fight against low-level thugs leaves him winded and hurting.
All these moments expertly show the mindset Obi-Wan has been in for the past ten years, and makes it all the more emotionally powerful when he begins to turn things around. Him using the Force for the first time in who knows how long, to save Leia from falling had me pumping my fist in the air. It’s far from the first time we’ve seen Obi-Wan do something heroic, but coming after seeing what he’s been through and his haunted mindset feels like a triumph.
He’s still nowhere near where he was, but we see glimpses of his former self as he interacts with Leia near the end of the episode. Especially when he tells Leia how she reminds him of someone (clearly referencing her birth mother, Padme).
Leia Organa – I gotta say, even knowing she would play a role in the show, I was blown away by how much I LOVED Vivian Lyra Blair’s portrayal of Princess Leia. She’s got the whip-smart attitude, the stubborn streak, and right amount of mischievousness. Moreso, we get to see her empathy on display as she treats even her droids with respect and a level of dignity.
The writers clearly understood the things that make Leia, Leia, even taking queues from Claudia Gray’s book, Leia, Princess of Alderaan. Blair manages to fully embody those elements, however, taking the character as written and bringing her to life in an endearing way. As she hides from her mother in the forest, puts her cousin in his place, and generally gives Obi-Wan a bunch of Sass, everything she does feels like the Leia we all know and love.
If you had any worries about seeing these iconic characters in a different time period, with new actors, Obi-Wan Kenobi demonstrates how great it can be.
The Organas – Personally, I LOVED getting to see Alderaan in the show. It’s not something we’ve really been able to see in Star Wars so far, aside from the quick look on the planet at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Getting to see the people of the planet, their architecture and people, was a real treat.
Even better, I loved getting to see Queen Breha as an actual character (with lines and everything)! While Rebecca Jackson Mendoza portrayed the character in her brief ROTS cameo, Simone Kessell takes on the role this time, and she’s great.
Of course, Jimmy Smits, returns to play Bail, Leia’s adopted father, and the way these three work together as a family is truly heartening. Their dynamic feels at once genuine and loving. You get a sense of the history they’ve shared along with their hopes for what’s to come.
Owen Lars – Though his role has been fairly small so far (most of which has been shown in the trailers for the show), it’s no less impressive to see Joel Edgerton play the gruff, but clearly loving, Uncle Owen. Him staring down Reva, Lightsaber at his neck, then curtly telling Obi-Wan he “didn’t do it for [him]” is poignant scene I’ll be thinking about for a while.
Reva – All the Inquisitors are call to see in live-action, and transferred far better from animation than I initially feared. I like seeing how the series shows them to be more than mindless killers. They aren’t hellbent on destruction and chaos (as many dark side users can be), but are instead calculated hunters.
Specifically, however, I’m loving the brand new Inquisitor, Reva. She’s got a ruthlessness to her that throws the rest of them off. In her, we see the impulsiveness and rage we more closely associate with the Sith. In fact, I suspect her big (decidedly personal) motivation in finding Obi-Wan is to potentially get Darth Vader take her on as an actual Sith apprentice. She wants to be more than just an Inquisitor, and that would seem like the logical next step.
I also, strongly, suspect she’s one of the younglings we saw in the Part I’s opening scene. We get another angle of the devastating Order 66 attack on the Temple (how many times do they have to rip my heart out?), and see a group of kids trying to escape. Considering we don’t come back to that moment aside from the beginning, and it feels a bit random, I’m guessing it turns out Reva is one of those younglings who escaped and eventually turned to the Empire. Either way, I’m definitely digging her as a villain so far!
Weaving Through the Gaps
From the outset, many fans were wondering how Obi-Wan Kenobi could tell a story during this time period without messing with certain bits of canon. Thankfully, the series, so far, manages to thread it’s way through the continuity rather deftly.
Though Leia was the impetus to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding, she was chosen due to her father’s past connection. So the Inquisitors obviously don’t know Leia’s true nature. Similarly, Obi-Wan only introduces himself as Ben to Leia, meaning she doesn’t really know who he is. Since A New Hope makes it seem like she’s never met “Obi-Wan” before in her plea for help, this helps square that away nicely.
Yeah, I know some people are concerned about Reva stabbing the Grand Inquisitor, but I think it’s safe to say he’s not dead. I mean, Vader survived worse than a blade through the stomach. Not to mention at one point in Star Wars Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor tells Kanan that there are “worse things than death.” Perhaps this is a reference to this old injury.
I know there were some concerns with how these things would be handled, but I’m impressed with it so far. Sure, some of it might require a bit more hand-waving, but if the rest of the series maintains this level of canon weaving, I can’t see anyone complaining about it.
As always, the latest Star Wars series brings a number of Easter eggs and fun references for fans to look for. Here are some of the neat things I noticed:
T-16 Toy – I think everyone noticed this, but it’s still cool. Obi-Wan buys the toy ship (a model of a T-16 Skyhopper) we see Luke with in A New Hope. Of course, Owen tried to give it back, but obviously that will change.
Jedi Master – If you were wondering, the Jedi Master who gives her life at the beginning of the show is named in the credits as Master Minas Velti. I don’t know of any reference to this character in anything else, but interesting they went ahead and named her. Hopefully we’ll see her pop up in something else.
Temuera Morrison – On the planet Daiyu, Obi-Wan comes across a Clone Trooper veteran played by the man himself, Temuera Morrison. Neat to see him back in the Clone role once again, even if it’s only to show how much they’ve been abandoned by the Empire. This trooper also appears to be wearing old 501st armor, which was Darth Vader’s personal unit.
Glor-ag – This might be a bit of reach, but at one point Bail refers to raising Leia as akin to raising a Glor-ag. It’s an offhand line, clearly referencing some alien creature, but the name DOES have a prior history in Star Wars lore.
Glor-ags are referenced in the old Star Wars Adventure Journals (from the West End roleplaying game). Specifically, Adventure Journal #10 features a short story, Wanted by Cracken, that makes reference to a Quarren who rode them. That’s about all we know!
Purrgil – Bail makes reference to the space-whale creatures originally seen in Star Wars Rebels (who turned out to be pretty damn important).
Jakobeast – Lots of creature references so far! The jakobeast (mentioned by Leia) is another creature who originated from the Star Wars Role-Playing game. The large creatures were actually Force-sensitive, which they used to repel attackers.
Celly Organa – We meet Princess Leia’s extended family in the first episode, including Duchess Celly Organa, Duke Tayo Organa, and their son Niano. Celly actually finds her origins as Leia’s aunt in the old Expanded Universe novel, Children of the Jedi, and popped up in various other material (even in comic form) throughout the years after. Neat to see Celly is still around in the new Canon!
Flea – As originally reported by Star Wars News Net, the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers does indeed appear in the show. In fact, he’s the lead bounty hunter (Vect Nokru) who kidnaps Leia and eventually killed by an angry Grand Inquisitor.
Vader’s Tank – I mean, this isn’t really an Easter egg, but it’s still really cool to see nonetheless. The second episode ends with our first look at Darth Vader, suspended in his Bacta tank in much the same way we saw him in Rogue One.
Aquillian Rangers – While starship spotting, Leia imagines one of the vessels belong to the Aquillian Rangers, a very deep cut reference. In George Lucas’ second draft of Star Wars, the Aquillian Rangers were warriors for the Rebel Alliance who carried “laser swords” and could use the Force, but weren’t Jedi. The Bail character from that draft was one of them.
Merson Pirates – In the same reference to the Aquillian Rangers, Leia and Bail mention how they are likely hunting down Merson Pirates. This group of space pirates originated in the old Marvel Star Wars comic in the 80s (Issue #24 to be exact) and were canonized in Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars Role-Playing game in 2019’s Rise of the Separatists expansion.
C-3P0 and R2-D2 – The iconic droids make a quick appearance (blink and you miss it for R2 for sure), but it’s always great to see them.
Corran and Corellia – Now, this might be a bit of stretch, but bear with me on this one. When we me the con man Haja, he’s aiding a mother and her child get off planet, possibly because he’s Force-sensitive (Haja implies to Kenobi he’s “not alone” and working to help Force-users hide). He ends up helping them escape to Corellia; a fun name drop to Han Solo’s home planet.
Now, the credits reveal that the child’s name is CORRAN. In Star Wars Legends, Corran Horn was a pilot from Rogue Squadron who came from Corellia and ended up becoming a Jedi. Now, I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here, but seems like a least a passing reference. Corran, despite his flaws, is one of my favorite Expanded Universe characters, so I’m taking this as a win.
All in all, Obi-Wan Kenobi is off to a thrilling start. Not only does it manage to bring the emotional element with engaging characters, there’s some solid action as well. If nothing else, these first two episodes have shown exactly WHY this story is worth telling, justifying its existence to those who worried. Sign me up for more.
Obi-Wan Kenobi will now debut new episodes every Wednesday.