Obi-Wan Kenobi has come to a close this morning on Disney+, bringing with it a conclusion that’s equal parts emotional, satisfying, and packed with action.
Once again we find ourselves at the end of a Star Wars show’s journey, and the moment is bittersweet as it brings a bit more finality to the story than previous shows have done. Coming in right around an hour, Obi-Wan Kenobi manages to bring the specific story they’ve been telling to a satisfying close, while keeping the core themes of the Saga well intact throughout.
This is a show we’re going to be thinking about for a long time.
As always, I will be diving full on into spoiler territory for this recap/review, so if you haven’t watched the finale yet, I’d come back in a little bit. Be sure to catch up on our preview recaps here: Part I and II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
In a move that should surprise no one, Reva’s injuries were bad, but didn’t take her out completely. Following the lead from Kenobi’s broken communicator, Reva has found her way (rather quickly) back to Tatooine to track down Luke.
At the same time, it turns out the getaway from Jabiim wasn’t as clean as hoped for. The Path’s little transport is pursued by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer and, as you’d imagine, isn’t doing too well. They need time to fix some things before they can make the jump to hyperspace, but getting hammered by laser fire isn’t giving them that chance.
Obi-Wan knows what Vader wants: him. It’s been clear Vader’s driving goal has been to get revenge on his former Master. Much like Obi-Wan tells Anakin in the flashback we got last week, “Your need for victory…it blinds you,” we see that in Vader’s single-minded pursuit. Kenobi knows the only way to protect Leia, and everyone else on the shuttle, is to draw off Vader and face him directly.
We’ve spent the series seeing Kenobi reconnect with the Force. Where it started as a struggle, as he battled his own fears and haunted past, his time with Leia and The Path have opened his heart. In finding that spark of hope once again (both from seeing the galaxy through Leia’s perspective and seeing good people exist and work against the Empire), he’s found his place in the Force once more.
From the moment Obi-Wan encountered the Inquisitors while rescuing Leia, the road has been leading to Vader. He wasn’t ready before, isn’t quite sure he’s ready now, but Kenobi understands the path that’s been set before him and he’s finally ready to set aside his fear to walk it.
After a far more emotional than expected farewell to Leia and the crew (the first of many moments in this episode that left me misty-eyed), Obi-Wan sets off in a shuttle by himself. Aside from the apparent sacrifice he’s making, the moment is another example of how far he’s come on this journey. Before, he didn’t trust anyone and only did so initially when all other options had been exhausted. Now he’s willing to let Haja and Roken complete the mission he started with Leia.
The Heart of the Action
As expected, the plan works, and Vader’s driving need to finish Kenobi takes them off their pursuit of the transport. Vader follows Kenobi to the nearby planet—alone of course—where the two meet on the desolate landscape to face-off once more.
The result is a badass action sequence that manages to stand alongside the thrilling fights of the Prequels, while still maintaining certain style aspects from the originals. They’re both older, so some of the “flash” to their movements are gone, but the power behind each strike feels more devastating. There are some truly brutal movements sprinkled in there that had me on the edge of my seat.
There are some serious “holy shit” moments (like Obi-Wan’s barrage of rocks), but the fight scene’s strength lies in the emotion behind it. The dialog between them is almost as impactful as the blows they land. Sure, some of this comes with the help of the history we know from the films/cartoon, but Obi-Wan Kenobi has done a phenomenal job reminding us of the close bonds between Anakin/Vader and Obi-Wan. The result is being able to feel the weight of all that past within the context of their actions and dialog.
Things get particularly heavy when Obi-Wan manages to escape from the tomb Vader buried him in (a clever inversion of the “high ground”), and he manages to inflict some serious damage on Vader. It’s a kind of sequence we’ve seen before, with part of Vader’s helmet sliced open to reveal the man beneath, but it’s pretty powerful to see played out in live-action.
The sight of it, seeing the scarred flesh behind the mask, is enough to stop Kenobi cold. He’s confronted with the gruesome reality of what’s happened to his former Padawan and it takes the momentum out of his attack. The “I’m sorry” he utters is truly heartbreaking, especially combined with Vader’s refusal to accept Kenobi’s guilt.
This specific moment/dialog hit me hard for a couple reasons. The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to love it and suspect it’ll go down as among my favorite character beats.
On one level, Vader telling Obi-Wan he’s not “[his] failure” is a continuation of his driving need to win. No matter what, he cannot allow Kenobi to think he’s won in any way. If he harbors guilt over what happened and apologizing, Vader would have to admit defeat.
On another level, the admission is directly representative of the main themes about Darth Vader in general. I’ve opined on this before (pretty lengthily back when Rogue One released), but the crux of Vader is his hatred, his rage, has always been inwardly focused. While there are multiple factors involved in his fall to the dark side, the choice was always his to make.
He failed to protect Padmé, the justification he used in his for his initial turning and evil deeds. Vader knows what he did, what he continues to do, and hates himself all the more for it. It’s a continual cycle. He is unable to forgive himself for the terrible things he’s done, and that rage feeds into more of it. At the end, hate is all he has left and all he feels he deserves.
And there, seeing Vader broken, filled with rage and self-loathing, Obi-Wan is finally able to let go of the past and truly say good-bye to the Padawan/friend/brother he knew.
Reva’s story is inter-cut between all the stuff going on with Vader and Obi-Wan. Personally, I loved how they intersected and overlapped the action (something the feels VERY uniquely Star Wars in its execution). It’s just easier to discuss them separately!
After getting a heads up from a town local, Owen rushes back home with Luke to warn Beru trouble is on the way. Yes, this show finally gives Bonnie Piesse’s portrayal of Aunt Beru a chance to do something and it’s great. Turns out, she’s not one to be messed with and has been making her own preparations for just such an occasion.
If you’ve read some of the books (specifically the recently released Queen’s Hope), we’ve seen hints of Beru having a bigger overall story/impact. Having learned stuff from Anakin’s mother Shmi, she’s actually been helping slaves on Tatooine escape to a safe place, while removing their tracking chips.
Their homestead became something of a underground railroad stop at one point. While the episode doesn’t touch on that aspect, I loved seeing how they presented her as someone competent and familiar with needing to be prepared for the worst.
I also really loved seeing Owen and Beru have the chance to show how much they care for Luke, and their willingness to do whatever they can to protect him. It’s easy to infer from prior materials, but actually seeing them SHOW that dedicated level of caring/parenting is nice. A good parallel to the love and care we’ve seen from Bail and Breha Organa towards Leia.
Capable as they are, it’s still not quite enough to stop Reva. As Luke escapes into the desert she heads off in pursuit, intent to find him and get her own revenge. While I wasn’t sure about this at the end of the last episode, I think it’s safe to assume Reva connected the dots regarding Luke being Anakin/Vader’s son.
There are enough clues within Bail’s garbled message to make the assumption, or at the very least know Luke would be important to Vader in some way. She believes the only way to get justice for the friends she saw slaughtered at the temple, is to get revenge on Vader. No longer able to strike at Vader directly, knowing she won’t get the chance to be that close again, she instead seeks to dole out her own brand of justice on Luke.
Obviously…she’s unable to do so. I mean, we knew SOMETHING would stop her, if only because we know Luke survives and becomes the hero of the Saga (unless you subscribe to the Bigger Luke theory!), but I’m really impressed with how the show handled it.
Hope and Mercy
Sensing the danger, Obi-Wan makes his way immediately to Tatooine on his shuttle, arriving on the Lars homestead in time to find them searching for Luke. I think many, myself included assumed this meant Kenobi would arrive at just the right moment to prevent Reva from striking…but that’s not the case. In fact, he’s too late.
Instead, it’s Reva who stops herself. Though her motives to take down Vader may seem justified, she finally comes to understand the toll the dark side exacts on a person. She’s done terrible things in the name of justice, but in trying to kill Luke, she’s confronted with the fact she’s becoming the very thing she’s hated.
Being confronted with this, she turns to mercy instead and brings Luke back home. Even thinking on this moment now while writing about it is bringing me chills. It’s impressively acted, as we can feel Reva’s anguish, and guilt, through Moses Ingram’s touching performance.
Reva is hurting, feeling lost, and guilty she couldn’t avenge her friends. Kenobi is there to do what he does best: empathize. It’s a guilt he knows all too well, but he’s now learned how to live with it and push forward. In that most patient way of his, the way of a Jedi Master and teacher, Kenobi gives Reva exactly what she needs. Not forgiveness, for that’s not his to give, but understanding. Through that understanding comes hope.
As Kenobi points out, they’re now both free in their own way from the past which had so dominated their lives. While we don’t know what comes of Reva next, she’s now able to dictate her own story; whether it’s seeking absolution or to merely hide away…
Looking to the Future
This theme of hope is pivotal to Star Wars in general. It’s a driving theme of the Saga and some of the best stories told within it. Obi-Wan Kenobi ends with this fully in mind as we see him say his farewell to Leia on Alderaan, letting her know he made it out alive and better for his journey with her.
I love this moment, not just because it brings closure to their adventure together, but because it’s the first time we get to see Obi-Wan being HAPPY. He’s smiling and even lets out a fully, belly-deep laugh. It’s a far cry from the broken man we met at the start of all this, and I was shocked to discover how much seeing him joyful affected me emotionally. I didn’t realize how much I had missed that aspect until it happened.
Back on Tatooine we see him leave his cave behind, no longer feeling the need to maintain direct line-of-sight over Luke and the Lars homestead. His faith and hope restored, he’s able to let go and trust in the decisions he’s made; trust Owen and Beru know what’s best for Luke.
It’s another touching moment that lets Owen’s gruff exterior slip just a little bit, while also giving us a chance to see Obi-Wan meet up with Luke (properly) for the first time. I’m not going to lie, I was already emotional at everything that came before, but that “Hello there” completely set me off the edge. Sure, it’s a bit of fan service, but it was so expertly placed and timed right for the story, that it works on a deeper level.
As Obi-Wan sets back off into the desert in search of better lodgings, the payoff many of us have been waiting for finally came. Qui-Gon Jinn appears to Kenobi in the desert and makes it clear it was Obi-Wan’s despair and disconnect from the Force that prevented him from being able to appear before. It’s a quick moment, teasing that their work together is just getting started, but something fans have been hoping to see for decades (seriously, we all thought he’d show up in Revenge of the Sith).
It was perfect, not only from a fan-service point of view, but in offering a perfect bookend to the Kenobi’s journey within this story. In general, so much of this finale works well because of how it manages to stay true to the story being told. While it sprinkled hints of bigger things going on within the galaxy between The Path and the deeper lore behind the Inquisitors in general, it kept things focused on Kenobi’s goal of saving Leia and confronting his past.
To that end, the finale manages to feel…well, FINAL. It wraps up the primary story threads introduced at the beginning in ways both meaningful and satisfying. While it clearly leaves the door open for more stories to be told, neither does it leave audiences hanging on important plot points.
Hell, even with Vader we see a bit of a wrap-up on his obsession with Kenobi. His conversation with Palpatine (which was awesome to see), makes it clear the Emperor isn’t willing to indulge this diversion any more. If he wants to show his loyalty, Vader will have to drop his hunt for Kenobi, which lines up with how we see him presented in other stories like Rebels and the comics.
The story of Vader and Obi-Wan is settled until they meet for the last time in A New Hope, which is what this show set out to do. So yeah, I could see another “season” happen where it’s more of an anthology thing that picks up on a new story rather than continuing plot threads from this story. Either way, Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like a self-contained adventure that’s easy enough to enjoy for its own merits.
The Bigger Picture
Along those same lines, I want to quickly talk about the series overall now that it’s wrapped up. I think it’s quite obvious at this point that I absolutely love Obi-Wan Kenobi. I feel it managed to stick the landing and will ultimately go down as one of the best Star Wars stories around.
That said, it’s not perfect. There have been some consistent issues I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks that are all the more frustrating considering how powerful the story is. The visual effects just aren’t up to the same level of quality we’re used to with Star Wars.
I don’t know if it’s a result of budgetary constraints, but it’s clear some shortcuts were made in various areas. Where the story feels cinematic and on the same epic scale the movies, the production side is the most Star Wars has ever felt like a TV show. Not even on the level of a prestige show.
I know it feels lame to be complaining about VFX when the story we’re given is so damn great. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a trivial thing to complain about, but the cheaper feel to certain moments holds it back nonetheless. Visuals aren’t everything, but in a franchise built off pushing the boundaries and revolutionizing stuff, it’s jarring. Even the first couple seasons of The Mandalorian felt like they had a bit more polish on them, so it’s all the more frustrating to see.
Even with this in mind, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a standout show. I love The Mandalorian, and am eager to see its return, Kenobi has hit me on a completely different level. I found myself engaging with it on the same level as the films almost immediately; thinking in terms of how the themes influence the Saga on the whole.
My recaps for Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett were essentially about digging into the story and where elements would go next. My analysis on those shows felt more plot driven, but with Kenobi I’ve found something far deeper. Characters have been given fresh context. We got new perspectives on things we’ve known about but never really seen; and the themes presented not only deepened my appreciation for the messages presented in the films, but shifted them in some ways.
It’s a depth I wasn’t expecting from the show. What it has to say about the nature of the Force (both light and dark), and the power of hope, will definitely influence how I feel watching the movies from now on. It’s not often we get new media that allows fans the chance to watch the films in a new context, but that’s exactly what Obi-Wan Kenobi has done.
Things moved pretty quickly in today’s finale, so there wasn’t as much opportunity for Easter eggs, but there were still some fun things to notice.
Star Destroyer Chase – A shot of Vader’s Star Destroyer pursuing The Path’s shuttle is pulled straight out of A New Hope, where the same ship is chasing down Princess Leia on the Tantive IV.
Classic Kenobi – During their confrontation, Obi-Wan repeats the line he told Vader back on Mustfar, that he will, “Do what I must” in regards to fighting him. Even better, we got the iconic Obi-Wan Lightsaber pose to go with it!
Lifting Rocks – This is more of a fun parallel than direct Easter egg. Upon seeing Obi-Wan lifting up the rocks to help defeat Vader it’s hard not to think back to Luke Skywalker’s conversation with Rey about the Force in The Last Jedi and how “it’s not about lifting rocks.”
Darth – As happened in the original film, we see Obi-Wan refer to Vader simply as “Darth.” Obviously it’s not his first name, but a moniker, and it always seemed like a weird way to address Vader (something old Expanded Universe stories played around with). The use here makes it clear Kenobi is using the Sith title, Darth, as something of an insult.
The Masters Return – I already mentioned this in the recap above, but I’m so damn excited I have to bring it up again. Not only do we get to see Liam Neeson come back as Qui-Gon Jinn, Ian McDiarmid returned as the Emperor. Both of them looked great in the roles, with Palpatine’s make-up managing to look even better than it did in Revenge of the Sith.
Leia’s Holster – This one might be a bit of a stretch, considering holsters generally share a similar look, but I’m counting it anyway. Obi-Wan gives Leia Tala’s (empty) hoslter as a parting gift, something she then straps to herself at the end of the episode.
It looks pretty much just like the holster we’ve seen Leia sporting in the comic books (including the one getting an action figure soon) and even strapped to her on Endor. Again, maybe grasping at straws, but thinking about Leia using continuing to use the holster Obi-Wan gave her brings warm feelings to my heart.
Final Outfit – By the end of the episode, Kenobi is donning his more familiar Jedi outfit. Moreso, his appearance here seems to deliberately mimic his look from the Sideshow Collectibles Mythos statue; a release showing an artist’s rendition of a “younger” Obi-Wan in exile. It’s also pretty much his exact outfit we’ve seen featured in the comics (which was also based on that Mythos statue).
While I have my issues with some of the production quality, there’s no denying Obi-Wan Kenobi whips an incredible amount of ass. Deborah Chow should be given a blank check to make whatever Star Wars movie/show she wants to in the future.
Now…the countdown to Andor in on.