The incoming debut of the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus series feels like a real crosspoint when it comes to that galaxy far, far away. Last Sunday, as I talked about the current state of all things Star Wars with some fellow nerds, I realized I wasn't sure if I'd finished The Book of Boba Fett or not. I'm not a die-hard Star Wars fan, mind you; I see myself as more of a casual fan (though I am wearing a Directed By Rian Johsnon shirt in the Star Wars font with stars in the background as I type this).
But not remembering the last episode of The Book of Boba Fett is pretty odd, since it turns out I did watch it — I wrote our explainer on The Book of Boba Fett finale, for crying out loud. How could a season finale be so un-memorable if that doesn't stick in my memory 3 months later?
But that just reminded me of this one thought that's stuck with me from The Book of Boba Fett to The Rise of Skywalker. The people who are handling the old Star Wars characters just don't seem to really understand what to do with them. And it's creating a dividing line between the Star Wars stuff I think will be good, and the star warts that I will quietly do my best to overlook.
The old Star Wars keeps getting fumbled
"A whole show about Boba Fett!?!" The guy whose action figure I loved, and whose spaceship I saved my pennies to get? This should have been a home run. That feeling of expectations was familiar, as I went to Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker with similar vibes.
But when I sat down for both The Book of Boba Fett and Rise of Skywalker? Both just tumbled down the proverbial stairs like Jason Derulo at the Met Gala. Boba Fett's Book was being told through two simultaneous stories, each competing for the slowest pacing possible. Fans of that show told me how much they loved it, and it was clear that they were coming to the show with a much greater appreciation for the character than I am.
Sure, the classic western tale of Fett and the Jawas, as he showed his wisdom and maturity, has potential. But the way it played out? The show seemed unwilling to go all in on it, and so I just felt confused.
Meanwhile, Rise of Skywalker took all the goodwill that The Last Jedi built up and burned it in a pyre at Emperor Palpatine's lair. The evil empire's overlord is here with a bunch of "superlaser-equipped Star Destroyers" which sounds like something Dr. Evil would say, and then we learn that Rey is in fact Palpatine's granddaughter. And his increased presence on screen is done to the detriment of all, Rey feeling diminished by just being a granddaughter and Poe, Finn and Rose getting moved to the backburner.
Hopefully, Obi-Wan tells a simpler story, as the new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer teases a rematch with Darth Vader.
The good Star Wars is new and fun
But wait, there is another … Star Wars. While I walked into the launch of Disney Plus thinking "what, a Star Wars show?" The Mandalorian turned out to be fantastic. There's some sort of magic to that show that lasted beyond the reveal of The Child. The series feels alive and fresh. Admittedly, though, it's not always perfect: this article began germinating in my head back in The Mandalorian season 2 finale, when a weird-looking version of Luke Skywalker showed up to help — because Star Wars can't help but bring in unnecessary fan service.
Outside of that clumsy moment in the finale, The Mandalorian most definitely feels like The Way (pardon the pun) forward, right now. Give us new characters in new settings, and let them do fun things. Cad Bane — a blue-skinned, red-eyed weirdo baddie — was a neat addition (who I wish wasn't killed off). The charming gunslinger Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) is thankfully still alive, and people are already calling him RoboCobb per his post-credits scene in the bacta tank.
I don't really "get" what's going on with Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka Tano (nobody's been able to pull a Jedi mind trick and get me to watch a Star Wars animated series yet), but I don't dislike her. Her appearances alongside Grogu are neat in Book of Boba Fett, and her debut appearance in The Mandalorian "Chapter 13: The Jedi" isn one of the best the show's ever had.
This isn't to say new Star Wars is always better than old Star Wars. That pack of youths on speeder-bikes who seemed out of West Side Story In Space? I want to laser beam my memories of them out of my mind. But for the most part, the new Star Wars is good because the people working with the newer characters seem to have a better grip on what to do with them. They aren't struggling to tell new stories with characters who aren't exactly of their creation.
Obi-Wan Kenobi outlook
As it stands now, the Obi-Wan Kenobi show feels like it could be a bridge from the past to present Star Wars. Not only does it have the titular Jedi Master and his former protege in Anakin, but young Luke Skywalker is coming as well. Then, on top of the past, you've got the live-action introduction of the Inquisitors, as we see The Grand Inquisitor, a Pau'an male Jedi Knight spinning a dual-bladed lightsaber in the trailer. Inquisitors come from Star Wars: Rebels, an animated series that began in 2014.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi show doesn't need to be some sort of connective tissue between the Star Wars I grew up with and the more recent films, though. It just needs to be good. The better this movie is, the more optimism I (and anyone else still rinsing the taste of The Book of Boba Fett out of their mouth) have for the future of Star Wars stuff.
If Obi-Wan Kenobi stalls and stammers, then it feels like we'll have a clear line drawn in the current era of Star Wars stuff. You can either have fun with The Mandalorian and any new Star Wars characters he introduces us to, or you can be stuck in the past and slog your way through. And I don't think the management at Disney and Lucasfilm want bad thoughts about the past going into the Rogue Squadron movie pegged for Dec. 2023, and a Lando show with a to-be-announced release date. If Obi-Wan doesn't fare well, how excited will we be for these glimpses into the past?
In other Disney Plus news, we've got everything you need to know about that Moon Knight post-credits scene and what it means for the characters going forward.