I watched Obi-Wan Kenobi with a mixed bag of thoughts. I entered into the show with a bad taste in my mouth following the Book of Boba Fett, and having concerns about how the current Lucasfilm crew would handle older Star Wars characters. As I wrote previously, Obi-Wan Kenobi was the old Star Wars' only hope. I'd also avoided all of the Obi-Wan Kenobi reviews, which you can check out for yourself.
Of course, expect spoilers from this point further. I am going to try and keep them light and keep things focused, but the biggest parts of the new episodes are hard to talk about without revealing that one thing that Disney was trying to keep secret.
So how do I feel having seen its first two episodes? I'm neither full of hope nor anger. Call me Haja Estree, as I'm not purely taking one side of the Force or the other. So, here's what I loved and hated (but not so much we turn to the dark side) about Disney Plus' Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Light Side of Obi-Wan Kenobi: What I loved
There are four real heroes of Obi-Wan, and they start with — of course — Ewan McGregor and what the show does for his character. Obi-Wan Kenobi's struggle to erase his Jedi past and stay off The Force, in a bid to keep Luke Skywalker safe, is told fantastically.
Living in the most spartan housing this side of a NYC studio apartment, Obi-Wan Kenobi's little crevice of Tatooine is the saddest little morsel of a room. That bowl of gruel, and the life on the industrial factory line? It all just hammers home the lengths he'll go to for his duties. Sure, he's used to trying to live by the stringent Jedi code, but this is ridiculous.
All the while, McGregor hits the right notes of sorrow and remorse — showing (and not telling) his grief from losing Anakin, who he believes to be dead, to the Dark Side.
While it may have been obvious to many, it's great to hear why Obi-Wan Kenobi became Ben Kenobi — because the former is a Jedi name and he's on the run. And that Kenobi cares so much about protecting Luke that he's not going to help Nari (Benny Safdie), the Jedi in danger on Tatooine.
Obi-Wan was never really the problem with the prequel trilogy if you ask me, but this series has become a solid reset for the character. When he revealed his equipped Lightsaber, I could see that one Bugs Bunny meme (opens in new tab), "Lord forgive me, but it's time to go back to tha old me".
Then, you've got Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani), a Force-faking guy who lives in the gray area in between the Light and Dark sides.
Not only does Nanjiani bring his scene-stealing charisma to the character, but the dimensionality — he wants to help those in need, but he also needs to get paid and isn't afraid of lying — made him feel unpredictable. I honestly didn't know if he'd betray Obi-Wan or not.
I'm also a huge fan of this new cyberpunk-esque planet of Daiyu. It feels like a fresh new corner of the galaxy far, far away, and one where we can be surprised. Unfortunately, we're already leaving the city behind.
Lastly, we need to talk about Reva Sevander aka Third Sister (Moses Ingram). A truly dark foe to be reckoned with, she's proven unstable, insubordinate and deadly in two episodes alone. And unlike The Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), she's not hidden behind layers of caked-on makeup and a pair of yellow contact lenses.
The Dark Side of Obi-Wan Kenobi: What I hated
Unfortunately, this series still has a few too many attachments to the prequel trilogies. The biggest problem of them all is some of the cast's wooden acting or clunky dialogue.
Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) is the biggest problem here, as he's done no favors by a script that has him basically repeating dialogue to Obi-Wan Kenobi to try and get him out of Jedi retirement.
There's something about that character, and young Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) that really didn't work for me. While this Leia definitely feels connected to the Leia we know and love, she's also definitely part Padme, as Obi-Wan hints at.
While none of that is intrinsically bad, trying to get both sides in almost creates a character who much more walking plot device and fan service than actual character. The script even tries to acknowledge that, as Obi-Wan saying she doesn't sound like a 10-year-old. And though I know she's a child, she was constantly slipping over the edge of unbelievably unruly.
What kid gets kidnapped and starts behaving like they're at recess before they're home safe?
Alas, this isn't Leia's story, though the secrecy around her role in the series draws more attention to her. And keeping her secret almost makes this feel like it's more Leia's story than Obi-Wan's, just how The Mandalorian is as much the Baby Yoda story as it is Din Djarin's.
And therein, with Leia, lies the big flaw. We know adult Leia's story. And the older Leia will always be the Leia we love more (sorry Vivien). So, hopefully, she works in service of telling the story of how Obi-Wan became the man we met in A New Hope.
For now, I'm cautiously positive about this show. But I'm hoping that this new Leia doesn't continue to accidentally break the fourth wall as much as she does. Fan service is fun, but too much of it and you wind up with the bad CGI Luke from Mando season 2.
Oh, and when the heck are we going to get more Darth Vader? A glimpse of his scarred visage in the bacta tank certainly isn't enough.