Meanwhile, we have to congratulate the show for hiding Obi-Wan’s (Ewan McGregor) real reason for leaving Tatooine. Although some rumors pointed at the truth, the twist — and what it means going forward — could lead to some more unexpected things in the future.
But as the future is always in motion, let’s take a look at the first two episodes and see what we’ve learned about Kenobi, his mission, and some other interesting new wrinkles in the galaxy far, far away.
Spoiler alert: The following reveals details of the first two episodes of Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Stop reading here if you have not watched the episodes and wish to avoid spoilers.
(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Although Star Wars Rebels suggested a couple of ways for ex-Jedis to make there way in the universe, Obi-Wan’s job processing the carcass of a whale-like carcass is an interesting choice (also, the whale may suggest water was still on Tatooine in living memory). While his primary concern is avoiding attention, working this odd-looking assembly line also feels like a purposeful humbling for the once-proud Jedi. You can see it when he doesn’t mindtrick the foreman to give the man ahead of him his full wages. You can feel it in the way he carries himself around Anchorhead.
Of course, the seemingly brazen way he takes a sliver of the whale meat to his Eopie suggests he may still be making some small use of the Force.
Then again, his struggle to use it in episode 2 also suggests he may have cut himself off from the Force, like Luke (Mark Hamill) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jedi Exile Meetra Surik in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. It is not an easy thing to reconnect, and it is still possible Obi-Wan struggled from lack of practice. But one other thing to consider is his attempt to contact Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). As inferred in the Prequel Trilogy, Qui-Gon is the first Jedi to reassemble his consciousness from within the Force and interact with the living. We were also led to believe that he taught this technique to Obi-Wan and Yoda (Frank Oz) during the years between Episodes III and IV. Qui-Gon’s absences here may indicate Obi-Wan shut himself off from the Force in a moment of anger and, ultimately, regretted that even if it is aiding him in his primary mission to protect Luke.
(Photo by Matt Kennedy / Lucasfilm Ltd.)
The first episode goes a long way to establishing an Obi-Wan not just in hiding, but rejecting his essential self. Now, something has to occur to turn him both into the gentler Ben we’ll meet in the original Star Wars and revive some of the sense of adventure his younger self cultivated. And though it seemed the impetus to take up his lightsaber again would be to protect Luke, it turns out he is back in the galaxy to save his friends’ other child.
The first episode introduced Vivien Lyra Blair as a 10-year-old Leia Organa, and based on the response she received at the Star Wars Celebration screening on Thursday night, she may have a lifetime of Leia appearances ahead of her.
But beyond the introduction of a new take on Leia — we’ll come back to her in a moment — the story of an embittered loner experiencing a spiritual awakening via a mission to protect a Force-sensitive child sure feels familiar, doesn’t it? While the Star Wars–specific version of this story is The Mandalorian, the grizzled veteran rediscovering life by protecting a child is an old story. For the purposes of Star Wars and its fascination with Japanese stories and iconography, the Lone Wolf & Cub manga series is the go-to touchpoint for the format. Granted, that story doesn’t quite equal a spiritual reawakening for the older man, but it does lay out ways for a Jedi or Mando to deal with children.
One concern we have to admit to here is the repetition. Sure, Star Wars loves its recurring themes — as creator George Lucas once said, “it rhymes; like poetry.” But if the remaining four episodes just revolve around Obi-Wan and Leia trying to get back to Alderaan, it may end up rhyming a little too much. This concern may prove moot next week, of course, as Obi-Wan moves closer to his penultimate encounter with his old friend Anakin (Hayden Christensen).
Then again, will this turn out to be the “mercy mission” Darth Vader derisively mentions to Leia in the original Star Wars?
Another unexpected quirk of the series is the chance to examine Leia’s upbringing a little bit more. Here, we see Leia is in many ways alone among the Organas. While Bail (a returning Jimmy Smits) encourages her to be like her (unstated) biological Padme (Natalie Portman), her adoptive mother, Queen Breha (Simone Kessel), wants her to button down and accept her role as a princess of Alderaan. But as Leia herself points out, that duty is mainly confined to waving at the people.
When you think about it, would the Leia we know really be comfortable apart from the people and serving a largely ceremonial role? Keeping that streak of rebellion consistent in her from a young age makes sense. Also, we get a small glimpse of her Jedi potential in the way she reads her cousin.
Then there’s that absolutely heartbreaking moment when Obi-Wan is taken aback by her take-charge attitude. The memory of old friends is strong and while many fans ascribe a lot of Padme’s qualities to Luke, Leia is never more her mother’s child than when she decides the course of action on Daiyu. Yes, it is something that is getting backfilled and, to an extent, retconned, but it is a dramatic moment for anyone with a fondness for Padme via the Prequels or The Clone Wars.
Getting her right was the key thing the first two episodes had to do and, judging by the screening response we witnessed at Celebration, it appears director Deborah Chow, her writing team, and Blair succeeded in that.
(Photo by Matt Kennedy / Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Back in the Expanded Universe, there was the notion of the Dark Jedi – literal Jedi or Force-sensitives trained in the ways of the Jedi and the Sith to be effective hunters of the remaining Jedi Knights. Their numbers vary greatly across stories and media (some may remember taking out hundreds in the Jedi Knight video games), but they acknowledge that even with the Sith Rule of Two, people are still born to use the Force, and they are often turned to serve the Sith’s ends.
And although the Sith Inquisitors always resembled the Dark Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi went out of its way to make sure viewers understand that they are, indeed, Jedi hunting Jedi. We’re pretty certain this is why the series opens in the Jedi Temple during the Order 66 raid. The younglings not killed by Anakin or the Clone Troopers were immediately taken into the Inquisitor program and are, essentially, child soldiers.
(Photo by Matt Kennedy / Lucasfilm Ltd.)
The years soldiering for the Sith have definitely taken their toll on Reva (Moses Ingram). We’re pretty certain she’s one of the children in the opening scene and her insistence that she’s “owed” something by either Obi-Wan or Vader has something to do with that night. Also of note, she knows Vader is Anakin. Is all of this just a long game to get to him? Sith philosophy just about encourages such action even if the two Sith Lords keep that treacherous detail to themselves. Nevertheless, her zeal in defying and taking out the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) suggests she may make for a good Sith Lord or, perhaps, a “hand” of the Emperor.
Also, something to consider until next week, Obi-Wan was unaware that Vader is his old friend. This feels like a retcon as a both he and Yoda saw Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) refer to Anakin as Vader in a holorecording before rushing off to fight the Sith Lords (toward the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith). Of course, that moment could be fleeting, and Anakin’s new name could have been lost to Obi-Wan in the adrenaline and shock of the moment. But no matter the reasoning behind the moment of revelation in Obi-Wan Kenobi, we expect him to process that and, perhaps, offer Leia some insights into her birth-father without revealing who he is to her.
One last thing: The appearance of Temuera Morrison as a Clone Trooper in the second episode is an interesting choice. Storywise, it echos Obi-Wan’s affinity for the troops, particularly as the clone had livery on his armor similar to Rex from The Clone Wars. Secondly, it gets us one step closer to seeing Morrison as Rex at some point. In this part of the history, the fan-favorite trooper is in hiding with a few other clones, but as he is canonically the bearded Rebel glimpsed on Endor in Return of the Jedi, it is always possible Rex and Morrison will appear in the Ahsoka series, set 15-ish years after Obi-Wan, next year.