Like many Star Wars fans, I tuned in to watch the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s very good. Despite it clearly being a chance to cash in on nostalgia for the prequels I remained hopeful going in. I’ve explained before how I haven’t watched all the Star Wars shows despite being a fan of the universe and original trilogy. I’ve also delved into the reasons that the prequels formed the blueprint for the MCU. It’s for these reasons that I prefer the first series of The Mandalorian to the second, and why I didn’t enjoy the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Things kick off with a recap of the prequel trilogy – I get it, it’s probably necessary – but the montage missed the best thing to come out of the prequels in John Williams’ score. I don’t know if the orchestral accompaniment to this section was Williams’ work or not, but it certainly wasn’t a reminder of his best or most iconic tunes. The first scene of the series after a round of flashbacks gave me motion sickness because the camerawork was so choppy. I understand that they were trying to convey the impact of Order 66 and the Clone invasion of the Jedi Temple, but it looked more like they’d hired the team from Jackass to film while riding firework-powered roller skates.
After the cameras cooled down, however, Obi-Wan Kenobi became a less offensive television show. I won’t dwell too long on my complaints, but there’s too much nostalgia bait for my liking (I know, it’s a show about Obi-Wan Kenobi, what did I expect, etc. etc.), and the chase sequences are laughable. Three trained bounty hunters can’t catch a ten-year-old? Oh no, a tree branch, how can I ever get past this immovable ankle-height object? Oh no, she strayed from the forest path slightly, we can’t possibly follow her. Obi-Wan himself has a similar issue later in the episode, albeit losing a small child in a busy city is more believable among the alien legs and cyberpunk market bustle. But once she got to the rooftop, how did he not catch up?
Thankfully, Ewan McGregor’s performance as the titular Obi-Wan is great. “Master?” he calls out to his decades-departed Jedi father figure Qui-Gon Jinn after suffering nightmares. It’s heart wrenching. The subtleties of pain writ across his face when Owen tells him to stop leaving gifts for Luke are complicated and believable. Is he interfering too much and endangering his pseudo-ward? He isn’t sure. This Obi-Wan is very different from the man we saw in the prequels and he’s not quite evolved into the omniscient mentor of the original trilogy. McGregor plays it perfectly, and Obi-Wan is a believable Jedi still finding his feet as a regular man in a world that’s moved on. But we all knew he’d be good.
The other actor who gives it their all is Moses Ingram, who plays Inquisitor Reva. She’s the typical rogue cop, her methods are inhumane even by the Imperium’s standards, and yet Ingram brings something fresh and exciting to the character. Instead of a bland, tropey Jedi hunter (see: the other Inquisitors), we’ve got a villain with believable motives and actions as strong as her words.
I think a part of the thrill is that Reva’s motivations aren’t to conquer the galaxy or achieve domination over a world. She just wants Kenobi, and at present it seems like her motivations are purely for personal gain. She wants to be the Grand Inquisitor, and capturing one of the most powerful Jedi would fast track her promotion. We’ve all been there. Ingram brings passion to the role, and in the second episode especially gives us a performance that a show of this calibre doesn’t really deserve. Ingram makes it clear that Reva means business, and I believe her. Even her cliched, anguished scream as Obi-Wan flies away, evading capture by mere seconds and protected by the hull of a droid-operated cargo ship, comes across well. From the way she holds her lightsaber to the way she murders anyone – yes, anyone – who gets in her way, Reva is an excellent villain.
I can’t wait for Reva and Obi-Wan to (properly) meet face to face, and their dynamic is what will hold this show together. Rey and Kylo did the same in the sequel trilogy, with Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver’s performances peaking in The Last Jedi, the movie that also had the best script for the pair. I’d probably have preferred it if Leia and Luke weren’t involved in Obi-Wan Kenobi at all, but I’ll live. There has to be some nostalgia, otherwise people would turn off, right? I don’t know about you, but I’ll keep tuning in so long as Kenobi and Reva are pitted against one another.
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