The long-awaited return of Obi-Wan Kenobi is here, with the first two episodes of the heavily anticipated Disney+ series dropping today.
There’s a ton to talk about, so much so that I have decided to split this into two reviews, one for each of the two episodes that was released, instead of covering them together. So this review is for Part 2, and if you missed my review of Part 1 you can check it out here.
Here, we’ll jump in and look at all things Part 2, so be warned that full spoilers are ahead!
Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives on Daiyu, tracking Leia Organa. The planet is crawling with the scum and villainy of the galaxy, including a young woman who attempts to sell him some spice. Kenobi also sees an old homeless clone trooper, who looks to be from the 501st, begging for money. A young boy offers to take Obi-Wan to a Jedi who could help him and leads to Haja Estree, who is using a ‘Jedi mind trick’ to help get some people off-world. Obi-Wan sees right through his tricks and confronts him later, demanding he give him information. The information proves accurate, and Obi-Wan makes it to Leia’s cell… where her kidnappers accost him, saying that Reva’s plan worked.
Obi-Wan distracts them with spice and gets away, finding Leia in a nearby cell. She doesn’t trust that he’s a friend of her father but follows him anyway, and they begin making their way through the streets heading for a transport. Meanwhile the Grand Inquisitor confronts Reva about her rogue plan, and he says that he will bring in Kenobi, relieving Reva of her duties. She rebels against his orders by sending a transmission to all of the lowlifes and bounty hunters on the planet to hunt Kenobi, hoping to draw him out of hiding – where she will be ready for him.
This complicates things for Obi-Wan and Leia, and Leia is skeptical of Obi-Wan because she knows he’s hiding things from her. He tells her that his name is Ben, that he’s a Jedi, and that he was sent by her father, but she’s not convinced he’s any of that. Just as she begins to trust him, she sees the transmission sent to the hunters and concludes that Ben is really the reason she was taken and isn’t who he claims to be, and she runs away. Kenobi pursues her, and that leads him into conflict with many who are pursuing him. This catches Reva’s attention, and she rushes toward the scene. With Leia fleeing and Obi-Wan pinned down by blasterfire, Leia decides to try to jump between buildings… falling short. As she hangs by a wire and begins to fall, Kenobi finally uses the Force for the first time, slowing her fall and lowering her onto the ground. It is then that she realizes he really is a Jedi and is telling the truth.
With even more people pursuing them now, all transports off-world are shut down. But then Haja confronts them in an alley, giving Kenobi a way off the planet via a cargo ship. He says that he’s attempting to make good with his life by helping people and promises to hold the Inquisitors off as long as possible. Obi-Wan and Leia flee, while Reva encounters Haja. She uses the Force to read his mind, finding out Kenobi’s destination. As Obi-Wan and Leia near the transport, Obi-Wan takes a moment to reflect on how Leia reminds him so much of Padmé. But Reva finds them.
Obi-Wan sends Leia on ahead to the transport and draws his lightsaber, waiting in hiding while Reva taunts him. She says she won’t kill him but will take him to Darth Vader – and we see Obi-Wan stunned to learn that he’s still alive. Reva picks up on this too and taunts him all the more. She’s about to catch him when the Grand Inquisitor interrupts and tells her to stand down. But Reva instead stabs him in the gut with his lightsaber, while Kenobi runs away and boards the transport with Leia. They take off, having escaped – but Obi-Wan is shaken. He mutters “Anakin” – and across the galaxy, in his bacta tank, Darth Vader opens his eyes, sensing it.
This is another fantastic episode which, together with Part 1, makes for a simply perfect opening to this six-part series. And one of the things that is immediately apparent is the vivid differences between these two episodes, particualrly when watching them back-to-back like this. In the first episode, it’s mostly about the bright light on Tatooine, and even when it isn’t it’s still the vibrant planet of Alderaan. Yet here, it’s all on the dark and dangerous world of Daiyu, a new locale in Star Wars. It’s a planet with scum and villainy, and it works really well while also helping this show have a variety of feels. And as I said in my review of Part 1, this show absolutely nails the look, feel, and emotion of Star Wars in a way that even exceeds the other Disney+ shows. Deborah Chow just gets it. This really feels like a movie, not a series. And I mean that in the best ways possible.
The heart of this episode is the dynamic between Obi-Wan and Leia, and let me tell you, that is the biggest surprise and the biggest delight of the first two episodes for me. Their chemistry and relationship is off the charts good, and Ewan McGregor and Vivian Lyra Blair are both absolutely fantastic in their respective roles. I know re-casting characters doesn’t always work well, and doing it in a different time period helps for sure, but the two best performances in this whole series so far are from two iconic characters who were re-cast from their original actors. Just saying. But I absolutely love Leia here, and Blair pulls off the seemingly impossible: capturing the feisty, rebellious spirit of Carrie Fisher while staying true to the fact that she’s a ten year old. She’s not fully the Leia we know yet, as she’s learning and growing into it, but it’s immediately clear that this is indeed Leia Organa. She’s perceptive, sassy, bold, rebellious, defiant, compassionate, and kind. She’s distrusting of Kenobi (and who wouldn’t be after just being kidnapped by three strange men?), and he’s not willing to tell her enough to get her to trust him.
That makes for an interesting dynamic, as Leia tells him that he thinks he’s being more trustworthy by not saying much, but it’s actually the opposite. She’s right. Part of the reason why she doesn’t trust him is because Kenobi doesn’t want to give her the reasons why she should. He’s Ben, a friend of her father’s. He doesn’t even tell her he’s a Jedi until she sees his lightsaber. In other words, it’s not just Leia who is distrusting; so too is Obi-Wan. He’s not distrusting of Leia, but of everyone else. He knows that he’s hunted and in danger and needs to stay hidden, but that noble impulse actually winds up getting him into more trouble since not even Leia believes him.
The banter between the two of them is superb, well-written and expertly delivered. I’m guessing Leia probably won’t be as big of a player in the series moving forward once she’s returned home, but sign me up for more of their relationship. I’m totally here for it. And the way that she reminded Obi-Wan of Padmé was absolutely beautiful and touching. I also think this episode expands on both characters and our understanding of them in some significant ways, though, and it ties in well with the rest of the saga.
For Obi-Wan, he’s actually protecting both of Anakin’s kids in this dark time in-between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. I absolutely love that. He risks his cover, he faces his fears, to save Leia. As Bail told him in Part 1, she’s just as important as Luke is – and everyone, including the audience, knows that it’s both of Anakin’s kids who will rise up to overthrow the Emperor. It’s not just Luke. As Yoda says, “there is another.” And Obi-Wan spends his time helping and protecting both of them.
For Leia, it adds depth to at least two moments that come later on in the saga. The first is in A New Hope, when Luke Skywalker meets her in her cell and says that he’s come to rescue her and is here with Ben Kenobi. “Ben Kenobi? Where?” she exclaims. And the parallelism here is obvious: years earlier, another figure came to rescue her from her cell, and it was Ben Kenobi. So in A New Hope, she realizes that he’s come back to do it again. Second, it gives more understanding to why she names her son Ben. Some have observed over the years that it’s a bit strange he’s named Ben since Kenobi didn’t really interact with her, and since he didn’t have a huge impact on Han Solo, but it’s a good enough reason because Kenobi is really the reason Han and Leia met, so why not name their son Ben? But now we know that it was Ben who saved Leia when she was ten years old, and Ben who came back to rescue her nine years after that. I love that.
(I want to pause here and mention Haja, who was great here. He’s an imposter Jedi, but he does seem to be trying to help people. He’s using a bunch of tricks to come across as a Jedi, and the reason I mention it here is because I thought of Han’s line in A New Hope when he mentions that the Force is all a lot of “simple tricks and nonsense.” With the Jedi all but extinct, it makes sense that most interactions someone would have with a ‘Jedi’ would be with an imposter like this! The character worked really well here.)
For as good as McGregor and Blair were all throughout the episode, the final moments feature the best of it all. We knew that Obi-Wan thought that he killed Anakin and didn’t know he was alive, and in this episode we got to see him find out otherwise. He finds it out as Reva tells him that she’ll take him to Vader, and then she senses his thoughts – very reminiscent of the scene between Luke and Vader in Return of the Jedi. Without saying a word, McGregor manages to convey the sense of shock and all the emotions that come with it, and it’s incredible. Then the cut to Vader in the bacta tank to end the episode was superb editing, and it sets the stage for what’s to come. I cannot wait for next Wednesday, when Part 3 drops!
I’ve seen some people upset that Reva knows that Vader is Anakin Skywalker, but I think patience is needed. She clearly knows more than we realize and has a deeper obsession with Kenobi than we understand, so we’ll have to give it time; I have no doubt the remaining four episodes will flesh out some of that history there. I don’t think it’s a massive deal that she knows who Vader is (after all, being in the Jedi Temple the night of the Purge may have been a factor in that too!), but I’m also guessing that there’s more explanation as to why that is coming soon. Part of what we need to keep in mind in a series like this – especially one like this, which feels more like one episodic story rather than a weekly serial – is that we haven’t seen the whole thing yet. Let’s give it some time.
Speaking of Reva, though, I think the jury is still out on how well her character works, but so far it’s fine. There are a lot of questions still unanswered, but, well, that’s what we just went over. So we’ll just have to wait and see what’s up with Reva. One of the biggest surprises has been just how defiant she is of the other Inquisitors, almost singularly focused on Kenobi (again, an explanation is surely coming as to why that is), so much so that she even turns on the Grand Inquisitor! Now that was a surprise – because he’s alive in Rebels! So what’s up? Is this contradicting that? I highly doubt it – Deborah Chow has mentioned Rebels in talking about this series, and Dave Filoni is credited as deserving “special thanks” in both episodes. I’m guessing we’ll discover that he’s not really dead (at least not for good), and I’m fully expecting this to play into his line at the end of Rebels season one when he says, “There are some things far more frightening than death.” He says that right before he willingly falls to his death, and it sets the stage for that “more frightening” thing to come in season two: Darth Vader. But what if it’s also because he has ‘died’ before, only to be saved by Vader for his sinister purposes? I actually think this can work well. It’s a convenient way to remove him from the hunt from Kenobi in this series, yes, and it’s very significant in Reva’s development – but I also think it might add some depth to him in Rebels. We’ll have to wait and see. But one doesn’t need to think far to remember another time where a Star Wars character was apparently killed, fans complained for a week about how it broke canon, only to see in the next episode that the character survived – remember Orn Free Taa in The Bad Batch last summer? As always, patience. This is surprising, but I highly doubt it’s contradicting what comes later.
Just like Obi-Wan facing off against Vader surely won’t contradict A New Hope either. Because we all know that’s coming, and it seems Vader is about to get involved in this series. Vader tells Luke in Return of the Jedi, “Obi-Wan once thought as you do,” and I think we’re going to see Obi-Wan trying to save Anakin. He didn’t want to try to save Leia because he failed with Anakin, but now that he’s seemingly succeeded in saving Leia, I’m guessing he’ll try to do the same with Anakin. On the flip side, Vader’s Inquisitors have now drawn out his number one target, the one he’s spent a decade searching for. And in the wake of the Grand Inquisitor’s absence (presumably), Vader is likely to enter the game and lead the hunt for his old master. This was a fantastic episode, and the emotional gut-punch of an ending leaves us desperate to see what’s next.
To see my review of Obi-Wan Kenobi Part 1, head here.