In Obi-Wan Kenobi Part 5 we got several answers to some key questions that had been raised earlier in the series, and I think it also provides a chance for us to discuss how Star Wars fans have responded so far to the show – and what we can learn from it.
Namely, that I think it is vitally important for the fan base to come to a better understanding of how a show tells its story. We have seen several criticisms of the show based around how it fits into canon, and while most of us seem to inherently understand that the story will unfold over time and can apply a measure of common sense, that doesn’t seem as common nowadays. Consider just a few of these criticisms:
“How did Reva know that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker? She shouldn’t be able to know that!” The series opened with a flashback to Order 66 in the Jedi Temple, with a group of younglings, and most people assumed Reva was one of them. It turns out that she was, and thus the reason she knew that it was Anakin was because he showed up and killed the others. Obi-Wan tells her that Vader would keep the information about his true identity a secret, and he concludes through the Force that she was there. She thought Anakin was coming to help them, but he instead turned on them.
“Why did they kill the Grand Inquisitor? They obviously don’t care about canon!” It was never said that the Grand Inquisitor was actually dead, but it went unaddressed. He returns on Jabiim after Vader defeated Reva, and his immediate arrival after that event suggests that he may have been in on Vader’s plan of using Reva to bring him to Kenobi. Vader needed to stoke Reva’s ego and ambition, giving her the title she sought after, only to leave her for dead with the true Grand Inquisitor at his side.
“Why does Reva want Obi-Wan so badly? It’s just lazy writing!” As it turns out Reva actually wants Vader, and thinks that the best way to get at him is to find Kenobi and lure him out. She knows of their connection, and she knows of Vader’s obsession with finding his master. She concludes that it’s the best chance she has at striking back at him. So why is she so unconcerned about other Jedi? It’s because her goal really isn’t hunting Jedi at all; it’s about hunting Vader. That’s not saying she’s a hero – certainly not! She has become the very thing she swore to destroy. But it does explain why she’s less satisfied with hunting other Jedi than the other Inquisitors are.
In a series, the story is going to unfold over the course of several episodes, and a good storyteller will intentionally create a sense of questions and intrigue that will pay off later with answers. The same is true of Star Wars. Fans need to remember that not everything will be explained in the first episode, and that’s ok! Fans need to be reasonable enough to assume that there are good answers to these questions, whether the show ever reveals them or not. Fans need to keep in mind that them not liking something is not at all the same thing as a plot hole or canon controversy.
I’m not too hopeful in this changing, because it seems like any Star Wars storytelling nowadays is criticized, and that’s because there are those who intentionally look for what they can criticize in order to gain an online audience. Some of this isn’t really a failure to comprehend the series format but instead an intentional desire not to care.
Nonetheless, as Star Wars moves more and more into this storytelling format, it will be more and more important for us to maintain a sense of patience. These stories are intended to be entertaining, and they are intended to unfold over time.
3 thoughts on “The reaction to Obi-Wan Kenobi is another reminder that Star Wars fans need to better understand how storytelling unfolds over the course of a series”
I feel like a lot of fans who complain about this kind of long-form storytelling have never a read a book in their lives. They have no patience. It’s either that, or as you said, just complain for youtube viewers or something. Despicable.
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“Why did they kill the Grand Inquisitor? They obviously don’t care about canon!” was a legitimate concern if you think about how quickly they killed off Snoke in the Sequels. Luckily it looks like they didn’t make the mistake of hyping up this villian twice to unceremoniously kill him off.
There was absolutely nothing in the canon that said Snoke wouldn’t be killed, so this isn’t the same situation. Furthermore, it wasn’t Lucasfilm that hyped up Snoke so much as it was the fans.