One idea for Star Wars that Disney really put into overdrive since they took over the series was a desperate need to chronologize every stupid event in the Star Wars canon. It started with Rogue One and continued with Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was ridiculous enough when Lucas was ham-fisting events like Anakin being the one who built C3PO because he wanted the droids in the prequel trilogy or explaining the force. At the very least with Rogue One the idea of a big heist to get the death star plans sounded like an interesting story. But we really didn’t need a film dedicated to explaining how Han Solo got his last name.
Given the Star Wars films are on indefinite hiatus, the last few years have seen an explosion in TV shows to fill the gap. And for what it’s worth, The Mandalorian is a fantastic show as is The Bad Batch. But as with the new trilogy, the shows have quickly hit their saturation point. The Book of Boba Fett was almost complete shit-ass save for the episodes that felt like a third season of The Mandalorian. And we still have the Cassian Andor show as well as Ahsoka’s show over the next year.
Obi-Wan Kenobi kicks off with a recap of the prequel trilogy, I assume mostly so the creators can pad the first episode with a bit of filler. Ten years later, Obi-Wan has long since settled in on Tatooine where he watches Luke from afar and works a day job cutting meat from a giant dead animal. I assume meat doesn’t really spoil on Tatooine since the crew generally leaves big piles of raw flesh on the table and just walks off, without even covering it, and it looks like they’ve been at this massive creature for some time. As someone who enjoyed Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan in the prequels, it’s hard to hate the guy. Once again he takes a crappy role and does the best he can with it. Even if it does mean being a one-dimensional “I’m not that man anymore” type of mope.
And then Leia shows up. Sigh. Vivien Lyra Blair you may recall as “girl” from Bird Box, that show that challenged people to use a staple gun dangerously close to their balls while blindfolded. I may be paraphrasing. I had a vocal groan when I saw that Leia was going to be part of the show, and then her scenes played out and I hated her even more. And this isn’t an indictment of Blair as a child actor, but the character and Disney’s deep desire to connect everything together. The big issue with Leia’s writing is that the show has to shift a big lever labeled “intelligence” up and down as the episode goes on.
Leia is shown to be incredibly intelligent for a ten year old in one scene only for the show to portray her as a nitwit in another. She speaks eloquently with big words that have many syllables and then suddenly doesn’t know the word inquisitor. She has a chase scene that feels right out of a 90s children’s comedy show where three adult bounty hunters stumble over each other and take way too long to capture a child. The show makes no effort to hide that these adults are lightly jogging at a brisk pace to not accidentally outrun a child on-screen, although they still have to cut back and forth with those same adults suddenly several feet behind. One of the bounty hunters literally runs into a branch that wasn’t even hidden to give Leia a lead. All it was missing is Looney Tunes sound effects and Vect Nokru getting hit in the dick while his face makes cartoony expressions and that trombone “wah wah wahhhhhhhh”.
But Leia gets abducted by bounty hunters and taken off-planet, where we realize the whole thing was a ruse to get Obi-Wan out of hiding. And who is behind this ruse? The sith inquisitors of course. Rupert Friend plays the Grand Inquisitor, a character brought over from Rebels and Clone Wars. Flanking the Grand Inquisitor is Sung Kang as the Fifth Brother in his somewhat racist Chinaman looking hat (also from the show), as well as Moses Ingram as the Third Sister, a completely new character. Ingram is looked down upon by the others due to her low class upbringing, although personally I think they hate her because she’s the only one who doesn’t smell like SPF-10,000 sunscreen and swamp-ass with the group detouring to the desert planet.
I’m not saying the other Sith Inquisitors are racist, but there’s definitely some imagery of a group of Dracula-tier pale honkies looking down on the only black member as lower class. Ingram is the impatient, impulsive, emotional Sith character for this series, like Kylo Ren but sexier. She also has a deep personal goal of capturing Obi-Wan, leading to her shoving a lightsaber through the Grand Inquisitor’s chest in the second episode. He’ll be fine, his character shows up in Rebels five years later. It seems like a poorly kept secret that she was one of the Padawans who escaped in the opening sequence and probably has a grudge against Obi-Wan for training Anakin against the Jedi Order’s wishes. I have a feeling Ingram’s character is going to be the only one with real development over the course of this season.
As a six episode season, Obi-Wan doesn’t even get through two episodes before breaking itself. We see in episode 2 that Ingram has the power of mind reading, which she uses to read Kumail Nanjiani’s mind and find out where Obi-Wan is headed. But in the prior episode she directly confronts Uncle Owen saying she knows that he knows where there is a Jedi. If only she read Owen’s mind there too, she’d find out not just Obi-Wan but also that Luke was on Tatooine and Owen was caring for him. Good thing she forgot she had that power in that exact span of time, I’m sure the two will never encounter each other again. Kenobi for his part continues to be a performative moron, regularly letting his lightsaber show in public for the audience’s knowledge that he’s carrying it despite the Sith inquisitors regularly reminding the locals that there’s a big payout for his head.
I guess the Grand Inquisitor getting impaled has more meaning if you’re not aware he’s still alive canonically years down the line. The overall plot feels like it’s directly ripping off Jedi: Fallen Order, down to the plot points where Obi-Wan uses the force for the first time in years to save a falling Leia, and the big baddie being the Third Sister. In Fallen Order the main villain is the Second Sister.
Verdict on the first third of Obi-Wan? It’s certainly not as bad as the Halo show, but damn is it not good. Don’t be surprised if my next coverage of the show is a summary of the last four episodes.