Welcome to my weekly review of Obi-Wan Kenobi, where I will be walking us though each episode and giving my thoughts on the show. My reviews will follow my usual format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we’ll be looking at the series premiere: “Part I”.
Everything begins with a summary of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s story through the Prequel Trilogy, showing Qui-Gon Jinn’s decision to train Anakin, Jinn’s death, Obi-Wan’s promise to train Anakin in Jinn’s place, Anakin’s fall to the dark side and fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, the birth of Luke and Leia, Padmé’s death and the decision to separate the Skywalker twins and hide them.
The action begins with a group of younglings training with an instructor at the Jedi temple. A pair of clones burst into the room and begin to attack the younglings before being killed by the clones. The instructor leads the clones through the hallways in an attempt to get to safety, killing many of the attacking clones as part of the wider battle around her as the clones wipe out the Jedi present in the temple, but she is eventually shot dead. The younglings decide to flee and make their escape through the temple.
10 years later, a normal day in Mos Eisley is disrupted by the arrival of an Imperial shuttle in the middle of the street, from which emerge 3 Inquisitors: The Grand Inquisitor, Fifth Brother and Third Sister. The trio make their way to a nearby saloon, where the Grand Inquisitor tells the manager that they are investigating rumours of a Jedi hiding there. The Grand Inquisitor suggests that the Jedi is a wanderer who helps people in need, and in fact helped the manager with some local trouble, before demanding the manager admit that he is sheltering the Jedi in return for their help. Third Sister throws a knife at the manager, which forces the Jedi—a young man—to reveal himself by using the Force to stop the knife hurting the manager. The Jedi attempts to flee but has his was blocked by Fifth Brother and Third Sister. The Grand Inquisitor wants to interrogate the Jedi, who says that they are wasting their time. Angered, Third Sister attempts to cut him down, but the Grand Inquisitor uses the Force to stop her, leading to just a minor burn on the Jedi’s shoulder. With the trio momentarily distracted, the Jedi manages to escape. As they leave, the Grand Inquisitor scolds Third Sister for her recklessness. She in turn complains that they are only chasing scraps and should be searching for bigger prey, to which the Grand Inquisitor warns her to stop her fixation with Obi-Wan Kenobi, otherwise she will be relieved of her duty.
“Teeka, if you’re gonna steal my parts and then sell them back to me, could you at least clean them first as a courtesy?”
Elsewhere on Tatooine, Obi-Wan finishes a shift carving up flesh from the remains of a creature. He takes a hovertrain with the other workers back to Anchorhead, where he takes his eopie from the stable in town and rides it into the Jundland Wastes to the cave which he has made his home. He soon has a visitor to the cave, a Jawa called Teeka, who sells him spare parts for a toy T-16 skyhopper, before noting that Obi-Wan has some issues with his vaporator and offering to sell him the part he needs—the exact same piece that had been stolen off the vaporator. Teeka shows Obi-Wan some more of the salvage he has, including parts of a Jedi starship that crashed in the Jundland Wastes, while telling him of a Jedi who escaped Inquisitors and fled into the Dune Sea.
That night, Obi-Wan is haunted by memories of Anakin Skywalker, Padmé Amidala, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Yoda. Waking, he tries reaching out to the spirit of his old master, without success. The next day, Obi-Wan rides to a rocky hill, form which he has a view of the Lars homestead, and watches Owen work as Luke pretends to pilot a starship. Once everyone has retired for the night, Obi-Wan sneaks down and leaves the toy skyhopper outside the homestead. As he rides back through the desert, he runs into the Jedi who fled Mos Eisley. The Jedi recognises Obi-Wan (despite his protestations) and introduces himself as Nari before pleading for help. Obi-Wan advises Nari to bury his lightsaber in the middle of the desert and stay hidden by living a normal life, but Nari still wants to help fight for those who need them.
“What happened to you? You were once a great Jedi.”
“The time of the Jedi is over.”
On Alderaan, Breha Organa finds her adopted daughter Leia climbing trees in the woods with her flying droid, Lola, watching all the ships flying past… when she should have been preparing for the arrival of Breha’s sister’s family. While Breha takes Lola as punishment, she makes no move to stop Leia stealing the droid back as she hugs her during her apology. As they return to the palace, neither notices the mysterious figure watching them from the woods.
Back on Tatooine, Obi-Wan returns to his eopie after another shift working on the creature carcass, but he is confronted in the stable by Owen, who throws the toy skyhopper at Obi-Wan’s feet. He warns Obi-Wan to stay away from his family and argues against Obi-Wan’s protestation that it is just a toy, while Obi-Wan argues that there is more to life than Owen’s farm and that Luke needs to see the wider galaxy. The pair begin arguing about Obi-Wan’s plans to start training Luke “when the time comes” as Owen does not want to let Obi-Wan make the same mistake as he did with Anakin.
As Owen leaves, Fifth Brother and Third Sister arrive in the same street looking for information on a Jedi fugitive who they believe is nearby. While Fifth Brother promises rewards for assistance, Third Sister—who Fifth Brother calls “Reva”—threatens with punishment, proving her point by cutting off the hand of a woman who protests. Third Sister takes an interest in Owen, asking about his role as a farmer and his family, and asking if he has any Jedi on his farm, to which Owen replies that Jedi are vermin and he kills any vermin he finds on his farm. Third Sister demands the crowd reveal where the Jedi is, or she will kill Owen and his family, however Fifth Brother makes her stop and leaves a hologram of Nari, reiterating a reward for cooperation. Fifth Brother leads Third Sister away and privately chastises her for her impulsiveness, noting the Grand Inquisitor was right about her obsession with Kenobi, who he believes to be gone, however Third Sister argues that they have just been looking in the wrong places and states that capturing him will get her what she is owed.
“Thank you, Owen.”
“I didn’t do it for you.”
Back on Alderaan, Leia, Bail and Breha Organa greet their relatives and attend a function. During the function, Leia’s cousin bullies her for thanking the protocol droid serving them, as it is a “lower life form” and makes fun of her for not being allowed to leave Alderaan, saying that it is because she is not a real Organa. Leia argues back by telling her cousin some truths about himself, which upsets him. Going somewhere quiet, Bail speaks to Leia and cheers her up, before telling her to go apologise to rise above the situation and apologise to her cousin. Instead, she heads out into the woods, where she encounters a mercenary called Vect Nokru. Nokru and 2 of his crew (a Falleen and a Nikto) chase Leia and capture her, killing the Alderaanian guards who had been sent after her before locking her in a cell on their starship and destroying Lola.
In his cave on Tatooine, Obi-Wan hears his old communicator going off and finds that the Organas are contacting him. Bail and Breha explain that Leia has been kidnapped but they have no leads. They beg Obi-Wan to go looking for her, but he refuses as he is reluctant to abandon Luke, while also saying that he is not who he used to be.
Kenobi continues his work at the meatworks, but on his return to Anchorhead he finds Nari’s body has been left to hang above the street. Returning to his cave, he finds that someone is already there: Bail Organa. Organa reveals that they have managed to trace the kidnappers to Daiyu. Bail again begs Obi-Wan to help, noting that they have all made mistakes in the past and that while Kenobi couldn’t save Anakin, he can save her as there is no one else Bail would trust more with his child.
Nokru contacts his employer, Third Sister. She is confident that due to Bail and Obi-Wan’s previous friendship, stealing Leia will force Kenobi to come for her.
Out in the desert, Obi-Wan digs up a chest, from which he retrieves 2 lightsabers. He then makes his way to a nearby spaceport and pays to board a freighter off planet.
Wow! Just… wow! You can’t imagine how hard it was to not jump straight into Part II and instead write this while everything was fresh in my mind!
As great as The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have been, this return to the screen of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the incredible direction of Deborah Chow, has taken the live-action Star Wars series to an incredible new level. In a wonderful way, this feels like the perfect blend in both look and feel between 2005’s Revenge of the Sith and 1977’s A New Hope, while also introducing us to even more of the universe.
So let me get the obvious out of the way. The score may not have explicitly stood out to me on first viewing, but that is not a bad thing as it means it felt in place with the show. And the visuals were perfect! I must admit that after months of worry since that first trailer, even the Grand Inquisitor and Fifth Brother looked better in the series—I’m not sure whether further work was done to them, or just whether the time since the reveal has allowed me to get used to it and accept it ahead of times, though I still feel they could have been better.
“He is not yours to find. We are past this, Third Sister.”
But what really blew me out of the water were the performances. Rupert Friend did a great job of bringing the Grand Inquisitor to life such that I can believe he is the same character as we saw in Rebels. Sun Kang brought menace to Fifth Brother, even if the character seemed less frightening and imposing than I am used to, while Moses Ingram has certainly got me interested in Reva and her backstory (a prediction on that later) and why she is so focused on Kenobi. Oh and then the small matter of Jimmy Smits, Ewan and Joel Edgerton returning in these roles, all felt like natural extensions of the characters we have seen before. A special moment also for Simone Kessell, who takes over the role of Breha Organa and gets to give the character some depth onscreen, after the character made a quick appearance at the end of Revenge of the Sith. The character has been fleshed out in books over recent years, and this performance felt very much in line with the character I have come to know. Finally, child actors can always be a risk but Vivien Lyra Blair does a great job as a young Leia.
And on the subject of Leia, this was a major surprise for me. I had heard that Jimmy Smits as meant to be returning in the series so guessed that we may see Leia, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that she would apparently be such a key part of the story, though in hindsight what could possibly be enough to draw Obi-Wan off Tatooine other than the kidnapping of Anakin’s daughter?! I’m really excited to see how this plays out, and while I imagine that she will only feature in the early episodes, likely being well out the way by the time Vader gets involved, it now adds even more reason to why Leia would be sent to bring Obi-Wan back to the Rebellion in 9 years time.
I can’t wait to see how the series continues!
“There is no one I trust more with my child than you.”
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- I love the decision to quickly summarise the Prequel Trilogy at the start of the episode, especially as the focus was shared equally between Anakin and Obi-Wan. While the series may be called Obi-Wan Kenobi, Deborah Chow spoke recently about the love story dynamic between Kenobi and Skywalker, so this show is as much about them as him, and this was a great reminder of that
- Similarly the opening scene of the attack on the Jedi Temple caught me completely by surprise and really ripped at my heart, despite not knowing any of the characters. Did it seem a little out of place in the episode? Maybe, but I think that this was the first part of Reva’s story, with her likely being one of the younglings we are following, who will probably get captured and tortured until she becomes an Inquisitor
- The ability of Star Wars to tell all of the stories they want to in a non-linear order is wonderful as it continues to give us new content that will change how we next view what came before. Suddenly we are getting to truly see the beauty of Alderaan, which will be in our minds the next time we watch A New Hope and see it callously destroyed
- You want to know how to do fan service cameos right? That was it, in just casually showing Threepio at work at a function for just a couple of seconds rather than the in your face, moment-stopping cameo from Rogue One
Moments in Canon
- We continue to get our hearts broken with more and more depictions of Order 66. Those YouTube compilations will just be getting longer
- Bail Organa’s political views are shown to be against those of the Empire with his aversion to slave labour
- The Grand Inquisitor and Fifth Brother previously appeared in the series Rebels, which takes place roughly 6-7 years after this series
- Luke is seen playing with a model T-16 skyhopper while Threepio has his oil bath in A New Hope
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you….