Obi-Wan Kenobi has reached its conclusion and I feel super weird about it. It’s that feeling you get after you finish a movie, show, or book you’ve been waiting forever for and it hasn’t quite processed yet. You know that it’s over, the mysteries are solved, and yet, you can’t believe that it happened. Obi-Wan Kenobi was kind of like that—a show that I absolutely enjoyed but ultimately just have some huge questions about and will be thinking about for a long time.
My main concern going into Obi-Wan Kenobi was: would the show in any way cheapen the interactions between Kenobi and Darth Vader in A New Hope? There’s some choice dialogue between them and the mere existence of this show, at first, seemed to go against that. Then, after the first episode, my worries carried over to Princess Leia. Her message to Obi-Wan in that film didn’t really mesh with the fact she was saved by him multiple times, and had a relationship with him. So, going into the finale, with both of those questions still on the table, I was a little worried.
Luckily the finale did in fact address those lingering concerns. The fight between Vader and Obi-Wan in this episode ended with Obi-Wan straight up dominating the Sith Lord, which explains why, several years later, Vader refers to their last meeting as him being a “learner.” Obi-Wan even calls him “Darth” to link that up. With Leia, her final interaction with Obi-Wan has him telling her they should pretend to not know each other whenever they talk again. Which, whether it makes sense or not, explains why she addresses him as having “served my father during the Clone Wars” and not “Hey! You saved me twice, one from Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers and once from a Jedi Hunter who was secretly trying to kill Darth Vader.”
But the fact that coming out of the finale episode those were my biggest takeaways kind of sums up a lot of what I want to say about Obi-Wan Kenobi. Those questions only arose because this show exists. Without the show, it never would have been an issue, and 45 years of believing whatever you wanted to about A New Hope never would have been a problem. And so, you hoped that the show would justify its existence in some profound way, to really help us dig into the character... and I’m not sure whether or not it was successful in that manner.
At the beginning of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kenobi is scared to reveal he’s a Jedi and wants to train Luke in the ways of the Force. By the end, he’s walking around with his lightsaber again, and agrees Luke should just be a normal boy. There’s profound growth there for sure. He even attains a peace that allows him to finally see the Force Ghost of his old master, Qui-Gon Jinn (called that one back in the premiere, by the way!). We assume the old master and apprentice will then share the type of mentor-mentee relationship they had in the past, and that Obi-Wan will eventually have with his new friend, Luke. Even so, does any of that justify this six-episode story? Does it matter that we know Obi-Wan was so conflicted during this time period? Isn’t that implied by the end of Revenge of the Sith and the beginning of A New Hope? Did we need to see this particular story to understand that?
All of which is getting ahead of the episode recap itself so, yes, this is gonna be a long one. Things began with Reva (Moses Ingram) seeking out Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) on Tatooine, a continuation from the end of the previous episode. How she got there so quickly we’ll never know—but it’s fine, Dark siders are really good at surviving mortal wounds through sheer anger alone. That we got to see a young Luke (Grant Feely) shopping in a very Watto-esque store as Owen was warned of her presence was almost worth her hasty arrival.
The story on Tatooine was intercut with the ship that escaped Jabiim. It’s been followed by an Imperial Star Destroyer which, in previous Star Wars films, is considered a big deal. Not here though. Everyone on board is mostly calm about the massive spacecraft bombarding it with laser blasts and somehow, the Star Destroyer is having trouble disabling or destroying this slow, damaged ship. Obi-Wan realizes even the Empire won’t be that incompetent forever and decides the only way to save everyone else is to give himself up. “You’re the future,” he says to everyone on board. Which never really comes to fruition in the main canon Star Wars stories we’ve seen but, again, it’s fine. Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) doesn’t want him to go but thanks to the help of Haja (Kumail Nanjiani), she calms down and understands. Obi-Wan promises he’ll see her again.
Obi-Wan’s plan works and Vader abandons the ship filled with Force sensitive kids and Jedi sympathizers to go after Kenobi. Meanwhile, back on Tatooine, Owen wants to run from the Inquisitor that’s coming after them but Beru (played by Bonnie Piesse, who finally gets to do some actual acting in Star Wars!) tells him they need to stay and fight. I’ve got to say, seeing Aunt Beru with a blaster fighting for her moisture farm was a true highlight of the season. You go Aunt Beru, enjoy a blue milk after this traumatic experience! Seriously though, it was exceedingly cool to get an action scene inside the Lars homestead, a place we’ve been several times but never really do anything at. Of course, the two farmers are no match for Reva and Luke is forced to run for his life, while she follows with evil intent.
Vader takes his shuttle down to face off with Obi-Wan and, unlike my complaints back in episode three, this setting was much, much cooler. The fight was excellent as well. Both Kenobi and Vader used their full strength, though they aren’t in quite as great a shape as they were back on Mustafar so things were a little slower. At first, Vader thinks he has Kenobi beaten and buries him under a bunch of rocks. But thinking back to what’s truly at stake, Luke and Leia, Obi-Wan rebounds and puts an ass-whooping on Vader the likes of which we have never seen. Truly. Even when Vader loses duels in Star Wars he looks pretty good. But here? No. Obi-Wan crushes him, quite literally, going after the box on his chest first and then, the money shot, the shot fans have been waiting for since the show was revealed. A broken mask, and Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker underneath.
Fans of Star Wars Rebels will recognize this look, of course—chronologically speaking, Ahsoka Tano is going to do the exact same thing to the other side of Vader’s mask a few years after this. But still, in live-action, to see Hayden Christensen, battered and burned in that suit, was a special moment. Plus, the exchange between the two here was 100% the best part of this episode and the season as a whole. We see a real devolution from the Vader in the later films, as well as Kenobi’s faith that maybe his old friend Anakin still existed. But Vader seems to put the Jedi at peace by saying “You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did.” And so the master is still the master, now fully aware that his old friend is truly dead and well beyond saving.
That all happens as Reva purses Luke back on Tatooine and, thanks to lightspeed, Obi-Wan makes it back in the nick of time. When he gets there though, he, Owen, and Beru see Reva returning the boy. Reva is crushed because she believes by not killing Luke to get back at Vader, she failed her friends—the younglings that he killed all those years ago. Obi-Wan tells her that her mercy honors her fallen friends more than murder ever could, and now her future is whatever she wants it to be. And trust me, fans will be talking about what that future is for a long, long time.
Obi-Wan Kenobi then did its best Return of the King impression and wrapped up a bunch of storylines in rapid succession. Vader reports back to Palpatine (another expected but welcome cameo from Ian McDiarmid) who questions if Vader is too preoccupied with his former master. Vader then professes his allegiance to the Dark Lord of the Sith, pretty much clearing the way for several years of not seeing Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan returns to Alderaan to see Leia, fulfilling his promise from earlier, and tells her about all the good qualities she got from her parents. It was a very touching moment, in large part to the John Williams’ Leia theme that accompanied it. Finally, back on Tatooine, it’s moving day and Obi-Wan leaves his cave for, what we assume, the hut we see in A New Hope. But first, he stops by the Lars’ place and meets Luke. “Hello there,” the Jedi said in a funny little moment. Then, the Qui-Gon meeting, and the reveal that “You’ve got a long way to go.” Yes, about 10 years or so.
The finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi was an entertaining piece of television that had a few truly killer moments: the Kenobi-Vader fight, the Lars family kicking ass, Leia coming into her own, and Qui-Gon’s reappearance. But again, I come back to the big question: did we need any of that? Did we need six or so hours to show us that Obi-Wan Kenobi cared about Leia and Luke above all? And even so, did the show ever really dive into why? Most fans know why, because they are the kids of Darth Vader and might grow up to save the galaxy, but if you hadn’t watched Star Wars before, I’m not sure if that was clear or even relevant.
Then maybe, you say, Obi-Wan Kenobi was the story of Reva, a Jedi youngling who went undercover with the Inquisitors to try and get revenge on Darth Vader, ultimately failing but finding a new peace. And truthfully, that’s a great story. But now that the series is over it was barely the third most important arc on the show and since it got almost no closure, you can’t really say that was the point.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was, to put it in a cliched way, a hat on a hat. It’s a nice hat, but you already had a hat. Did you need that other hat? No, you did not. And I think the fact that the show’s main purpose was to answer questions I never needed answers to, instead of posing new ones I never thought about, is why I feel generally mixed on the series as a whole. The team behind it did a fantastic job but all of these characters are so familiar. It’s time for something new.
- Another reason why the Reva story ended up not being as good as it could have been was the way this finale treats the Inquisitors. It ignores them. The Grand Inquisitor offers Vader a suggestion, he ignores it, and that’s it. But what happened with the Fifth Brother? How do they all feel about Reva? Some of that’s in the games and animated shows, but to spend basically four episodes with these characters and to abandon them is a letdown.
- There was a touching moment in this episode with Obi-Wan gave Leia Tala’s old holster. Initially, I assumed that was something from the original trilogy. That pattern of answering questions that didn’t need answers. But a quick look back shows she doesn’t wear a holster until the battle of Endor, it’s not that holster, and she doesn’t have one on Rebels either. Does anyone else out there know if we see that again? Maybe it was just meant for the nice moment at the end.
- Obi-Wan makes a very specific point talking to Roken (O’Shea Jackson) that he should continue to lead, to which he replies “I’m just getting started.” Now could this point to a second season? Maybe. But he could also appear on Andor, could he not? It’s all around this time.
- Special shoutout to the sound team on this episode for the way it mixed James Earl Jones and Hayden Christensen’s voices in the mask scene. The way it bounced back and forth was incredible and there was probably some other stuff in there too. Just phenomenal attention to detail.
And now the big question. Do we want an Obi-Wan Kenobi season two? From a factual standpoint, it’s possible. Disney+ refers to it as a “special event” finale on the Obi-Wan page as well as the “season finale” on the main page. Neither of which open, or close, the door for more. And obviously, we could see Luke a little older, Leia a little older, adventures that don’t have anything to do with Darth Vader, more Reva, more Inquisitors, more Force Ghost Qui-Gon, etc.
But you know what? Let’s not. This story worked and the longer it goes the more chance there are for catastrophic implications to Star Wars. If anything, let’s do a Reva show. Let’s follow those Force-sensitive kids. You mentioned Quinlin Vos, right? Let’s see what he’s up to. But can we please, finally, after this show, leave Obi-Wan in peace? He deserves it.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.