Warning: Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 1 ahead!
Finally, after years of waiting, Ewan McGregor is on screen as Obi-Wan once again. Seeing his face again is certainly a delight and the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi really does deliver.
It feels like the start of another grand Star Wars adventure. But Obi-Wan isn’t the same gung ho Jedi Master that we left at the end of Episode III. He is a very broken man who is traumatized by the mistakes of his past. He works in a factory setting, repeating the same mundane tasks day after day. And what I think is really great about this series is that it looks like it’s’ going to take its time in telling its story.
Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 1 review
Of course Star Wars these days just can’t resist slipping an Order 66 scene into everything they do so we begin with yet another viewpoint where a few Jedi younglings appear to escape the temple. The scene serves as another way to remind us just how devastated the Jedi were and parallels Obi-Wan’s own loss.
One of the biggest controversies about the show, before it aired, was the appearance of the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), but in my opinion, I hardly even noticed it while watching. One of the first scenes of the show features him, the Third Sister (Moses Ingram), and the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang). All three of them created such an imposing presence and the Grand Inquisitors’ little speech in the bar felt so true to his character.
Staying on the topic of the Inquisitors, Third Sister seems like a really interesting character. We quickly learn she has an odd obsession with finding Obi-Wan but her motivations for doing so are unclear. I imagine over time we will learn a lot more about her.
And then finally Obi-Wan appears on the screen. But again, this is not Jedi Master Obi-Wan, this is a broken and defeated Obi-Wan ten years later. He works in a factory setting and we really get a glimpse at how repetitive his day-to-day life is when the show shows us this same sequence of him working, leaving work, and going home, three times throughout the episode. And I really liked this, he is almost like a shell of his former self. He is even living in a cave instead of the house we see in A New Hope.
I found myself wondering what in the world would get him to leave Tatooine aside from Luke. Speaking of Luke, his brief appearance, the same scene from the trailer, just brought a little smile to my face. But not to Obi-Wan. In fact, upon seeing Luke, I think Obi-Wan is almost afraid of him becoming like his father. Especially after seeing him pretend to podrace.
The entire interaction between Third Sister and Owen had me on the edge of my seat. It increased the tension from zero to a hundred in seconds. A brief encounter in the desert with another Jedi survivor, the same one the inquisitors were hunting earlier, continues to show how he has given up. He offers no help other than to run and hide.
But by far the biggest surprise in Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 1 was the appearance of Leia and the planet Alderaan. Her introduction in the show serves as a much-needed, more upbeat and cheery feeling to contrast the depressing mood we have felt so far. She acts exactly as I would expect a young Leia to act, adventurous and rebellious. This is also the most we have ever seen of Alderaan in live-action. It has a very city of the future kind of feel to it that’s perfect in Star Wars. And the little droid that she carries around with her is just adorable!
But trouble quickly rises on Alderaan and Leia is soon taken hostage by a group of mercenaries. Her parents turn to Obi-Wan for help but he refuses. After all the mistakes he made he feels that he is the last person who should be trusted with a child. He knows he is not the same man he once was and honestly, it feels sad to see him admitting it.
That same Jedi from earlier is later seen dead and for Obi-Wan, that moment really resonates with him. This is what’s happening out in the galaxy and he knows that but to see it up close, to know that he might have even been able to do something really turns something in his head.
When Bail arrived in person to ask again for his help I was convinced he would still refuse. But in the end, he does accept. His retrieving his lightsaber is that moment where he says to himself, “It’s time to be Obi-Wan again”. But even though he boards that ship he seems to question what he is doing. He has a lot of doubt and he will need to conquer that if he has any hope of succeeding.
All in all this episode was a fantastic start to the series. Its well-paced and very personal storytelling re-introduced us to a different Obi-Wan but begins to set him on a path that will hopefully lead him back to the man he once was.