Before Lucasfilm and Disney+ officially announced Obi-Wan Kenobi, many Star Wars fans expected the series to be called Kenobi — perhaps after John Jackson Miller’s novel of the same name. So far, thought he show is about Kenobi the character, it’s not really about him — not just him, but rather his place in the galaxy and his ties to other characters and their legacies.
The show may wear his name, but it’s about so much more. And this is a direction many of these shows seem to be taking.
The Mandalorian at first seemed like a show about a Mandalorian called The Mandalorian. But it’s not really about just Din Djarin, is it? It’s about Grogu, about their relationship, about the Mandalorian people. What it means to call yourself a Mandalorian. What happens when someone says you don’t meet the criteria for being one.
And chances are the forthcoming Andor and Ahsoka shows, though heavily featuring their respective title characters, won’t be primarily about them at the same time. Disney+ Star Wars shows begin these series knowing viewers will be expecting the show to be about Cassian or Ahsoka or Kenobi, only to tell stories multiple layers deeper than that.
Three episodes in, Obi-Wan Kenobi is much more about the state of the galaxy and the many people impacted by it than it is about one broken man. A story can and should be about many things at once, that’s the kind of complexity that makes Star Wars insightful and beautiful. Star Wars stories are best when they have double meanings, when they show audiences one thing on screen but speak to something much larger beneath that.
Those who love and praise the show do so because it’s not just hundreds of shots of Obi-Wan wandering through the desert periodically checking on Tiny Luke. Obi-Wan is important, he is a hero that already has and will continue to play a major role in the galaxy’s largest events. But everyone he crosses paths with also has a role to play. Tala. NED-B. Reva. It’s about them as much as it is about Ben, and Little Leia, and even Vader.
Look closer and you might start to see the much smaller threads set up to tie all of this together. If this show were just about one person’s journey, it wouldn’t resonate with so many people. It needed to have layers, and those layers are what make the show so classically Star Wars. It’s about hope, and sacrifice, and darkness, and light. It’s about desperation, and persistence, and fear, and love.
And it’s only halfway over. There is so much more to come.
Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor with appearances by Hayden Christensen and Kumail Nanjiani and is directed by Deborah Chow, who previously directed an episode of The Mandalorian. The series is streaming now exclusively on Disney+.
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