The final episode of Star Wars: Obi-Wan has aired, and as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I feel compelled to give you my thoughts. But since I’m an anime blogger, I’ll try to tie it all to anime somehow. Wish me luck!
Note: if you haven’t watched Obi-Wan Kenobi and plan to, stop reading due to spoilers!
What Was Good About Obi-Wan Kenobi?
When rumors started swirling that Disney+ was going to make a series based on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s days on Tatooine, I had the proverbial “bad feeling about this.” While I’ve enjoyed The Mandalorian and have respect for Disney+ for pioneering the new long-but-not-too-long series approach to telling stories that couldn’t be otherwise told, I was positive the show runners would fail to respect the specific details and limitations set down in A New Hope and anger old-school fans like me. While the show wasn’t perfect, I enjoyed it way more than I expected to.
Starting the series in the Jedi Temple during “Order 66” got my attention immediately. Seeing Ewan MgGreggior on screen again was great, and for fans of the Clone Wars/Star Wars Rebels, getting to see familiar characters in non-animated form was awesome. I love the Imperial Inquisitors from the Jedi Fallen Order video game, and seeing them in action was very entertaining. Joel Edgerton gave such an outstanding performance as Owen Lars, my mind accepted him perfectly.
The inclusion of young Leia was a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. I am so anti-spoiler as a fan, I refuse to even watch a trailer for an upcoming work I care about, so her appearance was totally unexpected to me.
Seeing young Luke, who was so obviously channeling young Jake Lloyd from Phantom Menace, just wow. And having a scene take place in the familiar canyons of Death Valley…damn. It’s hard for me to keep my modern cynical snarky attitude going when they do things like this, damn it. Do they like making Star Wars fans…excited?
Also, Holy Sith, the Vader scenes. Every time he spoke on-screen, I got goosebumps, and I know that on future re-watching I’ll probably be fast-forwarding to get to scenes with him in it. The best was when he said exact lines Hayden Christensen had said back in Episode III. There were more delicious James Earl Jones Vader lines in this series than in any individual Star Wars film, and I loved them all. Yes, I know it was “Vader-whoring” just like the finale to Rogue One, but damn it, we have to have fun sometimes, don’t we?
(Obi Wan once calls Darth Vader “Darth” in one scene, a nod to one of the more awkward lines of A New Hope, “Only a master of evil, Darth.” It was kind of like when, rather than remove the scene in which a Stormtrooper bumps his head on a door in ANH for the Special Editions, Lucas added a “boink!” sound effect instead.)
What was Bad About the Show?
My main issues are with many scenes in A New Hope that set up expectations about what the 20-year period between the founding of the Galactic Empire and the Battle of Yavin was like. When Obi-Wan says “I haven’t gone by the name Obi-Wan since, oh, before you were born,” I guess he meant to add, “except for that one time a decade ago when I had to go on a secret mission to rescue Leia.”
Or, when Tarkin says “Obi-Wan Kenobi? Surely he must be dead by now. The Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion,” it seems like he’s talking about a period of many decades. We learn later that it’s only 20 years since the Empire last had dealings with Kenobi…but thanks to the new series, now it’s only ten years. So…maybe the events of this new series were kept secret from Tarkin or something? Yes, I’m sure that’s it.
Another thing I was less than impressed by was the music. Because this is a lower-tier “Star War Story” perhaps on par with Rogue One and Solo, it doesn’t get the official Star Wars Fanfare or the all-important closing theme. But…none of the music in this series made my heart soar as it could have. If Disney is shy about re-using classic Star Wars music, they shouldn’t be…remember that Return of the Jedi re-used The Last Battle music for the second Death Star Battle.
To be fair, nothing makes plot holes in Star Wars like… Star Wars, and the series is full of self-created inconsistencies. From Obi-Wan either lying through his teeth about not having met R2 before or having some kind of PTSD-related dementia, to Luke asking Leia what she remembered about his mother… who turned out to be some other unrelated woman entirely, demanding perfection of Star Wars is impossible. Also, I’m fully aware that Star Wars is not made for 50-year-old+ jaded people like me, but for 12-year-old+ fans to watch with their dads.
One other problem with Obi-Wan Kenobi has been the predictable social media drama that comes with any major work that has a lot of fans making new decisions affecting the IP in question. Missteps by the IP holders lead to social media blow-ups that get over-reported by shitty Facebook pages like The Star Wars Hub, who rejoice in highlighting every negative comment any Star Wars fan ever made, to get everyone angry and drive “engagement” to their social media platform. A much better policy from the point of Disney+ would be to ignore any negative comments and let fans who love Star Wars just have fun…
What are “Canon” Stories Anyway?
In any fictional work, there’s a delicate dance between the original creators or copyright holders and the fans about which creative works are “canon,” or part of the officially recognized story. The word comes from Christianity, where Catholics officially count 73 books of the Bible as the official canon word of God, while most Protestant sects shave that down to 66. (Hmm… did someone say ‘Order 66’?)
I was a Star Wars fan from the very beginning, and we had to sort out a lot of questions as the universe evolved. All we had in the beginning was a bunch of Marvel Comics in which the artists were too scared to draw the characters in any clothing other than what they wore in A New Hope, and the Splinter of the Mind’s Eye novel by Alan Dean Foster, with juicy-but-not-quite-canon quotes like this:
“It was not the face of a Princess and a Senator or a leader of the Rebel Alliance, but instead that of a chilled child. Moistly parted in sleep, her lips seemed to beckon to [Luke].”
Over the years, I worked out a “hierarchy of story canon” that went something like this:
- Something that appears in an official Star Wars movie is Holy Writ. Later information that contradicts what we have seen on-screen is in error.
- Level 2 consists of official films, TV shows, or video games that are not flagship films. If they feature the same actors or voice actors as the films (like Kenobi), they are “more” canon than something that casts a new actor in a role.
- Level 3 is an official novel based on the screenplay of a primary film. In the Episode III novel, we specifically learn that the master of Darth Sidious was Darth Plagueis, who possessed the power to keep the ones he loved from dying. This is where Palpatine learned how to use “Force Heal,” which he performed on Anakin immediately after finding his burned body on Mustafar. Similarly, in the novel adaption to the original Terminator, it’s revealed that Skynet is started by two engineers who discovered the wreckage of the smashed terminator, making that aspect of the story “canon” though it was not shown in the 1984 film.
- “Lesser” official works like novels or comic books with original stories come next, which are generally considered to be part of the “expanded universe,” which is always subject to changes.
- Some things are “almost but not quite canon,” like scenes filmed for ANH but not used in the film, like the scene with Biggs and Luke in Anchorhead. I treasured the original 1978 Star Wars Storybook because it had photos of all these cut scenes inside.
- Really, really good but totally non-canon fan films like Darth Vader vs. Batman or Young Lucas in Love which are so much fun, we want to believe they’re real.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on the Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series. Do you agree with my hot takes? Tell me below, or on Twitter!
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