I have to give it up to the folks at Disney+ who put together the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” show.
Once we got a good look at where it would be situated within the “Star Wars” universe — a decade after the events of “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith” — it was tough to imagine how it could be made into compelling television.
After all, as far as we knew, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) spent this time sitting around on Tattooine (which surely by now has the title for Most Visited Planet in The Entire ‘Star Wars’ Saga. I’d be just fine if we never went back to that big dumb ball of dust anymore). And by this point, we’d already delved into some of the dustier corners of Tattooine via “The Mandalorian” and the “Book of Boba Fett.”
Even when the show-runners re-introduced Darth Vader in a fantastic and terrifying way, I remember being a bit underwhelmed when I finally sat down and thought about it.
I suppose it was just an assumption on everyone’s part, but in the original “Star Wars” movie (taken together with the events of “Revenge of the Sith”) it certainly seemed that Vader and Obi-Wan hadn’t seen one another since the infamous “higher ground” fight on the lava planet Mustafar.
Turns out that wasn’t the case.
The former Jedi master and his padawan crossed light-sabers twice during the course of the series, and it’s a credit to the show-runners that they were able to wring quite a bit of pathos out of a season-finale fight where there are literally almost no stakes.
Every major character in this series except for poor Tarla makes it through to the first “Star Wars” film, so how do the writers keep us invested in a one-on-one fight as the culmination of the season, when we know for certain that everyone is going to walk away from it?
Credit here goes largely to Ewan McGregor, who brought the same quiet strength to Obi-Wan that his predecessor Alec Guinness was able to capture. McGregor also did a very good job at conveying the emotion one might feel upon learning that, despite thinking you’d killed your best friend and Jedi student a decade ago, he was not not only alive and well, but had essentially become a Force-filled super-villain.
Throughout the show, Obi-Wan continued to deal with what he perceived as his failure in mentoring Anakin Skywalker. Never mind that he was clearly trying his best to show a young, cocky Anakin the lessons he needed to learn. Framing the fifth episode around a prequel-era training fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin was a stroke of genius, showing how Anakin’s impulsiveness and desire to win clouded his judgement, and how that carried over to the reckless way Vader pursued Obi-Wan throughout the show.
Credit also goes to the writers for mostly redeeming the story arc for Reva, the Third Sister. That character felt very one-note at the beginning, but she gained some depth as the show went on and we learned her backstory.
Was it a wise move to have her story arc culminate in a scene where she attempts to kill Luke Skywalker, who we all know will survive? Probably not.
But given how little nuance Reva had when the series began, it was as good a place as any for her character to ultimately land. And now we have a freelance Force user roaming the “Star Wars” extended universe, which is cool.
This show ultimately served as a great denouement for the relationship between Obi-Wan and Vader. Obi-Wan’s apology was much more emotional here than in “Revenge of the Sith,” and again, despite knowing that everyone would make it out alive, I still gasped when Obi-Wan cracked Vader’s helmet wide open.
Vader even lets his old master off the hook.
“You did not kill Anakin Skywalker,” he rasps. “I did.”
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t ready to watch Obi-Wan Kenobi’s heart get broken all over again. That was tough.
Now, however, Obi-Wan’s “lie” about Luke Skywalker’s father in the original “Star Wars” makes perfect sense: “Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father.”
He sure did.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .