Friday, June 3, 2022

Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Parts I - III


Hello there!  It’s been awhile since I’ve been inspired to write anything in-depth with television, but there are few things as near and dear to my heart as Star Wars is.  Kenobi is the content that many have been waiting for since the Disney acquisition.  Ewan seemed game to do it and there was ripe territory to cover with his 19 years marooned on Tatooine watching over one Luke Skywalker.  The stars finally aligned and we have a 6 part Disney+ series to cover some of the things we’ve only imagined and then some.  Recaps are a dime a dozen on podcasts these days, so I’m just going to point out some of the discussion points that I’ve been tracking as I savor every minute of this show. Let’s jump in! 

Part I

We check in on what Obi has been doing for the past 10 years.  He’s been pretty much laying low and assuming the personality of Ben.  He’s working for his pay and food slicing up a giant sand whale or what not.  He’s torturing himself through dreams/visions of his struggles with Anakin/Vader.  He’s trying to reach out to Qui-Gon per his training assignment from Yoda.  He is keeping his distance (for the most part), but still watching over young Luke Skywalker.  Drama ensues and once again he is summoned for another hero’s journey. 

  • Opening on Order 66 seemed a little out of place and definitely bad timing with real world events.  Outside of all that, we immediately were shown that the production levels of this show are near movie quality.  There’s certainly differences, don’t get me wrong.  But bookending the show with the “long time ago” and the blue credits on space background shows that this should be held to a higher “EVENT” status.  We’re dealing with the Skywalker Saga directly here.  Filling in some gaps that weren’t necessarily required to fill in, but certainly helps enhance all characters involved.  
  • There are theories that this Order 66 scene specifically will come back to play later on in the show.  i.e. One of them is probably Reva - the inquisitor that isn’t as robotic and goon-like as the other inquisitors.  There’s a story to tell here and it’s unraveling over the episodes.  (BTW…the corner of “fandom” that is harassing this actress and intentionally review bombing rotten tomatoes are just embarrassing.  Nice to see Lucasfilm and Ewan stand up to the harassment instead of letting it simmer as had happened with past incidents.)   
  • Speaking of Inquisitors - So some of these we have met in other parts of canon.  There is a Grand Inquisitor in Star Wars: Rebels (awesome animated show taking place about 5 years after this up to the Original Trilogy) voiced by Jason Isaacs.  Now, Jason Isaacs plays an amazing villain in several films and TV shows.  Why would you cast Quinn from Homeland to play this one if they’re the same person?   And why inspire the internet fandom to complain about his look not being similar to the Rebels guy if they’re the same person?   Granted they might end up being the same person, but events in episode 2 would seem to make us think otherwise.  Unless a twist is coming.  The other brother dude (5th brother?) is in Rebels too.   Now these guys also have spinny lightsabers that in animation also had a helicopter effect to allow them to glide into locations.  I doubt we’ll be seeing that in live action!  It was hinted at that several of the inquisitors are former Jedi that have been tortured into working to hunt down the other Jedi.  They are Vader’s goons.  They are NOT Sith.  As we know, there can only be a Master and an Apprentice.  If Vader is an end game Boss and Emperor is an end of Franchise video game boss, these guys are like the bosses you fight in the first couple levels.  Nowhere near on the same spectrum.  Showing Vader’s power in part III should hopefully have been an indicator of that. 
  • The T-16 sky hopper toy - Not sure if everyone recalls that moment where Luke is cleaning up the droids in Star Wars proper (aka now known as Episode IV A New Hope) 19 year old Luke is also playing with toys.  He has a T-16 Sky Hopper that he’s flying around and making “wshhhh vrooom pew pew” sounds.  Okay so the audio didn’t happen, but he definitely flew it around in his wishes to to get off that sandy planet and see the galaxy.  It would appear we have a story to how Luke gets that ship.  It was Old Ben Kenobi who got the parts from an awesome Jawa and built it for him.  And he totally Santa’d that toy into existence at the Lars Farm.  He noticed Luke’s penchant for stealing moments away from farming or whatever to pretend he’s a fighter pilot going on adventures.  Obi-Wan clearly wants to encourage this motive in Luke.  But he also just wants to give a toy to a kid who sorely wants one.  I know we were pulled a switcheroo in this series with which kid Obi is spending most of his time with, but I hope before the end of Part 6 we do get a moment between Ben and Luke.  Hell, even Owen.  Surely, Owen comes around a little bit by part VI if Luke ends up with the toy.  
  • Speaking of Owen - how lucky were they that George cast Joel Edgerton back in Attack of the Clones?  The guy wasn’t much of a known actor back then “This is my girlfriend Beru, I guess we’re brothers.”   But the dude is now a bonafide working actor and he brought some gravitas to the role.  He even adopted the gruff voice of older Owen in A New Hope.  And of course, he has now been elevated to glorious meme status with his all time burn of Kenobi: “Like you trained his father?”.   Great stuff.   That said, I can’t tell if Owen knows the full story of his step-brother Anakin Skywalker.  He might have been just told the dude died.  How honest was Obi-Wan with what happened?  Did he tell them that he failed to train Anakin Skywalker to keep the dark side at bay.  That he turned and went on a murderous rampage leading to his “death” on a lava planet?  Oh and here’s his only child Luke?   Don’t worry, you can call him Skywalker instead of Lars since his whole family is dead.  No need to hide him from the Emperor!  Skywalker and Kenobi are like the Smiths and Johnsons of a galaxy far far away!  Alas, old Star Wars humor never gets too old! 
  • The whole Obi-wan refusing the call was tough to watch.  Refusing to help people in need.  But there are bigger things at stake so it just helped you feel for his status in life.  They showed the repetitiveness of his days.  You can imagine he’s been doing the same thing for 10 years.  And still failing to reach out to Qui Gon.  What I take from this is…LIAM NEESON will return to Star Wars!  Will we see him or just hear him?  Remains to be “seen”.  In the “canon” he starts off as just a voice.  (Attack of the Clones, Clone Wars Animated Series)  But I believe in the novelizations he eventually was able to appear to certain Jedi.  This is one of my pet peeves from the Prequels.  They made such a big deal out of the fact that Qui-Gon didn’t disappear when he died but that he studied the LIVING FORCE.  He was the one who figured out how to become said Force Ghosts.  There wasn’t enough time at the end of Revenge of the Sith to wrap up all this stuff.   How did Leia remember images/flashes of her mother if she was only with her for a few seconds before death?  Obi-Wan is just going to train to become a force ghost?  But how???  These are things that can be explored with more time on D+.  And it feels we’re getting a little more of both of these questions.
  • LEIA - speaking of Leia.  How great was it to see child Leia and not just that?  Alderaan?  Such a beautiful place, hopefully nothing bad happens to it.  Popular meme coming out of the first episode, I can’t claim it as my own.  As a refresher to those who don’t live, breathe, eat and sleep Star Wars, Alderaan is destroyed along with Leia’s adopted family by the Death Star in A New Hope.   But it’s great to see Leia having some of Padme in her.  She pulled a switcheroo with a decoy to fake out her mother.  Later in ep 2 Obi-Wan is reminded of Padme too.   It would be great to get a Natalie Portman cameo in this show even building on Leia’s remembrance of her somehow.  Great to see Jimmy Smits back as Bail Organa and imposing wisdom on Leia.  Leia reading her cousin shows how she becomes a strong leader/senator but also shows how she might be showing force abilities without even knowing it.  We know later on she feels Luke’s presence on Cloud City and that he survived Death Star II on Endor.  We know that she Mary poppins herself back to the command ship in Last Jedi and did train to become a jedi with Luke but then quit.  She helps Rey complete her training.  But in these years prior to the original trilogy, she had no idea she was force capable.  She was using it unknowingly.  That’s a pretty cool detail.   Also, did anyone notice 3PO hanging out in the background?  She’s not Leia’s droid, but I guess Antilles did work for Bail so I guess he travels in the same circles as Leia.   And LOLA droid is awesome too.  I’ll need one for Christmas please and thank you! 
  • Anyway, Leia runs off and gets captured by Flea.  It was today years old when I realized Flea was “needles” in Back to the Future II and III.  He actually did some decent acting.  But could he at least put a Star Wars costume on instead of showing up as a Chili Pepper?  
  • This seems to be turning back into a recap!  Old habits are hard to kill.  So Bail requests help from Obi-Wan via hologram then in person.  The inquisitors were getting too close to accidentally stumbling upon him and Luke so that might have provided a little more motivation.  He admits his assignment is Luke but inevitably can’t refuse Bail.   He had told that hunted Jedi to bury his lightsaber and assume a new life as he did.  But we see Obi unearthing 2 lightsabers.  He buried Obi-Wan Kenobi and his “brother” Anakin Skywalker.   An old life long gone, but now has to resurface.  Remember Anakin’s saber will eventually go to Luke.  We saw him grab it on Mustafar in the middle of his emotional speech to burning Anakin/Vader.  
  • Obi-Wan makes his way to the public transport off to go find and rescue Leia. 

Part II

This one I watched, but I’m struggling to remember all of the details.  I definitely will be rewatching all 6 after they’re released.  But the long and short of it.  Obi-Wan finds Leia and attempts to get her back to Alderaan, Reva is obsessed with finding Obi-Wan to impress Darth Vader.  Everything collides on the Hong Kong inspired planet Daiyu.  Key things to remember/discuss:
  • Obi-Wan is struggling with the Force.  He hasn’t completely shut it off like Luke in the sequel trilogy.  We know he’s trying to reach Qui-Gon.  But he’s suppressed it to live a normal life.  It’s crazy to watch Obi fight with fists and a blaster (so uncivilized!), but it makes sense in an era where holding a lightsaber is a death sentence.  
  • Kunil Nanjiani is playing himself as a fake Jedi scam artist.  This is 10 years after the fall of the republic.  Remember, by 19 years after Han Solo is a man who doesn’t even believe in the Force.  He calls it a bunch of simple tricks and nonsense.  If Han ever ran into someone like Kunil’s character it would probably enforce that point.  However, like Han this guy does have a heart and ends up helping Obi-Wan and Leia in the long run.  
  • It turns out the kidnapping was a ploy by Reva to lure out Kenobi knowing his connection to Bail Organa.  (I’ll go with it.  That’s a long shot of a ploy!)  
  • It is bizarre that the Inquisitors as a whole disagree with Reva’s tactics.  She’s very non subtle with hers while the others are trying to maintain some civility.  I was reminded through various podcasts that we should remember while this is the era of the Empire, it’s pre-Death Star.  The emperor is still trying to maintain the facade of a government.  The imperial senate isn’t disbanded until A New Hope in favor of fear of the Death Star.  Bail is still in the senate and grooming Leia to be a senator (and leader of a rebellion).  The Jedi are branded as enemies of the Republic/Empire, so the inquisitors are probably trying to maintain some sense of civility in their actions.  Reva is just angry and trying to impress.  We’ll have to get to this in a minute, but why would she know that Vader is Anakin Skywalker?  That can’t be public knowledge to everyone. 
  • The bonding between Ben and Leia is great, but it does pose questions about the original trilogy and her attachments to Obi-Wan.  The infamous hologram refers to General Kenobi who served her father in the Clone Wars.  It didn’t seem like a message to someone she knew.  Now Ben has only said his name is Ben, but she does find out he’s a Jedi and eventually finds out he knew her mother. Things are getting tricky! 
  • Long story short…there are some Breaking Bad references with the spice lab, Obi and Leia get disguises (Leia’s looking like her poncho from Return of the Jedi.  Reva catches wind and starts chasing them in a ridiculous taunting chase across the rooftops.  Leia falls and Obi blows his cover to save her with the force.  They still are able to escape with Kunil’s character’s help and just before getting off on a transport Reva reveals that Vader is alive and that it’s Anakin Skywalker.  That can’t be something everyone knows.  It goes back to the Order 66 scene.  Maybe she came in contact with Darth Vader and lived to tell the tale.  Maybe she’s mad at Obi-Wan for not rescuing her.  There’s definitely some kind of redemption tale going on here with Reva.  She probably won’t be fully bad at the end.    
  • Anyway - this absolutely shakes Obi-Wan to his core.  Everything he had lived with for the last 10 years.  He didn’t know his former apprentice was alive.  This makes sense that he wouldn’t know yet.   And this was one of the things I was excited to see with this series.  How does Obi-Wan learn that Vader survived and became “more machine than man”.  After part III we’re already there.  But there are other lines of dialogue we still have to deal with in the remaining 3 parts!  
  • Oh yeah…can’t forget Reva’s stabbing of the Grand Inquisitor.  Back to my comment about a similar looking Grand Inquisitor being alive in the Rebels show.  Is this the same guy?  If so how does he survive?  
Part III

We have 3 major settings in this part.  Mapuzo, Mustafar and Fortress Inquisitorious.  Mustafar and Vader’s castle where we get some chilling new sites.  Fortress Inquisitorious - The inquisitor’s hangout on the moon Nur. Obi-Wan and Leia are looking for their contact on Mapuzo to get Leia back to Alderaan.  The Inquisitors and Vader are hot on the trail. 
  • Seeing Darth Vader be pieced together after his Bacta Tank bath was rough but so awesome.  This dude definitely is more machine than man.  He makes contact with Reva and OMG it’s James Earl Jones but he sounds like he did in 1977!  This was nuts.  After perusing the credits it looks like JEJ is credited but so is the “respeecher” technology they used for Luke in Mandalorian.  If you haven’t watched these Disney Gallery episodes with the making of Mando and Book of Boba Fett, you’re in for a treat if you do.  The technology they are using is both amazing and super scary.  But I’m assuming we’ll get a making of for Obi-Wan and this will be a main feature.  
  • Darth promises Reva the Grand Inquisitor title or death.  Ouch!  If the other Grando is still alive then he’s just messing with her to get results.  He’s probably doing that either way.  5th Brother also wants the title and is at odds with Reva.  
  • Meanwhile Obi and Leia have a bonding trip on Mapuzo.  I loved all of this.  Apparently, there’s even a shot of Leia when her braid fell out and it looked like she had a Padawan tail.  
  • My favorite part of this whole scenario was the discussion Obi and Leia had about Padme.  And how he is not her father.  But the words he says are very reminiscent of Leia in Return of the Jedi when Luke asks what she remembers of her “real” mother.  She says mostly just images really.  And talks of how kind and sad she was.  Again, she was only with Padme as a baby.  But she is force sensitive.  Obi-Wan speaks to how he was taken from his family at a young age and just remembers “flashes” of her mother…and remembers having a brother (hmmmm foreshadowing??).  I think this discussion while maybe being a plot device was also meant to enforce Leia’s memories of her mother as well since that was another thing shoved into the post-climax of Revenge of the Sith.  Now, it would be even greater if somehow Obi-wan connects with Leia through the force and she gets these images of her mother.  Great opportunity for a Portman cameo!  
  • Of course, Obi-wan is very distraught this whole time learning that Anakin/Vader is alive.  But he has no idea what he looks like at this time.  He even has a hallucination of one Hayden Christiansen in Jedi Robes imagining what he’d look like now.  But no such luck Ben!  
  • Obi-Wan and Leia also have a run in with Muppet sounding Zach Braff as an alien, Freck.  I’m not gonna turn this into a political post, but this guy definitely seemed to fit a certain real world stereotype with his waiving of the Imperial Flag on his truck and supporting the Empire’s determination of order in the galaxy.  But read into it what you want! The tense meeting with the Storm Troopers was great and them talking their way out of it after Ben accidentally calls her Leia.  Great stuff.  Then the encounter at the gate with the laser fence slicing the trooper in half. Awesome stuff.   Loved all the jokes on Reddit about this trooper coming back 15 years later with a vendetta against Kenobi (a la Darth Maul’s animated arcs) 
  • We are introduced to the woman from Rome and Game of Thrones (Ellaria Sand? Well if Pedro is Mando, she should be a character too right!?)  Indira Varma plays Tala who is a turncoat imperial officer who is running an Underground Railroad of sorts for Jedi.  She is their contact on Mapuzo and she takes charge from here.  We learn of how many Jedi have escaped through this path including Quinlan Vos (A famous Jedi from expanded Universe lore and also was a background player in Phantom Menace and had a major arc on the Clone Wars show.  So apparently he may be still alive in this timeframe).   We have to assume Reva was once here too.  She seemed to be having some recollections when she was reading the engravings and reacting to Vader’s assault later on.  We shall see.   Apparently Tala was originally supposed to be a love interest of Kenobi.  No thanks, he already had Satine in The Clone Wars!  (FYI - she was duchess of Mandalore and Bo Karan’s sister (Katie Sackoff - she reprised the role on Mandalorian S2.  Satine and Obi-Wan were in love when he was a padawan, but he continued down the Jedi path.  He admitted he would’ve left the order for her.  She died in his arms at the hand of Maul hellbent on revenge with Kenobi.)   It would be great if they tied in Satine to Live Action, but it would be difficult given the storyline they’re following. 
  • I honestly forget how Reva tracked down Kenobi again.  Maybe it was through the imperial activity.  But she did, and 5th brother reported it to Vader.  And they all go to Mapuzo for a reunion.  Oh boy. Obi-Wan’s reaction to Vader arriving was fantastic.  Very reminiscent of his reaction to the destruction of Alderaan.  He was in the presence of his old friend and it was too much for him.  Then he watched Vader on his war path.  This is the scariest we’ve ever seen him.  He was moving slowly, and force killing anything in his way.  Including children.  (Some speculated that Reva reacted to the killing of the child.  If she was a Jedi Youngling that would make sense)  
  • But this is not the rematch we’ve been waiting for. Obi-Wan is still a shell of who he once was.  Vader seems almost disappointed at his inability to stand up to him.  “What have you become?” “I am what you made me”.  CHILLS!!!!  I mean is this actually happening?  Obi-Wan and Darth Vader facing off again???   I love that obi runs first instead of facing him.  But, it may have been a stall tactic to give Leia more time to flee.  In any case it ends with Vader attempting to burn him as he was burned.  OUCH!  But, Tala was there to rescue him.  Unfortunately, this was at the expense of Leia’s capture by Reva.  Uh oh.   

What does it all mean?  First of all, there are some lines we need to remember from A New Hope that are being recontextualized here.  “Vader: When we last met I was but the learner, now I am the master.  Kenobi: Only a master of Evil Darth.”   We always assumed this meant the fight on Mustafar that turned him into the machine Sith Monster.  But now we know they must face again  and Obi-Wan must be victorious yet leave Vader alive.  Obi-Wan has to become the wisened old wizard too by A New Hope.  He must become attuned enough to become a force ghost when Vader strikes him down.  So, we must assume that Qui Gon will come to Obi-Wan in his most desperate hour and this will somehow lead to his path to “HELLO THERE!” Obi-Wan Kenobi.   We need him to defeat Vader and return to Tatooine and get Luke that ship!  Will Reva play a part somehow in saving Vader or Kenobi?  Will she sacrifice herself to one of those ends?   Will we get Anakin flashbacks to see more actual Hayden than just in the Vader suit? Seems silly to have him back and not do some flashbacks.  I’d love a clone wars flashback with live action Anakin, Obi-Wan and Asohka.   Forgot we had the cameo of Temuera Morrison as a veteran Clone Trooper.  There’s a famous clone trooper named Rex from the Clone Wars too that would be great to see as well.  That’s all on my wish list.  But, I’ll be happy with wherever they go with this.  This has been a treat so far.  I can’t believe we’re already halfway through, but I’m still excited that we have 3 more hours to be with Kenobi!  This is the most successful Disney + show to date and Ewan said he’d do more.  We’ll have to see if they leave any wiggle room at the end of these 6, but I’m sure Disney would be interested in more.  We’ll see if there’s another story to tell! 

Anyway, it’s been awhile for me posting something like this.  Hope it holds up to standards.  I really wrote it for myself, but if anyone finds value today or 20 years from now (people are still reading those LOST recaps when streaming for the first time. Crazy!), then great!   Not sure how much I’ll do for the next 3 parts but I’ll try to post something.  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and see you in the next post! 


MJ said...

Wow. Waiting for more to drop

Mike V. said...

3 to go! I’m already annoyed. Have kids sports conflicts Wednesday. I’m still going to want to watch it when we get home even if it’s 10pm! Lol