When Agents of the Empire pose a new threat, Obi-wan Kenobi emerges after years of hiding
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for episode 1 of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The much-anticipated debut of Obi-Wan Kenobi has arrived (early!) on Disney+. Ewan McGregor steps back into the role he played in the prequel trilogy for a new story set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. So, where is old Ben 10 years later?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
Part I surprisingly opens up with a recap, which does make a lot of sense—thus far, this series touches closest to the Star Wars movies than others (in live-action at least). After recapping the events of the prequel trilogy, as they pertain to Obi-Wan, the episode still has some setup to do before catching up with our titular hero.
The episode proper starts in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. We see younglings training as Order 66 is being executed. The Jedi master does a remarkable job protecting them as they run for escape, though she does not make it and dies. The group of younglings do survive and one must assume there will be some sort of payoff for this down the road.
Now caught up with the timeline Obi-Wan Kenobi will be primarily set in, we arrive at Mos Eisley Space Port on Tatooine. A ship arrives with The Grand Inquisitor, Third Sister (aka Reva), and Fifth Brother who are hunting Jedi. They make their way to a cantina (but not the cantina), where The Grand Inquisitor monologues about the Jedi, saying at one point:
Jedi cannot help what they are. Their compassion…leaves a trail. The Jedi Code is like an itch. He cannot help it.
Reva is a bit impatient and decides to act on what her boss is saying—throwing a knife at the owner to have the Jedi reveal themself. It works as a young man, who may or may not have been one of the younglings previously seen to survive, uses the force to stop the knife from killing his friend. The Jedi gets away as we learn that Reva has a fixation on a higher profile target—Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Simple Life of Ben Kenobi
Little did the inquisitors know that their high-profile target happens to be on the same sand-filled planet as them. He’s off working for meager wages as a butcher, where you can see this is not the same Kenobi from the prequel films. He’s beaten down from the events of 10 years ago—his order cut down, his best friend (no, his brother) had turned to the dark side; Kenobi forced to cut him down and leave him for dead on Mustafar. When an injustice happens at the end of a shift, this version of Kenobi can’t bring himself to help, for if he reveals himself, Luke could be in danger.
Kenobi lives a simple life, in a cave, with few allies and friends. He’s got his eopie that helps him travel the desert planet and… that’s about it. There’s Teeka, his Jawa acquaintance who acts as a fence for the former Jedi to buy miscellaneous parts and gadgets, including a T-16 Skyhopper toy for little Luke. Teeka also shows off a recent item he required—the belt of a Jedi! Kenobi seems contemplative as he looks it over before concluding his business with the Jawa.
The belt seems to have triggered something in Obi-Wan as he has nightmares of past regrets and despair. When he awakes, he calls out for Master Qui-Gon Jinn’s guidance to no avail.
The time of the Jedi is over
Kenobi journeys across the sands of Tatooine and perches atop a cliff to keep an eye on Luke Skywalker, who is being cared for by Owen and Beru. He leaves Luke a gift after nightfall: the toy he obtained from Teeka. As the former Jedi is, presumably, heading back home, it senses he’s being watched. Nari, the Jedi who escaped the Inquisitors earlier in the episode, reveals himself to Obi-Wan.
The Jedi Master tries to brush him off by saying his name is Ben, but Nari refuses, so he gets off the eopie and tells him he has to leave. He suggests burying his lightsaber in the desert and to go into hiding. Nari questions these actions; what about the fight? Kenobi states that it’s finished… the Jedi lost.
We cut to a world that couldn’t be any more different than Tatooine—Alderaan. A young lady is getting dressed by servants. Breha Organa walks into the room and is surprised that the girl standing there isn’t her daughter. A mischievous child, Leia Organa is off running through the woods somewhere else. She eventually settles to stare at the ships coming and going, talking with her little droid friend Lola.
Eventually, Breha and the guards find Leia and bring her home. Leia apologizes and says it won’t happen again with all the honesty you’d expect from Princess Leia. Meanwhile, a sinister figure observes from afar.
Like you trained his father
After another day at work, Kenobi goes to his eopie in town, where Owen finds him and tosses the toy he left for Luke at his feet. He wants him to keep his distance from the boy. Kenobi asks Owen if he’s all right, but the moisture farmer sees right through the Jedi’s interrogation: Kenobi wants to know if the boy has yet to show signs of being Force-sensitive. He reminds Owen that Luke needs to be trained when the time comes. And that’s when Owen comes back with the line that we all felt in the trailer:
Like you trained his father? Anakin is dead, Ben, and I won’t let you make the same mistake twice.
The Inquisitors continue their hunt for the Jedi on Tatooine, attempting to intimidate the locals; going as far as chopping off a woman’s hand. Reva focuses her attention on Owen, who is attempting to blend in. When she questions him about potentially hiding a Jedi, he says he has no love for them—that they’re vermin and he kills vermin on his farm.
The Third Sister believes him—and quite frankly, it doesn’t sound like he’s lying—and turns to the townsfolk to threaten Owen and his family with death until the crowd tells her where the Jedi is. Reva raises her lightsaber to Owen’s throat as Kenobi watches from afar, but Fifth Brother urges her to stand down. He chastises her for her rashness in her pursuit of Obi-Wan, whom they have been looking for ten years.
Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope
Leia joins Breha and Bail to meet their family as they arrive on the planet after being herded inside to get dressed. The princess is already showing signs of wanting more out of life than being a Princess or Senator. She also has no problem standing up for herself and putting her cousin in his place when he mocks her for not being a “genuine” Organa.
Later, as they discuss Leia’s future as a senator, Bail states unequivocally that she is an Organa in every sense. Even though their conversation seemed to go well, Leia was still told to apologize to her cousin for the way she spoke to him; naturally, Leia opts for adventure and runs off into the woods again. She comes across Vect, who is flanked by two others. Despite the princess doing a great job at running and trying to lose these kidnappers, they track her down and apprehend Leia. It’s revealed that Reva planned the kidnapping in hopes that it would bring Obi-Wan out of hiding.
A gadget inside Kenobi’s cave beeps back on Tattooine. It features a hologram from Bail and Breha, informing him of Leia’s kidnapping. The former Jedi refuses to assist them; he is unable to depart because of his obligation to Luke. Bail argues that Leia is just important, and he doesn’t trust anyone other than the Jedi to get his daughter back. Kenobi reiterates that he is no longer the man Bail once knew.
Kenobi returns to town after another day at work to discover Nari dead and strung up in the middle of town for all to see. He then finds Bail waiting for him in his cave; the senator informs him that Leia is on her way to Daiyu. The former Jedi warns him once again that he is no longer the man he once was. Bail manages to persuade Kenobi, who sets out into the sands in search of a long-forgotten memory… a box containing his and Anakin’s lightsabers. After that, he boards a ship to leave Tatooine for Daiyu.
On a dangerous crime-ridden world, Obi-wan Kenobi becomes a target
Warning: Spoilers for episode 2 of Obi-Wan Kenobi ahead!
Disney + made a good move in releasing these two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobitogether. One is a slow-paced personal story while the other is a tension-filled chase sequence across a new city. It’s a callback to Obi-Wan’s younger days and feels like he is off on another Clone Wars adventure.
Obi-Wan certainly is out of practice. Hiding on a desert planet for ten years probably isn’t the best way to stay in shape as a Jedi, and this episode proves that. He arrives at Daiyu, which feels like a very seedy and lowlife type city, not too far off from the Coruscant Underworld he and Anakin traversed in Attack of the Clones.
A man on a mission, Obi-Wan wastes no time in tracking down Leia and unfortunately walks right into a trap. He’s rusty and it really shows. Aside from that, he is also alone. Time and time again we have seen Obi-Wan usually tackling missions with Anakin or another Jedi at his side. But there is nobody to help him this time. Luckily this is Obi-Wan and he always has a few tricks up his sleeve, taking out the mercenaries and rescuing Leia.
I’ll just say it now, for a while I was thinking “Wow Leia is such a brat, can’t she see Obi-Wan is helping her?” Though by the end of the episode those feelings were gone. It’s in this episode that I really began to see some similarities between Leia and Padme. This is something Obi-Wan himself mentions later on and it’s heartbreaking to see him thinking back to his good friend and her death.
But this isn’t the only jolt from the past Obi-Wan receives. The moment where Reva reveals that Anakin is alive truly shatters him. Up until now, he presumed Anakin was dead and that he had killed him in their last duel. We can see the shock and horror in Obi-Wan’s eyes and he is unable to speak except to utter one name, “Anakin”.
But backtracking a little bit, this episode also had a lot of moments that made me smile. I truly felt like a kid again while watching. Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani) was just a very enjoyable character. I laughed at his con man demeanor and was very happy when he decided to help Obi-Wan and Leia escape.
Leia shopping and making Obi-Wan buy the gloves for her also got me. I love that he just couldn’t say no. And again the Inquisitors create a powerful presence, I can’t wait to see them in action for real. So that brings me to the moment in the episode that literally made me stand up and yell “What?!”. Reva appears to kill the Grand Inquisitor after another argument between them, impaling him with her lightsaber. If this is the case then this is a major retcon for Star Wars Rebels as he is the primary antagonist of season one. But this is Star Wars and deaths aren’t always what they seem.
Obi-Wan does come back into his own a bit in this episode. We see his first use of the force in what is presumably years. It takes him a moment to get the hang of it again but with Leia’s life in danger he has no choice. From infiltrating a gang of mercenaries to a chase across the rooftops, Obi-Wan is slowly returning to the Jedi he once was.
The journey he started in the previous episode continues here. The personal narrative continues to flow very nicely into this tension-filled episode. But the revelation of Anakin’s survival might just break him all over again. And that final chilling image of Anakin in the bacta tank with the breathing sound we all know can only mean one thing, Darth Vader is coming.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney Plus.
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