Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 1 Review: The Degradation Continues
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part I's biggest is that it's just plain boring with agonizingly slow pacing and numerous scenes that should have never even been filmed let alone made the final cut.
Lucasfilm’s latest entry, Obi-Wan Kenobi, was touted to showcase the rematch of the century between Obi-Wan and his former pupil turned Sith lord, Darth Vader.
The idea of this actually happening was anathema to many Star Wars fans, believing that Kenobi did not face Vader following his battle against him on Mustafar, where he left him to die on the volcanic planet.
Even George Lucas detailed the two did not cross paths after Kenobi went into hiding all the way back in the 1981 during the Revenge of the Jedi Story Conference. Lucas explained, “Ben takes one and gives him to a couple out there on Tatooine and he gets his little hideout in the hills and he watches him grow. Ben can’t raise Luke himself, because he’s a wanted man.”
If a rematch between Vader and Kenobi was promised, what else would Lucasfilm change about Kenobi and the story from the original trilogies?
Well, Lucasfilm, Deborah Chow, and writers Joby Harold, Hossein Amini, and Stuart Beattie brought those fears to life, absolutely shattering the illusions that Kenobi is hiding out on Tatooine away from the Empire’s watchful eyes in the very first episode of the show without Darth Vader having an ounce of screen time.
**Warning Massive Spoilers For Obi-Wan Kenobi Part I**
The first episode sees the Inquisitors arrive on Tatooine hunting a Jedi who has been helping the locals defend their saloon. While the Inquisitors go about their job tracking down this Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi now works as a meat packer on the desert planet while occasionally checking in on Luke Skywalker.
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Kenobi is eventually called back into action and off of Tatooine when Princess Leia is kidnapped on Alderaan as part of a plan by one of the Inquisitors to draw out Kenobi.
There is not a lot of good that happens in this episode. The first four minutes of the show might be the best and it’s all old footage from the prequel films recapping those films and showcasing Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s relationship that culminates in their battle on Mustafar.
Aside from that, Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Kenobi is the only other highlight of the episode.
The other 45 minutes of the episode set out do degrade both the original trilogy and the prequel one while disrespecting not only Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the Inquisitors, and most importantly Star Wars fans. The show is an affront to the intelligence of anyone who considers themselves a fan of Star Wars.
Following the 4-minutes of highlights from the prequel trilogy, the show begins with an opening scene at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant with Clone Troopers shooting down and killing Jedi, Padawan, younglings, and anything that moves.
There’s an interesting action sequence, one of two in the entire episode, that shows a Jedi defending her Padawans from the Clone Troopers. While the lightsaber fight is somewhat entertaining the way it ends is an insult. After the Jedi is gunned down, the Padawans rush over to her dead body and have a brief mourning in the middle of an attack on the temple.
Somehow, despite getting killed the Clone Troopers have also perished so the Padawans can have this moment of mourning before they decide to flee. What happens to the Padawans after is anyone’s clue.
If you hadn’t watched any of the promotional material for the show or read any of the leaks, this scene appears to be randomly inserted for no reason whatsoever. Clearly, they want you to remember this as they aim to pay if off later, but as it stands, it’s just an insult to viewers.
The show then cuts to Tatooine where the Inquisitors arrive over a town, and park just outside of it. Do you remember when Mos Eisley had a space port in A New Hope? Apparently, it’s the only place on Tatooine that has one now.
From there, the Inquisitors head straight for a saloon and we get a monologue about Jedi compassion and how they always out themselves because of their compassion. The speech turns out to be prophetic, who would have guessed? The Inquisitors out a Jedi, but instead of a quick execution, a lengthy lightsaber duel through the town, or even a chase sequence, the Inquisitors just let him go as he flees.
From there, the episode plods along as we see Kenobi living a solitary life as a meatpacker and briefly checking in on Luke. Despite including the scene where Yoda explains what Kenobi will be doing on Tatooine from Revenge of the Sith, none of that is shown.
He’s not learning how to commune with Qui-Gon Jinn through Yoda. In fact, it appears he has completely given up on his Jedi training because it’s not shown or mentioned other than the highlight reel in the beginning. At least, they do show him checking in on Luke from afar.
Maybe the most galling and worst part of this episode is when Kenobi is randomly tracked down by the Jedi the Inquisitors previously let escape. And by random, I’m not exaggerating. He literally just pops up in the middle of the night as Kenobi heads back to his cave. Clearly, Kenobi is terrible at staying undercover if this random Jedi can find him in the middle of nowhere on Tatooine.
If it wasn’t apparent that Kenobi had given up on the Jedi, he makes it clear to Nari. He tells him the battle is over, the Jedi lost, and that he should bury his lightsaber in the sand and live an ordinary life. Now, I’m sure people will say he was trying to keep his cover, and sure that’s true, but as we find out later in the episode, Kenobi buried his own lightsaber in the sand. The advice he was giving was the way he was living his life.
After a brief cut to Alderaan to introduce a young Princess Leia, the show returns to Tatooine where it’s revealed Kenobi hasn’t really given up being a Jedi as he has a conversation with Owen about training Luke. It’s just another example of Lucasfilm contradicting themselves within the same episode when it comes to the characterization of their main characters.
Nevertheless, there is supposed to be a tension building scene, but it falls flat because it sees Reva or the Third Sister threatening to kill Uncle Owen if the people in the town don’t provide information on the Jedi. The tension doesn’t work as the killing of Uncle Owen and anyone outing Kenobi might be a step too far even for Lucasfilm when it comes to butchering story continuity.
The scene also ends oddly, and this is a theme that plays out throughout the episode. Reva is stopped from killing Owen by the Fifth Brother claiming that she is “too impulsive.” Reva was previously stopped from killing the Jedi by the Grand Inquisitor claiming she was “too reckless.” Albeit at least in the first case he had the excuse of wanting to interrogate the Jedi.
In this case, there is no real reason to let Owen live other than the fact killing him ruins continuity. But as we find out as the episode ends, Lucasfilm has no problems doing that.
But before we get to the end, we return to Tatooine, where Leia gets in a spat with her cousin. It’s pure filler and honestly should have just been cut because it just drags the show out longer, and it doesn’t really do anything to move the plot forward. They could have just had her go back out and play in the woods and get captured like in the previous cut to Alderaan.
Leia getting captured is the second action sequence of the show. She actually leads a bunch of bandits on a chase through the Alderaan woods despite them surrounding and cornering her from the get. The show reveals its priorities when it gives Leia her own chase sequence, but fails to give one to the Inquisitors and the Jedi at the beginning of the episode on Tatooine.
After Leia is captured, the show reveals its true colors as a complete and utter degradation to the original trilogy and the idea that Kenobi is in exile, hiding on Tatooine. Bail Organa and his wife contact Kenobi through a communications device that he’s stashed in his cave. That’s right a Jedi sympathizing Senator has a direct line to a rogue Jedi that the Inquisitors have been hunting for 10 years. You’re telling me the Emperor and his minions didn’t have eyes on Organa?
To make matters worse, after Kenobi declines to save Leia, Organa actually shows up in Kenobi’s cave. He knows exactly where on Tatooine he is. It’s a complete and utter insult to the audience and Star Wars fans.
The sitting Senator also knows where the kidnappers have taken Leia. Instead of using the full weight of his position and Alderaan, he decides to put Kenobi’s entire cover at risk. It’s something the Organa from the prequels would not do because he actually made smart tactical decisions.
Backtracking just a little bit, before the episode ends with Kenobi boarding a freighter to travel to the planet where Bail Organa tracked the mercenaries, he encounters the corpse of the dead Jedi. Apparently, the Inquisitors just killed him without actually interrogating him.
So the whole point of the Grand Inquisitor trying to stop Reva from killing him in the first place is made moot. Again, contradictory characterizations within a single episode.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part I predictably blows gaping holes in both the prequel and sequel trilogies. Like The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett before it, it has contradictory characterizations just scenes apart. There are also just random moments that try and create emotional moments for the audience even though they make absolutely no sense as part of the overall plot.
But the biggest knock against this first episode is that it’s just plain boring with agonizingly slow pacing and numerous scenes that should have never even been filmed let alone made the final cut.