“Obi-Wan Kenobi” is here.
After a number of false starts and production resets, the first Lucasfilm original series on Disney+ to deal with a true legacy character (if we’re now comfortable acknowledging that “The Book of Boba Fett” was retconned fan fic of the highest order), “Obi-Wan Kenobi” debuted on the streaming channel Thursday night – early, no less! – to much fanfare. Ewan McGregor is back as the titular Jedi, 10 years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” as he watches over a young Luke Skywalker and contemplates the events that led him there.
But what happens in the first two episodes? And how are they, anyway? Read on to find out!
Huge spoilers for the first two episodes of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” follow.
Alone Again, Naturally
We begin with some familiar words: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …” Except instead of a crawl, it serves as the opening salvo for a “previously on ‘Star Wars’” montage that’s a bunch of scenes from the prequels which, it should be established, are still totally awful.
The first really-for-real scene is on Coruscant, at the Jedi Temple. There are a bunch of younglings training in the ways of the Force. (I should know, I did that aboard the Galactic Starcruiser.) Unfortunately, this is the same day that Order 66 has come down from the Galactic Senate, effectively ordering the extermination of the Jedi as a bloody end to the Clone Wars. In an impressively showy shot (pretty much the only really dazzling shot between both episodes, which is insane because regular Chan-wook Park collaborator Chung-hoon Chung shot the series), we watch as a Jedi teacher tries to usher the children to safety. The teacher is killed. “What do we do now?” one of the young Jedi asks. “We run,” answers another. And off into the night they flee. (Sadly, the scene inadvertently echoes the real-life tragedy we’re all still reeling from, so no judgment if you feel the need to fast-forward.)
A card tells us it’s now “10 years later” and we’re back on that dusty old rock Tatooine. (After “The Book of Boba Fett,” it would have been nice to take a little break from Tatooine. But here we are. Again.) We see a dark ship land that is very clearly Imperial in nature. It’s three Inquisitors, characters introduced in the animated series “The Clone Wars” as henchmen (or women!) for the Empire tasked with ferreting out the surviving Jedi. Some used to be Jedi themselves but have now aligned themselves with the dark side of The Force. There’s the Grand Inquisitor (voiced on the series by Jason Isaacs and now played by Rupert Friend), the Fifth Brother (played by Sung Kang) and the Third Sister (played by Moses Ingram from “The Queen’s Gambit”).
They walk into a cantina and start interrogating the owner. “Jedi cannot help what they are. Their compassion leaves a trail,” the Grand Inquisitor growls. He threatens the owner. The Jedi shows himself – it’s Benny Safdie from “Licorice Pizza” and one half of the genius filmmaking duo behind unequivocal masterpiece “Uncut Gems.” He flees into the city. It is then revealed that the Third Sister is obsessed with finding Obi-Wan.
We then cut to a giant manta ray-type creature whose meat is being harvested. And there’s a familiar worker – Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s carving some manta ray steaks and saves a little piece for himself; he tucks it into his overalls. As he’s clocking out (of a gonk droid!), another employee is stiffed on his wages. Their cruel boss beats him. Obi-Wan does nothing. He travels to the city and finds his pet eopie, feeding it the little sliver of steak. He gets on his eopie and travels across the desert, going into his cave. He makes himself some soup, which is a nice touch that really screams “unmarried bachelor living alone in a haunted cave on a dusty, desolate planet.”
A Jawa shows up and barters with him. He buys a toy from the Jawa and the Jawa tries to sell him a Jedi’s belt. Obi-Wan doesn’t bite. He’s heard they’re “they’re all but extinct,” Obi-Wan says. He then buys a piece of machinery that the Jawa stole from him. (Unequivocally this is the greatest scene in either episode.) That night Obi-Wan dreams of Anakin; of how he let him down. He can’t shake it. He wakes up and tries to call his own master. “Master Qui-Gon?” But Qui-Gon doesn’t answer.
Little Luke … And Leia
What is presumably the next day, Obi-Wan travels to a rocky outcropping. He watches through some binoculars “Uncle” Owen Lars (once again played by Joel Edgerton) and a young Luke Skywalker. He sees Luke pretend to pilot a starship. That night, he leaves a bag of things at the Lars household, including the starship toy he bought off the Jawa. He senses someone watching him.
It’s Benny Safdie! He says that he needs his help. That he recognizes him. “You’re looking for somebody else.” Benny still pleads with him. Please. There are Inquisitors. He could get hurt. Or worse. Obi-Wan pretends to not know what he’s talking about and tells Benny to bury his lightsaber in the middle of the desert. “What happened to you?” Benny asks.
We then cut to a tree-lined planet. We soon realize it’s Alderaan, the planet that was blown up as a test run for the first Death Star in “A New Hope.” And there’s a young girl, getting dressed. Almost like a Princess. It’s Leia! Well, almost — it’s a little alien girl who has traded places with Leia for the LOLs. We cut to a girl running through the woods, being adventurous. She has a cute little droid following her. She climbs up and watches the starships leaving the city’s port. She invents narratives for them.
Her mother finally finds her. She makes her shut down her droid. They have to get somewhere. “All I do is wave,” young Leia protests. She gives her mom a hug. And steals her droid (named Lola) back. A weirdo watches from the woods.
Back on Tatooine, Owen brings the toy back to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan says that Luke needs to understand that there’s a wider world. “When the time comes, he must be trained,” Obi-Wan says. “Like you trained his father,” Lars says. The Inquisitors show up. They’re looking for that Jedi. Reva, the Third Sister, cuts somebody’s hand off. They ask Owen what he knows. “I have no love for Jedi,” he says. Owen says he protects his family at all costs. “You think you could protect them from me?” Reva asks.
The Inquisitors leave and the Fifth Brother tells Reva she’s too impulsive. “We spent 10 years looking for him,” he says of Obi-Wan. They didn’t find him. He’s gone. They get in their scary spaceship and leave. Obi-Wan thanks Owen.
On Alderaan Jimmy Smits is finally back as Bail Organa! What a lovely surprise. At some kind of fancy party, C-3PO brings Leia something and she thanks the droid. Her snotty cousin asks her, “You thank your droid?” And then they go at it. She gets really nasty, and it’s unclear if she’s a very good judge of character or if she’s somehow using the Force to gain knowledge that otherwise would be impossible to gather.
Afterwards, Bail tells Leia that she should apologize. She doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to go to fancy dinner parties. He says that he didn’t want this either. “I wanted to live way out, past Jakku,” Bail says, referencing the planet where Rey grew up and where much of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took place. Leia says she doesn’t want to be a senator. “One day this planet will look to you Leia,” he says. How right he is!
She says she’ll apologize but she runs into the forest. The creep from earlier is there. And he’s played by Flea! There are more dirtbags too. They kidnap Leia!
Call to Action
Back in the sad haunted bachelor pad of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he hears something beeping. He opens up an old chest (because how else do you furnish your cave?) and finds a device. It’s a communication disc; Bail and his wife Breha are pleading with Obi-Wan. There’s been “no ransom” and “no leads.” Breha says, “She needs you Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Obi-Wan isn’t budging. “I’m not who I used to be. Find someone else,” he says.
Flea and his goon squad tie Leia up on his ship.
On Tatooine, the next day, Obi-Wan is walking through the town square. (We can only assume it’s the town square. Most of the crowd scenes in both episodes consist of people just standing around, not moving. It’s incredibly distracting.) He looks up. Benny is hanging from an archway, dead. Not hung from the neck but kind of strung up.
Obi-Wan returns to his cave and his little security system that he’s set up is blinking red instead of blue. An intruder is in the house, er, cave! Bail is there. “She’s my daughter,” he stresses. Obi-Wan is being swayed.
Inside the ship, Leia is using her little droid to get her out of her bindings. Flea snarls that “No one’s coming for you.”
Obi-Wan heads out to the desert. He starts digging. He uncovers a box with two lightsabers – his and Anakin’s.
On Flea’s ship, he turns on the holograph communicator. It’s Reva. She’s set this whole thing up to lure Obi-Wan out of hiding. “The Jedi will hunt himself,” she says, repeating something that she said in the cantina at the beginning of the episode. Guess so.
Back on Tatooine there’s a woman near a spaceport. “You coming or not?” Obi-Wan walks forward towards the transport, lightsaber dangling from his belt.
And now we’re onto episode 2!
To Daiyu For
Obi-Wan arrives on Daiyu, a new planet in the “Star Wars” universe. It’s a neon-lit, rain slicked world that, as someone on the spaceport says, features a planet-wide signal jammer. “All signals, in or out, are blocked,” the official says. Obi-Wan is really on his own.
Walking through the city, he sees an unhoused Clone Trooper (once again played by Temuera Morrison, who just got done playing Boba Fett on “The Book of Boba Fett”). Obi-Wan looks down at him, sad. He’s using his helmet to collect change. This is another ghost of Obi-Wan’s past. “Spare any credits?” the Clone Trooper asks.
Obi-Wan also encounters a young girl dealing spice. He asks if she’s seen Leia and the spice dealer tells her that once you’re on this planet, you rarely get off. She was once a little girl too. She gives him a vile of spice, free of charge. Obi-Wan asks another little kid about Leia. The kid tells Obi-Wan that he can see a Jedi who could potentially help him.
The kid leads Obi-Wan to a parlor run by Haja (Kumail Nanjiani). He’s helping a mother and her young daughter but it’s very clear that he’s a charlatan – he’s too interested in her money and his use of the Force feels more like trickery than any actual power. Still, Haja could be useful to him, so Obi-Wan asks him if he’s seen the girl and where he should go to look. Haja directs him to an even seedier part of town.
Again, we need to pause and talk about the production values/lack of extras. This town is supposedly a bustling metropolis but there are always ever about 10 people on the streets and they’re all just standing motionless in clumps. The show was clearly filmed during quarantine and the need for social distancing and smaller casts is understandable but this is supposed to be a big “Star Wars” epic, and time and time again in the episode, it felt hopelessly small. And worse than small – inert.
Obi-Wan infiltrates what can only be described as a meth lab for spice. He sets off a small explosion to distract the spice workers who are also mostly just standing around, not moving. He finally beats up some guys (including one that had horns and facial markings similar to Darth Maul’s) and enters a small room where he thinks he spots Leia. It’s not Leia, it’s a dummy (apparently Obi-Wan’s mastery of the Force couldn’t clue him into what was an obvious trap). Flea and his good time crew come in and rough up Obi-Wan. “I didn’t know Jedi could bleed,” Flea says. He’s really making a meal out of it. Right before Obi-Wan is about to get dragged away, he breaks out the spice vile, throws it on the floor, it explodes in everybody’s face and he creeps away (he’s had a mask from the spice lab so he doesn’t breathe it in).
Cut to the Chase
Obi-Wan finds Leia. He tries to tell her who he is but she thinks he might be another kidnapper. “You seem old and beat up,” she says. She asks him to make her float. Or do something with his laser sword. He refuses. And anyway, they’ve got bigger fish to fry – the Inquisitors are on Daiyu, not for Obi-Wan but for Reva.
The Grand Inquisitor is upset that she has staged this elaborate trap and, essentially, gone rogue. She tries to protest but he tells her: “You’re the least of us.” Ouch! “I brought Kenobi here,” she says. The Grand Inquisitor tells her to stand down; they’ll take it from here. Instead, she heads to Flea and the gang and tells them to broadcast Obi-Wan’s photo across the underworld’s various hologram devices with a hefty reward.
While Obi-Wan and Leia are escaping through the city, a fuzzy digital wanted poster is going out all over. Haja’s partner in crime sees it and brings it to him. They could make a lot of credits on this deal. They deserve it too. Finally, Obi-Wan and Leia see the photo. She’s distressed. “Why is there a picture of you?” Now she really thinks he’s the kidnapper. Or worse that he’ll sell her down the river to somebody worse.
This begins a long rooftop chase. Leia is running away from Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan is dealing with the various bounty hunters and lowlifes that are now after him. He engages in a blaster battle on one of the rooftops. It’s sort of odd how quick to use a blaster Obi-Wan is considering how historically opposed he is to guns. Anyway, Reva is nearby, perched on a rooftop all of her own keeping eye on the city. She sees the skirmish and springs into action.
Reva starts leaping over buildings, as Obi-Wan goes after Leia and the various bounty hunters continue their pursuit. Reva’s movements and the fact that she’s on a rooftop is reminiscent of the introductory scene in the first “Matrix” where Trinity’s powers are being revealed. Maybe not reminiscent. It’s an exact copy.
Finally Leia makes a leap and doesn’t make it across to the other side. She falls and hangs onto some wires. Then she loses her grip and starts plummeting to the ground. Obi-Wan reaches out over the edge of the roof and stops her. She’s floating! He sets her down gently on the ground. He comes after her and she exclaims, “You’re really a Jedi.”
One of the bounty hunters, a scary robot guy, comes after them but he gets shot. Haja has returned! And he’s actually here to help. “I’m trying to make amends,” Haja says. He gives them a key to an automated spaceship at the local spaceport. They’ll deposit them on a planet and he knows somebody who can help. He hands them a Sabacc card with the information and tells them to hurry. He’ll buy them some time.
Reva rounds the bend and is stopped by Haja. He claims that he’s the Jedi she’s looking for. She isn’t impressed. She threatens him and asks where Obi-Wan is but Haja refuses to talk. She pushes him up against a wall and reads his mind. It doesn’t seem to be as painful as when Kylo Ren was trying to read Poe’s mind; it’s also much quicker here. Some true Voldemort business.
At the cargo port, Obi-Wan and Leia hide. They get to chat for a minute, too. “You remind me of someone,” he tells her, referring to Padme. When Leia asks if he’s talking about a Jedi, he says no. “She died a long time ago,” he says. Reva shows up. Leia runs to the cargo ship, inserts the key and waits for Obi-Wan.
As the Inquisitor hunts for Obi-Wan she calls out to him. He’s hiding behind some cargo boxes with his lightsaber drawn but not ignited. She tells him about Darth Vader. “He’s alive, Obi-Wan,” she screams. While this is somewhat sloppy storytelling; characters are usually better off figuring things out for themselves rather than simply being told something. But the moment works; he wasn’t asking for this. He probably didn’t want to know. But here we are. The look on Ewan McGregor’s face speaks volumes. It’s heartbreaking.
Right before Reva is going to find Obi-Wan, the Grand Inquisitor shows up and tells her to back down. It’s not going to be that easy. She ignites her lightsaber and kills the Grand Inquisitor. She’s not second banana anymore! The Grand Inquisitor crumbles to the ground. While this showdown is happening, Obi-Wan runs to the transport ship. He gets in and they take off. Reva runs after them, waving her blood red lightsaber in the air. They can’t run forever.
Inside the transport ship, Obi-Wan is overcome with emotion. He looks traumatized. His face inches away from the camera, he says one thing: “Anakin.”
We cut to a scarred figure in a Bacta tank (didn’t we have enough of those in “The Book of Boba Fett” too?) Wires are sticking out everywhere. Bubbles crisscross the water. We hear a mechanical breath. Darth is here. And he’s probably very, very angry. Cut to credits.