Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episodes 1 & 2 recap – well, hello there

May 27, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Disney+, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

Style, action, and some fan-pleasing ideas make the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi worth the wait.

Previous EpisodeView all
3.5

Summary

Style, action, and some fan-pleasing ideas make the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi worth the wait.

This recap of Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episodes 1 & 2 contains spoilers.


After years of speculation, months of rumors, reshoots, and delays, and a concerted effort by Disney to reinvent appointment television with the hype-driven small-screen storytelling of the world’s biggest IPs, Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally here. Ewan McGregor – hello there! – is back. Hayden Christensen is back, though admittedly in a shriveled, scarred, unrecognizable form if the brief glimpse of him we’ve seen thus far is anything to go by. Uncle Owen is back, though not in a good mood, and various elements from Star Wars’ post-Clone Wars canon, such as the Jedi-hunting Inquisitorius, are also here as a reminder that in a galaxy far, far away, things have changed pretty dramatically since we last saw Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episodes 1 & 2 recap

So, the first episode of this new series is about establishing what he has been up to. And it turns out not very much. After a flashy opening that returns us briefly to Coruscant’s Jedi Temple during Order 66, we settle on the sands of Tatooine to find the titular character living a low-key life as Ben, an average menial worker wearing all ten of the years that elapsed since the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire.

Obi-Wan is ostensibly lingering on Tatooine to keep an eye on Luke Skywalker, but even that is proving troublesome since Uncle Owen keeps warning him off. Obi-Wan’s claims that he’ll eventually need training fall on deaf ears. Who’s going to train him, after all? Obi-Wan, whose own apprentice is believed to have died at his own hand? And given the fervent efforts of the Sith Inquisitors to hunt down and kill any remaining Jedi, what chance does Luke have, even if he is trained?

There’s no wonder Owen is cynical, really. Imperial life is harsh, and those who survived the purge have been hunted into near extinction. To Owen, Obi-Wan represents an old system that has already failed. If it’s up to him, Obi-Wan won’t be getting anywhere near Luke Skywalker.

And this is really the big twist of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which the trailers were cleverly edited around. It isn’t Luke who’s the Skywalker sibling of particular interest, but a precocious, ten-year-old Princess Leia, who is being raised on Alderaan by her adoptive politician parents, Breha and Bail Organa. After spending the entire first episode rejecting the call to adventure, Obi-Wan is only brought back into action when Bail begs him to rescue Leia, who has been kidnapped by mercenaries for seemingly nebulous reasons.

As it turns out, the kidnapping plot is a scheme cooked up by the Third Sister, Reva, a particularly bloodthirsty Inquisitor who is especially keen to capture Kenobi to gain favor with Darth Vader, though it seems to me that her dislike extends a little beyond mere loyalty to the higher-ups. Reva is mistrusted among the Inquisitorius and considered the least of them, so her rebellious actions – including, at the end of the second episode, the murder of the Grand Inquisitor when he tries to interfere in her plans – are probably rooted in making a serious point about herself as much as anything else.

Luckily, Obi-Wan and Leia are able to escape capture with the help of Haja, a grifter played by Kumail Nanjiani who is making a nice living pretending to be a Jedi on the planet of Daiyu, the lawless neon port where Leia was being held as bait. But Haja clearly has some contacts, and hopefully, whoever he’s leading Obi-Wan and Leia to will provide some fruitful drama for die-hard and casual fans alike.

I mention that since it’s important. While the feature films of the Disney canon have left a lot to be desired in many respects, having cleaved the fanbase essentially in two, the television offerings on Disney+ have been consistently sublime. Everything from the final season of The Clone Wars and its spin-off The Bad Batch to The Book of Boba Fett and, of course, The Mandalorian, seems to have been finely calibrated not to be controversial in the least. The nostalgia train must keep rolling, after all, and Obi-Wan Kenobi manages that simply in its casting. But what else might it offer beyond the Inquisitorius, young Leia, and the potential for another showdown between master and apprentice? How might it stand out as its own story, and offer real value and new insight into these old characters and their storied rivalry?

We’ll have to wait and see. But early signs are promising, at least.

You can stream Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episodes 1 & 2 exclusively on Disney+.

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