SPOILER REVIEW FOR PART ONE AHEAD
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker undergoes his total transformation, falling to the ways of the dark side. One of the last moments he has with old friend, mentor, and now advisory Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is with the redness of evil in his eyes as he screams, “I hate you!” That soundbite is almost like a metaphorical earthquake ripped through the Jedi Order. The “chosen one” (at the time) has betrayed the prophecy, and Order 66 is a genocide ordered by Darth Sidious — its callousness touches the lives of adults and children. The first scene we see in ‘Part 1’ of Obi-Wan Kenobi is a solitary Jedi trying to protect younglings from the clutches of stormtroopers.
Ten years after the events of RPTS, we find Obi-Wan as a master who wears his inner brokenness on his sleeve. He works as a meatpacker, living in a cave in the desert in Tatooine. Obi-Wan is plagued by nightmares of what happened in the prequels and calls out to his deceased master, Qui-Gon, to no avail. The only piece of solace he has is watching a young Luke Skywalker from afar — in hopes of one day redeeming the promise he thought Anakin would fulfill. Uncle Owen (Joel Edgerton), who presumes Obi-Wan is only interested in Luke for his potential abilities, torpedoes that immediately. Director Deborah Chow shows quickly that this is a different world. There’s no A New Hope here yet — the Jedi promise of being the purveyors of good is all but extinct.
The Inquisitors of the Galactic Empire appear to snuff any remains of that out. In his interrogation of the townspeople, the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) mentions that the Jedi’s urges to squash injustice is something they can’t help. One could even question Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s urgency to train Anakin despite the rules was a central component that led us to this point. Now, the morality which lies in the Jedi decree is being used against them in a time when they can’t convene in community. Obi-Wan sadly sees small injustices and has to not act on them. A young Jedi named Nari (Benny Safdie) comes to him for help, and Obi-Wan rejects it with an exhausted response. “What has happened to you?” Nari asks. It’s at that moment, Obi-Wan becomes this physical embodiment of failure.
While the Inquisitors are looking for any remaining Jedi, Reva (Moses Ingram) approaches it with an unwitting ruthlessness — to where her partners have to talk her down. Even in dealing with the Sith, they seem to have a code, making the Grand Inquisitor seem the least threatening of the three. Reva rejects this and has a hunger to capture Obi-Wan Kenobi to get what is “owed to her.” What that is might be tied into an appearance from Darth Vader in the following episodes, or perhaps a backstory to Obi-Wan himself.
Another surprising component of this episode is seeing a young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) venturing off into the lust forests of Alderaan. Even at a young age, Leia is wise beyond her years — with no ambition to be confined to a life of being a senator. Leia treats everyone with respect, droids and humans alike. When her snooty cousin accosts her for “not being an Organa,” she disarms him with precision and unabashed confidence — which makes one think about how some may have underestimated how strong her connection to the force is. In talking to Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), he speaks of his adventurous beginnings and tells Leia that she has to find her way to lead. It was great to see the encouragement of Leia forging her path in this episode to break up the sadness of the first half.
Reva’s plot to kidnap Leia with the aid of some bounty hunters is going to implore Obi-Wan out of his depressive slumber. Here are a few questions I have going into the second episode:
- Will Obi-Wan discover any remaining Jedi out there? Yoda perhaps?
- What event will break Obi-Wan out of his crisis of faith?
- Why is Reva so insistent on capturing Obi-Wan?
- What is the man that dwells on Mustafa doing to orchestrate things behind the scenes?
Glancing Observation: the concept of failure is a theme that comes up a lot within the Star Wars series and is brought to a head when Luke talks to the ghost of Yoda while watching a Jedi temple burn down in The Last Jedi. Yoda urges Luke to teach Rey about how he stumbled in losing Kylo to the dark side. A lot of the parallels go the same with Obi-Wan and Anakin. To move forward, Obi-Wan has to embrace the past and move through the future for what it is.
Photo Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm