Lucasfilm’s six-part series Obi-Wan Kenobi has come to an end, closing yet another chapter in the ever-expanding Star Wars live-action universe. Set 10 years after the harrowing events of Revenge of the Sith, the show serves as a much-needed, necessary bridge for the gap of time leading up to A New Hope. It’s equal parts entertaining and nostalgic, and it’s a brilliant tribute to the everlasting mark that Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen left on the franchise so many years ago.
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Nearly two decades have passed since McGregor last donned the robes of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it’s important to acknowledge that his continued portrayal of one of the most iconic Star Wars characters to ever exist goes far beyond that of fan service. A seasoned actor that has left his mark on Hollywood time and time again, McGregor confidently carries the show as its titular star and brings his character back to life with determination and grace as he channels both the spirit of his prequel trilogy performance and the legacy of the original portrayal by Alec Guinness. Beyond the lightsaber battles and the blaster fire, Obi-Wan Kenobi is also an exceptional character study of the fractured, broken man that he was reduced to in the wake of Revenge of the Sith, which McGregor conveyed with heartbreaking honesty.
Like two halves of a whole, the return of Christensen alongside McGregor played a crucial part in the show’s draw and success as well. It was common knowledge that Christensen was poised to make a comeback, but little was said on the full extent of his role, which made the Attack of the Clones era flashback one of the show’s best surprises. Meanwhile, the raw and terrifying conversation he has with Obi-Wan in the finale after their intense battle — dangerously toeing the line between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker through his cracked helmet with a damaged voice modulator, bathed in blue and red light — is the pinnacle of a series climax.
Obi-Wan Kenobi introduces an array of intriguing new characters to the Star Wars universe, namely Indira Varma’s brave and driven Tala and Moses Ingram’s ruthless Inquisitor Reva. Tala’s fate is a particular shame, because Varma fits right in within the world of Star Wars and would do well in a larger role. The most standout newcomer by far though was Vivien Lyra Blair, who took on the enormous responsibility of portraying Princess Leia at the young age of 10 in a role that was pivotal to the entire show’s story from start to finish. Conveying the personality of a spirited, fearless child wise far beyond her years, Blair’s acting is an impressive tribute to both Carrie Fisher’s Leia and Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala. Further to that, the way she’s written helps to elaborate on how she came to be the beloved character audiences were first introduced to in the original trilogy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is undoubtedly a love letter to the Star Wars prequel trilogy, one that serves to breathe new life and appreciation into the story of the rise and fall of a Jedi Master and his Padawan. The script is adorned with an array of clever, sentimental, and riveting parallels to various facets of the franchise as a whole, like when Vader ruthlessly drops Obi-Wan into a wall of fire, forcing him to recover from his burns in a bacta tank afterward. While the recent sequel trilogy’s films didn’t shy away from dutiful nods either, these words and moments pack a far heavier punch here. And of course, the show’s best kept secret of all arrived at the very end in the form of an appearance from Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force ghost.
The show has repeatedly been touted as a special event series, rather than a multi-season affair. As a standalone, Obi-Wan Kenobi is an emotionally satisfying and crucial missing chapter to a story that serves as the backbone to Star Wars as a whole. However, given the relatively short amount of time that passed between the premiere and the finale, on top of the narrow scope of the overall plot, plenty of potential storytelling avenues still remain open should Lucasfilm decide to pursue another season. Further episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi could both serve to continue to flesh out the mysterious lost years of the Jedi Master while also opening up opportunities to explore more untold facets of the Star Wars universe. Whatever the future holds, let us hope that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these characters and the actors that have brought them to life.