Obi-Wan Kenobi struggled to justify its existence and the Star Wars show’s finale ultimately fell short of the potential shown in earlier episodes.
WARNING: Mild spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6
Obi-Wan Kenobi had a lot to live up to. The announcement of both Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen’s return to the Star Wars universe was met with collective fanfare and ignited a reevaluation of the once-maligned prequel trilogy. The exploration of the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope sought to add layers to a story that, four decades on, is well-known territory — for the most part, it succeeded. The relationship between Leia and Obi-Wan, the guilt the former Jedi master feels over his padawan’s turn to the Dark Side, and the budding rebellion were all deftly explored, but the shadow of a much-anticipated rematch hung over the proceedings. And while Obi-Wan Kenobi struggled to justify its existence, its finale ultimately fell short of the potential shown in earlier episodes.
Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 6 brings about the long-awaited rematch between Obi-Wan and Anakin as the Jedi diverts the Sith Lord from following the rebels and pulls him into a solo fight. Meanwhile, Reva, after surviving her wounds from episode 5, heads to Tatooine to kill Luke Skywalker and, with a warning from a local, Uncle Ben and Beru prepare to stand their ground against the Third Sister.
McGregor’s return as Obi-Wan was full of highs and lows as the Star Wars show struggled to balance fan service while pushing the franchise in new directions during its six-episode run. Maybe it was hard to ask that of a show that resided in well-trodden territory, but there were glimpses of growth throughout the limited series. From Obi-Wan reckoning with the past and his grief over failing to protect Anakin (and many other Jedi lost to Order 66) to the Jedi grappling with a future that includes even more strife, Obi-Wan Kenobi was never going to give easy answers to the questions at the heart of the show.
One of those answers needed to be a legitimate reason as to why both Obi-Wan and Vader remain alive after their climactic duel before A New Hope† sorry, Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles to give reasons. Beyond the Jedi’s emotional connection to his former Padawan, the Star Wars show never makes it clear why Obi-Wan would let Vader live to continue terrorizing the galaxy beyond the fact that that’s what has already happened in the story. It’s also difficult for the show to live up to one of the franchise’s greatest duels of all time — the lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith†
Obi-Wan Kenobi certainly tries and the battle between the two is monumental in scale. Watching two titans of the Force go head-to-head will inspire feelings of awe in any fan, casual or diehard, and seeing Obi-Wan fully embrace his powers after struggling throughout the first five episodes is a sight to behold. When the two finally exchange words, the weight of years of resentment and friendship comes to the forefront. But, for all the built-in emotion, it still feels as if something is lacking in the final confrontation, a recurring theme throughout much of this finale.
On Tatooine, Reva arrives to take out her revenge on a young Luke Skywalker. With a warning in advance, Uncle Owen and Beru prepare for the Third Sister’s arrival on their farm, refusing to abandon their home. Reva, who, despite much-unfounded criticism, is one of Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s most interesting characters, is seeking revenge against Obi-Wan through Luke. Why should Luke receive the protection of Obi-Wan when she was forced to watch numerous younglings slaughtered at the hands of the Empire? That question isn’t answered, but audiences do get a peek further into Reva’s head and the door is left open for the return of the disgraced Inquisitor at some point down the line. In some ways, Reva’s arrival on Tatooine is more exciting than the battle between Vader and Obi-Wan. The question of what will Luke see and how it could affect him lingers over the nighttime attack.
Naturally, this wouldn’t be a Star Wars show finale without seeing a familiar face or two pop up in the final minutes. Obi-Wan uttering those now-classic words”hello there” will also strike a chord for many. While Obi-Wan Kenobi was billed as a limited series, it’s clear that it’s leaving the door open for a season 2, something that McGregor and many others have said they would be open to doing. In the end, though, an Obi-Wan Kenobi season 2 would be a mistake. If anything, the six-episode series proves that the franchise has gotten just about everything they can out of McGregor’s character, and while future appearances shouldn’t be counted out, another six-hour series would be a waste and could risk compromising all of the work done to make Obi-Wan as well-rounded a he is.
For all its flaws, Obi-Wan Kenobi is still a well-crafted show and it provided enough thrills and emotional climaxes to satisfy any viewer. It may have not done much to expand on what wasn’t already known about Star Wars, but its story was a thoughtful, if uneven, examination of the lingering grief and trauma left over from the prequel trilogy. Still, one question remains after the conclusion of Obi-Wan Kenobi: With a science-fiction sandbox as big as Star Wars, why does the franchise choose to tell the same stories over and over again? The future of the saga certainly seems to be moving in the right direction with shows like The Acolyte and Skeleton Crewbut Obi-Wan Kenobi proves that Star Wars is still clinging to the past because it’s afraid of what the future might hold.
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