I love Star Wars. I love everything about Star Wars…well accept the loud, toxic fandom made up of mostly middle-aged white men who don’t fight off progress at every turn. They’re the true “dark side”. With that being said, I LOVED the finale to OBI-WAN KENOBI and I also accept that this is a story that may have never needed telling.
KENOBI started out really strong for me. As you may have read her earlier, I very much enjoyed Parts I & II. And then in that part of the second act where the show should have been meaty, thrilling, and dramatic, it faltered, sputtering like a broken droid through the next two episodes. And in came the hate from the Star Wars fandom. Terms like “bad acting”, “poor writing and directing”, and “this is stupid” were being thrown around, even by the most forgiving of Star Wars fans. I felt the need to jump in and defend it, but let’s be honest. A multi-billion dollar franchise doesn’t need me to defend it. Even when it is arguably “bad”, Star Wars rakes in millions through merchandising daily. It was here that I noticed the reviews seemed to be split among generations. Let me explain.
I am a Gen-Xer. I grew up with Star Wars the original trilogy. Ok, the first one I saw in theatres was RETURN OF THE JEDI, but EPISODES IV & V were still around. We watched them on Laserdisc in kindergarten. The kids at recess played with the original action figures, and everyone was envious of the kid who had that Millenium Falcon that stored all the figures. Then the 90s rolled around and LucasFilm (pre-prequel time) rolled out more action figures and toys. Star Wars was always a part of my life even if there weren’t any movies for 16 years. So back to KENOBI. I noticed that a lot of the fans around my age have been pretty forgiving of the series. Obi-Wan has been a part of our lives since we were born. When fellow Gen-Xer Ewan McGregor took over the role in 1999, he was already a star to us from his turn in TRAINSPOTTING. My generation didn’t love the prequels. A lot of us didn’t even like them. “Too childish” was the big thing I remember hearing. And then also “bad acting”, “poor writing and directing” too. I was there at midnight for the earliest viewings of all three of those prequels even when I knew I’d probably be disappointed. To get this out of the way, I’ve always been a big REVENGE OF THE SITH, but outside of a few key scenes have always found THE PHANTOM MENACE and ATTACK OF THE CLONES to be messy, tedious, and mostly forgettable. (At least we have the memes.)
The prequels were made for a new generation of Star Wars fans, and it’s these very fans who I observed giving the harshest reviews of KENOBI. For many of them, the prequels were their introduction to both McGregor and Obi-Wan. Your mileage may vary, but I guess I feel a sort of Gen-X protection around Obi-Wan and McGregor that it seems other generations don’t have.
The finale brought Obi-Wan and Vader together as we knew it would and I am so beyond thrilled that Hayden Christensen was there to fill the suit. While I don’t know if there were any misdeeds that cast him away from Hollywood, he’s a great actor and I wish he was cast in more often in serious roles. The rest of the wrap-up not only set things up for A NEW HOPE but also left over the possibility that we could get more Obi-Wan adventures. I realize that’s the Star Wars fan in me talking but getting to see more of young Luke & Leia and an aging “Ben” Kenobi warms my heart. Vivien Lyra Blair as young Leia and Moses Ingram as Reva were the two obvious breakout stars of KENOBI. I was delighted to see O’Shea Jackson Jr. show up too but you should all know him by now from STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON or GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS. All three of these actors deserve successful acting careers should they keep pursuing it.
In the end, I think about how Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Rey, and Ben Solo (and Boba Fett, R2D2, & C3PO to a lesser extent) seemed to have taken up all the air when we talk about Star Wars as a living piece of film, tv and pop-culture history. But let’s get one thing straight, Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi has been the glue that ties it all together. The low-key cool guy that we overlooked while fawning over Han. With this new series, I hope more realize that now.
All episodes of OBI-WAN KENOBI are streaming on Disney+.