As has been covered with each review of a Star Wars Disney + show the blog’s original intention certainly wasn’t to cover all of them. This author did not grow up with Star Wars and is not necessarily a massive fan. That said the three seasons released before this one have been interesting to discuss. Now adding a fourth with the return of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan bridging the gap between the prequel and original trilogy has only furthered this impression. How is it?
No beating around the bush here. In terms of the full six-episode package like Boba Fett before it, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a complete mess. There are definite positives to be found. It’s nice to see Ewan McGregor return as the character and not be encumbered by George Lucas’s screenwriting ability ( or lack thereof.) The first episode offered some solid but basic setup and the last two episodes do a strong job of delivering a slice of effective Star Wars spectacle. This effectively saves the season. The middle three episodes are a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with Disney streaming and farming IP-related strategy that those that hate it by birth right will use as a stick to beat the final product. Sloppily paced, needlessly stretched out and shockingly cheap looking at times. That’s not even touching the fact that on paper the narrative chosen here for McGregor’s big return highlights fan service of the most shallow kind. This viewer is not going to be too harsh on it. Ultimately the season does deliver some strong moments despite itself so it’s not like the narrative choices are completely irredeemable. There are even some strong moments in episodes 3 through 5. Especially in our central characters’ first confrontation with Darth Vader that closes out episode 3.
On that topic, it’s probably best to acknowledge Hayden Christensen’s return. That said this is hard to judge because Christiansen only has a couple of scenes where is definitively him playing some version of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When Vader is not in the suit and being voiced by a returning James Earl Jones he is under heavy prosthetics. Christiansen’s take on Anakin only gets one de-aged flashback scene to show what level of acting chops he can bring to the table. In theory, this project is meant to be redemption for these actors’ interpretation of the central characters. One of them delivers a strong performance that is often saddled with weak material. The other is not definitively on screen for long enough throughout the season that his performance can be judged effectively. This all seems like a massive missed opportunity. The fact it was originally developed as a series of potential feature films is incredibly obvious. Given the amount of plot on offer throughout the six episodes, it’s hard not to think that the project should have stayed in that format or been scraped.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is incredibly frustrating viewing. There are moments of quality sprinkled throughout and two episodes that deliver effectively what they’re trying to do. A lot of the season fields are sluggish and overstretched in a way that just doesn’t suit the prestige mini-series format. This isn’t necessarily a problem exclusive to Disney products. It is exemplified when all of their projects are extensions of TV and movie characters regardless. The entire package might be fundamentally flawed but it’s far from the worst thing ever. That said Ewan McGregor deserves a lot better. Whether there will be any more for him in this role remains to be seen. One can only judge based on what this first season brought to the table. from that perspective, Obi-Wan Kenobi in its current form feels like a decidedly undernourished meal.