Disney+ has found a way to get and keep subscribers – series based on favourite characters in all the franchises Disney owns. Lost In Translation has reviewed a number of the series for both Marvel and Star Wars, serious and silly. The series can delve into elements that the films gloss over, providing a depth that the franchise needs. The 2022 series Obi-Wan Kenobi follows in the footsteps of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan follows a single character, expanding on his story.

The character of Obi-Wan Kenobi first appeared in Star Wars in 1977 and was portrayed by Alec Guinness. Known by locals on Tatooine as the hermit, Old Ben, Obi-Wan lived in a cave in the Jundland Wastes. His first encounter in the film with Luke Skywalker is to rescue the young man and his droids from a Tuskan Raider attack. R2-D2 completes his mission by delivering Leia Organa’s plea for help to Obi-Wan, leading to the main plot. Obi-Wan becomes Luke’s mentor into becoming a Jedi, providing early training. However, as with most mentors of young charges, Obi-Wan doesn’t survive the film, cutting cut down by Darth Vader. Obi-Wan has one last trick, though, and is able to talk to Luke from beyond death, leading to the destruction of the Death Star.

Obi-Wan returns as a Force ghost in The Empire Strikes Back, guiding Luke to Yoda on Dagobah, and arguing with the former Jedi Master about whether Luke is too old for training. Yoda is willing to train Luke. Obi-Wan wins the argument and Yoda begins Luke’s training. However, Darth Vader has taken Leia, Han, and Chewbacca prisoner, which leads to Luke leaving with his training unfinished. Guiness portrays Obi-Wan one last time in The Return of the Jedi, again as a Force ghost. He has little effect on the plot, but works to wrap up the end of Luke’s arc through the three films.

With the prequels, Obi-Wan returns. Ewan McGregor plays the younger Obi-Wan through all three prequel films. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is still a padawan, not yet a Jedi Knight. His master is Qui0Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson, who is the one to find young Anakin Skywalker. Despite Anakin’s age, Qui-Gon senses the destiny the young boy will have, and begins training him. However, Qui-Gon dies at Darth Maul’s lightsabre. Obi-Wan, having been made a Jedi Knight at the end of the movie, volunteers to continue Anakin’s training, taking him on as his padawan.

The following movies, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, has both characters aging up, with Anakin, now played by Hayden Christensen, nearing the age where he becomes a Jedi Knight and Obi-Wan still his master. Anakin is starting to chafe and being restricted, leading to an in for Palpatine to whisper in his ear about how things could be better. The war against the Separatist factions has gotten heated, but Palpatine introduces the Republic’s new weapon, the clone army. The Jedi become the senior commanders and generals of the new army, placing them in a bind. In Revenge, Anakin feels he’s ready to be a Jedi Master much like Obi-Wan, but the Jedi Council is holding him back. The rift extends to between Obi-Wan and Anakin, ending with them fighting in the lava flows of Mustafar and Anakin lying on the hot ash missing limbs. At the end of the prequels, Obi-Wan is entrusted with keeping the existence of Anakin’s children, Luke and Leia, a secret even as the twins are sent to different families to be raised.

Speaking of Leia, in Star Wars, she not only had the stolen plans to the Death Star, she resisted torture and reluctantly gave up the location of an abandoned Rebel base when her homeworld was destroyed, and took over her own rescue by a pair of flyboys making all sorts of noise in the Death Star. She was one of the last to leave Echo Base when Imperial Walkers descended on the Rebel base on Hoth. She led a commando raid on the forest moon of Endor to knock out a shield generator protecting the second Death Star. Leia Organa is a natural leader, taking charge when others dither.

Obi-Wan Kenobi brings back several actors to their roles in the films. Ewan McGregor returns as Obi-Wan. Hayden Christensen is back as Darth Vader, with James Earl Jones voicing the character. Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse reprise their roles as Owen and Beru Lars, Luke’s uncle and aunt. Newcomers including Vivien Lyra Blair as the ten year old Princess Leia, Moses Ingram as Third Sister/Inquisitor Reva, Indira Varma as Tala Durith, Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor, and Kumail Nanjiani as Haja Estree. The cast is solid for the series, with no odd issues.

The series begins ten years after the duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar. As he promised, he is keeping an eye on Luke on Tatooine. His life isn’t as exciting as when he was a Jedi, having to work as a butcher. Worse, he is slowly losing contact with the Force, having not used it to avoid being noticed by Vader or his Inquisitors. Instead of being able to talk to Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan is haunted by his last duel and what Anakin has become. He also runs across another Jedi on the run, who he advises to walk away from the Order and stay hidden. Adding to the difficulties, an Inquistorial ship lands, with the Grand Inquisitor, Third Sister, and Fifth Brother. They are looking for the Jedi Obi-Wan met, but Third Sister also wants to hunt Obi-Wan down.

On Alderaan, Leia is a handful for her parents. She is already willing to charge off to adventure, taking whoever is with her. However, not all adventures are fun, and Leia gets kidnapped and taken off-world to Daiyu. Bail contacts Obi-Wan, who reluctantly agrees to recover Leia.

The rescue goes as smoothly as Leia’s future rescue from the Death Star. Mercenaries receive an alert about a bounty on Obi-Wan, the Inquisition arrives, and the only way out is an unmanned cargo ship, courtesy of conman and Jedi-impersonator Haja Estree. At the end of the cargo ship’s run, Obi-Wan and Leia are dumped on a world with a strong Imperial presence, but also run into Tala Durith, an Imperial officer who helps fugitive Jedi escape the Empire. The Inquisition soon catches up and, with them, Lord Vader who is now aware that Obi-Wan survived Order 66.

The duel on Mustafar resumes on Mapuzo, with Obi-Wan escaping only thanks to help from Tala and her people. Third Sister takes advantage of the chaos to grab Leia and take her to the Fortress Inquisitorial, leading to an improptu raid by Obi-Wan and Tala to retrieve her. Third Sister expected such interference and had a tracker placed where it wouldn’t be suspected.

The Empire remains hot on the trail, with some sabotage to prevent the nascent rebel organization from escaping Third Sister and Lord Vader’s grasp. With some effort, the group escapes, with a Star Destroyer hot on its tail. Obi-Wan takes a dropship to lure Vader and the Star Destroyer away, giving the group time to escape. Planetside, the duel resumes. Obi-Wan’s connection to the Force has regained strength and he rediscovers his connection to the Force.

As mentioned above, the cast is solid. Ewen McGregor develops Obi-Wan from who he was at the end of Revenge and who the character becomes in Star Wars. He shows some of the mannerisms that Alec Guinness gave the character, including the classic, “Hello there,” that marks the character’s first appearance in Star Wars. Hayden Christensen provides Vader’s physical presence, striding through his lessers and killing anyone in his way without remorse, displaying anger through Vader’s armour.

Of the newcomers, Vivien Lyra Blair steals every scene she’s in. As the young Leia, she shows the leadership and bravery the older versions of the character have, just not tempered by experience. Blair and McGregor have an onscreen chemistry that is believable. The way she reacts to Third Sister’s attempt at forced mind reading reflects Carrie Fisher’s Leia defying Vader.

Moses Ingram brings a depth to a character that could have easily been cartoonishly evil. On the surface, Third Sister is ambitious, willing to kill to get what she wants. Her goal in vengeance. Beneath the surface is nuance. Third Sister is as haunted as Obi-Wan; Ingram’s performance shows the doubt that grows within the character. There is a potential for spin-off series for both Third Sister and for young Leia; their stories are just beginning.

The plot itself could only work with the main characters. The conflict grows out of the events in Revenge of the Sith. The climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin continues through Obi-Wan, leading to the end of the duel in Star Wars. The series also expands the Galaxy Far Far Away, taking the action off Tatooine and to new worlds in the Empire. The nascent Rebellion is explored, with a wide range of participants from Tala’s disillusioned Imperial officer to Haja’s conman with a heart of gold.

Overall, Obi-Wan Kenobi fills in the gap between episodes three and four of the Star Wars saga, expanding on key characters from the films. The story draws the viewer in and builds from existing works to bring an experience that is satisfying and dramatic. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a series worth watching and expands the Galaxy Far Far Away in a way that the audience can experience.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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