Obi-Wan Kenobi (Christian Review)
About The Show
Hello there! After decades of fan clamoring and rumors, everybody’s favorite old space hermit has finally crossed the dune sea of Tatooine and onto TV screens for a 6-episode miniseries on Disney+. Any show would be hard pressed to live up to such lofty expectations, and while it never quite reaches its full potential, there is plenty to enjoy and appreciate in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Ewan McGregor is arguably the best actor not named Harrison Ford to ever grace the Star Wars universe. He excels once again, seamlessly falling back into the iconic role as Kenobi. He perfectly depicts the broken and wearier version of the beloved Jedi master, without ever losing touch of the essence of the classic character.
No one is likely to have issues with McGregor, but the same is unfortunately not true for the supporting cast around him. I was split with the two most divisive characters—a young Princess Leia and the Jedi-hunting inquisitor, Reva. Young Leia (Viven Lyra Blair) was fine. Yes, she was a little annoying at times, but so are most kids, and the actress captured much of the spunk and headstrong attitude of Carrie Fisher’s Leia. Like many others, however, Reva’s character did not resonate with me for a multitude of reasons (most of which can be pinned on the narrative, rather than Moses Ingram’s performance).
In fact, most of the show’s problems can be traced back to the script and direction. Many of the non-Kenobi/Vader action scenes fall flat, and there are far too many plot conveniences (on four different occasions, a character defeats their enemy only to inexplicably walk away and let them live). The main frustration with the miniseries is simply wasted time, a problem that a short 6-episode show cannot afford. The early episodes spend time establishing tensions between the various inquisitors vying for Darth Vader’s favor, only for these characters to completely disappear for the entire last third of the show. Likewise, Reva is given a lot of screen time, but her story ultimately goes nowhere and is of little consequence to the larger story. There is too much fat on the otherwise tasty meat. It’s a shame too, because when the show is good it’s really good.
The Obi-Wan and Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker relationship is the heartbeat of the show. Everything memorable and captivating about the series comes from this relational dynamic. It’s an absolute joy to see Hayden Christensen back as Anakin. Every time the two iconic characters share the screen, there is edge of your seat tension and intrigue. These scenes are arguably some of the best Star Wars material since Return of the Jedi (1983). In fact, while I enjoy the longform format of Star Wars on TV, I do wonder if this story would have worked better as a more streamlined movie that narrowed in on the Kenobi/Vader plot.
In the end, I enjoyed a lot about Obi-Wan Kenobi. It is a definite improvement over the lackluster Book of Boba Fett and has enough great material and moments to overcome some of its faults. While the show may not shine as brightly as the twin suns of Tatooine, it is a worthy and enjoyable entry in the expanding Star Wars canon.
Engage The Film
Doubts & Despair
At this point in the Star Wars narrative, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a deeply broken man. Although, unlike Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, Kenobi is not overly cynical or angry. He has simply lost hope. He doesn’t doubt the existence of The Force, or even the goodness of the Jedi Order. He doubts himself, burdened by the grief of his own failures. Most movies that deal with the theme of spirituality and doubt tend to focus on a basic contrast of belief v. unbelief. In Kenobi, the more internal and personal doubt is a more nuanced and meaningful theme to explore, and one which will be relatable for many Christians who may not doubt the existence of God, but who might question their own adequacy in relation to that God.
Trails of Compassion
One of the show’s most profound quotes is delivered by the Grand Inquisitor: “The key to hunting Jedi is patience. Jedi cannot help what they are. Their compassion leaves a trail. The Jedi code is like an itch. They cannot help it.”
The quote is an echo of John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What sort of trail are we leaving behind as Christians? Are we compelled to love others in a similar way?
As Kenobi will later declare, Darth Vader is “more machine now than man.” In this series, Vader demonstrates a total disregard for human life. When a shocked and appalled Kenobi asks, “What have you become?” Vader responds, “I am what you made me.” It’s a chilling line, that squeezes on the pressure point of Obi-Wan’s guilt.
While Vader’s redemption arc is reserved for the original movies, he does seem to undergo a significant change in his understanding. In the final episode, at the end of their climactic conflict, Vader says, “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did.” Anakin had blamed the world for his fate, but is forced to acknowledge that it is his own responsibility. The dehumanization of Anakin was not the fault of Kenobi or the Jedi Order, but was the consequences of his own choices and actions. Sin corrupts and destroys. We can blame other people, but ultimately we will all stand before God and give an account for our own life (Romans 14:10-13).