The “Star Wars” saga that began in 1977 has still not been told to the end, 45 years later. Gaps in the great story about brave Jedi knights and the dictatorial empire are still being closed: other franchises have experienced several so-called reboots in the meantime, so it started all over again – but “Star Wars” is also supposed to be half a century after the groundbreaking beginning, everything still fits together with everything else.
The current example is the highly anticipated series “Obi-Wan Kenobi” starring Ewan McGregor, which started on the Disney streaming service at the end of May. The British actor had already taken over the part for the prequel trilogy from original actor Alec Guinness in 1999.
Now he plays an exiled Jedi who has aged significantly but is still around ten years younger than Guinness’ character in the 1977 movie now known as Star Wars 4: A New Hope. McGregor fills a gap – and how As the first four of the six episodes show, that’s a problem.
Warning, spoilers follow for previously released episodes of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Essentially, the series to date is a twist on a storyline from the original 1977 Star Wars film, where Princess Leia (then: Carrie Fisher) was kidnapped by Darth Vader’s henchmen and rescued by Obi-Wan, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo . In the series, a ten-year-old Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped and Obi-Wan goes out of exile and into great danger to rescue her.
But the audience knows: nothing can really happen to either the old Jedi or the little girl. Although the series is set in the darkest, most dangerous period of the entire Star Wars storyline, when the few surviving Jedi are being hunted down and killed, it’s not exciting so far, as Obi-Wan and Leia are in the later Star Wars 4 “yes alive and kicking.
For example, the rescue mission in the fourth installment of the series, where the Jedi once again frees the girl – this time from a heavily secured castle – therefore feels like a compulsory exercise without falling from heights.
Instead of like a big, open adventure, the “Obi-Wan” series in the first four episodes looks like a big stopgap. The series may answer certain detailed questions for fans. So it’s now clearer why Leia turns to Obi-Wan for help in “Star Wars 4”. But the big plot corset of the “Star Wars” saga cuts off any real tension – which also applies to the fan-awaited renewed duel between Obi-Wan and his former student Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
In the film “Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith” Obi-Wan inflicts serious injuries on his former pupil in a duel, in “Star Wars 4” he then voluntarily lets himself be struck down by him, and so in between the two meet in the new series each other again. The weakened Obi-Wan is only lucky to survive, but the gap doesn’t allow for any real excitement at this point either. Nobody can really win or lose.
Instead, the confrontation seems more as if the marketing department wrote the script here: Obi-Wan and Vader cross their lightsabers again because the series sells better with the renewed duel between two pop culture icons.
Even in the gap, with its narrow narrative confines, there would be enough room for an interesting story: Obi-Wan, played subtly and endearingly by Ewan McGregor as an almost, but not quite, broken man, is at the lowest point in his life. He has to deal with the awkward question of how much personal responsibility he bears for turning his apprentice Anakin into the Jedi hunter Darth Vader.
So the big confrontation in the series was supposed to be between Obi-Wan and his own guilt. So far, however, this soul duel hardly takes place and is postponed in favor of a rather boring kidnapping plot. This is exactly where the big opportunity lies for the last two episodes.
Admitting mistakes in “Star Wars” is usually primarily a matter for the purified villains: At the end of “Star Wars 6” Vader recognizes his wrong path shortly before death, at the end of “Star Wars 9” his grandson Ben Solo does it to him same. The Jedi community and its representatives always got off far too well.
The monk-like order not only got involved in a war on the wrong side (see “Star Wars 2-3” and the series “The Clone Wars”), but also had a communication problem with fatal consequences:
Instead of effectively dealing with his student Anakin’s emotional problems, Obi-Wan basically only tried the clichés of his ascetic order: The young man should beware of too close bonds, as these would lead to disaster.
The – at least originally – single-season Obi-Wan series has two more episodes to acknowledge the mistakes of a Jedi Master and his order and thus close a real gap in the grand saga. The fifth and sixth episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi will be available on Disney on June 15 and June 22, respectively.