A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part IV” Review

Darth Vader poster, Star Wars Obi-Wan KenobiSERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part IV”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr. 
WRITERS:
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
June 8, 2011
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan and Tala infiltrate enemy territory to find Leia.

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By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s talk about this straight away: There was some buzz last week about a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As much as I’ve mostly enjoyed the show so far, as far as a second season is concerned, I’m lukewarm at best. From a story perspective, Obi-Wan is supposed to be in seclusion for the 19 years between A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith. As a fan, I can buy that he briefly leaves Tatooine for a desperate situation. But if you go back to that well again, you might be pushing it too far.

Now, if they want to come back for something involving one of the other characters, perhaps even the Darth Vader miniseries that some have been buzzing about, I might be game for that. But more Obi-Wan? Nah, I think I’m good.

Then again, they can always change my mind with the right story…

In the opening minutes of the episode, we see Darth Vader in his…rejuvenation tank? Is that what it is? Is there bacta in there?

I had a thought about Darth Vader earlier this week: I’m not sure I’m a fan of Obi-Wan Kenobi showing us Anakin’s face. The unmasking of Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi is such a pivotal moment. Arguably the moment the entire original trilogy built to. Showing us Anakin’s face here waters that down a little bit, doesn’t it?

That was one of the few things I liked about Rogue One. They gave us Darth Vader in the tank, but didn’t show us his face.

Then again, Mrs. Primary Ignition had a good counterpoint to that argument: Who’s watching Obi-Wan Kenobi before they finish the original trilogy? In the modern era, that number is about as minuscule as it’ll ever be. Future generations might be another story, I suppose…

Bacta tank, Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan came out of his bacta tank before his wounds could fully heal. Does that mean he has burn scars on his body? That feels appropriate. And of course, we never saw Alec Guinness with his shirt off in the original trilogy. So there’s nothing to contradict it. Nice touch.

The planet name Jabiim rang a bell for me. In the Legends continuity, i.e. the old Star Wars publishing canon, is was the site of one of the most brutal and bloody battles of the Clone Wars. So brutal and bloody, in fact, that if I’m not mistaken there was only one survivor: Anakin Skywalker.

Indira Varma plays Tala. Mrs. Primary Ignition tells me she and The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal played husband and wife on Game of Thrones. I must confess, I’m not a big enough Game of Thrones fan to remember that. I do, however, remember Pascal’s character having a pretty gruesome death scene, with his eyes being pushed back into his skull. Because that’s just how they rolled on Game of Thrones.

So that big fortress we see the Inquisitors is actually called Fortress Inquisitorius? That’s kinda lame. Then again, when you’re that sadistic and evil, I guess you can call your base whatever you want, and dare anybody to laugh at you…

I was taken aback, mostly in a good way, by how scary certain parts of this episode were. Leia being strapped into a torture contraption. The Jedi tomb with all those dead faces staring out, one of which being a child. I actually had to pause the episode at one point because my two-year-old daughter walked into the room. Powerful stuff, man.

Reva, sky, Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi

I can’t believe that Vivien Lyra Blair wasn’t even 10 years old when they shot this. Imagine being that age and performing intense scenes like this, while also feeling the pressure of playing a character like Princess Leia. She’s young, but she’s got my respect.

It bears repeating James Earl Jones really has mounted a comeback with his performance here as the voice of Darth Vader. After Rogue One and Rebels I had my doubts. But even at over 90 years old, the man has still got it.

Leia reaching out and holding Obi-Wan’s hand was a nice way to close out the episode. A great little display of humanity.

Question: Is Obi-Wan Kenobi wasting Hayden Christensen? We’re four episodes in, and his work has been mostly confined to the Darth Vader costume, with some shots of him the rejuvenation tank thrown in there. There’s nothing wrong with that, strictly speaking. But when they announced him for this show, I naturally assumed we were going to be getting flashback sequences. Something perhaps set during the events of The Clone Wars cartoon show, with Obi-Wan and Anakin in corresponding costumes. Maybe even a Rosario Dawson cameo as Ahsoka.

Is that asking too much? Maybe. Maybe not. And granted, we still have two episodes left. But all these years after his performances in the prequels were ridiculed, I think Christensen deserves to flex his acting chops a little bit. I can’t help but want that for him.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part III” Review

Leia poster, Star Wars Obi-Wan KenobiSERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part III”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones (Voice)
WRITERS:
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
June 1, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan and Leia are hunted on the mining world of Mapuzo.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I mentioned previously that, going forward, Star Wars needs to take a break from setting shows in the desert. Going forward, the franchise also needs to work on avoiding what I’ll call “the Baby Yoda effect.” That is, sticking the hero or heroes with a child over the course of their journey. Specifically one that’s strong in the Force. The Mandalorian obviously did that with Grogu. The Bad Batch did it with Omega. Now this show is doing it with Leia.

To be clear, I’m not saying children shouldn’t be used in Star Wars stories. I just want to avoid Star Wars telling the same kinds of stories over and over again.

James Earl Jones is the voice of Darth Vader. He’s always been the voice of Darth Vader, and as long as he’s alive and wants to do it, he should be the voice of Darth Vader.

That being said, I had some slight issues with his performances in Rogue One and what I’ve seen of Rebels. My contention has been that he doesn’t sound as mean or as evil as Darth Vader should. Not like Darth Vader, but rather, Mufasa saying Darth Vader’s lines. Am I imagining it? Am I expecting too much? Maybe and maybe. But that’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.

However, I’m pleased to say that thus far, that problem hasn’t been present in Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is the best James Earl Jones has sounded as Vader since Disney purchased the franchise. I’m not sure whether to attribute that to good direction, Mr. Jones simply having a good day in the recording booth, or something else. Either way, I’m grateful for it.

Obi-Wan’s hallucination of Anakin from a distance, dark cloak and all, was a brilliant touch. Great shot too.

When Hayden Christensen was announced for this series, I figured they’d use him for flashback sequences. I’m sure those are still coming. But that’s another, clever way to use him without the Darth Vader suit.

Fifth Brother, played by Sung Kang, doesn’t have a conventional name the way Reva, the Third Sister, has one. But might I suggest…Hat Guy. Because that’s a variation on what most people, especially those of us who haven’t seen him in Rebels, are calling him.

Zach Braff provides the voice for Freck the transport pilot. Is that how they got him to star in that Cheaper By the Dozen remake for Disney+?

“Hey man, do this and we’ll throw in a part in Star Wars.”

“I am what you made me.” That line, delivered by Vader to Obi-Wan, is great. The entire presentation of Darth Vader in this episode is fantastic. The sense of terror and dread in his scenes is palpable. He truly comes off like the monster he is.

That’s especially true when he drags Obi-Wan through the flames. He wants to torture, maim, and disfigure his old master. But he also wants to savor the moment. Those shots of the Darth Vader suit in the light from the flames looked great too.

Leia offering to go forward on your own so Tala can go back for Obi-Wan is a nice little character moment for her. One of numerous character moments the show has given her thus far.

Well, so much for Obi-Wan’s first use of a lightsaber in a decade being a memorable moment. Still, I appreciate that he was largely helpless against Vader, and that we didn’t jump right into a super-choreographed sword fight. The man hasn’t been a Jedi in 10 years. To say his skills would be rusty is an understatement…

So…why did Vader let Obi-Wan go? The camera stayed on him for awhile, which seems to imply that he was pondering his next move. My only guess is that he figures he can follow Obi-Wan’s trail, and perhaps sniff out dissenters. That would seem to be the only thing that makes sense.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part II” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part II”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Kumail Nanjiani
WRITERS: 
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan travels to Daiyu to rescue Princess Leia.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When I first saw the publicity images of Obi-Wan on Daiyu, I thought we were looking at the underbelly of Coruscant. That would have been cool to see. But from a story perspective, it makes more sense to keep Obi-Wan away from Coruscant. He is, after all, a wanted man. And Coruscant is, after all, the center of the Empire.

Most of the best planets in Star Wars are simple in concept and easy to understand. Tatooine is the desert planet, Coruscant is the city planet, Kashyyyk is the wookie planet, etc. By those standards, it looks like Daiyu is the crime planet. A sort of low rent Coruscant where corruption reigns supreme. It serves its purpose fine here, so I’ve got no complaints.

Kumail Nanjiani’s character, Haja Estree, is a Jedi impersonator. I like that. A trickster who preys on people’s need for hope. Yet deep down, he secretly has a desire to legitimately do good. I have my doubts about whether we’ll see him again in this series. But I certainly wouldn’t mind it.

I appreciate that we see Obi-Wan using a blaster, and reluctant to use his lightsaber. When he uses the Force to save Leia in this episode, it’s a big moment because he presumably hasn’t done it in years. When he uses the lightsaber for the first time on this show, it should be a similar kind of moment.

Plus, we’re getting our lightsaber fix with the Inquisitors. Having Obi-Wan use one too, especially so soon, would be overkill.

The actress that plays the “I was someone’s daughter once too” girl is actually Ewan McGregor’s daughter, Esther Rose McGregor. Ironically, Obi-Wan tells that character he’s looking for his daughter.

Is that the Star Wars equivalent of a meth lab we see in this episode? I’m thinking it is. And I kind of love it.

I was angry, yet sadly not surprised to hear Moses Ingram, who plays Reva, has been getting racist messages from a small portion of the Obi-Wan Kenobi audience. There’s no place for that. Never has been. Never will be. And I was happy to see the official Star Wars social media accounts come to her defense.

I’m now convinced we’re getting a Qui-Gon Jinn Force ghost scene. We’ve seen Obi-Wan try and talk to Qui-Gon a couple of times now. You can’t not pay that off. Liam Neeson, who of course plays Qui-Gon, may have said he doesn’t do TV. But what else is he going to say? His appearance is, theoretically, meant to be a surprise. Andrew Garfield had to lie for months about not being in Spider-Man: No Way Home. I’d bet money it’s the same kind of situation with Liam Neeson and Star Wars.

Plus, we found out at Star Wars Celebration last week that Neeson is doing voiceover work on a Tales of the Jedi animated show. He’s coming back, folks. We just have to be patient.

I was more than happy to see Reva turn on the Grand Inquisitor, presumably killing him. As I said last time, I don’t love the idea of the Inquisitors, as I think they devalue Darth Vader. So the less of them that are around, the happier I am.

As it turns out, though, the Grand Inquisitor may not actually be dead. He’s obviously on Star Wars: Rebels, which takes place years after Obi-Wan Kenobi. So either he survived the stabbing, or there’s a cloning situation happening here, or some other wacky scenario brings him back. Remember, this is the Star Wars universe, where Darth Maul can survive being cut in half and dropped into a pit…

I’ve enjoyed Rupert Friend’s portrayal of the character, though. It looks like he was having a ball doing it. I got Ian McDiarmid/Revenge of the Sith vibes.

Obi-Wan’s reaction to learning Anakin is alive was very well acted by Ewan McGregor. The revelation does make me wonder, though…who did know Anakin was Darth Vader? Was it common knowledge within the upper ranks of the Empire? It must have been on some level, because the Inquisitors obviously know.

What about Yoda? Did he sense Anakin was alive? Can Obi-Wan contact Yoda, the same way Bail Organa contacted him, and ask?

Oh, the pressing questions…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.