So, Obi-Wan. If nothing else, you can’t deny that it was a TV show, and that after six episodes, it has now ended its run on Disney+, at least for now. Obviously, Kotaku’s biggest Star Wars nerds — Ethan Gach, Ari Notis, and, no surprise here for longtime readers, Zack Zwiezen — had to talk about the finale, the show’s highest and lowest points, and the broader impact its events have on ~the canon~. May the Force be with us all.
Ethan Gach: I will start by saying that I didn’t think the first half of Obi-Wan was nearly as bad as people said, and I also think the second half was much worse. And by “people said” I mean like, random headlines in my newsfeed.
Zack Zwiezen: I really enjoyed the first half and was confused by folks being so down on it.
Ari Notis: The first half of Obi-Wan does at least feature history’s funniest chase scene, that’s true.
Zack: See, I didn’t mind that at all because they had her. They knew she was screwed. So why kill yourself trying to get a kid that you know is surrounded. Personally, I respect those henchmen. I’m also lazy.
Ari: Oh, yeah, let me be clear: I say that as praise! Star Wars at its best is always a little bit silly, which is something that’s been absent from the more recent films and series.
Ethan: We should probably start with the finale. Look, I’ll be honest, I was looking at my phone the exact moment Obi-Wan sprang out of the rock pit. How did that happen?
Zack: He used the Force! As his connection to it had grown.
Ari: He…Forced his way out, you could say.
Ethan: The oldest trick in the book. Gamers rise up.
Zack: I really liked the first half of the show. But the second half and the finale were my favourite. That fight with Vader at the end was so sad.
Ethan: The Star Wars apologist has entered the chat.
Ari: Sorry, Ethan, you’re facing off against two Star Wars apologists. That fight was awesome — and then, yes, extremely heartbreaking.
Zack: The moment he sees his face, realises his friend and brother is dead and shows him mercy, the same mercy Anakin mocked in the training flashback…Damn. (It also reminded me a lot of the Ahsoka/Vader duel in Rebels! It’s like poetry, they rhyme!)
Ethan: I do think this series accomplished the sole thing it needed to, which was make the Obi-Wan/Anakin arc believable, and they did it with only two very brief scenes.
Ari: Make it believable by, like, bridging the gap between the end of the prequels and the beginning of the original trilogy?
Ethan: Or by bringing Hayden Christensen back after he had decades to do better line reads in his head.
Zack: It explains why Obi-Wan is so ready for Luke to kill Vader in Empire/Jedi, also. He has truly given up on him. He’s gone. That moment, when Vader smirks and says he killed Anakin. And the red tint takes over. That’s it. Obi-Wan is done with him. Even calls him Darth, a nice callback to A New Hope.
Ari: OK, but: Darth is a title! Not a name!!!
Zack: Yeah, but back when they made A New Hope, Lucas had no idea that Darth would become a title, which is really why Obi-Wan says Darth in that moment. I also want to point out that Reva is great in this show, and I’m excited to see more of her, maybe in Fallen Order 2?
Ethan: I will say that I don’t think the series earns any of its reversals, including Reva’s nonsensical two-episode motivational rollercoaster ride, or Obi-Wan not killing Vader a second time, after his second-biggest failure was not killing him the first time.
Zack: Obi-Wan shows him mercy, which is very true to his return to being a Jedi at that moment.
Ari: Obi-Wan refusing to kill Vader a second time made absolutely no sense to me. Especially since the whole reason he stole the escape ship and headed to the planet was implicitly an ego-driven mission to kill Vader!
Zack: Right! But then he realises what his friend became giving into the dark side and stops, similar to Reva.
Ethan: Darth Maul? General Grievous? Mercy has never been a Jedi thing except when it serves to make more spin-offs.
Zack: In both those instances the other person was trying to kill them. Here, Vader was down and done.
Ethan: Think of the younglings, Zack.
Ethan: I also think the correct interpretation of the original prequels was that he left Vader to die. So I don’t buy this mercy shit. I think the writers just knew Vader couldn’t die because of ~THE TIMELINE~, and no one at Disney has the cojones to do what Final Fantasy is doing.
Zack: Oh he totally left Vader to die. And then spent a decade terrorised by it. And trying to get over that.
Ari: 100 per cent — you can see the shock on Ewan McGregor’s face earlier in the show when he learns Vader is still alive.
Zack: And in this show he finds peace after showing mercy.
Ethan: I think it’s clear from the show his baggage was never with leaving him to die. It was with training a baby-killer, as evidenced by the many flashbacks to Anakin killing babies, and the fact the writers made one who survived a main character.
Zack: I think he definitely had some baggage about killing his brother and friend!
Ari: Omg, that twist! I’ll fully admit I didn’t see that coming for Reva.
Zack: The moment when she explains how she lived, the timing of that…fuck. That’s not Lucasfilm’s fault, of course.
Ari: But it played so well into the mythos of Vader, too — how he knew the whole damn time, and was just toying with her for, what, like five years?
Zack: Vader loves to be extra dramatic. It’s something the comics have really amped up and I love it.
Ethan: I think she had a very compelling character, and was extremely ill-served by not getting a single first-person episode and being continually upstaged by Leia. For the record, I hate kids onscreen because they usually can’t act.
Zack: It was odd that they never gave her an episode! But also, now she can get her own show or movie or comic.
Ari: She absolutely deserved her own episode, yeah.
Zack: I think Leia’s actor was mostly solid. Her scenes with Obi-Wan remembering Padme were some of my favourites.
Ari: What’d you guys make of the whole, “There’s no way she’s a believable 10-year-old” discourse?
Zack: People need to go outside.
Ethan: The internet is dumb.
Zack: I’ve met kids that acted like her. Kids can be smart. Can be brave. Can be dumb at any age.
Ari: Right! Which is why it was weird for the writers to sneak that line in, from Obi-Wan no less, about how she doesn’t act like a child.
Zack: I think it’s more that she’s growing up fast.
Ethan: Also, nothing in this show is believable.
Zack: Well, that too. This is Star Wars.
Ethan: Least of all Obi-Wan suddenly out-Force-pushing Vader. Is now when I show you guys my three-chart analysis of relative Jedi fighter strength?
Zack: As Han Solo said, that’s not how the Force works, Ethan
Ethan: I think it was just a very trite mechanism for trying to fix Obi-Wan’s trauma — pure-hearted wunderkid teaches old man he doesn’t have to fix the past to live in the now.
Zack: So…Star Wars?
Ari: For a series that’s become so obsessed with “letting the past die” it’s really committed to living in the past, huh.
Zack: I swear, I let it slide for this show because I love Obi-Wan, but if we go back to Tatooine again, I will scream.
Ethan: Zack, what were the conspiracy theories about Obi-Wan being a clone or from a different timeline?
Zack: Back in the old days, before the prequels, people theorised that Obi-Wan was a clone warrior from the Clone Wars: OB-1.
Ari: Oh, I get it! Obi-One!
Ethan: I do think there was an opening for them to blow up the timeline, and that at some point they will have to retcon more stuff in bigger ways and that will be fine because people are just here for the light sabers and dumb sound effects.
Zack: I want them to move forward with Star Wars, or go way back and do some High Republic stuff.
Ethan: Amazing what you can conjure with one mysterious line and not 100 books, movies, and TV shows of backstory. Can we talk about Dude Where’s My Speeder Qui-Gon?
Zack: Hey, I’ve wanted a Force ghost Qui-Gon in live-action for a long time. Dude was the first Jedi to figure that out.
Ethan: Big same, Zack. Qui-Gon is the coolest onscreen Jedi (makes sense because he’s, like, the last of a dying breed) and yet his cameo felt like it had all the TLC of an overdue school project being glued together during homeroom.
Zack: Yeah…I expected more!
Ari: Qui-Gon invented the Force ghost?
Zack: It’s a lot but, yes. I don’t want to dump all that in here.
Ethan: Ari, where have you been?
Ari: I’ve been outside! So I’ll settle for the three-sentence rundown.
Zack: Qui-Gon was extremely connected to the living Force, and was able to live beyond his mortal life. And taught Yoda this in the Clone Wars show. And presumably taught Obi-Wan.
Ari: OK, reconsidering the scenes where Obi-Wan’s trying to talk to him…those make way more sense now.
Zack: Oh, yeah. Part of the reason Obi-Wan can’t see him or talk to him at first is that, to do that, you need to be at peace with yourself. And, uh…as we saw, he had some baggage and demons to deal with.
Ari: Hence the mercy thing.
Ethan: Love to let the galaxy’s Hitler go so I can finally just vibe with my mentor in the desert.
Ari: There’s a case to be made that Obi-Wan is now partially responsible for the destruction of Alderaan.
Zack: I mean, that’s more on Tarkin and Krennic. But it also falls in line with the Obi-Wan we see in New Hope. Dude just lets Vader “win” because that’s all he wants. That whole “strike me down, and I’ll become more powerful” stuff. Personally, and I know Ewan has said he’s down for more, but I’m good with this being a one-and-done show. I think this is all we need. The comics pick up after this and tell some smaller stories, but that doesn’t need to be a show.
Ethan: I do think there is an important tension between Jedi being space police and spiritual stoics and Obi-Wan prioritising his own salvation over the material needs of his friends and peers. That’s an intriguing character wrinkle that this show wanted to have both ways.
Zack: Oh yes! This is something that the movies don’t deal with very well, but shows and comics have — the idea of these space monks also being space cops and how, over time, that ends up being the thing that does them in, that they get too obsessed with rules and protecting the galaxy and fighting in wars, and lose their way and connection to the Force.
Ethan: Where would you both rank the finale in terms of the six-part series, and if taken altogether, where would you rank it among the rest of the series and movies?
Ari: That’s still gestating for me, but I will say: This could’ve been a movie. Maybe even should’ve.
Zack: Hmmmm…I’ve been thinking about that. I think the finale was my favourite episode. And I think altogether, it’s my favourite live-action Star Wars thing since Last Jedi. It also could have been a movie! But Lucasfilm seems terrified of making those right now.
Ethan: Obviously I’d rank it above Boba Fett but below Mando. And somewhere in the bottom third of movies and series overall. I can appreciate that Disney is just throwing money at its properties to flood Disney+ with content, but the nerd in me would love for a prestige High Republic series at some point where it’s mostly just people talking in front of sci-fi backdrops.
Zack: We are getting the Acolyte, which will likely be a High Republic show! At least, based on the details that have been shared about it.
Ari: That’d be the dream, though it seems like Disney is intent on colouring in every little gap in this tiny five-decade period of Star Wars history, despite the canon spanning thousands of years of a single galaxy. Did the Reva part of the finale work for you two? Or do you, like me, think her character probably should’ve just exited (still alive, but with a cliffhanger) at the end of episode five?
Zack: I wasn’t sure about it until the moment when she sees herself as Luke and realises she is becoming a monster, like Vader. That conversation between her and Obi-wan, plus that moment, worked and so I was happy to have her back for the finale. And I do think she shows up again, somewhere.
Ari: With the announcement of Fallen Order 2 taking place around the same point in the timeline, and the prevalence of Inquisitors in the first game, that seems likely, yeah. But I don’t know, I guess I just couldn’t square the logic of her going to Tattooine to murder Luke? Like what was the point of that? Other than an excuse to get her and Obi-Wan on screen together again.
Zack: She just wanted to hurt Obi-Wan, somehow. She couldn’t kill Vader and was desperate for revenge.
Ethan: I read it as her being able to kill Vader’s kid.
Ari: Is it established that she knows Luke’s his kid?
Zack: Did the message say it was Vader’s kid?
Ethan: Don’t head-canon shame me.
Zack: Lol. I did like how Luke never sees her lightsaber, so he can still be surprised to see Obi-Wan’s. It reminded me of how Anakin and General Grievous never meet in Clone Wars, so his line about the general looking short works in Revenge of the Sith.
Ethan: It’s wild they spend so much time worrying about the silly continuity stuff (and only half the time) and not, like, making good TV.
Zack: But Ethan, it was good TV?! But also I’m a sucker for them doing silly things like that to protect ~the canon~.
Ari: Honestly, shoot the canon with a Death Star cannon.
Ethan: I do think it’s telling that they spent all this money and time and basically delivered on little more than you’d get from a BioWare Old Republic cinematic trailer. Here’s to Jedi Fallen Order 2 (sorry, never gonna call it Survivor) being better than every new Star Wars thing since Disney Plus launched.
Zack: Hey, Bad Batch was great!
Ari: Let’s call it Jedi Standing-Back-Up-Again Order.
Zack: So, who’s excited about Andor?
[Everyone abandons Zack to his own personal fantasy realm in which even the prequels are considered good.]