TV Review: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episodes 5-6

By Matthew Moorcroft

Part V – Strong Recommendation
Part VI – Strong Recommendation

  • Directed by Deborah Chow
  • Starring Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Vivian Lyra Blair, Hayden Christensen
  • TV-14

Did Obi-Wan Kenobi really need to exist? This is the question that has loomed over this series’ head the entire time and promised to be answered once the series reached it’s conclusion. It’s never really going to get over the fact, though, that it’s very existence makes appreciating the duel in Episode IV all the more difficult. Sure, it’s still just as impactful, but now there is that lingering feeling of “well, they’ve already fought like once in-between here” and removes that grand, operatic tone that Star Wars does so well.

After the show is done, while I can’t quite say the show ever really justifies it’s own existence fully, it’s still a fun enough time and even has enough craft, care, and emotion behind it that, at the very least, I can live with the “rematch of the century”. And it’s a good fight! Probably one of the better displays of choreography on the Disney+ side of things, and while the show has had it’s ups and down in terms of visual quality it’s at it’s strongest here, particularly once Obi-Wan gets the upper hand. Seeing Vader with his mask sliced open is a great moment as well (albeit taken directly from Rebels, where it’s also done better there), and using the light from the mask flickering on and off to reflect his internal struggle with the Force is sublime.

The Reva side of the story though was more engaging and interesting, however, and really showed the strengths of the series as a whole. Reva is a fascinating villain for Star Wars because while we’ve had conflicted characters like this before, it’s very rare we get one that survives past their initial redemption. Both Obi-Wan and Reva are two sides of the same coin – broken individuals who were affected by Vader and his descent into darkness, and there is a kinship there between the two of them that is unspoken but clearly there. Letting go of the past and moving forward is the only thing left to do now.

When she confronts Vader and finds herself back on the ground, kneeling towards the dark lord himself, Reva’s full circle character becomes clear. This is equally a story about Reva as it is about Obi-Wan, and while one could see this as a negative I see it as a bonus. Again, they are two sides of the same coin, and seeing Reva stripped down and bare after her failed assault on The Path is cathartic but also makes her immensely more sympathetic then she would be otherwise. I wish a lot of it looked better, of course, but the moments that work here really, really work, and it’s likely courtesy of Andrew Stanton as a writer.

In fact, Stanton was involved with both of the final episodes, though to what extends I have no idea. Stanton’s Pixar work is among their best (it takes a talented writer to make a sequel to Finding Nemo work at all, let alone be as good and as engaging as Finding Dory ended up being) and while here you can’t really see his influence as this seems to be Chow’s baby through and through, there is an emotional throughline in these episodes that he likely delivered on. The talk through the wall? Genuinely soulful stuff for a Disney+ Star Wars thing.

And soulful is the name of the game for the entire series. While the show ended up having it’s issues, I can’t help but be impressed that it managed to end up as emotionally charged and wonderfully entertaining as it was. This was the series they could have most easily have cashed in on and yet they didn’t, using it as a way to explore character and actual themes. The cameos at the very end of the show even served a purpose and were earned, a rarity in today’s blockbuster climate. A solid and fitting end to the best live action Star Wars show to date – let’s see how Andor fares next!

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