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Obi-Wan Kenobi review: Scars of Star Wars prequel films run deep in nostalgic return for Ewan McGregor

It’s been a long-time coming for Ewan to come back to Star Wars (Picture: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Obi-Wan Kenobi episodes 1 and 2.

Almost two decades since he last picked up his lightsaber, Star Wars veteran Ewan McGregor has dusted off his Jedi robes for a danger-filled return in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The first two episodes of the series were released in one go on Disney Plus, introducing viewers to the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) in live action for the first time, the fearsome Third Sister, Reva (Moses Ingram) and showing a glimpse of Hayden Christensen’s comeback as Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader.

We all knew it was going to be a nostalgic ride from the get-go, but fans of the prequel films – especially those who grew up watching them as children – might not have been emotionally prepared for the flashback sequence that opened the show, when audiences were reminded of the heartwarming rise and devastating fall of Anakin’s relationship with Obi-Wan, as well as with his love Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), with whom he shares two children – Luke and Leia.

A decade after Anakin fell to the dark side of the Force and became Darth Vader, Obi-Wan is now living in solitude, keeping a close eye on the young Luke Skywalker, who’s being raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine.

However, his unassuming life doesn’t go undisturbed, as the Inquisitors – whose role it is to seek out the few remaining Jedi and hunt them down – are hot on his trail.

Having personally treasured the memories of watching the prequel films on the big screen as a child, watching Ewan return as Obi-Wan – or ‘Ben’ – is extraordinarily comforting, despite the dangers that are lurking around the corner for the retired Jedi Master.

The show follows on from the prequels seamlessly, making it feel as though Ewan has never been away while taking the quality of the production to a whole other level to make audiences feel immersed in the desolate land of Tatooine once again.

In two episodes, the series is already packed full of surprises, including with the introduction of Vivien Lyra Blair in a scene-stealing performance as the young Princess Leia and the huge cliffhanger that left viewers with their jaws on the ground at the end of episode two.

Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 1 recap

At the end of the third film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin’s turn to the dark side was cemented when he was shown killing defenceless younglings.

Obi-Wan Kenobi opens with a stark reminder of Order 66, which was an order which led to the widespread genocide of Jedi across the Galactic Republic, almost rendering them extinct.

 

Back in the present day when Obi-Wan is set, the Grand Inquisitor and his fellow Inquisitors sniff out a Jedi’s presence, who in turn goes to Obi-Wan for help.

However, Obi-Wan is a changed and disgruntled man haunted by his past, and so is unwilling to return to his life as a Jedi as he continues to work a mundane job and keep a close eye on Luke.

While Luke dreams of being a fighter pilot on Tatooine, Princess Leia is living a life of luxury on Alderaan, although the confines of being a Princess prove too much for her to bear as she frequently runs into the woods on her own for adventures.

On one occasion, this streak for rebellion results in her falling into the traps of danger, as kidnappers grab her under Reva’s orders, who knows that Obi-Wan will come looking for Leia if she uses the young princess as bait.

 

While it was previously rumoured that Princess Leia would be a part of Obi-Wan Kenobi, this is a fascinating direction for the story, after the trailer hinted that exploration of Luke’s childhood would come into play.

The casting directors couldn’t have chosen a better actor to portray the child version of Leia, who embodies the late Carrie Fisher’s spirit effortlessly, dishing out precocious, wise-cracking quips and already demonstrating that she knows how to hold her own at a young age.

So just like that, Obi-Wan is reluctantly pulled out of retirement following a desperate plea from Leia’s adoptive parents, Breha Organa (Simone Kessell) and Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), fetching his lightsaber from the depths of the desert to embark on his quest to save her.

Obi-Wan comes out of hiding to search for the princess (Picture: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 2 recap

Having turned away a Jedi who was being hunted by the Inquisitors and sought his help, Obi-Wan comes across his body strung up for everyone to see, a warning to everyone to fall in love and a stark reminder to the titular character of the terrible consequences his actions can have.

Obi-Wan follows a lead to try and track down the kidnapped Princess Leia, meeting fake Jedi con man Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani) along the way, who provides the light-hearted relief and is a charismatic addition to the cast.

While he initially falls into a trap, he manages to wangle his way out of it, freeing Leia and taking her with him, despite her feeling as though she can’t fully trust him.

Leia is smart, but that means she doesn’t trust Obi-Wan fully at first (Picture: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

When Leia spots Obi-Wan’s picture being displayed for a bounty, she comes to the conclusion that he can’t be trusted and scarpers, with the Jedi chasing after her while Reva tries to catch him first.

Haja, meanwhile, reveals his moral compass, telling Obi-Wan how he can escape while offering himself as a decoy to slow Reva down.

In one of the most heart-wrenching moments of the series so far, Leia is at risk of falling to her death after trying to flee Obi-Wan, when he uses the Force – the first time he has done so in 10 years – to save her life.

 

The pair manage to get away together, but not before Obi-Wan is informed by Reva that his former Padawan Anakin, Darth Vader, is still alive.

The screen cuts from Obi-Wan’s face to Darth Vader’s in the bacta tank without his mask, teasing the upcoming rematch between the former brothers in arms.

Verdict on Obi-Wan Kenobi

The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi mark a strong, emotional, nostalgic and humorous start for the series – and we’re already heartbroken when we remember that we’re now already a third of the way through the entire season.

Despite some critics blasting the prequel films when they were released, the power of Ewan’s dynamic with Hayden was a driving force behind why they were so beloved among many cinemagoers, and thus why this show was so highly-anticipated.

The pair didn’t even need to share any scenes in the first two episodes for that tense dynamic to be felt through the screen, so we can only imagine how many tears are going to be shed when they meet.

Young Princess Leia’s significance in the story comes as a surprise, and a welcome one at that, thanks largely to the prowess of the actor who plays her, bringing the same personality to the role that Carrie first did back in the 1970s.

Moses also makes a menacing debut as the Third Sister, Reva, proving herself an extremely intimidating adversary under the direction of Darth Vader.

The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are available to watch on Disney Plus, with new episodes released on Wednesdays.

 


Credit: Source

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