May 27th has arrived and that means one thing: the first two episodes of "Obi-Wan Kenobi" have dropped and are available on Disney+! Did I watch them first thing in the morning? You're damn right I did. The toddler got his tablet, I got Kenobi. Yesterday I confessed that I had been waiting decades for this story to be told, and I say that only to mention that I am biased and I was going to love it unless it was a trainwreck. It wasn't, and I love it so far.
There are massive spoilers ahead so if you haven't seen it—what are you doing reading reviews? Let reviews be your confirmation bias, not your biased confirmation. I digress. Let's do this.
Tatooine Setup and Mirrored Villains
I'm not going to give a thorough explanation of what happens in both episodes, but some early context counts for something. Kenobi starts by giving us a few new scenes that occur during order 66.
It's heartbreaking to watch, as Jedi are being massacred and a handful of kids are left to run and protect themselves alone. It was harder to watch that scene this week if I'm being honest. After the flashback and reminder of what happened at the end of "Revenge of the Sith," we are transported to Tatooine.
Here the show starts and we are introduced to our main character Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by the wonderful Ewan McGregor) as a gruffer, older, exiled Jedi. outside of Kenobi, Moses Ingram pops as Inquisitor Reva. The (dark side of the) force is strong with this one, and she is menacing and intimidating throughout both episodes. Rupert Friend plays her boss, at least he acts like one, and the makeup and look for this character pop as someone appearing to be evil. These two, along with Fifth Brother (played by Sung Kang) exist to be the mirror image of the Jedi. The irony of these zealots (the Sith or the Inquisitors) is that they despise the Jedi for everything they do in equal stride. Yin Yang, I suppose.
The Plotline Happens Now
After the show drives the point home about Kenobi being a watchful eye over Luke's young life, I found myself asking, "what about Leia? She's just as much deserving of a Jedi's watchful eye. Why are we not getting her story?" The writers with director Deborah Chow are smarter than this in 2022, and that's when we're transported to the swanky life of the Organas' political family.
Young Leia (played by Vivien Lyra Blair) is a firecracker of a 10-year-old. She "marches to her own beat" and yes it runs a little cliche. Blair plays the young Leia so earnestly, though, that you immediately adore her precocious nature. It's also important to remember she's Princess freaking Leia, and she kicks ass. I digress, again. Senator Bail Organa (played by the always amazing Jimmy Smits) is a good father and when Leia is kidnapped by the ̶R̶e̶d̶ ̶H̶o̶t̶ ̶C̶h̶i̶l̶i̶ ̶P̶e̶p̶p̶e̶r̶s̶ a band of terrifying thugs, Organa begs Obi-Wan to rescue his daughter. Organa makes a good point about Obi-Wan, who believes himself to be inadequate to do the job—it is his duty. When Kenobi finally does rescue Leia, their interactions make the show fun and give a lot of depth.
What The Show Does Well, Pace and Delivery Wise
I often joke that I'm a guitar player and a writer on the side. I used to be into guitar-shreddy music. The Steve Vai's and Joe Satriani's of the world. There's a guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen who is known for playing notes at a furious pace. I have often noted that when a guitar solo starts at 100 miles an hour and never deviates, one gets bored with it and desensitized. As with many art forms, a nice exciting piece of guitar work has dynamics, lifts, and slow parts. What Kenobi understands is to avoid the oversaturation that many complained about in the prequels. Obi-Wan never once turns on his lightsaber and sends 10 stormtroopers to their maker. We are titillated by the prospect of it multiple times. It's the classic Alfred Hitchcock way of giving us just enough to be glued to the screen. Sure, Kenobi will (he better honestly) rekindle the quick-bladed fire he used to have, but if the show had thrown it at us so early, it would have been cheap.
So far the restraint, fun storytelling, beautiful visuals, and the reconnection to the characters and universe we love so much have been this show's strong suit. I suspect the show will only ramp up faster in the next two episodes. I can't wait. As for seeing our favorite Jedi again, all I could think was, "hello there!"