Review | ‘Kenobi’ brings balance to the Star Wars prequels

The newest Disney+ Star Wars series, ‘Kenobi,’ successfully resolves a storyline left up in the air after over 25 years away from the screen.



Parker Jones, Arts Editor

When Disney first began whispering about the potential of Kenobi, I was ecstatic. My favorite “Star Wars” character would get his own series, and my favorite of the prequel trilogy would finally get a direct follow-up. After the enthralling success of The Mandalorian and the alluring mediocrity of Boba Fett, I was eager to see what the next Disney+ Star Wars production would entail.

The first two episodes of Kenobi were released on May 25, with an additional four episodes released weekly.

With the return of Ewan McGregor as the titular character, the show focuses on the Jedi master-turned-hermit, Obi-Wan Kenobi: best known for training Anakin Skywalker, who eventually becomes Darth Vader, in the ways of the Force. After their climactic duel in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Anakin’s ultimate decay into Vader, Kenobi helps in the hiding of Luke and Leia, Vader’s children.

Kenobi delves into some of the events during the 20-year gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, which previously had only been explored in various Star Wars comics. It is an incredibly nostalgic series, and unique in that it can hold meaning for both fans of the original trilogy, and the prequels — however, there wasn’t an overabundance of references to previous material either, a mistake made in other films like The Force Awakens.

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The central plot of Kenobi focuses on the Jedi master, now in hiding from the Empire, and his mission to rescue a 10-year-old Princess Leia from kidnappers. I absolutely adored this younger yet equally mature and fiery Leia, played by Vivien Lyra Blair. She had so many emotional, yet humorous scenes that I was left wanting her to be the main character of the original series instead of Luke.

Throughout the series, Obi-Wan must also dodge the vicious attempts of the Inquisitors, a group of aggressive Jedi hunters hand-picked by Darth Vader. One of these hunters is a power-hungry Sith named Reva Sevander, played by Moses Ingram. Although Ingram’s performance is a bit lackluster, Reva has one of the most intriguing backstories out of any Star Wars side character, and I wish it could have had more in-depth exploration.

Another side character with a decidedly less fascinating story is the spy Tala Durith, who works for the Empire but helps Kenobi and other Jedi survive the wrath of the Inquisitors. Played by Indira Varma, Tala is a crucial character to move the plot forward, but is ultimately very forgettable, along with the several other smaller roles that made up her Jedi-protection crew.

Despite the balance that Kenobi creates with its careful handling of a fan-favorite character and his previously underdeveloped trauma, there were moments when I questioned the more technical aspects of the series. Action scenes were not as action-packed as they should have been, with more running and hiding than actual battle. The camerawork during these scenes got downright annoying at certain points, with shaking-camera shots and overused closeups overpowering otherwise impactful moments.

The absolute highlight of the series is the relationship between Kenobi himself, and Darth Vader. I found myself wonderfully tense during each interaction they had, especially with any return of Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequels, on screen. Vader’s presence in Kenobi is truly a terrifying one; his darker moments in the series are executed fantastically, showing just how ruthless a villain he has become since turning to the dark side.

Without spoiling anything, the last episode’s apex truly shows the emotional toll the years have taken on Obi-Wan. His final heart-wrenching dialogue with Vader left me feeling harrowed, yet satisfied, in the knowledge that their vexed relationship had finally been addressed on screen after over two decades.

Although no follow-up season was hinted at, the popularity of Kenobi may convince Disney executives to pursue one. I can safely say I’d be on board.