Obi-Wan Kenobi was as broken as its hero

Obi-Wan was an imperfect presentation that seemed more personal than anything Star Wars has done in years.

At first, the most notable aspect about Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Star Wars period was that, for the first time since the franchise’s transfer to television, it wasn’t about a guy in a helmet. No offense to The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett, but they were marketed on symbol rather than character, as they reminded spectators every time the Star Wars brand logo flashed on screen following flashes of robots and helmets. Only one character in Obi-Wan Kenobi wears a mask: Darth Vader, and his presence or absence is always significant.Obi-Wan paused the spectacle to focus on individuals throughout its brief six-episode run, and it largely resonates as a contrast to how much I’ve missed them in prior Star Wars episodes.

Obi-two Wan’s pivotal performances lie at the center of this. Ewan McGregor plays Obi-Wan as a broken man in exile, a soldier who knows he lost the battle but is still expected to fight it, maintaining continual vigil over the young Luke Skywalker from afar. Every note of Obi-journey Wan’s feels real, as befits the figure who shares the series’ name, due in large part to McGregor’s portrayal.

History is useful here. McGregor’s return to the part he initially performed over 20 years ago and reinvented for a new generation of Star Wars fans emphasizes his portrayal of a burdened man gratefully defending what’s left of his legacy. He doesn’t say as much as he used to, but his actions speak volumes — hiding from view and fleeing conflicts in the first half of the play, then moving and fighting with zeal in the second. Over the course of six episodes, Obi-Wan transforms from a broken Jedi who is barely comfortable using the Force to a man who has rediscovered his power and purpose.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was as broken as its hero

Moses Ingram’s Reva, a determined, motivated Inquisitor working for Darth Vader to track down Kenobi, stands in his way. Ingram is fearsome as Reva, propelled by fury and passion, a massive physical presence in a society increasingly defined by larger-than-life individuals with hidden features. Unfortunately, the plot underutilizes Ingram’s performance. As her story nears its conclusion, clear motivations lead to perplexing actions.

Reva was a survivor of Anakin’s youngling murder in Revenge of the Sith, and has become ardent in his pursuit of Obi-Wan as part of a protracted plan to get near enough to Darth Vader to kill him in retaliation. There’s a tragic story here, one that you can infer from Ingram’s performance — as Reva is constantly broken down and rebuilt in her quest for vengeance — but it’s one that strains credulity, as Reva’s story ends with her in pursuit of Luke Skywalker, even if her goal of killing Vader has long since passed.

Regardless of how their storylines are executed, both Obi-Wan and Reva’s arcs emotionally root Obi-Wan Kenobi in their distinct focus on loss. Simply said, they exist to demonstrate the distinction between losing and being lost. Obi-Wan never explicitly states this idea, but it is the reason why the program may still seem valuable despite its position as a prequel in which the destinies of most main characters, notably its protagonist, are known from the start.

What the observer does not realize upon entering is Obi-interiority: Wan’s Is elderly Ben Kenobi serving in A New Hope out of duty or devotion? Is he depressed or determined as a result of his loss in Revenge of the Sith? The space for Obi-Wan Kenobi to say anything meaningful is extremely limited, so it has no choice but to focus on feelings — to the credit of director Deborah Chow and her many collaborators, it conveys them well enough that when Obi-Wan stands in front of a young Leia Organa or a ship full of refugees, it’s possible to care whether or not he can find it in himself to inspire them.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was as broken as its hero

Or, when Kenobi has what appears to be his final confrontation with his former apprentice before they reconnect as elderly men in A New Hope, it’s evident that they’re burying the individuals they were in the prequels and becoming the people they’ll be in the original trilogy. Hayden Christensen’s brief comeback as Anakin makes Obi-Wan Kenobi the most important modern evocation of Darth Vader yet, as his scarred visage glimpsed momentarily through a cracked helmet in the last episode provides viewers a taste of what the war has cost. Darth Vader in name swears to become Darth Vader in purpose, putting aside his futile attempts of vengeance to completely become a fascist Emperor’s gloved fist.

It cannot be overstated that Obi-Wan Kenobi’s uphill battle for resonance was an issue created by Star Wars. The franchise is currently in a condition of shyness, preferring to rely on the fervor of previous followers over the labor of gaining new ones. Finally, Obi-Wan Kenobi is an imperfect piece about a man who is no longer sure of his role in a large and still-ongoing project.

Cynicism took root in that uncertainty, as it is inclined to do. But cynicism can be overcome, even if it is warranted, whether it originates from a fictional character contemplating his place after losing a battle won by the bad guys or the problem of artists and artisans striving to develop art in the most commercial setting possible. All you have to do is find a way, something human to cling to. Obi-Wan Kenobi broke down a Jedi and rebuilt him to be a human again. It’s written all on his face.

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