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The Prophecy
And in time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as : THE SON OF THE SUN.
And he shall bring Balance to the Force.
"Journal of the Whills, 3:12"
Welcome to
Nathaniel Reed's
:: An ongoing episodic story of fan-fic set after Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and inspired by George Lucas' historical draft concepts ::
June 2022
Reviewing 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' !
30th June 2022
The six-part live-action TV show Obi-Wan Kenobi has now concluded, and it has certainly been an exciting and enjoyable journey. Personally, although I do have criticisms, I have found this show to have been more satisfying that either the two Mandalorian seasons or, in my opinion, the far inferior The Book of Boba Fett. I think it definitely helped that the six episodes held one directorial vision, compared to the other TV shows that shared directing duties. Having seen the trailer for Andor, I am more than intrigued by this next upcoming project.

For Obi-Wan Kenobi we followed the Jedi Master on a psychological and dramatic journey from a man with very little hope and a singular purpose, to a warrior and leader with purpose and agenda once more. We travel from Mos Eisley and the Lars family on Tatooine and the Organas on Alderaan to the mercenaries and bounty hunters of Daiyu, and then on to the secret 'safe road' through Mapuzo and Jabiim, to the Sith base Fortress Inquisitorius on Nuur, and finally to the desolate world of Tessen and the climactic showdown between Obi-Wan and Vader.

Throughout the sense of threat and tension and jeopardy has remained, which was no doubt a challenge for the creators as the main characters survive into A New Hope, so one must applaud them for this. The Sith Inquisitors from the REBELS animated series are (re)introduced here, helping Vader hunt down any scattered Jedi or anyone with Force-Sensitivity. The latter leads the plot to 'The Path', the safe road provided by loyalists in helping Jedi and similarly attuned children in escaping to safer and remote locations. The Inquisitors provide the 'sub-villain', an additional foe to counter the hero(es), as well as act to 'elevate' Vader when we do see the Dark Lord.

However, the writing and execution of the show seemed lacking or 'lazy', and this seems to be a pattern for all the productions coming out of the 'Disney Era'. From convenient and/or unexplained plot contrivances, to poor 'blocking' of actors, to questionable CGI. I don't know if this is because of a time pressure placed upon LFL by Disney, or because of the result of 'development hell', but I still maintain that the Star Wars franchise - a gold mine in itself - ought to be handled with even more than the respect it deserves since it is such a beloved, recognisable, and influential product.

My criticisms, then, were multi-fold, with varying degrees of significance :

  • although Vivien Lyra Blair's portrayal of the young Princess Leia was warm and engaging and very much grew on me as we followed her adventure, physically she seemed too young for the role ; and the frequent chase scenes suggested she could be scooped up by any of her pursuers, whereas she was able to out-run and out-manoeuvre them far too easily. Her mature presentation and delivery, however, helped project a sense of the older sassier Leia that Carrie Fisher would come to embody.

  • I still struggle seeing the (conveniently located) rocky outcrop not too far away from the Lars farmstead... which has previously been implied to inhabit a flat-horizon desert ; the rocks provide a suitably dramatic location for a pursuit scene at the end of the story.

  • the show teases us with another fugitive Jedi, who is captured and killed on Tatooine. This conceit works to show how dangerous and ruthless the Jedi-hunting Inquisitors can be, and how much of a threat they are to Obi-Wan who resides at the same location and who appears to be a hair's breadth from capture himself ! However, if one considers the plotting, how would the lone Jedi be able to seek out Obi-Wan if the latter has been successfully hidden in exile for ten years ? And if this Jedi can find him 'so easily', then surely Inquisitors could find him too ? As I say, it's a conceit that works dramatically, but also to illustrate the danger and help initiate the plot, yet as soon as one starts to consider it in any level of detail, it begins to introduce an unnecessary distraction !

  • similarly, it has been shown that Obi-Wan has set up a fairly simply abode for himself within a rocky outcrop in the middle of nowhere, yet Bail Organa, having relied upon a holo-communicator, that has presumably lain idle for ten years, to re-instate a line of communication, can now fly in to personally rendezvous with the Jedi. One must assume that there is a location-tracking device within the holo-comm ! Likewise, following a fleeting techno-babble explanation of ship signatures, Obi-Wan is able to pursue Leia's abductors to Daiyu, and thence to the correct den, via a Jedi con-artist (a fun and novel idea in itself !).

  • there is a line from the rebel leader that says their intel confirms Vader is aboard his ship. Not only is this an odd line with little significance or consequence affecting the unfolding drama, but how would they really know this ? Likewise, they identify Mustafar as "Vader's planet", which seems (to me) a little too knowing for a ragtag band of non-military loyalist refugees ; and again, the line had no significance to the scene or the plot.

  • when Obi-Wan swims into Fortress Inquisitorious via an underwater hatch, it's implied that he is near the sea-bed ; of course, 'real world physics' would suggest an unprotected human is unable to do this, and so, I would ask, why couldn't the hatch be placed higher up the structure ? Such a location would not affect the subsequent plotting, and being higher up (in choppier water ?) would not be such a distraction for an eagle-eyed viewer.

  • deep inside Fortress Inquisitorious Obi-Wan stumbles across a tomb of Force-Sensitives, and judging by their attire they are not solely Jedi. Online speculation proposes that this is an early indicator [ie, ret-conning] of the SIth Cloning subplot that played out in Episode IX. But what distracted me was seeing a Jedi Youngling still wearing his training helmet ?!

  • a plotting aspect that puzzled me, and wasn't explicitly clarified (as much as I would have liked) was the choice to have Obi-Wan seemingly unable to call upon the Force to help him out of difficult or dangerous situations. Opting to not use his lightsabre (even though he had chosen to take it with him), I was expecting him to rely on the Force 'tricks' such as pushes and pulls and 'mind tricks' - surely they would have been less visible as damning evidence of his Jedi identity than swishing his lightsabre around, especially for the fight scenes behind closed doors in the drug factory. The implication is that having (deliberately) not practiced the Force he had lost touch with it, but I would argue that the ten years quietude would be offset by the 30+ years of being a Jedi, let alone the fact that the inherent midichlorians mark the raw talent of a Jedi, not necessarily the frequent application ; in one sense, I would have preferred the idea that the use of the Force (by a Jedi) would act like a beacon to the Sith - akin to the concept of Sauron instantly seeing the Ring-Bearer in Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings'.

  • the directing/editing of certain sequences left a lot to be desired, either from too much shakey hand-held camera work or from poor geographical blocking - when Obi-Wan and Vader first duel in a mining yard, the former leaves screen-right only to re-appear in a very similar looking environment screen-right once more ! Also, on the same world coincidentally, what appears to be a linear tunnel allows for characters to over-take and ambush and pass by other characters (!). Furthermore, on Fortress Inquisitorius, some brief elevator shots would have helped present the vertically layered location better ; and when the rebel speeders attack the Fortress' hangar bay, there is no helpful shot of the two craft banking hard to exit the bay - their approach speed and the editing implies they should have crashed into the far wall, but a brief cutaway showing them bank and arc away would provide instant clarity.

  • when Obi-Wan, Leia, and the Imperial spy Tala escape Inquisitorius, a tracker has been secreted upon them to allow the Imperials to pursue. Although we had previously seen Reva handle Leia's 'LOLA' droid, we don't explicitly see her amend or add anything, and, although I suppose it's a subjective opinion, it would have been nice to have seen her do something more substantial with the droid (even if the audience remains ignorant of it), just to help telegraph and clarify a little later on. Additionally, Leia's overcloak and droid convenientally return to the girl once she's left the interrogation chamber.

  • in the rebel hideout on Jabiim Leia volunteers to enter a small maintenance shaft to investigate the cause of the locked hangar bay doors and release them. As far as I recall, nothing was said or shown in the earlier episodes to indicate that Leia had inherited her father's mechanical acumen, nor that her droid LOLA had been built by her.

  • for having had a self-imposed ten year exile immediately following the advent of Order 66, Obi-Wan seems to recognise the role and origins of the Inquisitors, since he confidently identifies them as survivors of the Jedi Purge turned to the Dark Side and carrying out the Sith's will. He also identified 'Order 66', which, although is a convenient label for fans, would be known in-lore only to the Emperor and his clone troopers (and possibly Lord Vader), and to no-one else and definitely not a Jedi victim of that command !

  • akin to everyone being unable to catch the young Princess Leia, the final episode showed a rebel freighter successfully dodging turbo laserfire and outrunning an Imperial Star Destroyer ; this implies that the gunners were unable to 'get a fix' on their target - something similar gunners were able to do successfully on the Tantive in ANH - plus the Star Destroyer's bigger engines and stronger drive thrusters would surely have caught up with the much smaller freighter. In the same scene, we conveniently forget that such a Star Destroyer would carry flights of fast and manoeuvrable TIE fighters that could have easily overwhelmed the rebel freighter !

  • the Grand Inquisitor - making his live-action debut based on his preceding (but chronolgically later) appearance in REBELS - comes across as more strategically-minded than the blunt-force that is Darth Vader, and, most frustratingly, is seen taking what is surely a mortal stab to the abdomen, but then later is revealed hale and hearty. Likewise, Reva, the Third Inquisitor Sister, receives an apparently fatal wound at Vader's hand, but not fatal enough to prevent her from continuing her mission of "justice". The use of the medical bacta tank seems almost over-used here [and in the Book of Boba Fett], in the sense that the technology is ubiquitous and widely available and provides near-instant results ; a mobile tank is procured by the Imperial spy Tala, and then shortly after one is in use for the loyalist rebels on Jabiim. Obi-Wan is badly burned as vengeful torture by Vader and only requires one relatively brief stint in a rebel-outfitted bacta tank ; yet it is implied that Vader's ten year old injuries have not yet cleared even though the Dark Lord seems immersed in bacta frequently. I would like to think that Vader's bacta is 'turned down' so as to only provide the bare minimum of succour, and thus encourage the Dark Side to fester ; and, likewise, the apparent (and frustrating) resuscitation of Sith Lords from fatal injuries across the Disney/LFL projects, could, in my mind, be a unique 'trick' of the Dark Side of the Force (and ties in with certain lines from the OT movies), but really is something that, if this is so, ought to be explicitly stated sooner rather than later.

  • what opens as a wonderfully nostalgic - and plot insightful - flashback to a younger Obi-Wan and Anakin practicising duelling on a verandah at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant becomes distracting for the apparent de-aging of the two actors. Hayden's modern physicality and frame is a little different to how he looked when filming AOTC and ROTS, plus some of his headshots seemed to re-shape his head and add extra wrinkles ?! Having said that, some other headshots seemed uncannily spot-on, and, overall, Ewan's de-aging seemed to be more successful.

  • when Obi-Wan bests his former padawan on Tessen he walks away from his injured but still dangerous foe. Knowing that their closing destinies are resolved in ANH and ROTJ respectively, of course the writers cannot have the Jedi Master kill Vader. However, within the 'mise-en-scene' of the moment, it really makes no sense for Obi-Wan to leave Vader alive, with the danger of the Sith Lord returning at a later point to hunt down either himself or the Twins. The fact that Vader did not die with his mask broken and face exposed, and his chest-plate damaged, should have inspired Obi-Wan to not show mercy as he had done on Mustafar, and I wonder to what extent the writers could have allowed Obi-Wan to have inflicted some other type of injury to 'leave him for dead'.

  • the agenda presented for the Inquisitor character of Reva continued to be muddled and unsure : across the story, her arc goes from being a Youngling Padawan surviving Order 66 to a hot-headed Sith Inquisitor bent on capturing Obi-Wan Kenobi to gain favour with Lord Vader and usurp the Grand Inquisitor, to revenge against Vader who she knows to be Anakin, to a deadly pursuit of a child who apparently has no significance to her personally. The story intimated that she had targetted Leia Organa only because historical records showed Bail Organa had had a close working relationship (if not friendship) with Obi-Wan ; and that she was exploiting Leia to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding, to then either deliver the Jedi bounty to Vader, or to ultimately entrap the Sith Lord for personal revenge for his massacre of the Jedi Younglings on the night of Order 66. We are now led to believe that the character's original arc was for her death at the hands of Vader (she was supposed to have falsely claimed victory over the Jedi Master, but Vader, correctly disbelieving this, then killed her as 'punishment') ; and so the final scenes of her threatening pursuit of Luke and her redemptive realisation that she was no better than Anakin feels somewhat abrupt and 'tacked on', and when one stops to consider the plotting, it really makes no sense for Reva to do this. Similarly, Obi-Wan appears to accept her redemption, and chooses not to punish her, letting her go to live instead with her guilt and trauma, and to find her new identity. Furthermore, her flashbacks to Order 66 reveal that Anakin himself had impaled her with his sword... but obviously not a killing blow, which he was delivering against all the other padawans and Jedi ; presumably, though we don't explicitly hear his Sith identity during this flashback (for example, a clone trooper could have addressed him as "Lord Vader"), she comes to understand that Anakin had become Vader. Then, later, when Reva tries to exact revenge on Vader, the Sith Lord's killing blow is not final, and one wonders if Vader did this deliberately or accidentally (which, for Vader, would surely be unlikely !). And whilst Reva does not know Luke's parentage (nor Leia's for the matter) - only that Bail Organa has some connection to him - her final purpose seems somewhat hollow and baseless, and, for a victim of infanticide herself, decidely skewed and questionable. .

  • before the release of the show, and during, many fans were vocal about their concern certain OT lines were being affected, namely Leia's holo-message to Obi-Wan in ANH. By the end of the series, most of these were addressed to some extent. However, for me, the dialogue that really 'tested' veracity and canon continuity were actually the lines "That boy is our last hope.... No there is another" from TESB, if only because, since the weight of this show focused so heavily on Leia, one comes away with the impression that Obi-Wan would have seen latent leadership and warrior qualities in one of the Skywalker Twins.... yet ten to twelve years later he dismisses her in favour of her brother. If this show had focused less on Leia Organa, perhaps had allowed for a much briefer intereaction between the two, then his apparent ignorance of Luke's sister [who at the time of writing TESB was in all probability not going to be revealed as Leia] would have made more sense and retained the tone of unfamiliarity. To my mind, if there is ever a second series, then I would want a closer drama involving Obi-Wan and a teenage Luke, perhaps brief, so that Luke's qualities are promoted in Obi-Wan's mind more than Leia's.

  • Having noted all of the above, I must say that I really did enjoy this show overall, its perceived flaws notwithstanding. But what continues to pain me is the apparent 'laziness' in the justification of characters and plot, which could either have been amended or omitted entirely, and potentially not affecting the plot.... or improving the story by enforcing originality.

    As already reported, the creatives seem open to the idea of a second series, even though this was planned as a singular show.

    Recently, interviews have surfaced with the original writer of the proposed movie version, which has provided a fascianting insight into what could have been ! Stuart Beattie revealed he had pitched three movies each focusing on certain elements of Obi-Wan's journey from humbled Jedi at the onset of Order 66 through to the serene majesty of the Master shortly before his sacrifice on the DS1. Plus, he later revealed that he had introduced the Inquisitor Reva character, though her fate was to fall at Vader's hands ; and that he had proposed a reformed Clone Trooper Cody (having tried to kill his general on Utupau) who was now a secret ally for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
    The illustrated virtual edition of Episode VII : Plague of Doom continues, and Leia helps settle Alana and Oxus in the main hold of the Millennium Falcon whilst Luke looks on.
    Alana reveals that she has inexplicable mind control powers as she can "often get her own way" by influencing people. His interest piqued, Luke is keen to test her for Force sensitivity, and suggests that she considers training to become a Jedi.
    You can see the VE artwork in the 'Kessel' art gallery as well as in the online illustrated story, and you can discuss this in the forum here !
    My editorial proof-reading for virtual edition Episode X 'The Riddle of the Pirates' has concluded, and I am now pleased to present it in its entirety here at the ! Its PDF file can be accessed from the left hand side bar.
    Nathaniel Reed, 30th June 2022
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