And so it has come to this, that despite my best resolve to remain in hiding from Disney’s amalgamation known as Star Wars, the cracking open of that sacred story vault between Episodes III and IV has been unleashed. Not content with their past victories eviscerating heroes, the Mighty Mouse appears to have dispatched his Inquisitors upon the true final frontier in Star Wars character destruction, the one major character left unscathed by their sordid reboot attempts over the past decade.
The last bastion of hope, venerable Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, is now under Imperial assault, almost 45 years to the day since Alec Guinness defined the legend on screen.
But is Kenobi really doomed to the same reboot fates as Han Solo (deadbeat dad), Luke Skywalker (insane uncle), and Yoda (practical joker fire-starter)?
As of this writing, only the first two episodes of Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi have been released, with the third of six due within a day. I felt this a good point to write a marker on my initial impression, after watching both episodes. As I allude in my prologue, if I really have any worry about the series (and to be very clear, I stopped worrying about Star Wars after The Last Jedi killed it all for me), it is that Kenobi will be rewritten and crumpled into a shell of his former character presentation, resembling neither Guinness’s original rendition of the wise elder wizard nor Ewan McGregor’s morally steadfast interpretation. Both were excellent and provided complimentary perspectives to the same character.
The slide of “Ben” appears to have started early, since as said in the first episode, he is no longer the man he used to be. This could be a ruse to twist up old fool fans like myself, just like how Owen rejected Ben’s gift to Luke of the toy fighter, when I clearly saw the reference to the 1977 film.
Maybe Luke will still get the toy. But wait…Luke did get the toy! Or more precisely, he will get the toy so that he can play with it in Episode IV. And just like the toy, despite any misgivings about how Kenobi is portrayed in this series, must not he transform into the beloved Guinness rendition?
The key difference between the Kenobi series and Disney’s prior character destruction of Han, Luke, and Yoda is all about timeline. Those earlier stories were technically the “present,” writing new material for the characters with no preconceived expectations of how the characters would turn out. The Kenobi series is of the “past,” for we know much of what is to come, particularly for Kenobi and his ultimate fate.
While this may be a satisfying explanation on a certain level, and from a certain point of view, Disney is not off the hook just yet. It is entirely possible that they will leave the Kenobi character is a “new light” for which we can never view the historical material in the same way. This is the greatest danger. What if the Kenobi series leaves old Ben as a truly broken man, who didn’t rise to the challenge when he could have, in this moment, righted wrongs, and instead exits the series with a failure burden that carries into Episode IV, more than we ever imagined prior, and in a precarious way?
From a more practical perspective, the series has already broken the continuity between the end of Revenge of the Sith and the start of A New Hope. The inference, at least to me, was always that Kenobi stayed on Tatooine to watch over Luke. The notion that he gallivanted around the galaxy on rescue missions (regardless for whom) instead of keeping to his exile, feels preposterous.
It may be entirely possible that Disney/Lucasfilm has learned from its past transgressions, and Obi-Wan won’t suffer, much, from being brought back for Disney+ streaming viability.
I will make a prediction – the writers know and understand how truly broken Star Wars is today, and there already has been a genuine good-faith attempt to repair the damage, as shown by the “safe” The Mandalorian series. So just like Luke’s star fighter toy, I predict he will get it by the end of the show, restoring continuity into Episode IV. Whether or not that restoration is a revitalization or final destruction of the last legend, we will know in about a month.
Bonus prediction/worry: Qui-Gon Jinn may be doomed to the “broken man” affliction before the series is over. After all, he “incorrectly” declared Anakin as The Chosen One. Will the Force ghost of Kenobi’s former master repent?
(And for the record, no I do not believe Qui-Gon was wrong, for the rise and fall of Anakin did ultimately restore balance, just not in the way he or anyone else envisioned.)
I have written this with no impression on other opinions or reviews, so I have no idea if my sentiments are common or fringe. I decided this best so my takes here are influenced by nothing except my longtime fan bond with Star Wars, which goes back to 1977. Again, we will know in a few weeks.