Published on June 26th, 2022 | by Craig Silliphant0
Obi-wan Kenobi Round Table Review – Episodes 5 and 6
Obi-wan Kenobi’s last episode dropped this week. Kim and Craig sort through the wreckage of laser blasts and Kenobi’s emotions to chat about the show.
Read our conversation on the first two episodes here.
Read our conversation on the 3rd and 4th episodes here.
KIM: As we wrote about the first four episodes, I really had my doubts as to how the show could overcome its own clumsy flaws. In hindsight, it now just reminds me of a sports team with the jitters in game one of the championship finals. And I’ll return later to my thoughts on how Star Wars fans are now very comparable to sports fans, something I never thought I would say. But as a winning team eventually finds their legs and steady their nerves to get the job done, OWK has certainly proven itself, in the end, to be worthy of praise and respect.
We tried to be fair as we picked apart pieces of the episodes that were questionable, but all that scrutiny also leads to finding those little moments of artistic staging that make your heart pound like a little kid. For me, in episode V (not to be confused with the Empire Strikes Back), it was, again, all things Vader and most specifically the silhouette shot of him pulling down the transport ship. There’s a wide shot of him, arm outstretched as his cape billows in the hot air of the struggling engine flames. The set, the scale and the colours all reminded me of Star Wars concept art I saw as a kid, artwork that never came to fruition in the original trilogy but was creatively inspiring none the less.
What did you enjoy most about episode V, and were you surprised in the upturn in how tight the story details were amongst all that action?
CRAIG: Let me first say that I loved the episode. The last two were the strongest of the series. But I’m not sure the story details were that tight, if I understand your question. I’ll blast through all my thinking so we can spend more time on the finale:
The thing I liked best about the episode was the flashback to Obi and Ani sparring for practice. It was good to give Christiansen a bit of face time. And without Lucas messing him up, his acting shone through more. I don’t give a toss about the fact that their faces looked older than what they should have been. Sure, I had to pretend not to see it, maybe squint a bit. But I’d rather see a few wrinkles I can justify (because they age like the rest of us) than a weird CGI face with dead eyes that haunt my nightmares. It’s a great scene and it’s woven into the story well. This is where I do think the episode writing was tight. And what do we learn? That Vader doesn’t have the patience for a siege (which seemed like a pretty throwaway line after taking a whole episode to establish it, but whatever, it works and it’s clever).
I also dug Vader taking that ship down. Not him pulling it down — we’ve seen that before with Rey and Ren. But when it hits the ground and he tears it apart with the Force, I got goosebumps.
And I loved Obi-wan’s plan (and conversation) with Reva; he figures out who she is and why she’s been sucking up to Vader. Not to rise in the ranks, but to kill him. I love seeing Obi-wan the strategist. The guy who will say, “There are alternatives to fighting.” Lightsaber fighting is awesome, but these moments build Kenobi’s character so well.
On the negative side, I hate to be the guy who nitpicks the story (no I don’t), but this show has proven over and over again that as great as it can be, it can also be ridiculously clumsy. In Obi-wan’s plan, he tells Reva that Vader won’t see her because all he’ll see is his old master. But then she waits until Obi-wan’s Space Uber gets away and Vader’s no longer distracted before making her move. The time to attach would have been while he was pulling that ship back in. It may not have ultimately worked, but it would have improved her odds. They give no reason why she came late, which would have been as easy to write as her encountering a droid that slows her down in the hallway or something. Cheap and lazy.
There are a couple more of these; Bail and Kenobi agree to maintain radio silence, but then Bail contacts him when radio silence suddenly seems worrisome. And even if we could excuse a high-ranking leader who knows better setting aside his good judgment because his daughter is involved, did he also need to blab about Luke on Tatooine so anyone intercepting the transmission or finding Obi-wan’s holo-doohickey knows about the universe’s last hope? And then Vader — who kills everyone who misspells a word in their weekly management report and just got tricked by Obi-wan AGAIN and is being betrayed by Reva — lets her live. Wtf?
Of course, the only reason for these bizarre decisions is because we need Reva to live for another episode and because the show wants to get her to Tatooine to put Luke in danger for the big finale. But these things drive me nuts. The plot should never bend to the story. The story should always dictate the plot.
But uh…like I said…I loved the episode, haha.
Anything else you want to say or should we move to the finale?
KIM: Those are all fair points and, yes, some of the character behaviour is maddening. But I grew up watching the original trilogy on VHS repeatedly, the only Star Wars there was at the time, and now it’s expanded from three movies to eleven movies, plus all manner of tv series to animated shows, Lego versions, etc. There’s so much to chew on now! I’m rather cavalier when I watch these new shows, letting stuff slide that I probably shouldn’t because the high points (like Vadar ripping that ship apart!) make it all worth the price of admission for me.
And I’m glad you brought up Reva stalking Luke in the finale. My anticipation of that scene wasn’t because I thought Luke was in danger. I know he’s not. I thought the scene was really about Reva’s struggle to decide who to become, and while it was a slow build of character that had most fans saying they wish she was killed off or, better yet, not in this at all, I liked her. I wanted to see what she really was inside, how she would deal with her past and future. The conversations she and Obi-wan have in episode five were revealing of them both. Obi-wan is far more in control of his emotions that Reva or Vader, so it was satisfying to watch him exploit that.
Reva: He’s on his way. You’re going to die soon.
Obi Wan: You’re not bringing him to me, I’m bringing him to you.
The plan to distract and attack Vader sounded simple enough, but once this line was delivered by Obi-wan it gave viewers (and Reva) a lot to think about. It’s a triangle of ‘the enemy of my enemy’ and I don’t know if Obi-wan was trying to do her a favour, or just himself. Either way, the real motivation for Obi-wan was to buy time for his friends to escape. Mission accomplished.
But let’s move on to episode six, because things just keep heating up!
I want to end on a high note because I think we both agree that the series was a success in the end, despite many flaws and stumbles. And, for the record, I like hearing you talk about the negative aspects of the writing or staging. We all know you have been studying script writing for decades and I think your knowledge of the art is insightful. So, let’s start with the parts of the episode that got on your nerves so we can geek out over the high points! Did it bother you that Obi-wan just threw rocks at Vader like a mean child on a playground?
CRAIG: Haha, no, I actually dug that. I like it when they show Jedis using the full range of their powers. One of my favourite ways to kill guys in Fallen Order is just force pushing them off cliffs without even cracking my lightsaber.
I can’t say I had too many problems with the final episode. You and I talked about it on the phone the other day and I said I wish that they had milked Obi-wan and Vader’s conversation a bit more for some emotional depth. They haven’t seen each other in ten years and their last conversation ended in legs getting cut off and Ani taking a lava bath.
However, I do think they got to the right place anyway. So this isn’t anything the show necessarily did wrong. I just like it when there’s some emotional banter during those lightsaber fights. As we see in both Empire and ROTJ, Luke and Vader may be physically sword fighting, but those scenes aren’t about physical combat at all. They’re about emotional combat, parrying back and forth. First, Vader trying to corner Luke and convince him to turn to the dark side. And in ROTJ, Luke trying to convince Vader to come back to the light side.
I’m not saying Obi-wan should have been trying to convince him to come back, but a bit more depth here would have been appreciated. That said, in the end, he gets his answer, which echoes into his lie(from a certain point of view) to Luke in A New Hope; his brother Anakin is dead. Killed by Vader. And I love that this also gave him the closure that he needed.
I was also at first annoyed that he didn’t kill Vader — which we obviously know wasn’t going to happen. But I talked myself out of that (as well as why he didn’t kill Anakin in Revenge of the Sith). When Anakin kills an unarmed Dooku (literally unarmed, haha!), he says, “I shouldn’t have done that. It’s not the Jedi way.” So I don’t think this is one of my, ‘Oh, Obi-wan didn’t kill Vader because he can’t for continuity’s sake’ arguments. It makes total sense in the universe. Jedi don’t kill unarmed combatants. And Obi-wan Kenobi is one of the greatest Jedi ever, steadfast in his mindful approach to everything.
But this was easily the best episode in the run. All the emotional seeds they planted paid off. I just talked about Obi-wan and Anakin/Vader. Obviously, we get a bit of payoff with the Lars family and Luke. Reva’s final decision (and yes, I agree, she had a good arc too, even if they were clumsy in how they shoved the pieces into place). But the part that almost brought me to tears was Obi-wan saying goodbye to Leia. When he describes Padme and Anakin and how he sees them in her, holy shit, I could make rain on Tatooine from my tears. It’s also a nice payoff to a few conversations they had about her parentage. I really connected with their relationship — probably the strongest part of the series for me. It was honest and well told.
And at the center of it all, the brilliant Ewan McGregor. He’s had a subtle but amazingly calibrated performance, from sad and broken man to a Jedi at peace, renewed in his mission to protect Luke. (Another funny bit of nonsense — how was he supposed to protect Luke when we first encounter them on the show? He has no powers or skills, disconnected from the Force. But anyway, as you said, some of this we have to let slide, haha).
KIM: That’s very well summarized, and I think it hits on all the top talking points. I agree that Obi-wan and Vader could have had more dialogue, even if it was just some trash talking, haha.
But what we lost in banter, we gained in set design. When these two last met in ROTS, I felt like it was so try-hard that it began to look like a video game. Floating down a river of lava, soaring through the air like flying vampires and flipping like Romanian gymnasts was a little much for me. I love this one because they’re so battle hardened here.
Out of all you said, I really love that you had an emotional connection with the characters in a particular moment. This is exactly why I keep saying we have to let some stuff slide. In the end, as you pointed out, we got where we needed to get. And along the way, everyone gets their own moment(s) of excitement, awe, or emotional surge to make it all worthwhile.
Star Wars is fun to geek out about, but there is a segment of ‘fans’ on the internet that really gave this series an honest 2/10 while whining that, “This actress can’t act, that part was stupid, it’s all a garbage fire, worst TV ever! Kathleen Kennedy is masterminding a conspiracy to ruin Star Wars!” And while Obi Wan was airing the series weekly, the NHL playoffs were (are) continuing and it suddenly dawned on me how Star Wars fans now sound like sports fans, and I never thought I would say that. When the NHL playoffs didn’t go the preferred way for fans (I’m looking at you Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary) it was, “The refs were terrible, they’ve got to trade that guy, fire the coach, Garry Bettman is directing the league to prevent Canadian teams from winning the cup!”
Jocks when I was in school used to make fun of Trekkies (wait, that’s not a pejorative term now, is it?) and Star Wars fans for dressing up in costumes to attend events. Then, the same jocks would go put on a jersey and scream at a game. What? Wait, you literally bought the same sweater your favourite player wears to work, and then you showed up at his work, got drunk and screamed at him to shoot more? Wow. Wearing a bathrobe and carrying a golf tube taped to a flashlight to the movie theatre doesn’t seem so nuts anymore.
Star Wars is there for our enjoyment, for fun, and to indulge creative fantasy. I’m not sure we’ll see a season 2 of Obi-wan Kenobi, but I do know that Yoda has to end up on Dagobah and that might be a cool adventure. Maybe Obi-wan crosses paths with a slick, young Lando Calrissian (and Lobot, haha, love that guy). I’d watch that, and even bite my tongue if they did something daft. Call it Ben & Lando: Shenanigans Huzzuh! for all I care. More Ewen McGregor is always okay in my books.