Published on June 1st, 2022 | by Craig Silliphant0
Round Table – Craig and Kim Discuss Obi-wan Kenobi
Help me Obi-wan Kenobi — you’re my only hope! Craig and Kim watch (and then break down) the first two Kenobi episodes on Disney Ploos.
KIM: After years of rumour and speculation, Ewen McGregor returns to his iconic roll for the first time since 2005 as Disney continues to expand the Star Wars universe and back stories.
It’s ten years after Revenge of the Sith. As Luke and Leia struggle with the restrictions of their childhood obligations to farming and princessing respectively, Obi-wan remains in hiding from the Inquisitors of the Empire while doing his best to keep a distant eye on Luke.
As to be expected, the first two episodes released last week are full of incredible sets and wardrobe, surprise actors in some of the roles (I didn’t even recognize Rupert Friend from Homeland), and an interesting premise that foreshadows some answers to questions that fans have had for years.
Craig, was your excited anticipation satisfied by what you saw in the first hour and a half?
CRAIG: Yes! Of course, we’ll break down the details as we go. But I saw that some people were complaining about not much action in the first episode. I assume that’s why Disney released the first two at the same time — they function as one episode, really. But I didn’t mind them taking the time to re-establish ourselves with the world. In fact, I am so totally there for Sad Ben (as I’ve been calling him).
We see a haggard, older Sad Dad Kenobi that’s closing the gap everyone used to joke about between young McGregor and old Sir Alec Guinness. And in fact, in 10 years, McGregor will be just two years younger than Guinness was in 1977, so it kind of works out.
Anyway, I love the haunted, lonely, broken-hearted Kenobi. It brings a depth to the character that was only hinted at in the original trilogy. He has killed his best friend (or so he thinks), the whole galaxy has fallen to an evil that he couldn’t stop, and he has to hide out because his Jedi brethren are being hunted down and murdered. McGregor is the very best part of a trilogy that didn’t have a lot of best parts, so I’m thrilled to see him again.
When you’re young, you identify with Luke and the hero myth. When you’re in your 20s, you identify more with the swashbuckling Han Solo in a complex and ambiguous world. But now that I’m in my 40s, with a sore back and kids to watch over, I totally identify with ol’ Ben Kenobi. Turns out he’s not just a “crazy old wizard,” haha.
Kimmer, what did you think of where we started and how we find Kenobi?
KIM: It’s a good launch point; 17 years after we last saw Ewen McGregor as Obi-wan, but only 10 years in the SW universe. And let’s face it, McGregor is aging much slower than the rest of us (the bastard). When I saw the first lightsaber duel in Phantom Menace (1999), it made the last showdown between Vader and Obi-Wan from A New Hope (1977) seem anemic and almost laughable by comparison. I spent years wondering how they could ever explain how frail Obi-wan became in his final years. But, like you said, we’re in our 40s and I’m starting to understand how we slow down.
As we pick up the story in episodes one and two of this series, he’s had to hide by concealing his Jedi powers — as in, not using them at all, I assume. So, he kind of reminds me of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham (1988), like a washed-up but once great athlete with slow reflexes and bad knees. McGregor is doing a great job of continuing to portray Obi-wan on a trajectory of evolution that, I think, will end up very convincing as we close in on when he eventually meets up with a teenage Luke. As for the lack of action complaints, all in good time. Action is meaningless without story, stakes and character development, so I appreciate that they are building to something before all the pew! pew! pew! and hyperdrive. I’m sure that ‘ol Ben still has a few tricks up his robe.
So far, so good, in terms of world creation and planting seeds for adventures to come — including the fact that we now know that not everything will take place on Tatooine, which is a pretty grim and depressing place. I’ve got a other points, but before we get to that, talk a little bit about the back story development of Leia. You made a very interesting point on the phone a couple days ago.
CRAIG: Right — I love that they’ve brought Leia into this. Not least because I’m watching it with my kids and having some strong female protagonists, especially in the form of a little girl, is awesome for my daughter. Heck, it’s awesome for my son to also see, through characters like Rey and Leia, that not all heroes have dicks.
But it also hit me that Leia is ripe for stories! We know where Luke was his whole life leading to A New Hope and you can’t retcon that. However, when we meet Leia in 1977, she’s already being chased by Darth Vader, putting secret plans in droids, and calling for Jedi Knights to grab a lightsaber and get in the game. She’s been through this a million times. And, while she doesn’t mention knowing Obi-wan specifically in the holo message Luke finds when cleaning R2-D2, it could still be a thing. There’s nothing to contradict them having a relationship. It’s clear by A New Hope that she’s had a hell of a ride so far — she looks bored when Luke rescues her on the Death Star. It’s old hat to her. I know Rebels has dipped into this a bit, but there are so many stories we could tell about a young Leia in the rebellion that we can’t tell about Luke. I think that’s great.
KIM: Yes, I’m all in for some great Leia stories! There will be little tweaks to the writing as we go along to make sure the pieces fit, but it can easily be done. “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” I think she remembers him, but perhaps she wonders if he remembers her. Plus, everyone is playing a cautious game, not letting on all that they know. Obi-wan claimed that he didn’t recall owning any droids when he first meets up with R2, Threepio, and Luke in A New Hope.
As for further Leia stories, I suggest getting that kid into track & field a.s.a.p. because if she doesn’t learn to run better, we’re going to have a couple of seasons of her getting kidnapped repeatedly. Seriously though, it’s a great angle we haven’t seen before, so bring it on. I think we’re also going to learn more about the “special training” Yoda had assigned Obi-wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith, where he promised to teach him how to commune with his old master. This is important for the sacrifice Ben makes in his final duel with Darth Vader. And what about the world of Alderaan? Will we see more of that before it (spoiler alert) gets blown up? Did they really have planetary peace and no weapons as Leia claimed to Tarkin?
Episode three airs tonight on Disney+ and the first two episodes, anchored by a great performance from Ewen McGregor and appealing new stories in the expanded Star Wars universe has my full attention. I look forward to talking to you again after we see where these adventures take us!
CRAIG: Hell, yeah! May the Force be with you!