Obi-Wan Kenobi was the upcoming show I was most excited about when it was announced. As someone who grew up with the Star Wars prequels, I was excited to return to that era alongside Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, who would return to their iconic roles. After a great start, the middle of the series started to sag and there were a lot of awkward, oddly written parts. As such, it wasn’t clear how the finale would go, but for the most part it gave me what I really wanted from this series: closure between the characters of Anakin and Obi-Wan as they appear in the prequels and in the original trilogy.
What appeared to be a standalone series centered around Obi-Wan while protecting Luke turned into a more planet-hopping adventure featuring Obi-Wan and Leia. That’s fine, even if it was unexpected, since Obi-Wan’s story was still intriguing and he was expected to be played to perfection by McGregor. While it’s not the more remote story it seemed to be, there were some excellent scenes, such as the flashbacks to Anakin and Obi-Wan’s workouts and the many fun moments between Obi-Wan and Leia.
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But as was the case with Boba Fett’s book, it was full of confusing and sometimes bizarre decisions. From little things like Leia clearly hiding in Obi-Wan’s coat to big narrative beats like two different characters surviving torso stabs from a lightsaber, there was an underlying inconsistency that hurt the series. Some of the action scenes were done well enough, but many others were either silly or lacking, which was especially evident in the infamous chase scene from the first episode. there were great moments spanning most episodes, but they kept getting undermined by these odd choices.
Admittedly, the finale suffered from a few of these moments, but the clash between Obi-Wan and Vader was the highlight of the entire show. Not only did it deliver some stunning action moments during the fight itself, but it built on the tense, emotional relationship between Obi-Wan and his former Padawan. Whether or not you’ve experienced it The Clone Wars series or additional novels, you could feel the complicated history between the two in this season closing clash.
As someone who grew up loving the adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin in the prequels, this battle was extremely gripping. From the first battle to Obi-Wan’s barrage of rocks, there was real emotion behind every attack. Their complicated feelings for each other, from Vader’s blinding hatred to Obi-Wan’s undying determination, bled through effortlessly. These moves told the story through action, making a good action scene a great one and reminiscent of their last one duel Revenge of the Sith in this respect.
These powerful swings came to a crescendo when part of Vader’s helmet was shaved off, combining James Earl Jones’ Vader’s voice with Christensen’s Anakin. Anakin’s voice was no longer completely hidden, revealing his raw anger and the shell of the human being he had passed into. This literal and figurative exposure gave Obi-Wan’s tearful response more weight, as he was finally able to make contact with the man he felt as if he had failed; not the masked monster he had become. Seeing his face meant that Obi-Wan could finally see that his friend was gone and get the closure he’d wanted since their duel on Mustafar.
It’s the thing I’ve been waiting for the entire show, because of course the announcement that the two were returning implied that there would probably be some kind of highly anticipated showdown† Even if they’ve rarely (if ever) met, the knowledge of each other’s existence can determine how they handle conflicts that arise during the series. And if they met, it would be an important event, up there with the pivotal moments of The Mandalorian† While both of their encounters in Obi-wan kenobi were notable, their dynamics were less prominent in the series than I had hoped. Reva’s story was decent and Leia’s interest was an unexpected joy, but Obi-Wan and Vader’s story was the beating heart of the show and that final episode was able to make up for that.
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The final exchange between the two was heartbreaking and only preceded the other exceptional parts of the final. tthe last few scenes where Obi-Wan told Leia about her parents, met Luke, and saw Qui-Gon Jinn provided all the interaction and development Obi-Wan could have had to more fully flesh out his character outside the context of Vader and in a post-Revenge of the Sith world. Obi-Wan has taken great care of both Skywalker kids and is much less miserable than at the start of the show. He has grown from a jaded and defeated former Jedi to a more hopeful and peace-loving recluse. This development should probably have been more widespread throughout the series, but at least it made the finale more memorable.
While the series wasn’t what I expected, the finale was exactly what I wanted. If the whole show had fewer wacky writing choices and more of a focus on Obi-Wan, but kept this final showdown and the scenes that followed, it could have been there with The Mandalorian like the best Star Wars show. As it stands, it’s more than worth going through the rougher episodes to get to the final part, as it’s a beautiful Star Wars supplement that finally fills the gap between the Obi-Wan and Darth Vader seen in Revenge of the Sith and their older counterparts in A new hope†