And just like that, Obi-Wan Kenobi is over. The six-part special event series has ended with a satisfying conclusion that applied its strongest focus where it needed to, and Deborah Chow delivered. One particular storyline fell flat for me, but not one of the more important ones. Above all else, this conclusion delivered the very best of Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, enriching how we view the character, especially in the original trilogy, while doing the same for Anakin/Darth Vader. Here is my spoiler review of Obi-Wan Kenobi Part VI.
First, before I go any further, yeah they did it. They did the “Hello there” thing, and more than that, they are now the first words Obi-Wan Kenobi ever says to Luke Skywalker. Trying hard not to roll my eyes as its way too self-aware and on the nose for my liking, but, before you rain your hellfire upon me, I know Star Wars is quite silly at times so I will just take a page out of Lando Calrissian’s book and say I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. But I accept it. Onward.
To get the negatives out of the way, the only other thing I didn’t like in this episode is the part involving Reva and the Lars. Putting Reva’s attack on Lars Homestead (when we know Owen, Beru, and Luke survive) up against the “rematch of the century” between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader is like debuting a TV pilot against the Super Bowl. More than that, Reva’s story just seemed to fall flat, like they weren’t sure where to take her. And I was not lost on the fact that she saw herself in a young Luke Skywalker, while flashing back to images of Luke’s father slaying younglings. For whatever reason her story felt anti-climactic, perhaps due to what it was up against more than anything, which is absolutely fine. I came to this series for Obi-Wan and I got more than I bargained for. With that said, Moses Ingram’s immense talent (which she showcases once again in the finale) seemed a bit wasted. We’ll see if Reva has a future in Star Wars if they are able to come up with a compelling story for her that has nothing to do with the main conflict of the Galactic Civil War. My thoughts on the character’s story does not match my thoughts on Moses Ingram as a performer, as I felt she delivered a very strong performance, including in this final episode. Between her poise and charm throughout the press tour, and her abilities as a performer, I am happy I was introduced to Ingram through this series and look forward to watching her career with great interest.
On to what I liked, which is everything else! The writing was a strength of the series, including navigating continuity and understanding how to push the envelope in certain areas and cleverly inserting loopholes so the original Star Wars film still makes sense if watched in timeline order. The biggest standout to me is of course, Obi-Wan and Leia. At the very end of the episode when Obi-Wan tells Leia the traits she was passed down from her Mother and Father (holds back tears), he also explains that nobody can ever know. This allows Leia’s message to Obi-Wan in A New Hope, which sounds like she is addressing him for the very first time, to make more sense. Leia knows if she made a more personal message to Obi-Wan and it was intercepted, it could compromise them and the truth. Just like a good leader, she listened to what he said, followed his instruction, and executed it well. Credit to the writing team, led by Joby Harold, for inserting that brief moment in the episode which allows all of that Leia and Obi-Wan time to make sense when juxtaposed against A New Hope. And Vivien Lyra Blair was absolutely wonderful as a little Leia throughout the series, including the finale.
The lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Vader was perfect and takes the crown as the best battle between the two. It blended elegance with rawness, and the showcase of Force powers dropped my jaw in several instances; when Vader buries Kenobi to dramatically create his own high-ground, to Obi-Wan thinking of the kids and blasting himself out of his temporary tomb. Also, the moment Obi-Wan Force-pushes Vader into the rocks was the most vulnerable we saw a suited-Vader since Luke defeated him in Return of the Jedi. And when Kenobi lifted the rocks above his head (even though the Force is more than just lifting rocks!) I got chills. I had always speculated that Vader would remove his helmet on his terms, to show Obi-Wan what he did to him, but it turns out it was similar to that moment between Ahsoka and Vader in Rebels, where she gets a glimpse of his Sith eyes beneath the helmet. This scene in Obi-Wan Kenobi was powerful. Obi-Wan absolutely dominated Vader, first by disabling his breathing mechanism, then shattering half of his mask. This scene could have been so cheesy if not executed the right way in all aspects, but they absolutely nailed it. I had some minor issues with shot choices and angles during the duel itself, but once Kenobi cut Vader down to pieces, that’s when they hit us directly in the chest. It was in this moment that Hayden Christensen came through as the machine, as Darth Vader, it is clear Anakin is gone, and Christensen served as the necessary vehicle in that performance to bring out the absolute best of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their final exchange pushed both characters to where we need them to be in order for A New Hope to make sense. Vader confirming it was he, and he alone, who killed Anakin, and Obi-Wan now seeing nothing but Vader, finally absolving himself of the blame as well as the thought that Anakin can still be saved. Also, bravo to the writers for including a very appropriate nod to the original film with, “Goodbye, Darth.”
It was a great decision to place this duel on a new location and not Mustafar, for example. This choice allows this encounter to stand on its own, and I think that was a smart choice that might not get the proper attention or praise it deserves from those looking for the utmost nostalgia. But, whatever moon this is, its bland, dark, and rocky setting allows Kenobi and Vader to take center stage and absorb the entire focus.
And it needs to be said again. Darth Vader is the golden goose of Star Wars. He transcends the franchise. Everyone, Star Wars fan or not, knows Darth Vader. He is a precious commodity that must be handled well and they absolutely nailed it. I am blown away by how incredible Darth Vader was presented in this series, and for the inevitable Gallery series on Obi-Wan Kenobi, bringing Vader back to life for this show is what I am most excited to learn more about. The five-person crew plus whatever they did with James Earl Jones’ voice, in addition to Hayden Christensen’s performance, was purely masterful across the board. I can’t say enough good things about how perfect Darth Vader was in this entire series. And if they want to tell more Vader stories between this show and A New Hope, I am completely on board, as is Hayden Christensen according to recent interviews. Also, is this not the most disturbing yet awesome shot? Deborah Chow seems to be at her best when the stakes are highest, I love that in a director.
I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t talk about Palpatine’s cameo. It was brief, but significant. I love how it was just more manipulation and stoking Anakin/Vader’s insecurities. Palpatine truly understands Vader’s psyche and knows how to control him. It is tragic and terrible, but that kind of evil is what made this whole story work. I also like the subtleties to the Emperor’s appearance, as it is clear Chow and company did an earnest job at trying to capture his appearance as we approach the original trilogy, including his hand positioning. It is always great to see Sheevy Babes, I will never tire of seeing Ian McDiarmid return as Lord Sidious, so that brief cameo put a smile on my face (but not a creepy Emperor smile, just a normal smile).
Oh yeah, that other cameo! A prediction made by all fans that ended up coming true, the return of Qui-Gon Jinn. Another brief cameo, but also impactful. We learn this is the first time Obi-Wan has seen Qui-Gon since his death. It was pretty surreal seeing Liam Neeson back as the Jedi Master 23 years later. And we can all now collectively confirm that Liam Neeson is a terrible liar, as we recount his silly excuses as to why he was not in the series when asked countless times over the last couple of years. But I am glad he did, because I think by this point in the series we all had at least a small shred of doubt of him appearing after all. Obi-Wan’s journey to learn how to become one with the Force is about to begin, I liked that the last we saw of Kenobi was sort of as a padawan once again, off to learn the next and final lesson in his journey as a Jedi.
I liked what they did with Owen and Beru. I’ll admit I was a little caught off guard by Rambo Beru at first, but they didn’t go too far with it. That would have been a bit odd. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse really embodied the characters well, and while I wish I got more scenes between just Beru and Luke, I thought both actors served the story well and we really got to see how much they love Luke as their son (Aunt and Uncle titles aside) and that they would truly do anything to protect him. Again, this will only serve A New Hope better in subsequent viewings. I was very happy with how they gave us a deeper look into their family.
And shoutout to series composer Natalie Holt who saved the best for last, as the music during the duel and the episode in general was the best of the series. I had my issues with the music for a larger part of this series. It felt unmemorable and stock besides John Williams’ Obi-Wan theme, but Holt upped her game for the final two episodes, which was most important, so overall I felt she did a very good job when it mattered most.
I could go on, and I will tonight on The Resistance Broadcast LIVE at 9PM ET as we talk all about this final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. To close this review out I will say this series was absolutely not necessary, however that doesn’t matter at all. We never NEED more Star Wars but I love that we keep getting more. This series was handled with care and in my opinion this was the very best of Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, and honestly, even the best we’ve seen of Hayden Christensen in Star Wars in many respects.
I am already eager to rewatch the entire series and I can’t say that for everything that comes out. I feel like this series will enrich my view of the prequels but perhaps more-so my view of the saga in general, especially the original Star Wars movie and the characters of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. So, if you have read this far, thank you. But if you have, I must ask, who’s more foolish? The fool? Or the fool who follows him? See ya around kids.
Here are just a few Easter Eggs I noticed:
- Space chase of the Devastator (same Star Destroyer that captured Leia in A New Hope) chasing down a small ship that had Leia on it
- Obi-Wan giving Leia a blaster holster. Leia’s blaster in A New Hope is called Satine’s lament, which is as close to a Satine reference as we got in this series.
- Pursuit music was the same music from the Battle of Hoth
- “I will do what I must” call back to Revenge of the Sith from Obi-Wan but pre-dating that, Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, when he said, “I shall do what I must, Obi-Wan”