The spin-off series has an exciting finale surrounding by filler
Disney’s great success in the last decade has come from squeezing its lucrative IP out of every remaining dollar and idea. This has worked when structured such as the Infinity Saga within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but has faltered when faced with an aimless barrage of spin-off content. This is the case with Disney’s handling of the Star Wars IP, where they seem to be making series and films for the sake of it rather than a creative necessity. We thus arrive to the newest Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022).
Obi Wan Kenobi follows the famous eponymous character (Ewan McGregor) after the Jedi Order has been wiped out by the rise of the Empire. He spends his days recluse, working at a meat processing plant on the sandy planet of Tatooine. However, when the young Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair), asks for his help, Obi-Wan must dust off his jedi skills and face the evil force-wielding Third Sister (Moses Ingram) and potentially is old apprentice, Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones).
Obi Wan Kenobi is helmed by Deborah Chow who worked previously on the enjoyable The Mandalorian (2019-). Chow dons some great Star Wars visuals within the series, as well as employing some weighty emotional moments regarding Obi-Wan’s guilt with his old apprentice. However, Chow seems extremely constrained by the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t have anything much to say. It seems that the creators had one specific climactic scene in mind that would make the core of the finale, and they decided to build a rambling and aimless story to lengthen the runtime of the episodes and get the semblance of a television series. This makes for episodes that feel like inconsequential fluff, not contributing much to the Star Wars saga, and leaving the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the same place as Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2003) had left him.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t great to see McGregor return to the role that he bravely took on in the prequel trilogy. McGregor is given more time to chew on the emotional pains and conflicts of his character, although the series frustratingly avoids lingering in these moments too much. The character of the Third Sister, which received some unwarranted racist backlash online, is not a convincing villain, and the twist in her arc is carried out with a shrug instead of the layering it could have provided. This is due in part to the weak writing of the character’s dialogue, although Ingram herself delivers a generic villain performance of “shouting-and-whispering” that doesn’t do her character any favors. As such, viewers grow impatient with the Third Sister’s scenes as they anticipate the more interesting clash between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.
In the end, Obi-Wan Kenobi builds an elongated filler series out of two or three interesting scenes and character beats. Frustratingly, Chow and her team don’t focus on building out the interesting themes that form the center of their character, instead overstuffing the narrative with side-plots and blatant set-ups for future spin-off series. The finale is able to deliver on the high expectation, but it isn’t able to mask the more tepid attempts at crafting an intriguing and wholesome narrative in the five previous episodes.