McGregor brings some nice gravity to this iteration of Obi-Wan, convincingly bridging the gap between “Sith” and the Sir Alec Guinness version from the first film, one that felt like he carried grief and trauma into his time with Luke Skywalker. And McGregor is surrounded by talented performers, including the always-solid Edgerton, and fun turns from Nanjiani and Flea. Ingram gives the most interesting early performance, setting up a strong nemesis for the season, but I worry that she will have to play second fiddle to the Anakin/Obi-Wan reunion that’s sure to come. Why flesh out a new character when you can fall back on old ones?
Ultimately, it’s impossible to really judge “Obi-Wan Kenobi” after only a third of its six-episode season. Is this just the prologue to something that stands on its two feet or will it be willing to lie down on the Lucasverse foundation for four more hours? I can’t tell. There are signposts in both directions. On the one hand, the ensemble is up for the challenge of telling a new story instead of just a familiar one. On the other hand, the creators of this show seem so content to color within the lines of fan expectations, perhaps burned by the responses the few times the “Star Wars” universe has felt different in the last decade or so. The truth is that people seem content to play in a sandbox that they recognize and already adore. Familiarity is comforting and safe. But it doesn’t stand the test of time.
My concern is that the Star Wars Disney+ universe is kind of like Obi-Wan in the first episode—stuck on Tatooine, looking at the memory of Luke from afar, doing its job, but also questioning its purpose. I would imagine the show that follows this premiere will help its title character find that purpose. Let’s hope the Star Wars television machine does too.
First two episodes screened for review. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” airs weekly on Disney+.
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