For example, young Jake Lloyd did what he could to elevate some rather juvenile speeches when he played the youngest incarnation of Anakin Skywalker in Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Though the kid was derided a bit by fandom, my grievances with it were directed more at the story, which I felt never quite congealed around any particular point of view. Saddled with introducing several significant characters who’d stretch the length of the Prequel Trilogy, the script needed a stronger focus on the young man in order to give him the chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the talented ensemble. I suppose it is what it is, but I can’t help but bringing that up as it relates to the state of the franchise.
By contrast, Disney+’s The Mandalorian started to right that ship just a bit. Because that property introduced Grogu and even managed to pair the fledgling padawan up with a few children in one of the show’s best installments, Star Wars finally – ahem – found a way to showcase the youngest among us that didn’t require some fancy narrative trickery about bringing balance to the Force. In more cases than not, children require the assistance, tutelage, and guidance of adults in order to make their way in the world; even Grogu consequently brought out the best in Din Djarin, making him fully realize his role as a responsible parent in the galaxy far, far away.
Now Obi-Wan Kenobi has gotten into the act.
Part 1 showed viewers a young Luke Skywalker behaving much like a kid would – playing with toys – while trying to avoid his chores with an earnest Uncle Ben. The script went one step further by showing Luke’s twin sister Leia doing much the same – sneaking out of the Alderaan palace to spend some quality time with her robot companion in the forest. But it went even a step further as audiences came to see this Leia was being trained to serve in some royal capacity, a future position she only begrudgingly accepted at her father’s encouragement. Some of the young lady’s delivery felt a bit clunky, in my opinion: a budding ten-year-old actress can only do so much with what’s on the written page … but, thankfully, she was given better material in this second episode.
For what it’s worth, I thought Part 2 was a vast improvement over Part 1 if for no other reason than things actually happened.
Furthermore, Part 2 benefits from some great screen time shared between Kenobi and li’l Leia, and that’s mostly what I touched on from above.
Kids need to be kids … and, yes, Walt Disney, that even means royal kids, too. Pairing our young princess up with a mechanical counterpart is one thing, but she needs to behave in a way that shows she’s of sound body and mind, questioning the world around her even if that means not liking what she learns as answers. (FYI: that’s called “growth.”) That’s what Part 2 did very well: not long after Kenobi rescues her, Leia suspects he’s withheld information (tip: he has) and then acts appropriately on that jeopardy. She does exactly what a kid would do: she runs away.
Still, it bears mentioning that introducing the aging Jedi Master to li’l Leia has created a sticking point for fans … or should I call this a disturbance in the Force? Previously, A New Hope kinda/sorta loosely established that Princess Leia never previously met Obi-Wan, that she’s coming to him at the urging of her father. But … well … this series shows that is far from the case. Will there be some clarification? Like a droid, will her mind be wiped of the interaction? A Jedi mind trick maybe? Or are fans just to accept that the film events are being ‘retconned’ by new material? Hopefully, this will be addressed in some way (positively) as I’d agree with those who call it a plot hole (of sorts).
Also: may I ask what skills the Inquisitors actually bring to the workplace? It would appear – outside of the obvious Force tools – that these knuckleheads lack any other legitimate cognitive skills. They simply stroll around in an almost thuggish way exercising the full whim and will of the Galactic Empire. Certainly, a case could be made that they don’t know how to put two-and-two together if now – ten years later – said ‘gutter trash’ Reva has dug into the Jedi Archives and found a link between Kenobi and Bail Organa. What? Did no one think to look in there before? Not in ten years? Didn’t Anakin – now Darth Vader – even suggest a link? What have you Inquisitors been doing in all this time? Just enjoying free Imperial travel perks?
So, yeah, there’s still some wrinkles that need a bit of ironing, but – as I said – Part 2 moves along at a much better pace stylistically than did its predecessor … so let’s hope all involved keep it moving forward from here on out.