Loving the character as much as I do, I knew that I was going to tune in, so that was never in question. It’s just that – as I’ve said (or strongly implied) in my reviews of Parts 1 and 2 – I believe the movies had largely exhausted Kenobi’s true usefulness as a creation. (Again, folks, this is not meant as an insult to the purely fictional being – as if he cares or even notices me – or Ewan McGregor: characters have a shelf life, and so far as I cared I thought good ol’ Ben had fulfilled his purpose.) Part 1 – as languid as it felt – demonstrated part of my hesitation over seeing him brought back (really, what more was there for him to do?); Part 2 was an improvement because the writers gave him something familiar work we’d seen before; and Part 3? That’s where we are now, and I’m going to step into a bit of the web-based controversy with this hot take: personally, I loved it … but I understand why many didn’t.
You see, I was there with audiences when we first met Obi-Wan Kenobi, and – despite what I’ve read all over the Information Superhighway last night and this morning – I think we saw very different cuts of the original Star Wars. Nowhere in that groundbreaking and exhilarating motion picture was it explicitly said that Darth Vader hadn’t seen his mentor since the fall of the Jedi. I do understand why it was strongly implied that they hadn’t seen in twenty years (or thereabouts), but you can’t point me to a line (in the film) wherein Vader uttered those specific words: “Why, master, I haven’t seen you since Mustafar.” Something could’ve been said in the books. Something may’ve been stated in the comics. But it was not said in the movie. Not to my honest, aged recollection. Implied? Yes. Stated. No.
This is why I’d argue that the showrunners and their collective writing staff have definitely mined the nuance of language presented in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of The Jedi for a precise set of meanings that they could – understandably, necessarily – exploit in order to spin this web of theirs. Realizing that word (“exploit”) brings with it some connotations, I’m not suggesting that they’re exploiting any plot hole in Lucas’s original films; rather I’m saying they found just enough wiggle room with which to insert this tale and still preserve the meaning of those cinematized words and moments.
After all, Star Wars has always clung to ideas “from a certain point of view.”
In that respect, I think what they’ve accomplished here is fairly monumental. It may not be revolutionary, but I think it’s minimally admirable. As storytellers, they’ve found a way to both redirect yet honor the spirit of the Original Trilogy – its events and circumstances – while expanding on them in ways lesser scribes could only hope to secure. If you find that complimentary of them, then so be it: I think it works … and I’m totally fine with being in the minority. Tip: I’ve been in the minority most of my adult life.
But … as I said above, I enjoyed the episode. It was tense. It was revealing. It brought a new character or two and gave them depth. And it most certainly kept my interest.
Part 3, I thought, delivered a fabulously young and vengeful Darth Vader who would stop at nothing to draw out his former master for an inevitable rematch. Lest we not forget when these two last met, Anakin was – quite literally – in pieces while Obi-Wan stood angrily over him, crying out his fevered disgust over his pupil’s violations. Given Anakin’s condition, it was only obvious that Kenobi thought that was the end of their days together, so imagine my surprise at how visibly the tables had turned in this third hour? Aged and more than a bit confused, Kenobi is little more than a shell of his former self – a truly fallen Jedi Master – while his former student’s evil powers have truly blossomed in ways modern audiences have only now seen possible.
(Sidebar: other than a whole lot of Force-choking and some great line deliver in the Original Trilogy, I always found Vader a bit tame. Imposing? Yes. Daunting? Of course. Determined? No doubt. But … outside of being great with a lightsaber, I always thought he seemed a bit reserved. Just my two cents.)
This is the Dark Lord of the Sith I think all of us who were there for the original films have wanted to see for so, so long. (Yes, I realize that might sound ‘concerning,’ but you’re not my therapist.) He was striding about confidently. He easily chucking men, women, and children about with the Force, snapping necks, dragging them across the dirty streets. He was a man driven, a man possessed – as all Sith are – by their pure and utter hatred. Rather than hear about why Vader was feared and despised, Part 3 gave us visuals meant to be the stuff of nightmares; dare I say that even Kenobi couldn’t believe his eyes?
The episode also gave us a few more scenes to digest involving Kenobi and his traveling companion, li’l Leia, and many of them were also quite good.
Though I didn’t quite buy into the Jedi Master’s expressed desire when he admitted he wished he could’ve been the young princess’ father (erm … where did that come from, writers?), I did find their growing appreciation of one another very relatable given the circumstances. After all, there was a time when her true father was his best friend (if Jedis are allowed even that minimal attachment), and I think those sentiments alone are weighing more and more on the man as this story progresses. In fact, I’d argue that as he’s evolving to have a measure of ‘care’ for the girl, perhaps the storytellers are displaying exactly why Jedi are forbidden to love: it will, ultimately, prohibit a warrior from acting selflessly.