For example, you ramped up a relatively simple kidnapping story relatively slowly, instead choosing to focus on Ben’s ‘salad days’ on Tatooine. Granted, you needed a bit of time to introduce a few new faces to the ongoing saga in that galaxy far, far away; but christening fandom as racists when they didn’t embrace your flatly-defined new villain Reva (Moses Ingram) didn’t exactly earn a vote of confidence from audiences, either.
Then, you reduced a brave and noble Jedi Master – such as Kenobi was – to the point wherein our hero needed a ten-year-old Princess Leia to rescue him (emotionally) as opposed to vice versa (the whole premise behind this limited series). While there’s nothing wrong with the warrior having grown a bit old and gray in the ten years since we’d last seen him, perhaps your writers went a bit too far? Slowing him down with age comes naturally, but when the Force is his ally? I’d think he would’ve retained a bit punch than you granted him in those early episodes.
Episode 5 – which was big on action but a bit bereft of logic – gave Kenobi a brief return-to-form: with nearly everyone audiences have been encouraged to care about painted into a corner on Jabiim, the former general took charge of the dire straits, rallied the troops, and staged a counter offensive to the Empire’s attack on the spaceport. Most of the action was deliciously staged with the ragtag group of folks likely on the way to becoming members of the Rebel Alliance exchanging blaster fire with the galaxy’s worst shots ever (Stormtroopers), and even the newly appointed Grand Inquisitor Reva and the dark lord of the Sith himself – Darth Vader – stepping into the spectacle.
But … I have questions …
Would Vader really have placed Reva in charge of a ground offensive? I believe I’m on record as not being all that enamored with these ‘Inquisitors’ to begin with (not in this show, per se, but in the entire Star Wars universe), but have we ever seen that they were trained to lead troops into combat? It seems to me that these Inquisitors are the type to show up after the action has secured the Jedi survivors so that they can do what they do once things are under control. While they may’ve been trained to face-off against Force users, I’m at a loss to know anything further about their role with the Imperial military, and those scenes felt a bit off to me.
Also – while we’re on that topic – if all it took was Reva marching up to the sealed blast door, pulling out her lightsaber, and slashing the lock away, then what was the need for all of those cannon blasts? Mind you, there were no rebel troops posted outside the door, protecting it, securing the grounds against Imperial oppression … so why not just have her do what she did instead of wasting all of that precious time (and effects budget) on efforts that bore no fruit? Again, it felt like an obvious attempt to deliver some visual eye candy to viewers, and I’ve found moments like those cheapen the story inside of enhancing it.
And – as long as I’m now on the topic of Reva – what’s with the sudden downplaying of massive bodily injuries being inflicted by those lightsabers? The movies pretty much established that it’s a lethal weapon – Qui-Gon received a fatal blow from Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace when that blade impaled him through the belly – but this miniseries has not one victim (the original Grand Inquisitor) but a second (Reva) surviving the same move. Are these instruments for good somehow metaphysically and existentially weakened by the fall of the Republic?
I could go on – Kenobi’s back-and-forth between the action was a bit distracting (first, he’s surrendering, then it’s some massive misdirection, etc.) – but I think you get the point. Visually, yes, the hour was fabulous; but I thought its structure reeked of amateurish screenwriting.
For the record, I’ve always been one to agree that fandom can be guilty of overthinking some elements of the movies and series.
I might disagree with why we do it – I honestly think it’s part-and-parcel of loving something as dearly as we do a franchise – but, inevitably, I’d agree that it does get in the way of our enjoying some of the lesser moments of any tale. Expressing such fondness isn’t always easy, and I think the way we’re all wired has us trying to examine little things to make sense of the bigger ones.
That’s why I think it was very touching that, finally, Obi-Wan Kenobi delivered a bit of what I’d call “fan service” by opening this important hour with a terrific flashback: the Jedi Master and his fateful padawan, Anakin Skywalker, engaged in a training bout back in their happier days on Coruscant. Not only did the hour start this way, but this battle’s development and denouement were used to frame the progress of the episode. Kenobi delivered Anakin a very telling lesson involving why the student failed, and their exchange related visually to how each man approached fighting a battle. This was storytelling done right … and it was the episode’s only reward.
Reva’s reveal – one that I think even much in fandom had predicated since the first episode – was handled very well (honestly, I think it’s one of the highpoints of the entire series, which is why unlike others I’ve been slow to criticize her as a character); it had the kind of nuance viewers appreciate, and maybe it’ll even have some of her detractors changing their tune. Now, we can care about her and her journey. We can feel for her. We can – if we choose – cry for her.
We couldn’t do that before because we knew so little about her except what was written (and written poorly), and I think that the Mouse House’s attempts to paint all of us as racists in those early exchanges reflect a sad state of the union for corporate America: if they (the audience) don’t like it, hurl the cheapest, laziest, most offensive insult at them to shut them up, and press onward. I’ll not forgive the company any time soon – nor sirs Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen for jumping on that Disney-sponsored bandwagon – and you know what? That’s ok. That’s my right. Disney be damned.
But Episode 5 finally did right by the character, and I’ll celebrate that seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Yes, it’s sad that it took them five episodes to do right by her, but they finally got us to a place wherein we can all agree on something … and that’s progress.