I don’t say this to nitpick any individual effort. Nor am I trying to be outright negative about the show’s early prospects. It’s just that when it all began dear ol’ Ben was in, understandably, a very dark place; and the set-up of these new players – a necessary step to launch this narrative into action – was handled perhaps a bit too predictably and clunkily. Characters were so much established as they were introduced; some of this is owed to the evolution of their various arcs over the six episodes, but I said back then – and I re-affirm it today – that showrunners Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Deborah Chow, and a host of others likely did themselves no favors in the first episode or two. They were slim on action, light on premise, and poorly paced. (I said what I said; and no, I’m not sorry.)
Thankfully, the pacing picked up a bit in Episode 2 as the script finally gave Kenobi something to do other than waste away in depression under Tatooine’s twin suns. The development of an actual story didn’t quite smooth out that rug of poorly introduced characters, but if everyone is being kept busy then the flaws aren’t as apparent and objectionable, though much of fandom did cry out in unison … only to be suddenly silenced. (Get it?)
Honestly, I never considered myself as one who protested this story being told much less plausible within Star Wars’ established canon. So far as I thought, there was enough wiggle room that a follow-up confrontation between the master and his one-time apprentice (Darth Vader, formerly Anakin Skywalker) was viable … but was it necessary? Well, we wouldn’t know that until all was said and done – meaning the entire story was available for review – and I’m glad to say that – so far as this longtime Star Wars fan is concerned – the Force was definitely strong by the big finish.
Episode 6 opened with Kenobi on the run with what seemed to be refugees fleeing the Galactic Empire (was that ever actually fully explained?), only for the former general to realize that his presence alone was the source of all that presently ailed these people. Realizing were he to flee on his own that Vader would order his Star Destroyer to follow, Ben took an available fighter craft and sped away. Sure enough, the Dark Lord of the Sith followed, setting the stage for – at least – another monumental showdown between these two men who spent a good portion of the lives as best friends.
The hour also developed a curious second plotline that screenwriters crafted to run concurrent with the main one: Reva – now fallen from Imperial grace and maybe even near-mortally wounded – travels to Tatooine with the intention of taking out her revenge by killing Anakin’s other child, young Luke Skywalker. Word of her arrival and intentions gets to Owen and Beru Lars – Luke’s aunt and uncle and adoptive parents – and the moisture farmers take matters of security into their own hands, preparing to face off against the former Grand Inquisitor should it come to that.
In a stroke of genius, director Chow cut back-and-forth between these two critical matchups. Initially, Kenobi appears to have been bested by his former pupil, and ultimately what good could, would, and should a pair of farmers be against a vengeful Force user? But as most fairy tales do inevitably reach that silver lining, Kenobi gets his groove back, chases down an unsuspecting Vader, and – quite literally – drops the house on him. (Well, a helluva lot of stones, anyway.) In contrast, Reva takes a fateful approach to slashing the fallen and unconscious child into fleshy bits only to realize that, no, she’s not as evil as Anakin once was – if you recall, she watched that possessed padawan strike down her fellow younglings on Coruscant. Instead, she returns the boy to the Lars – now joined by Kenobi (a bit rather quickly and conveniently, if you ask me) – and renounces her role in villainy.
It was a splendid finale to a show that occasionally worked a bit too often in shorthand, never quite spelling out what was always on tap or exactly why it was even necessary. I give it props for not trying to be more than what it was – a delirious rematch between that galaxy’s ultimate forces for good and evil – though we did meet a couple welcome distractions along the way.
After fumbling the set-up (owed to some bad writing more than anything else), Moses Ingram shone in the role of Reva: while it’s arguably more fun to play the villain (or so I’ve heard), she handled her character’s redemption with some depth and great emotion, perhaps even clearing the way to reappear in the Star Wars universe at some point down the line. (There have been hints online that Lucasfilm wants her to have her own show; that might be a bit much too soon, but stranger things …) O’Shea Jackson Jr. turned in a fabulous performance as Roken, a kinda/sorta Rebel leader-in-the-wings more interested in maintaining the sector’s ‘underground railroad’ than he is with profiting off the business. Kumail Nanjiani dabbled on-the-edge of what was good and proper by bilking refugees out of their savings in exchange for securing their transit; but even he managed to find himself more useful as an agent of law and order before the finish. Indira Varma? Ah, it broke my heart when Tala sacrificed herself to give the fleeing rebels a chance to get away; her fallen Imperial officer who chose to betray the oath of office was a fan favorite … so if the presumed dead Cassian Andor can get a show, how about Tala get one, too?
All of this brings me to youngest among us: actress Vivien Lyra Blair was a bright spot with damn near everything they asked of her. Her moments of sass may’ve been a bit too much right out of the gate, but the scripts (thankfully) got better and better as the show went on. By the big finish, she’s the star with the big heart who deserves a follow-up here. She succeeded in delivering a version of Leia Organa that was both derivative of what Carrie Fisher began as well as fresh as the morning dew; why not reward her with a little something something we could call ‘The Princess Leia Diaries?’ It could be fun to watch that future mover and shaker within the Rebel Alliance truly come into her own.