Disney+ never promised that Obi-Wan Kenobi would be a show filled with lightsaber battles and blaster fire. Indeed, there’s been plenty of that — and “Part V” delivered even more of the heart-stopping action Star Wars fans have come to expect. But it goes much deeper than that, filling every moment with tension, emotion, and even a few flashbacks that have left viewers in shock.
Lightsabers were drawn — not just one, but many if you count the blades from the past. Anakin and Obi-Wan’s training duel from The Clone Wars era is consistently juxtaposed with the inner conflict between Vader and “Ben” of the present. The pattern is repeated when Reva and Vader come face-to-face. She remembers Anakin storming into the Younglings’ training room, how he went on a rampage, and she survived, and now he’s trying to end her life again all these years later.
But then there’s the conversation between Tala and Obi-Wan, a much quieter but just as impactful moment that explains how she uses her trauma, the worst things she was forced to endure with the Empire, as her motivation to make the galaxy a better place. It’s just a conversation between two people, between more intense action scenes. But it speaks to the larger thesis of the entire show — that the key to moving forward despite obstacles is to face them head-on, not to run from them and hide.
A deeper meaning
Many watching the series are missing the deeper implications of everything that’s happening, perhaps because the true premise of the show was in itself a spoiler. All we knew going in was that the series was about Obi-Wan Kenobi living in a post-Order 66 universe. Anything more than that would have ruined the surprise — and the fun. Leia needing to be saved, Reva witnessing Darth Vader’s very first acts of violence, these were things no one saw coming. Because they weren’t meant to be predicted. Now Luke is in danger, and someone is going to have to go back to Tatooine to protect him — aren’t they? It could be Obi-Wan. But what if it isn’t?
Storytelling at it’s finest
So much of Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s brilliance relies on audiences thinking they know what’s going to happen next and doing the opposite. Reva survives, again, even though you might have expected Vader to end her. Luke seems like a mostly forgotten plot point, until Reva accidentally discovers he’s hidden away on Tatooine.
This show really is a masterclass in complex, captivating storytelling. Deborah Chow and her team don’t need seasons’ worth of time to develop their characters and story, they can do it all in six episodes. They don’t have time to waste, and don’t waste it on constant flashy battles that are just for show. The show paces itself while giving audiences a dozen things to look at and process at once. It’s meant to challenge us, not comfort us. It excels in giving us what we’re not expecting, every now and then sprinkling in things that spark recognition and understanding without having to spoon-feed us every answer to every burning question.
If “Part V” is any indication, Obi-Wan Kenobi very well may be the most impactful chapter in the larger Star Wars story to unfold in such a short runtime. Sure, we know where all its main characters end up. But the most meaningful moments are the ones that explain how these characters became the ones you recognize. They had to start out as characters you didn’t know in order to become the familiar ones you’ve been missing.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.