The Controversy behind Star Wars’ Most Iconic Jedi: Obi-Wan Kenobi

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Tim Beisiegel
| April 30, 2024
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For those of you who share my deep love for Star Wars, you’ll understand my perpetual state of Star Wars watching. I immerse myself in the entire Star Wars library, from the original trilogy to the prequels, and then start again with one added and one deleted twist. The Star Wars Holiday Special was deleted from the watch-through because, let’s be honest, once was enough. Plus, it’s not canon. Added to the watch-through is the movie FanBoys, which, if you’ve never watched it, shame on you, fix that now. It’s set before the release of The Phantom Menace, and as far as I am concerned – it’s canon. Fight Me. 

FanBoys, directed by Kyle Newman

But in my most recent watch-through, I really focused on the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Often, I’ll do that—pay more than the usual attention to one specific character on this run-through to examine their story arc and what more I can learn about them. Clearly, everyone, or most everyone, loves Space Jesus as he has come to be affectionately called around my home. 

However, the series that bears his name got more than its fair share of negativity during its initial run on Disney Plus. We can chalk that up to temperamental fanboys pitching a fit because it wasn’t done the way they wanted. They didn’t like Reva’s story, that Reva was a black woman, or that Deborah Chow, another woman, Asian even, was directing the series. Clutch the pearls! Yes, sadly, those were actual things that people thought were good ideas to type into the internet. 

Some didn’t like the way that the Obi-Wan was portrayed and that he was too weak. Others complained about the casting of the young lady who played a young Princess Leia. And how can we forget that people couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that a human played the Grand Inquisitor and would have a round head, making him look different than the way he was DRAWN in Star Wars Rebels. 

Now, is the series perfect? Not even. Some points of the show drive me insane … I’m looking at you, little Leia, getting chased through the woods and marketplace. The Lightsabers don’t kill anyone? That was a decision … And Reva—I love the character, but there are flaws in the writing of her, but that doesn’t take away from her effect. We’ll get into that. 

This show does so many things right, so instead of the mindless babble of the keyboard warriors, let’s focus on those things. The things the Obi-Wan Kenobi series got right. 

In Defense of Kenobi 

Obi-Wan Kenobi, aka Space Jesus

Let’s talk about Space Jesus himself and the way he is portrayed in the series. Many argued that he was a strong Jedi, and how we see him weakens his character. The flaw in that argument is twofold. 

  1. Obi-Wan had gone into hiding after Order 66 and shut himself off from the Force so that he could watch over young Luke and not be tracked easily. He was weak by the time we saw him, physically and with the use of the Force. We don’t see him fully reconnect with the Force until his second confrontation with Darth Vader in the series. In the first confrontation, Vader nearly kills him because Obi-Wan slowly reconnects to the Force and cannot fight a full Force Vader. This slow reconnect to the Force is repeated with Luke in The Last Jedi
  2. He was weakened emotionally. Obi-Wan has PTSD. He experiences flashbacks, and we see his trauma, his trauma response, all of it. This show does an AMAZING job of portraying PTSD and the response that a person going through it would be experiencing. Let’s be honest: Obi-Wan is the poster child for PTSD. He was taken from his family with little to no memories of them, trained to fight as a warrior since early childhood, watches his Clones and Jedi friends die all around him in a pointless war, thinks he kills his best friend and brother, watches his best friends wife give birth and die. Yes, Obi-Wan is struggling mentally and emotionally. And he’s had 10 years of isolation to sit and think about all of it. There is zero chance that the Obi-Wan we meet at the start of the series will be the same Obi-Wan we saw at the height of the Clone Wars. Life had taken its toll. 

In Defense of Reva 

Reva, Third Sister of the Inquisitors

It would be a grand mistake to call her a bad character. She’s a good character that could have been great. She has a rich backstory and phenomenal motivation for what she is doing or attempting to do in the series. She has a redemption arc that can launch her story into the future. 

Now, with all that being said, how she was written was incomplete, and she needed some of those plot holes in her story fixed and filled. That is not the fault of Moses Ingram, who plays Reva in the series. She worked with what she was given. But as it is with anything in Star Wars, what can fix it the best? That’s right, MORE Star Wars! Reva is a very good character who honestly needs more screen time. They tried to pack a lot of Reva’s story into a story about Obi-Wan working through his PTSD and the story of Leia’s abduction. Again, not a bad character, just not on the right stage. 

So, we fix those holes in her story by putting her on a proper stage. I would love to see Reva take center stage and be the main character of a Star Wars story. Dive more into what happened to her after Order 66. How she went from Padawan to Inquisitor. How she hid herself from Anakin / Darth Vader. Better yet, how did she figure out that Darth Vader was, in fact, Anakin? Then, after her run-in with Vader and the beginning of her redemption arc after not killing young Luke Skywalker, where does she go? Does she go back to the light side? Does she close herself to the Force? There are so many questions that require an answer to explain Reva fully. 

But, as with many things that I either don’t understand or appreciate at first, Solo Star Wars movie I’m looking at you; it comes down to perspective. I look at Reva as a side quest in an RPG. It’s helpful to the story but could be told with or without it. Choosing the side quest typically adds depth and understanding to that character and the storyline. Thats Reva. Obi-Wan could have been told without her. Her story could have been more fluid, but adding her adds depth and richness that we would not have had otherwise. We saw more of the Inquisitors, which hadn’t been seen in live-action until this show.

In Defense of Little Leia

Young Princess Leia Organa

First things first, Vivien Blair was the perfect casting for a young Princess Leia. She was able to portray Leia’s surefire confidence, sarcasm, and take-charge attitude, which we saw in Carrie Fisher‘s portrayal of Princess Leia. She also showed the regal side, compassion, and understanding that Carrie Fisher showed in her time as both Princess and General Leia. Even more than that, she looks like what I imagine Carrie would have looked like at that age. Young Leia was well-written and very well-performed. 

I hate to say it, but if you have found a problem with young Vivien Blair, I perhaps think the problem is with you. Personally, I hope she plays Leia in any future stories about younger Leia for some time to come. 

I really don’t have anything else to say about her or the role other than to say that we could have done without the chase scenes. Yeah, those were too much. However, the other 98% of the show with her was completely on point regarding who Leia would have been at that age. 

The End of it All 

Kenobi is by no means a perfect show. But it helps fill in the gaps in Kenobi’s life between the last times we have seen him. Originally, at the end of Episode Three, he was heading off into the Mountains of Tatooine to hide and watch over Luke. Then we saw him make an appearance in Star Wars Rebels in the Two Suns Episode. Then the next was Episode Four, A New Hope. Having this series shows us that timeline a little clearer. It shows us a glimpse into the lives of Leia and Luke and the differences in how they were raised. 

You can always nitpick and find reasons not to enjoy something. Why not try to alter your perspective and find reasons to enjoy something, even if it wasn’t done the way that you would have done it …. 

Do you disagree with me? Let me hear it in the comments! Or if you’re feeling extra feisty, join our exclusive Inner Circle, and you have far more access to tell me why I’m wrong; plus, you’ll get some stellar Couch Soup swag ….. What ya waiting for?

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Drew Lewis
20 days ago

I applaud your defense. But unfortunately, the good doesn’t outweigh the bad of what the Obi-Wan Kenobi series did to the character’s lore. Some things are better left to our imaginations, and we don’t need to fill in every gap that the films leave open. Let the expanded universe play with those stories in books, comics, and video games. Then, steal the best parts of those for live-action films and TV.

Michelle Holstine
19 days ago

While Star Wars isn’t a huge love for me, I respect your deep dives so much. This level of knowledge, defense, explanation, and dedication to the lore is admirable and actually a lot of work. Coming from the resident HP nerd that’s read the books hundreds of times, does constant research and lives in the universe (between that and GoT), I appreciate this depth!

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