The Return of Kenobi Review - Part II

by 
 | June 3, 2022

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS

Obi-Wan has left the safe haven of Tatooine’s endless sands to pursue Princess Leia’s kidnappers. Landing on Daiyu, Obi-Wan seems lost, unsteady. It’s a gritty, shady city with an even grittier, shadier populace. It's great to be introduced to a new world, even if it’s dingy and sprinkled with neon lights, a sad attempt to cheer up the gloom.

Daiyu is giving Coruscant lower-level vibes. 

Unsure of where to start, Obi-Wan mutters under his breath, “If I ever needed guidance, Master, it’s now.” “Spare any credits?” Obi-Wan hears in response. Temuera Morrison’s voice is unmistakable. For the first time ever, we get to see Tem in a physical, practical clone trooper suit instead of it being CGI. “Help a veteran get a warm meal,” the disheveled, bearded clone gently beseeches. The veteran is wearing the armor of the 501st Legion with the unique designated blue markings. The 501st Legion was led by Anakin Skywalker in the siege of the Jedi Temple during Order 66. Obi-Wan looks like he’s seen a ghost and stares stunned at the clone for a moment before giving him some credits. The moment between the two is heartbreaking. Two broken men, once allies, then enemies, now just trying to survive the Empire that has crushed them both. 

Obi-Wan gets some intel that leads him to a ‘Jedi’ named Haja Estree. Kumail Nanjiani does a wonderful job with Haja’s character. Haja is not a real Jedi but is a great con man with a heart of gold who relies on magnets, remotes, and third parties to pull off this act. He seems to genuinely want to help people escape Daiyu, but their freedom comes at a hefty price. Obi-Wan is not impressed, but Haja appears eager to help Obi-Wan find the Princess despite Obi-Wan’s clear disdain for his profession. Disgusted, angry Obi-Wan is a new look, and Ewan McGregor is pulling off this edgier side of this beloved character. 

‘Jedi’ mind tricks and magnets don’t impress Obi-Wan

Haja provides information that leads Obi-Wan to a spice lab, where he dons the worker’s attire to infiltrate the lab. Geared up in a spice lab poncho and respirator, Obi-Wan finds his way to the holding cells in the back of the lab, where he encounters the kidnappers. 

Breaking Bad Kenobi: Magnets & Spice Labs. Yeah Science!

A fight breaks out between them. Obi-Wan is out of practice, and he visibly hesitates when he takes his first punch. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of him forgetting the sting of physical violence. The old Clone Wars General’s battle sense is reawakened; he steps back into the scrimmage with a renewed vigor knowing what’s at stake. Obi-Wan then realizes that Leia is not the intended target: he is. Using a spice bomb, he traps the tripping kidnappers in a cell and hurries his search for Leia. Seeing Obi-Wan use spice as a weapon and it being extremely effective at incapacitating his enemies was a smart twist. 

Obi-Wan finds Leia’s cell, and when he opens the door, she is ready to fight and run. She’s a feisty one. He explains that her father sent him, and he was there to help her. She’s not immediately trustful, but she doesn’t have many options. 

Obi-Wan must set the Princess straight with her overeagerness to get off of Daiyu, “You have no idea what I’m risking being here, Your Highness. From now on, you’ll do exactly as you’re told, understand?” Obi-Wan, having been close with both the girl’s biological parents, knows how unpredictable they could be, so he must set the tone for their escape. He is firm yet gentle in his dealings with Leia. He takes her little hand and leads her off into the crowded streets in search of a better disguise.

They find a vendor, and Obi-Wan picks out a green cape for Leia. The green cape looks like the one she will wear on Endor in The Return of the Jedi. She wants to accessorize with gloves, to which he responds, “You don’t need those,” then concedes and says to the vendor, “And the gloves.” Obi-Wan is spoiling Princess Leia. Even if they never give him the official designation, Uncle Ben shows he has a soft spot for his friend’s children by buying them toys, capes, and gloves. It’s a sweet moment. 

Obi-Wan and Princess Leia make their way through the streets of Daiyu. Reva, the Third Sister of the Inquisitors, has overstepped her rank and instructions by kidnapping the Princess to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding. Reva’s ambition is not taken kindly by the Grand Inquisitor, and she receives a thorough scolding. She decides to up the ante and places a bounty on Obi-Wan. Every bounty hunter and mercenary on Daiyu gets an alert which puts even more pressure on Obi-Wan to be careful. She retreats to the rooftops of Daiyu to keep her eye on her plan from afar. 

Obi-Wan and Princess Leia find their way to an alleyway to hide for a few moments. The Princess gets spooked and doesn’t think she can trust Obi-Wan, so she leads him on a chase through the markets of Daiyu and climbs up to the rooftops to escape. 

Obi-Wan is on her heels, but the commotion has drawn the attention of the bounty hunters, which he then has to handle while keeping track of Leia. Obi-Wan chases Leia across the rooftops, with bounty hunters taking potshots at them, catching Reva’s attention from her perch. Reva’s rooftop montage was overly dramatic, doing fan service for striking imagery for a new villain. The rooftop parkour montage reminded me of the Matrix cross Blade in style and imagery. 

Leia jumps from the rooftop trying to escape and almost falls to her death, but Obi-Wan reaches out with the Force and catches her right before she lands. He struggles with grasping the Force, which leads me to believe he’s allowed himself to be cut off from it for all these years and is out of practice. 

Obi-Wan has regained the Princess’ trust, and they make their way to the spaceport. They find it locked down by the Empire, but a familiar face conveniently pops up to offer help. Haja understands their predicament and offers them passage through a cargo port that’s fully automated. He goes on to allude, ”There are people out there, people that can help you.” Is Haja a part of the rebellion? Haja seems starstruck at the realization he actually got to meet a real Jedi and that Jedi remembered his name. Haja buys them time by pretending to be a Jedi and standing in Reva’s way. See? Haja is a con man with a heart of gold. 

Obi-Wan and Leia arrive at the cargo port. Obi-Wan thinks it might be a setup, but Leia counters with, “If someone is offering us help. I think we should take it.” Obi-Wan thoughtfully pauses, remembering the past, “You remind me of someone.” He goes on to describe his friend as a fearless, stubborn leader. Even though I know this was meant to directly reference Padme, I couldn’t help but think that maybe this had a double meaning for Obi-Wan? 

My mind immediately thought Obi-Wan might be referencing Satine Kryze. Satine was fearless and stubborn. She was a leader. They both loved one another but never acted on their feelings. What if Obi-Wan had left the Jedi Order for love and had a family? Maybe spending time with Leia deepened those past regrets and made him wonder what if…?

Reva catches up to them and starts stalking Obi-Wan in the cargo port. He remains hidden and never ignites his lightsaber. I hope they are saving this moment for something epic. Reva tells Obi-Wan Anakin is still alive, and she intends to deliver Obi-Wan to him. The realization Anakin is still alive seems to come as a complete shock to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan witnessed a hologram of Anakin obtaining the status of apprentice, where Darth Sidious calls him by his new title: Lord Vader. Did Obi-Wan not know that Lord Vader was still alive, and that is who the Inquisitors have been reporting to? Was he that far out of the loop and ill-informed about the political scene of the galaxy? Vader made a lot of waves in the Empire, so it’s difficult for me to believe he was kept an Imperial secret for ten years.

I was livid. This is not intel you easily drop by a new character with nothing invested in Obi-Wan and Anakin’s stories. This cheapened the reveal. This should have been a heavy moment between Obi-Wan and Vader. This should have come directly from Vader himself or from Obi-Wan sensing his distorted, warped friend’s Force presence. 

It also makes me wonder if Darth Vader’s true identity is being thrown around the Empire as common knowledge? Growing up on Star Wars lore, this was one of the Empire’s largest guarded secrets, warranting death to anyone who discovered Vader’s true origins. If this is now becoming common knowledge, it is like they are unmasking the boogeyman. It takes power away from his presence and lore. 

On the other hand, maybe Reva’s overbearing Force ability to just know everything has given her this knowledge. Maybe Vader himself is unaware of her intel. The moment he finds out she knows who he is, maybe Vader will kill her? We’ll have to wait and see. 

Right after Reva drops the big reveal bomb, she goes on to kill the Grand Inquisitor without a fight for trying to sideline her in her own investigation. Well, that was much too easy. 

Reva’s character has only been portrayed as one-dimensional, which is disappointing because I want to like her as an antagonist. Reva’s character has the potential to be a great villain, but they have not explained her relevance as to why she is so keen on bringing in Obi-Wan. Why does she care so much about him? Her insane drive is overblown and edges on campy with how determined she is to get Obi-Wan without solid reasoning. Give me the depth to feel her drive to bring Obi-Wan in instead of shallow reasonings. 

She is way too overpowered in her Force powers to seemingly just know everything about everyone, which is convenient to drive the plot. She seems to glean specific information just by being in someone’s presence. It’s too easy and makes it unbelievable. 

The storytelling tone of this episode reminds me of a good mix between the Original Trilogy sprinkled with reminders of the Prequels. Obi-Wan’s story has reverted back to the subtle nuances of traditional acting, which allows the audience to feel along with the character and be swept away in the story arc. Ewan McGregor does a phenomenal job capturing being haunted by the past yet adapting and adjusting back into a man of action to save the Princess. The directing is terrific as well, in that they allow those pregnant pauses for us to see his feelings. 

The story gets exposition-heavy when the Inquisitors arrive, reminding me of the abrupt direct storytelling of the Prequels. In Part II, they seem to be finding a balance between the two styles. 

The final scene of Part II with Obi-Wan sitting with the revelation of Anakin still being alive and contrasting that with the scarred visage of Darth Vader in a bacta tank opening his eyes makes me wonder: now that Obi-Wan has opened himself back up to the Force can Vader feel him again? 

Let me know what you think of Part II in the comments!

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