[Warning: mild spoilers] The first two episodes of Kenobi dropped today. To sum it up: if you’re expecting some wild adventure, you’re not going to get that here. Expect more tense hide-and-seek as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Ewan McGregor) ruthless nemesis attempts to capture him for Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
How it starts
The story kicks off 10 years after Order 66 and we’re introduced to a new Imperial terror – the Inquisitors, who hunt down the last remnants of the Jedi. We’re given the understanding that the Inquisitors are no longer interested in hunting down Kenobi, believing him to be out of their reach.
But against the orders of the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), Reva (Moses Ingram) tries every trick in the book to lure the elusive Jedi out of hiding. The Grand Inquisitor explains – in the vein of Hans Landa but laced with cartoony villainy – that the Jedi can’t help themselves, which is why they are easy to corner; trapping them through their instincts to help those in need.
We soon realise that the reason that Kenobi has evaded the Sith for a decade, was because he has done something that even the dark lords did not think was possible: cutting off all ties with his Jedi past.
There is still a way to get to him: Kenobi still blames himself for Anakin’s fall from grace, and as such, he keeps a close eye on Luke Skywalker. But as it turns out, it’s Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) he has to worry about.
It looks to me that Reva is Kenobi’s Moff Gideon – matching him in ruthlessness, albeit far more impulsive and reckless. She seems to have an obsession with Kenobi that goes deeper than a mere need to improve her standing in the eyes of Darth Vader. Needlessly she’s currently the driving force of the series.
How’s it going
If you’re expecting an action-packed time… look away. This is more of Kenobi trying to evade his pursuers than trying to take on his mortal enemies. Having not fought for ten years, he’s considerably rusty and he struggles against lesser foes. The upside is that he’s a smart cookie and relies on his guile to get out of tough situations.
It’s a bit early to make a call about how good Kenobi will be, but the premise seems engaging enough to keep our eyes peeled for next week’s episode. Kenobi is a slow burn, but so far there aren’t many wasted moments. Some of the setups seem clumsy, but that’s down to Leia will be the perfect distraction to paper over the cracks.
Who to look out for
I guarantee you’ll remember Blair’s Leo’s long after the credits roll. Her fiesty mannerisms and smack-talk is uncannily reminescent of the late Carrie Fisher.
The casting thus far has been pretty decent: Ingram plays the chip on the shoulder schtick to perfection, while McGregor reprises his iconic role with a weariness befitting a man living in a constant state of anxiety. Kumail Nanjiani plays Haja Estree, who lends a hand though his motivations remain unknown. I’m become a fan of Kumail Nanjiani’s charm offensive – it’s hard to tell if he on your side, or is he going to put one in your back. Also look out for a legendary bassist from an iconic funk-rock band – he has a rather prominent cameo.
Should you watch it?
Given how The Book of Boba Fett turned out, the cautious among us should just wait for all the episodes to drop before committing to the series. But given the fairly linear narrative, I think it’s safe to say that it’s unlikely Kenobi will suffer the uneven storytelling that plagued Fett’s show. I suspect all hinges on how unhinged Reva gets in the next two episodes; the more compelling she gets, the better the series will be.