Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review – This is not the good show you’re looking for

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 2,5/5

 

Since Disney have taken over Star Wars, retconning the entire expanded universe in the process, the quality of storytelling has been… mixed, to put it lightly. After the tepid offering of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi released to one of the most divided reactions to a film. It essentially split the fandom in half, with some critics hailing Rian Johnson’s movie as the best thing ever and others (including ourselves I may add) pointing out why this is the worst Star Wars film of the lot.

Solo suffered as a result of that backlash with middling indifference, while Rise of Skywalker bowed out this messy sequel trilogy with a 2 hour fetch quest. The Mandalorian helped to reel back disenfranchised fans with a return to what made Star Wars so enjoyable, with a simple adventure, before Book Of Boba Feet forgot about its own main character for 2 episodes and decided colourful Vespa bikes was just what Star Wars needed to spice things up. So that brings us along nicely to Obi-Wan Kenobi, a series that – on paper at least – couldn’t fail.

Nostalgia? Check. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen back? Amazing! Six episodes of action and a lavish budget of around $25 million an episode? Count us in! So imagine our surprise when Obi-Wan Kenobi released and we get a rushed, poorly written, clumsily directed show with bad dialogue and continuity breaking errors.

Now, I do appreciate this review will probably ruffle a lot of feathers and trust me, it pains me to give another Star Wars product a bad review. There are undoubtedly a lot of Star Wars fans that love this universe, regardless of quality. Any questions about logic or plot are generally written off with a flippant “just enjoy Star Wars” or “It’s always been silly!” as if that’s a way to excuse the issues.

Hell, growing up I had all the little mini figures, I wrote fanfiction, had some of the expanded universe books and re-watched the movies religiously. And then I watched The Last Jedi and fell out of love with what Disney were doing to this. And Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like the last nail in that coffin.

Split across six episodes, Obi-Wan Kenobi bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, showing what our Jedi has been up to in the years on Tatooine leading up to the 1977 feature. Episode 1 starts off rather well, with Obi-Wan trying to eke out a living while hiding from the Inquisitors, an evil group of Jedi-hunting Sith (I know they’re not technically Sith but they’re about as close to that title as can be) that remain dead-set on finding and killing all Jedi.

The Grand Inquisitor is overshadowed by the most evil Inquisitor of them all, Reva. Between cutting off hands, torturing children, hanging people and being an unstable menace, her ultimate goal here is to find Obi-Wan and make him pay for past transgressions.

With Vader recovering following what happened on Mustafar, the Empire grows in power while Bail Organa sends an urgent transmission to Obi-Wan asking for his help. Little Leia Organa has been kidnapped and it’s up to Obi-Wan to save her. Abandoning his post and deciding not to watch over a young Luke Skywalker after all, Obi-Wan heads off on a rescue mission to bring Leia back.

I won’t spoil much more and I’ll try not to reveal big plot points but everything after episode 1 is a continuing spiral of continuity errors, plot contrivances, deus ex machina, clumsy dialogue and every bad writing trope in the book. Not only does the show butcher its main character, with Obi-Wan mostly playing second fiddle to the female supporting characters, the classic bait-and-switch actually sees the show focus mostly on Leia and Reva as the central characters. The latter is a clumsily inserted player, with seriously questionable motivations, poor dialogue and an obvious but haphazard character arc. But ironically, she’s one of the few characters here that actually has an arc. Obi-Wan, for example, ends up – mentally at least – in the exact same position as he started from, with barely any direct involvement in the plot that happens around him.

Beyond the narrative though, Obi-Wan Kenobi features characters teleporting inexplicably from one location to another, fatal wounds brushed off with a perfunctory shrug of the shoulders, infecting scene development and editing. Hell, even the action sequences are poor, with an abundance of shaky cam. Sometimes camera work and directing can hide some of the big flaws but here, wide open expository shots only highlight and showcase the errors further, rather than hide them with perspective. In episode 3, Obi-Wan and Leia are stuck at a laser gate but instead of walking around, they blast the gate and turn off the lasers.

Another time, Tala (a new female character who leads Obi-Wan through various missions) infiltrates the Inquisitor base and knocks out an officer (quite loudly I may add) in a room sporting several other officers. In the space of 3 minutes, the room layout changes, the personnel numbers are different and  It’s sloppy and amateurish – something you’d never guess given Star Wars’ lavish budget.

Some of the dialogue choices also leave a lot to be desired. In one episode, a new character called Roken bemoans how his wife was killed and he doesn’t like the Jedi. At the end of his big monologue about why he won’t help…he decides to help. Another time, Vader chases Obi-Wan down to an abandoned planet for their long-awaited rematch, only to utter “have you come to kill me, Obi-Wan?” Even though he was the one to follow.

Between characters teleporting around, surviving fatal wounds without explanation, the bad dialogue and clumsy cinematography, one would be forgiven for thinking this is Game of Thrones season 8 or Doctor Who Season 13 all over again. The difference here though is that fans of Star Wars will excuse a lot of these errors in favour of Disney’s ultimate weapon – nostalgia.

Just like Solo, Rise of Skywalker and Book of Boba Fett, this era is absolutely obsessed with nostalgia to hide the poor writing. Now, when done correctly it can elevate a movie and make it an amazing watch. When done poorly, it just plays out as cynical point-scoring.

The nostalgia here is ramped up in the final episode, which will be enough to excuse a lot of the bad writing for many fans. This is the serial equivalent of The Last Jedi and reaction to Obi-Wan is going to be split. There are many people out there that love this show, and that’s absolutely fine. As a critic, examining the writing, directing, sound design, visuals, dialogue and everything else that goes into making a good production – Obi-Wan fails at all of it. For a company the size of Disney and for a budget as lavish as this one, that’s inexcusable. We deserve better than this.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a bad series and one that does more harm than good to the Star Wars universe. It raises numerous questions about A New Hope, damaging that film with important questions that this show has crowbarred into the lore. With the next 18 months already mapped out for Star Wars content, diehard fans will quickly move on and enjoy what’s to come. For others, the damage done in this series may just be too great to ignore, souring the experience. As Obi-Wan himself puts it, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror.”


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9 thoughts on “Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 1 Review – This is not the good show you’re looking for”

  1. Well, I enjoyed the whole series. It wasn’t perfect but the slow burn scenes on Tattooine accentuated Kenobi’s mundane existence well. The Light saber scenes were thrilling and Obi-Wan became one with the Force against at the end, whilst beating Vader yet again. It took me back being an excited 9 year old kid again and that’s all that matters.

  2. A well written, objective and accurate review of this series. If not for the nostalgia bait of stormtroopers and snow speeders, this series felt more like a Star Trek NG budget mini series, than a Disney+ mega millions production.

    Lots of weak dialogue, poor acting, contrivences, and plot inconsistencies. Effectively now in New Hope, whilst Luke is sad about the self-sacrifice of Kenobi – a man he barely knew, Leia now appears coldly indifferent to the guy’s death – despite him saving her life at least twice in this series. Or that Kenobi could have killed or captured a weakened Vader, thereby saving lots of characters lives who died in the original trilogy…I doubt Disney even realise (i.e. care) about the consequences for continuity and implications for characterisation to the 1977 film that made all this fan service possible.

    I wonder at what point the Disney execs can sit back and say they made their desired profits from the 4 billion purchase of the IP. The business model seems just to create cookie cutter production-line dross scripts until we’re labotomised by seeing too many light sabres. Surely there are some high quality writers and directors on this planet that Disney could easily afford to hire, or is that talent in a galaxy far far away also…?

  3. Thanks for this review. I have no idea how it received good reviews elsewhere. I don’t understand how fans can brush off so many glaring flaws.

    If you ever want a villain that can’t successfully kill you no matter how many tries, Darth is your guy.

  4. This was a well-written review by a man who clearly has his head on his shoulders. Good show!

  5. This series is absolutely terrible on so many levels. Disney has made a debauchery of Star Wars. They have buffooned all the old main characters we grew to love in our childhood to write their own narrative with their own new characters for their own political BS. This series was about Reva and little Leia; not about Obi Wan. They turned him into a bumbling idiot taking orders from child Leia; who is already a strong little girl. Disney f*** **f. Kathleen Kennedy should be fired.

    Disney+, consider me unsubscribed.

  6. Good call. And otherwise a very well written review. I’m amazed that a show that was delayed heavily for rewrites still feels like a first draft.

  7. Hey Tomas, thanks for commenting. That’s a fair critique and apologies if it came across that way. As the supporting characters are all female that take the lead, that’s why I mentioned it in that way but I’ve added the word “supporting” into the review though.

    Thanks for reading!

    -Greg W

  8. I’ll start by saying I didn’t like this show. And I agree with pretty much your whole review. I also want to point out everytime you mention ‘female characters’ you sound like an asshole.

    They are characters. The fact that they are female should be irrelevant. Just say ‘Obi Wan plays second fiddle to the SUPPORTING characters’ or something. Bringing gender into it just makes it seem like you hate the idea of women being in a show, and that you’d be fine with Obiwan playing second fiddle if the characters were male. Don’t get mad that they’re women, get mad that they’re written poorly.

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