ScriptDrPete.com: "Obi-Wan Kenobi" isn't Forced
DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE
TL;DR: Obi-Wan is a very fun show and does have some actual surprises despite being also pretty predictable. If you enjoy Star Wars, in general, I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy this. If you enjoy Star Wars as much as I do, you're going to find it a little lacking but still, very fun and worth watching.
Speaking of which, in the interest of transparency, I am a big fan of Star Wars but I am also a writer and always do my best to leave Nerdy Pete in is nerd cave. You won’t have to worry about any sort of fanboyism or petty nerdery from me. Star Wars never ruined my childhood. XD
What I think worked in Obi-Wan Kenobi (SPOILER FREE)
I actually feel like over all, it all worked fine for what it was trying to do. The story flowed in an episodic "planet of the week" kind of structure. This made it fun to find out where they were going each week. The cast was great, in particular, Moses Ingram was solid, Vivien Lyra Blair was perfect, and of course, McGregor seems to have never forgotten how to play Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The final episode, in particular, was really really enjoyable.
I remember enjoying the music a lot while watching the show and was pleased to see that Natalie Holt did most of the music. She did the amazing score for the Loki series but I'm a little confused about some behind-the-scenes stuff regarding the score which I'll go into in a bit.
What I think didn't work in Obi-Wan Kenobi (SPOILER FREE)
It wasn't about Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was about his relationships with others. The show is named after him and I feel like I know scarcely more about him than I did before the show because the show focuses so much on what he's dealing with in the present. As I said above, for what it is trying to do, it works fine, but when you name the show after the guy, it feels odd to me when it isn't fully about the guy. The guy survived multiple assassination attempts after surviving a massive galactic war where he saw countless clones, who he came to respect, die.
We get almost no time spent on his PTSD. Is this a spoiler since I'm saying something is not in it? Maybe. Sorry if you feel it is.
In the “How I'd” have written an Obi-Wan show, I made it all about his PTSD. I made it about giving into the pain and guilt, though in my actual synopsis that my How I'd is based on, I went much further into these aspects. The show has a couple of nice moments that acknowledge that part of what Obi-Wan has gone through but I don’t feel like it was enough.
As I said, the music was lovely while watching the show, but listening to the soundtrack I found it much less Starwarsy. It felt more like an MCU score to me. It’s It's still a good score and I fully acknowledge that it’s not easy to do music that sounds like it belongs in the Star Wars universe so I don't blame the main composer. Though it is odd that the tracks that contain original John Williams music seem to be composed by William Ross, rather than Holt. Not sure what’s up with that.
What I think worked in Obi-Wan Kenobi (with SPOILERS!)
The easter eggs were GREAT. There were cameos and deep cuts to the Clone Wars era which was very cool. Obviously the Leia storyline was wonderful because it meant the show wasn't going to be about Obi-Wan sitting around watching young Luke like a creepy old man, but Vivian Lyra Blair was a downright miracle! With her, the show was able to start apologizing for not doing more with Leia with the rest of the Star Wars Saga. Well, in live-action, anyway. The comics have Leia doing all kinds of amazing stuff. I highly recommend reading the modern comics from Marvel. They tell stories that are big-budget-movie-worthy.
Nerdy Pete! Back in your cave!
The Reva/Third Sister character arc was also pretty satisfying. I was worried it wouldn't be but it upset expectations in what I thought was a positive way. I hope we see more of her in the future. Having a black woman be cut down doing the right thing, or worse, while trying but failing to do right by Vader would have been a really dark direction for the story to go in. I don't think Star Wars wants to be a franchise like that.
Even Vader and Obi-Wan's story arc was satisfying. It built and built and then paid off. We got to see Vader do some cool Vader stuff but also got some really cool emotional character stuff out of both of them, too. The way they handled Vader's voice in the last episode was really effective I thought, really helping to illustrate the duality of who Vader is.
What I don't think worked in Obi-Wan Kenobi (with SPOILERS!)
The overall story arc did feel like they were only running into obstacles because the story need time to have Vader or his thugs to catch up to Obi-Wan only for him to get away enough times to make a climactic confrontation worthy of Star Wars. That part obviously worked. The part that didn't was going to these planets with very little personality of their own and discovering nothing interesting beyond the bare bones of the plot.
Because anyone who has watched Star Wars before knows that the lead characters are all going to come out of this series alive, the story needs to stay interesting. I think, to anyone who isn't a big Star Wars fan, might have been a little bored by it for these reasons. That's another reason to spend a little more time on his PTSD.
I've read that the Tala character was originally going to be a love interest for Obi-Wan. Well, that would have been more interesting than what she ended up being, which was a convenient martyr. I get why they decided to not go with the love interest idea because he's supposed to be this warrior monk, read: celibate. But nobody is perfect and this again avoids letting us get to know Obi-Wan as a more rounded, real person (read: with a past).
It's also unfortunate how it really doesn't much that hasn't been done elsewhere in Star Wars media. Obi-Wan protecting young Leia felt a lot like The Mandalorian protecting little Grogu. Even Obi-Wan's climactic battle with Vader has been done before--not just in the original Star Wars movie, but in Star Wars Rebels. Anakin's apprentice, Ahsoka, confronts Vader and nearly dies doing it. Buuut since American culture still treats animation like a second class medium, I guess that makes this less an issue to most folks. Still, my How I'd manages to avoid what we've seen before for the most part.
It was also weird how it was so easy for young Leia to be kidnapped. That just seemed odd. She's the daughter of a galactic senator and a princess.
That said, it definitely wasn't a boring show, in the least. As my wife likes to say "It's still Star Wars."
How I'd have done this storyline
I'd have better established what ten years like feels like to Obi-Wan. We need more than one or two PTSD flashbacks to do this. Does he talk to anyone about his past? Maybe a bartender? Someone he confides in or is he boring--I MEAN--perfect? I mean, ten years? You know what they say about idle hands.
I also would have had Reva/Third Sister's storyline explored earlier and I wouldn't have her know that Vader is Anakin. I think the stronger choice is to have Obi-Wan discover this fact on his own. Him hearing her say it and believing it is bizarre to me. If someone I know is trying to kill me and suddenly they tell me something like that, I'm going to think "Uhm, no! You're the antagonist--you're just trying to antagonize me!"
Plus, I just think it’s a more powerful moment for him to sense Anakin under all that suit he wears.
I'd also make each planet memorable in some way and if the planet has shown up elsewhere in the franchise, I'd have hung a lampshade on that fact. Everything has a past in Star Wars. Tell us what it is. Even in passing. It also wouldn't hurt to give Obi-Wan more to discover than just where Leia is being held next. Maybe he could have come across another Jedi that survived Order 66 and needs Obi-Wan to escape.
I'd also have strongly suggested to the producers that they take this show as a jumping off point for a whole new timeline that retells the story of Star Wars but from a 21st century perspective. One that would allow Leia to be trained to be a Jedi as well, perhaps by Ahsoka, Anakin's apprentice. Luke would be trained by Obi-Wan and then Yoda, but because Ahsoka isn't a Jedi, they could all conflict in their styles and motivation. Luke is more monk-like and Leia is more unorthodox and unpredictable. Together they'd make short work of the Sith--unless the Sith broke the rule of two and started recruiting Sith Lords like Star Wars fans collect action figures. That would keep the franchise in content for quite a while.
Was the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV show entertaining? You bet it was. Could it have more clever and more original? Yep. That said, they still did some really fun storytelling and I'd still love to see a season 2! I know just the storyline for it, too!! ;)
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