Obi-Wan Kenobi released to enormous anticipation one year ago, becoming the biggest premier for Disney+ at the time. Since then, the show – being a limited series – has taken a bit of a backseat to shows with forward momentum and more stories on the horizon like Andor and The Mandalorian.
But Kenobi has just as much to say today as it did one year ago.
What Kenobi gave us is something timeless – the power of self-forgiveness and the dangerous lengths we will go to deny ourselves of it.
When we first see Kenobi, we find him laboring under the husk of a once-great creature – apt symbolism for where the once-great Jedi finds himself in life. These first moments help establish just how much of a shell of himself Kenobi has become and how fearful he lives. Fear of helping others, fear of saving other Jedi, even a fear of confronting Owen Lars. Kenobi is running away in fear.
And then we meet Reva, running toward her past in anger. Fear and anger, running in two separate directions but, as we know in Star Wars, will eventually lead to the same place if you keep going. Any mention of a Jedi, of a person helping a Jedi, is enough to send Reva on a path of destruction. She is ready to kill her way back to her past until she can get what she lost.
These two dichotomies set up an emotional journey of two people realizing there is no running away or running back in time. There is only moving forward, but they don’t yet know how. And they realize that way forward in two very different ways.
Kenobi feels everything, Reva feels nothing. When Kenobi first encounters Vader, he is as terrified, weak, and directionless as he’s ever been. Vader is less a being and more an embodiment of all the regret, despair and failure Kenobi has carried over the years come to life in front of him. It takes interactions with characters like Leia, Tala, and Roken to help him remember how to move forward.
For Reva, it is the interactions with others that make her realize she is feeling nothing. Whether she stabs the Grand Inquisitor, kidnaps Leia, or confronts Kenobi, she is no closer to reclaiming what was taken from her as a youngling all those years ago. She is just as angry and just as far away from what she desperately wants back.
Both characters have the culmination of their journeys happen in the confrontation with the very thing they have been running from and running toward, respectively. Kenobi faces Vader and Reva is back in the past, seeing a terrified youngling in a confused and scared Luke.
And while Anakin offers a forgiveness to Kenobi in telling him he did not create the monster and Kenobi offers a forgiveness to Reva in telling her she has not become Vader, both Kenobi and Reva need to accept those truths inside themselves to move forward. They must forgive within.
Which leads us to the best use of a Force Ghost in Star Wars history. For the first time, a Force Ghost is not framed as some sort of mystical ability achieved by the deceased. It is framed as a choice by the living, making it all the more relatable. It shows us that the people we’ve lost – who we love and guide us – can still guide us if only we allow ourselves to see. Qui-Gon Jinn’s “I was always here,” makes Kenobi’s inner healing feel real. When Kenobi can forgive himself, he can be himself and see clearly once more.
The story is made all the richer thanks to incredible performances from the entire cast and excellent directing from Deborah Chow who delivered all the heart and timeless lessons of Star Wars in an exciting, endearing, and thoughtful adventure.
Star Wars is often about the love and acceptance of a found family, but Kenobi is a timely reminder that sometimes the love and acceptance we need must come from within.
Jeff simply loves Star Wars. Whether it is movies, shows, books or comics, he is drawn to the timeless themes and lessons of a GFFA. He firmly believes Zev Senesca and Captain Finial Bright are two of the galaxy’s greatest heroes and should be celebrated far more. Outside of Star Wars and writing about Star Wars, Jeff captures the stories of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities at a wonderful nonprofit for his day job. He enjoys great music, drumming to great music and hanging out with his cool family and cool friends.
You can find Jeff on the Cantina Cast Discord server as JWEngelhardt!