Obi-Wan Kenobi: episodes one and two recap – Ewan McGregor’s best ever Star Wars performance

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<span>Photograph: Disney</span>
Photograph: Disney

Spoiler warning: this recap is for people who have seen episodes one and two of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Hello there

Welcome to the first of our Obi-Wan Kenobi episode recaps. Disney+ dropped the first two episodes this morning, in order for them to debut during Star Wars Celebration, which is taking place in Anaheim, California, this week. The next four episodes will be one a week, released on Wednesday.

OK, in the words of one Lord Vader, let’s dispense with the pleasantries and get to it.

We opened, slightly unexpectedly, with an almost four-minute recap of the prequel trilogy – from Obi-Wan as a padawan, warning his master about the dangers of training Anakin in the ways of the force, right through to those fears being realised on the flaming banks of Mustafar’s lava rivers. I can’t imagine anyone watching was unaware of those events, so my best guess is the highlight reel was there to show us how much better the acting is in Obi-Wan Kenobi than it was in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. And truly, Ewan McGregor was excellent throughout these two episodes. Maybe he’s a better actor than he was 20 years ago? But he definitely has better material to work with here, and certainly seems more comfortable in the role. Not to damn the whole thing with the faintest of praise, but this is his best Star Wars performance yet.

To the episode proper, and we returned to the Jedi Temple during the events of Order 66. As Jedis fell all around, five younglings, helped by their brave teacher, managed to escape. A quick jump 10 years in the future, and two shots of cold exposition from the barman later (Yes, people watching who haven’t seen Star Wars Rebels, those people with the strange hats are Inquisitors, and they hunt Jedi), we were reunited with Nari, one of the five escapers. True to form, he couldn’t resist trying to help someone and his Force powers betrayed him.

Shifting sands … Obi-Wan Kenobi episode one.
Shifting sands … Obi-Wan Kenobi episode one. Photograph: Disney

We then got our first glimpse of Obi-Wan, sorry, Ben, working as some kind of butcher/sushi chef, slicing up the insides of what I’m going to call a sand shark. It’s a far cry from being a general in the Clone wars, but hey, it’s a living. And he gets to take home a chunk of meat every day for his eopie (more on this later).

We saw Uncle Owen (I’m so pleased Joel Edgerton has come back to play Luke’s naysaying moisture farming uncle, fleshing out the role he first had in the prequels), and we saw Obi-Wan say no to helping Nari before Nari, killed by Inquisitors, ended up hanging in the street. So far, so good, but all fairly predictable. I couldn’t quite put my finger on which western the plot most reminded me of, with its focus on a wily old gunslinger forced to hide his skills for the sake of his family before taking up arms one last time. The Fastest Gun Alive, perhaps? I am lapping it up, though.

Over on Alderaan

Poor old Alderaan. All those people waving at the Organas – if only they knew that in about 20 years their voices would suddenly cry out in terror, and be suddenly silenced.

But let’s focus on the here and now, and Leia, a tree-climbing, rebellious young princess, living a very different life to that of her brother, Luke. While he’s making his own fun in the desert sands of Tatooine and dreaming of escape, she lives a life of waving, processions, formal buffets and trading barbed lines with her snotty cousin.

It later transpired that the bald head we’d glimpsed watching her in the forest belonged to none other than Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing a none-too-bright kidnapper. Nevertheless, the Third Sister’s plan, after learning of a link between Bail Organa and Obi-Wan, to kidnap Leia and use her as bait was brilliantly devious. Of course, had she known who Leia was really, she would have landed a far greater prize than some stinky old Jedi hiding in the Outer Rim.

Nobody expects the Daiyu inquisition

I especially loved the fish-out-of-water aspect of Obi-Wan’s mission on Daiyu, with its obvious nods to Blade Runner and continuation of the western theme. As the old Jedi, not in fighting shape, had no choice but to get stuck in against much younger opposition, while taking care of a slightly annoying youngster, I was once again reminded of a cowboy movie, this time perhaps True Grit.

Obi-Wan Kenobi episode two.
It’s often those with the greatest need to know who find out last … Obi-Wan Kenobi episode two. Photograph: Disney

As a big fan of Star Wars Rebels and the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game, I couldn’t wait to see the Inquisitors in a live-action show, and I think Disney and the actors have nailed it. The Third Sister is a new character for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Moses Ingram was chilling as the ambitious newcomer, coldly cutting the Grand Inquisitor down in the second episode. On that note – and careful if you don’t want to get into too many predictions here – I don’t believe he’s dead. The Grand Inquisitor (voiced in the animated series by Jason Isaacs) dies in Star Wars Rebels, which is set about four years after the events of this series. So one of three things is true: he’s not dead, it’s a different Grand Inquisitor, or Rebels is no longer in the official Star Wars canon.

Anakin lives!

It’s often those with the greatest need to know who find out last. And finally, news reached Obi-Wan that Anakin survived their fight and is alive. There’s a lot for him to process here, of course, but was it really such a secret? Who did he think was running things alongside Emperor Palpatine if not Anakin? Was Obi-Wan really so isolated in that cave that he didn’t bother to find out if the Emperor had a new apprentice or not? He’s possibly also feeling a sense of relief, discovering he didn’t, in fact, kill his “brother”. It can’t have been easy living with that for a decade, on top of everything else.

Notes and observations

Related: Obi-Wan Kenobi review – Ewan McGregor’s fight scenes are genuinely thrilling

  • We’ve seen Nari, but who are the other four younglings from the Jedi temple – and will we get to meet them?

  • Will Obi-Wan ever get that toy to Luke? Is it the same one he’s playing with while giving C-3PO his oil bath?

  • I predict Obi-Wan’s nightmares are going to become clearer as we go on, eventually leading him to connect with Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force ghost.

  • Obi-Wan’s eopie was played by a camel called Silas, which Ewan McGregor devoted such a strong relationship with that he nearly ended up adopting it.

  • That was a nice cameo on Daiyu from Temuera Morrison as the bearded veteran asking for a warm meal.

  • Obi-Wan had Anakin’s lightsaber buried in the desert along with his own. Has he just left it in his cave while he goes to Daiyu?

  • Have we seen the last of Kumail Nanjiani’s Haja Estrie? I loved the character, I must say, and his noble turn was unexpected, but perfect. And who are the people he sent Obi-Wan to meet?

What did you think? Has the series got the high ground? Have your say below …

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