Thanks to a rock-solid finale, Obi salvages some of that lost respect.
Why don't we start with the good news? The sixth and final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi is pretty good television, it's probably the series' best in many ways. There's excellent cinematography throughout, brilliant lighting, great acting performances and despite plenty of scepticism on my part, the series manages, somewhat, to tie up the loose threads into a reasonably satisfying conclusion.
It is, in many ways, the episode we've been waiting for - or the one I've been waiting for - that delivers the gravitas, a showdown between former friends, and a resolution to what has mostly felt like fleeting reflections, rather than a coherent plot.
The best I can say about Obi-Wan Kenobi is that the series begins brilliantly, with nice narrative construction, good intentions, and a fairly accurate stylistic picture of the galaxy after the Empire's takeover, and that the final episode closes and closes brilliantly, with style and with a pretty solid understanding of what it was we came to see.
Okay, are you still here? Because even though the first, and now final, episode of the series delivers on the pretty central promise made by Disney and director and showrunner Deborah Chow, the problem is, again, that episodes 2, 3, 4, and 5 all waste such a lot time that even this amazing finale feels like a lot of effort. These 45 minutes have so much to promise, and even if it surprisingly succeeds, it's unfair when 66% of the total running time is spent on something close to nothing.
This is an ad:
It's all about strategic choices. What do you choose to show, and spend the time on, and what do you choose to remain unsaid, hidden? Let's take Hayden Christensen as an example - he's actually in two scenes in the whole series, and if you want to be critical, it might be more accurate to say one scene. One. This isn't clever suspense building, it's confusing resolution to say the least, because the entire premise of the series is built on the fact that there are open wounds, a revenge story, and on a conflict lurking on the horizon. Every time Vader has been on screen it has been James Earl Jones providing the, well iconic voice, with no indication of Christensen's actual presence. But that's pretty crucial because it's between Christensen and McGregor that the rift, the wound, occurs. That's what's interesting here. Flashbacks could have been the answer, but it's a strategy the series only spends time on once - that one scene.
Plus, we spend time on pointless introductions of new characters that have no impact whatsoever on the broader plot. Tala comes and goes, likewise does Haja. Even Reva, who actually ends up tying a nice bow on her otherwise really uneven character arc, has no impact, no real role. They're just puppets to be moved around so that we can eventually set up a memorable duel between Vader and Obi-Wan.
I've been harsh on Reva throughout the series, both because her character throughout almost the entire run was hopelessly uneven, but also because actress Moses Ingram delivered a rather confusing performance that swung constantly between over-and-under exposure between lines. It must, however, be said again that she gets redemption, and a solid ending in the final episode.
This is an ad:
Tala, Haja, Reva they're just fleeting figures distracting from what matters, namely this intense cat-after-mouse that should have been the series' central, and only, focus. But it's just totally not.
So Obi-Wan Kenobi is a mixed bag, and when the series ends in such solid fashion, it feels a shame to think through the entire product from end-to-end, because if only the series had a juicy middle, as the prologue and epilogue otherwise set up.
Still, it's well-produced television, beautiful television, solidly composed television. All the ingredients are here, all the intentions have been here from the start. I therefore feel relatively well equipped to cautiously recommend Obi-Wan Kenobi to the dedicated Star Wars fan, the die-hard fan who is not bothered since the original trilogy means that virtually all the characters in danger here are "protected" by the fact that they must appear in good health later. If you want to throw yourself frightfully into anything Star Wars related, this is worth your time, you might just want to adjust your expectations beforehand.