Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products. This installment is certainly based on the shortest amount of content Evan has yet consumed for chronicling.
I have been skeptical of a lot of Disney’s approach to these character-centric spinoffs, even more so after the relative failure of The Book of Boba Fett. I want Obi-Wan Kenobi — for which the first trailer was released today — to be awesome, but more importantly I just want it to feel like more than a cash-in on the fact that Ewan McGregor is game and was the best, most fondly remembered part of the prequel trilogy.
There have been plenty of stories told about Obi-Wan during his time in exile between Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, mostly involving him fighting Tuskens and other riff-raff on the outskirts of the Lars homestead. In the current Disney canon, we’ve had a few assorted comic-book stories and an appearance in Star Wars Rebels that allowed him a final duel with the resurrected Darth Maul. These mostly depict him as the version of the character portrayed by Alec Guinness. The old Expanded Universe gave us an entire novel and an assortment of interesting comic book stories about Obi-Wan during the “Dark Times,” but those were bound by the fact that Obi-Wan traditionally did nothing very exciting during his time in the desert. That’s what the assumption in the new canon has been, too. How could they possibly give him a big adventure without betraying what we already know, which is that he protected a young Luke Skywalker from afar for 20 years?
This trailer gave me –— ahem — hope that writer-director Deborah Chow and her crew have cracked a story worthy of being told.
It also gave me a big damn shopping list of shit I’d buy from this series, even without knowing the story or seeing a single episode. So here are my thoughts on what we see in the trailer, as well as what I’d drop a stupid amount of money without any regret.
Maybe I have a problem. Whatever.
The trailer opens with Obi-Wan’s voice over and glimpses of Tatooine during the Empire. “The fight is done,” he says. “We lost.” I believe the music playing is our first glimpse at John Williams’ new suite for Obi-Wan, which has a hint of the music from A New Hope with a little something extra. The feeling this gave me echoed one of my favorite Star Wars stories of all time, Siege of Mandalore, the final four-episode arc of the Clone Wars animated series. One of the reasons I love Siege so much is because it told a story that redeems, in part, the poorly told Revenge of the Sith. Through the eyes of Ahsoka and Clone Captain Rex, writer Dave Filoni (who is not involved in Obi-Wan) depicted Order 66, the extermination of the Jedi and the closing days of the Clone Wars as a massive galactic tragedy. Although a lot of fans had come to feel the prequels were conceptually strong despite weak storytelling, it was that depiction of the story that finally sold me on it. The prequels spend a lot of time being actively critical of the Jedi Order on a narrative level. It’s appropriate because they’re depicting a particular era of the galaxy where the Jedi are fucking up, but they just never let it be as sad as it should be.
The Jedi are awesome, and I love that we’re opening this show with Obi-Wan in a place where he’s still absorbing the fallout of so many concurrent losses.
Of course, he’s doing so while living in a cave and keeping watch over little Luke Skywalker, living on the Lars homestead with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. The trailer and photos released in Entertainment Weekly imply that Owen is going to have at least one scene where he stands up to a Sith Inquisitor, and this really excites me in a way I was not expecting. I think A New Hope doesn’t do a very good job showing Luke growing up in a loving home with an aunt and uncle who care for him as their own. That’s not important to the story by any means, but if we’re diving deeper into this story, I’m glad we’re getting to see them raise him with the values he carries forward into his later life. Added bonus: Joel Edgerton is a great actor and what has turned out to be a fortunate casting choice after his bit part in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.
I hope we get to see Obi-Wan commune with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn at some point while hanging out in his little cave.
Anyway, we get another voiceover: The Grand Inquisitor, commenting on his dark trade, says: “The key to hunting Jedi is patience. Jedi cannot help what they are. Their compassion leaves a trail. The Jedi code is like an itch. He cannot help it.” The “Duel of the Fates” music cue from Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace plays, slowly blending in with “Battle of the Heroes” from Revenge of the Sith. Both are iconic Obi-Wan related themes that speak to the battles he will presumably face in this series against the Sith and, later, Darth Vader himself. Let’s unpack what both of those confrontations imply and why I am actually pretty excited for them.
First, the Sith Inquisitors. They’ve been around in Star Wars canon since 2014, introduced in Star Wars Rebels as the primary antagonists of the first few seasons. The Inquisitors are basically high-grade henchmen for the Emperor who hunt down surviving Jedi. They’re mostly former Jedi themselves who betrayed the Order before or after the fall of the Republic. The Grand Inquisitor himself was a Jedi Temple Guard (and, honestly, the reason why I splurged on that Temple Guard Lightsaber set). It is insanely exciting for fans of the animated shows to see these characters make the leap to live-action, a practice on the Disney+ shows that has been successful so far with Ahsoka and Bo-Katan.
This isn’t the first time the Inquisitors have jumped mediums, though. They also appeared heavily in Star Wars: Darth Vader — Dark Lord of the Sith (an extremely recommended comic series written by Charles Soule) and the hit video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (meh). Although they had no direct antecedents in the old Expanded Universe material, it’s always been the case that Palpatine had some sort of Dark Jedi servants running around. It just makes sense and opens up the world a bit more for characters to fight evil baddies who aren’t just Darth Vader.
It makes sense to me that the Inquisitors would be hunting Obi-Wan Kenobi, whether they start the series on his trail or discover it due to whatever adventure on which he finds himself. The last person to see him was Anakin, burning alive on Mustafar. Clearly the Empire knows Kenobi still lives somewhere in the Galaxy, and Vader is too busy with other stuff to spend all his time hunting him down.
There are some details about the Inquisitors that this trailer makes clear are staying consistent from their initial appearances. One is that they all have a vaguely similar appearance. The Brothers (male inquisitors) all wear funny hats. Meanwhile, the women, the Sisters, wear cool armor. Inquisitors use a special double-bladed red lightsaber that can spin around like a windmill. In the cartoons, they even use them to fly, but I can’t imagine that will happen in live-action unless we’ve been blessed by God himself. They live in a giant fortress that was first seen in Fallen Order and appears in this trailer, too. I love corporate synergy!!!!
Anyway, it makes sense that the Inquisitors would be hassling Obi-Wan. Presumably he finds a way to fake his death at the end of this so that they lay off for a few years. That brings us to the big, scary elephant in the room: Darth Vader, and the promise of a rematch between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
I’m into the idea.
Here’s the thing: The prequels were never perfectly in sync with the original trilogy anyway. Most of what Obi-Wan in particular tells Luke was immediately retconned as soon as Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back and continued to be tweaked for the next four movies George Lucas made. Hell, Obi-Wan calls Vader “Darth” as a first name during their Death Star confrontation. There’s plenty of wiggle room in the timeline for them to have fought between films. Vader says “When we last met, I was the learner. Now, I am the master,” and that could refer to both Mustafar and whatever happens here. It’s fine, and in fact, it’s slightly additive.
When Obi-Wan explains to Luke what happened to Anakin during their conversation in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, he clearly understands what Anakin became after their lava fight. I think it’s OK for Obi-Wan to know how deadly and fallen his former friend was because of a first-hand encounter with a post-armor Vader. There’s a great moment in the second season of Rebels when Ahsoka is fighting Vader and slashes his mask open, only to see the eyes of her former Master. I anticipate something similar with Obi-Wan here. I’m hoping for it.
I don’t dare try to predict the plot of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but this trailer has made me very optimistic. I’m excited to see what happens when the Inquisitors find him and I am very curious about what could convince him to leave Tatooine for a time. I want to see his confrontation with Vader, and I’m really into McGregor playing the character with, hopefully, quality material this time around.
Plus … there’s a lot of cool-ass toys to be made from this trailer alone. So let’s take a look at that.
- Black Series Inquisitor Saber: I have always wondered when they’d get around to making one of these, and I’d sure as hell pay $500 for a double-bladed lightsaber that spins.
- Black Series Obi-Wan Saber: I’m hoping Hasbro (or Galaxy’s Edge) releases a high-quality replica of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. It’s not one I have ever wanted, but I probably will after watching this show.
Black Series 6″ Figures
- Fifth Brother: I have a female Inquisitor figure already (Fallen Order’s Second Sister), but they’ve yet to release a male one.
- Reva: The new helmet-less Inquisitor who seems to be a primary antagonist.
- Grand Inquisitor: It is just wild they never made one of these based on his Rebels appearance, but maybe this is why they held off?
- Obi-Wan: I own every other 6” Obi-Wan figure ever made, so why not this one? For the curious, that means I own Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, Clone Commander, Clone General and Episode IV Obi-Wan. If that sounds kind of excessive, yeah, it truly is isn’t it?
- Uncle Owen: I like Good Dads.