One more week, and one more episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The show has been a talk-about topic on social media in the past few weeks. The reactions to the show have been polarizing, to say the least. Many people defend the show with all their heart and soul, saying that it is peak Star Wars, and one of the best live-action shows ever made. Others don’t have that same opinion, and they are throwing the show to the ground at every chance they get.
The truth is found somewhere in the middle. It is true that there are some cool things about the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, especially in Episode 5. Ewan McGregor keeps being the highlight of the show, and this episode tries to compensate for the lack of action in later episodes. However, this episode suffers exactly from the issues as the last past four episodes; terrible direction, lack of great character moments, and weird music placement.
Episode 5 begins exactly in the same place where episode 4 ended. There we learned that Lola, Leia’s android companion, was being hacked by the Empire, and it was serving as a bug. The Empire was able to locate the refugee’s routes and follow them, with Reva as the De Facto leader of the Inquisition. What we see in this episode basically constitutes the aftermath of that event, and the result is an episode that works as an action piece but not much else.
This is the first episode that actually gives a ton of Hayden Christensen moments, both in the shape of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. Seeing the actor making a comeback after so many years is wonderful, and it really hits the strings of nostalgia like nothing else on the show, not even Vader in the suit. Christensen is clearly older than the last time we saw him, so it is quite strange that the flashback chosen for this episode places him in his padawan days, instead of his later days as a Jedi Master.
We understand that the lesson taught to the character fits better if he is a padawan, but seeing him being so old, really takes you out of the episode every time the camera goes close to him. Yes, the camera work on the show is still bafflingly bad. There are no epic shots in this episode. It seems like Deborah Chow really forgot how to use the camera to place the audience at the moment. Instead, the episode jumps here and there using this terrible shaky cam effect that doesn’t really fit with Star Wars at all.
The scenes between Ewan and Hayden really make for some of the best moments in the episode. At least visually, the episode nails the feeling that both actors went back to the time of the prequels, and we are seeing some lost training day, before the Attack of the Clones movie. However, even in these moments, the episode cuts corners, and the backgrounds feel too static. When in comparison to what the prequels did with those same backgrounds 20 years ago, it feels like the budget was really not something that they could play with much in this show.
This is a shame because Obi-Wan Kenobi should be a movie-quality television event, not just another show from the bunch. The decision of hiring Deborah Chow to handle such an important character seems to have been a mistake, maybe someone with a lot more experience directing and creating powerful imagery, such as Jon Favreau, could have been a better show. Chow is trapped by the limitation of the production, and she doesn’t really step up high to make those limitations become strengths.
It is not a mystery to anyone that the show had some, at least for now undisclosed problems, production-wise. The show had to be rewritten at many points, and the result is a lack of focus, and a lack of commitment to telling a story worth telling. And also choosing the most generic and predictable plot points to build each episode on. Those same production issues must have hurt the visual landscape of the series. It can be the only logical reason why the show looks so bad.
What happens to Reva in this episode really proves that the writers and the rest of the filmmaking team really didn’t know how to resolve the plot in an excitingly fresh way. Instead, they decided to go with the most expected and boring answer, and Reva ends up becoming just one more boring character in a sea of them.
Episode 5 even brings some deaths to the table, but they don’t really matter. Why? Because the deaths come in the most predictable possible ways. The main loss in this episode is executed in such a boring way, that results in a scene that makes you feel nothing for the character. It will make more than one person roll their eyes at such a generic execution.
The saddest thing is that if this is the Obi-Wan Kenobi show we got after being “fixed” with many rewrites. It is hard to understand or even imagine how bad were the original ideas if this is what seemed like an improvement. There is one more episode left and one more chance for the show to redeem itself.