Obi Wan Kenobi comes back this week with a third episode that finds itself in the middle point of this miniseries. Since last week there have been a lot of reactions, and criticisms directed toward the show. Some of this criticism has no fundamentals in reality, and it is only the ramblings of very angry and disturbing people. However, the majority of the concerns are totally legitimate, and they should be taken into consideration. Obi Wan Kenobi, the miniseries, is just not living up to its potential.
Among some of these legitimate concerns on how the show is tackling the story. We can find the clear fact that Disney seems to have been a bit cheap when it came to the moment to give this show a budget. The show is using The Volume, a big surrounding high definition screen that is used to create backgrounds and such. This technology has been used in shows like The Mandalorian, and full-scale movies like The Batman, but here the limitations of the technology are so apparent that it became laughable.
This episode brings us to a new planet called Mapuzo. As was expected, Mapuzo is jet, another desert landscape with nothing to see for miles and miles. The creation of sets, buildings, and other creative visuals is an expensive thing, and the show doesn’t seem to have the time or the resources to do it, so where are trapped inside another wasteland once again. Tatooine is a staple of Star Wars, and it will always be, but the trend has worn out by now. It feels cheap and lazy.
Deborah Chow directs every single episode in this miniseries. She was chosen for the job after her episodes in The Mandalorian Season 1 were some of the best episodes that season, and they were received very well both by critics and the audience. This is the reason it is so strange that her directorial work in these three episodes of Obi Wan Kenobi can only be described as mediocre, and lackluster.
None of the episodes have had any sense of composition when it comes to delivering iconic visuals. The pacing and the mood of each episode also feel way off. Scenes feel disjointed, and pointless sometimes, which makes it hard to keep the momentum going between scenes, even when the plot is telling us that there should be a sense of urgency going through the characters’ veins and within ourselves. The awful pacing kills any sight of this.
Visually, all three episodes have this severe lack of consistency. Chow uses this shaky cam effect during most of the show’s scenes, especially when dealing with Obi Wan as a character, and the use of the effect feels too much on the nose. This effect has been used countless times before to expose the inner conflict of a character through the visuals. This might be what Chow is trying to accomplish here, but it looks so intentional, and ugly, that it interferes with the immersion.
Another big problem with the show seems to be the writing in general. The dialogues, for example, are filled with some of the most cliché sentences ever put on paper. Some of these lines are straight out of a children’s book. And it feels like this fact becomes even worse when some of them are given to Darth Vader, who finally appears in this episode and feels more like a fairy tale villain than ever before. Not even in A New Hope, where he was just a henchman, Vader had such cringe lines.
The revelation that Darth Vader was going to be in this show became a big incentive to watch it. The villain is just one of the greatest characters in cinema history, so, just his silhouette is enough to create hype among fans. Vader’s appearance is considerable in this episode, and yet, it feels empty like it doesn’t really mean anything that he is there. We know how the story of Obi Wan and Vader ends, and this drains each of their scenes together of any tension. It is a shame that the writers couldn’t find a reason or a new take to make these two face each other in a way that feels meaningful.
The action choreography is also lacking. There are a couple of scenes in here where Obi Wan has to fight some Stormtroopers, and the final one where the Jedi finally meets with his former apprentice, now a Sith Lord, and well, they are all really anticlimactic. The shots are wonky, the choreography feels stale, and the end of the last fight feels like a joke. The writers couldn’t find a believable reason to stop the fight, so they just went with the first thing that came to their heads. The choice was not the best one by a mile.
Obi Wan Kenobi still has three more episodes to reach its end. Can the show level up and finally bring the epicness and the quality that most of the audience is asking for? Or will the show just remain in this limbo of mediocrity? Star Wars as a brand keeps being strong, but Obi Wan Kenobi so far is just so much less than it should be, and it feels like a wasted opportunity.