YES, YOUR LATEST DISNEY+ SHOW SUCKS. BUT NOT WHY YOU THOUGHT IT DID.

After seventeen years of waiting, Ewan McGregor finally returns as the fan favorite. Sassy but wise, sad but determined, distraught but definitive, Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi is back baby! Hello there, can we take him out for a second? Hahah! yeah. I know you loved to hear him say it. But the show can’t run on nostalgia alone: it has been receiving substantial backlash from fans for poor direction, lackluster action, and retconning pre-established lore. As a longtime Star Wars fan, I too have been longing for the return of this character. But I can now safely say that this is my least favorite Disney+ show to date. Here’s why. 

Star Wars has been the number one franchise in my life for a while now. Me and my friends were obsessed with the movies growing up, and we grew up in the era of Lucas, where all you had to say was “Make the god damn Alien smile Jack!” At every opportunity, we would use our Jedi mind tricks to dupe our parents into purchasing yet another overpriced LEGO Star Wars set. We grew up on the prequels, a trilogy of movies that has been ridiculed and nailed to a cross for its various shortcomings, but a trilogy of movies that we loved nonetheless, because we grew up on them. Since then, the internet has embraced them more warmly, both for their meme value and their merits as films. We’re not calling them masterpieces, but did we judge the prequels too rough?

One of the main upsides of the trilogy, according to fans and critics alike, was Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Scotsman had a certain sass and swagger that, in a trilogy bogged down by space politics and poor CGI, stood out as engaging and endlessly entertaining. This garnered McGregor and his iteration of Kenobi a massive fanbase, which Lucasfilm finally caved in to, releasing a Disney+ show that stars him. It follows the Jedi master in a post-Order 66 world, where the Jedi order is all but extinct after a galaxy-wide slaughter. (Order 66, for all you what-is-backstory-fans, is the moment that the Galactic Republic is turned into the Galactic Empire, because we can’t trust those peaceniks!) The merciless empire has taken over control and Kenobi has been hiding out on the desert planet of Tatooine for ten years, protecting the only hope in defeating them, Luke Skywalker. After being roped into rescuing Luke’s sister, Leia, he is faced with confronting his greatest fears and reconnecting himself to the force.

The show has not been received well in some circles. It has been on the receiving end of a relentless smear campaign by what has colloquially been termed the Fandom Menace. This group consists of largely far-right nutjobs who discuss the Star Wars franchise and berate it for peddling a woke agenda of radical feminism and forced diversity. You know, despite the original trilogy literally being an analogy for American imperialism and the Vietnam war. These ‘fans’ believe Disney has made Star Wars too political, despite the OG movies coming out within spitting distance of Nixon being alive. Yeah. That guy. But let’s be real: we can draw the line at Nixon, but now there’s a black woman in our movie! The result is in the headlines: “Disney and Ewan McGregor condemn ‘horrendous’ racism sent to Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram.” Ingram, a woman of colour, portrays the inquisitor Reva, a jedi hunter who is obsessed with capturing Kenobi. She shared various abusive DMs from people who claim the show is terrible and view her only as a diversity hire. In other news, mass outrage has broken out after previously racially unknown character revealed to be black.

You would think knowing what happened to Ahmed Best, Jake Lloyd, and more recently Kelly Marie Tran, people would be more mindful of what they say to and about others online. You would think that Star Wars fans would love to see more Star Wars content. You’d be wrong, because what matters isn’t an exploration of politics. What matters is a short dive into politics. Perhaps the Obi-Wan show got ahead of itself, like people have done with the prequels. They will come around on Obi-Wan Kenobi. But for me? My fans will see its merits years after all the vitriol. For me, though, it doesnt matter. The show fails not in terms of on-camera talent, but in terms of everything else. I am no Star Wars purist, so possible breaks in the canon do not concern me much. The reason I dislike Obi-Wan Kenobi is that it is a gargantuan waste of potential and abysmally executed. But they got you to look didn’t they?

It’s hard for me to point out what exactly is the most outrageous issue, as it is more so an amalgamation of many different factors. The fight choreography is amateurish and clumsy, the direction and camera work are poor, the CGI is mediocre, the art style is unimaginative, and the space the characters inhabit seems incredibly restricted. The latter problem most likely results from their use of ‘the Volume’, a piece of innovative technology that allows for in-camera visual effects. Created for The Mandalorian (2019-), it is a “largely computer generated, photo-real environment that wraps around physical sets and real actors to create a seamless effect.” The problem, however, is it also gives the audience the feeling that the sets lack depth and it becomes obvious that they are actually quite small.

After five episodes, it feels to me that very little has actually happened. Many of the scenes seem uneventful and the moments that should really hit hard lack gravitas. For instance, Kenobi sneaking into the Fortress Inquisitorius in episode four felt redundant as it was already done much better in the Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) video game. Additionally, our first rematch between Kenobi and Vader, which had been hyped up in the marketing of the show, left me underwhelmed more than anything. It was sloppy, drawn out, and let down from both a filmmaking and storytelling perspective. 

Disney has refused to commit fully to longform television or full-length movies for these Disney+ properties, putting them in this six-episode limited television series limbo. They seem more like two-hour movies that have been stretched to fit multiple episodes, which is a problem I have felt with all of their other Disney+ shows except for The Mandalorian and WandaVision (2021). Weirdly enough, it seems that whenever the finale rolls around, the creators of the shows are playing catch up, attempting to neatly bring all the storylines to an end as a result of bouts of repetition and filler in previous episodes.

Another casualty of that format was The Book of Boba Fett (2021), a show which also failed to meet expectations for the return of a fan favorite character. Interestingly, Obi-Wan Kenobi somehow makes that show look great in comparison. That was a property where the titular character had no lines for two episodes of his own show as a result of it being hijacked by The Mandalorian. And, to be honest, I am kind of hoping the same happens to Kenobi. It seems to me that the people making the show are attempting to do too much, while in reality doing very little. The inclusion of Vader, the inquisitors, and Leia, it all seems a little excessive. Too much time is spent on them.

A part of me believes that they should have just kept Obi-Wan on Tatooine, a planet we have admittedly seen too much of. Even though the sand is coarse, rough, irritating, and gets everywhere, it feels like that’s where the story should have taken place. Kenobi, a traumatized, reclusive old man with a broken connection to the force, trying to make his way on this depressing desert planet. Low stakes and occasional flashbacks or nightmares about his past apprentice Anakin Skywalker, as he’s guided through his troubles by his old master Qui-Gon Jinn. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that show, nor will we ever. All we can hope is that the finale makes up somewhat for this lackluster season. On the bright side, there is plenty of great content out there, mostly due to Dave Filoni’s involvement with the franchise (very excited for The Bad Batch (2021-) season two and the Ahsoka (2023) series). Obi-Wan Kenobi is just another mediocre TV show and doesn’t warrant sending anyone death threats.