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Obi-Wan Kenobi review: Rip-roaring finale saves the best surprise ‘til last

The last episode delivered action, emotion and a knockout final scene


Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor

Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor

Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor

AS Jane Austen might say if she were around today, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Star Wars fans can be a pain in a place where the sun don’t shine.”

Not all of them, obviously. I know plenty of Star Wars nuts who aren’t, well, nuts. They’re well-adjusted people with families and friends and interests that extend beyond what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The Star Wars fans I’m referring to are the other ones. You know who I’m talking about.

They’re the middle- to late middle-aged manboy-fanboys seemingly stuck in a perennial state of semi-adolescence since 1977. They’re the ones born much later, whose critical appraisal ranges from “awesome” to “sucks”.

At the toxic end of the spectrum, they’re the kind of racist and misogynist inadequates who bombard the social media accounts of actresses of colour with vile messages.

These people are only truly happy when they’re unhappy. Only truly satisfied when whining about how something isn’t exactly the way THEY want it to be (you can file the clowns who demanded HBO rewrite and reshoot the entire final season of Game of Thrones under the same category).

With soul-sapping predictability, the hordes came down heavily on Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+). Sod them. Let them gripe away to their hearts’ discontent.

For those of us who don’t regard Star Wars with a reverence usually reserved for sacred texts or ancient places of worship, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a hugely enjoyable summer treat.

This was a truly wonderful throwback to the Star Wars of old, when it was fresh and engaging and looked exactly like what it was supposed to be: a space romp inspired by the old Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon Saturday morning serials of the 1930s, with a few samurai flourishes thrown in.

It also managed to mine one of the best elements of George Lucas’s largely leaden prequel trilogy, Ewan McGregor’s charismatic and heroic Jedi Master, and infuse him with real poignancy.

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This was a different Obi-Wan, hollowed out by time and guilt, his powers rusty and seemingly diminished. One thing I found hilarious was how the other characters, notably the 10-year-old Leia (a charming Vivien Lyra Blair), kept referring to him as “an old man”.

If I’d looked as effortlessly well-preserved at 41 as McGregor looks at 51, I’d have been waving my lightsaber in the air. We saw him regain his strength, episode by episode (it’s remarkable how quickly the six seemed to flash by), all of it leading up to what we hoped would be a cracking finale.

And it was a cracking finale, the centrepiece a magnificent showdown between Obi-Wan and Anakin/Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Lightsabers buzzed, flashed, crunched and clashed. Boulders whizzed through the air, carried by the power of the Force.

Vader’s helmet was shattered down the middle, giving Obi-Wan his first look at Anakin’s scarred, charred face. Obi-Wan was overcome by what he saw. Eyes brimming, he said sorry to Anakin for failing him, only to receive a snarled response: “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did.”

Having Vader’s voice alternate in these moments between Christensen and James Earl Jones was a hugely effective touch. Obi-Wan, realising his old pupil was dead, walked away to fight another day. Even for a frequent Star Wars agnostic, this was a surprisingly emotional moment.

Elsewhere, there was redemption for Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram, the latest target of the fanbase’s racist losers). Having been left for dead by Vader in episode five (it’s not been explained how she survived a lightsaber through the gut), she set out to kill the young Luke Skywalker as revenge on Obi-Wan, but relented when she had a flashback to Anakin slaughtering her fellow Jedi “younglings” before her eyes.

Reva will surely figure prominently if Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was touted as a miniseries, goes to a second season. This now looks more likely than ever after the finale’s big closing surprise.

Obi-Wan’s late mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), turns up as a “Force ghost” and reveals that he’s been by Obi-Wan’s side all along, invisibly guiding his old pupil through his mission. Let’s hope they both stick around.

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