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A new hope emerges in new series ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’

With final examinations, projects and papers looming down on Brandeis students, May is perhaps one of my least favorite months of the year. Too many things are happening, none of them particularly exciting, but if there’s one thing I’m looking forward to, it’s the long-awaited Star Wars series “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” First announced back in the D23 2019 Expo by Lucasfilms President Kathleen Kennedy, this series is meant to follow the iconic character Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in the years after “Revenge of the Sith.” Fans of the Star Wars franchise remember that this particular film ended on a simultaneously hopeless and hopeful note: on the one hand, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has fallen to the Dark Side, officially becoming the horrifying Darth Vader. The entire Jedi Order has been killed off, and whatever Jedi haven’t been brutally executed have gone into hiding, leaving the galaxy in darkness. But where there is death and destruction, there is also a glimmer of light—Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia Skywalker (Carrie Fisher), who will eventually grow to undo the damage done by their father. 

 

But for now, the Skywalker children haven’t yet grown into the people they’ll be when they end all that darkness. For now, Leia Skywalker is growing up on Alderaan with her adoptive parents Bail and Breha Organa, and Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely) is just a ten year old farmer boy growing up in Tatooine, a harsh desert planet that was also once home to his father before him. But of course, he isn’t alone. Somewhere on this planet, Obi-Wan Kenobi lives out his days in exile, keeping close watch on Luke to make sure he doesn’t run into any harm. After all, these are the days in which the Jedi must stay hidden—and if Luke is anything at all like his powerful father, the threats are even harsher. And so Obi-Wan must make sure that the boy is safe, and, more importantly, trained in the face of danger. 

 

However, it seems that even in his days in exile, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life is about to get a bit more complicated. On May 4, Disney+ released the full trailer for this six-part series, featuring the insidious Inquisitors—Darkside Force users who are sent by the Empire to kidnap potentially Force-sensitive children. Lightsaber and blaster fights seem abound as Obi-Wan dodges from his newfound enemies, all with the hopes that Luke remains protected. Now, given that the original trilogy shows Luke as a relatively innocent and mildly untraumatized kid, it’s possible that the ten-year old Luke of the Kenobi series won’t get fully exposed to the action. Still, it’ll be interesting to see exactly what role Luke might potentially play in this series—hopefully, he’s not just a cameo in the first episode. And to be honest, it would be a bit of a shame if Luke and Obi-Wan didn’t share at least one significant moment that might foreshadow their important teacher-student relationship to come in the original trilogy. 

 

Another element of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” that I’m looking forward to is the epic showdown between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. Thinking about the insane resentment and rage that must be bubbling in Darth Vader-then-Anakin Skywalker is a headache. Or the absolute shock Obi-Wan must feel—again, fans of the movies will remember that the last he’d seen his former student-slash-best friend Anakin Skywalker, had been writhing on a lava beach with his limbs chopped off (courtesy of Obi-Wan himself). The kind of intense emotions that must be playing between these two iconic characters is guaranteed to give fans the duel of the century, because how else are we supposed to describe a fight between two people who have known each other for literally years and years before having the most dramatic (and maybe even most tragic) confrontation in the entirety of Star Wars history? The only thing I know for certain is that whatever happens, this duel might be one of the most memorable ones since the famous duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan in “Revenge of the Sith.” 

 

But perhaps the thing I’m most interested in when it comes to the Kenobi series is exactly how Obi-Wan might develop over the course of the six planned episodes. For many Star Wars fans, we’ve seen Obi-Wan in largely a secondary character role—in the prequel trilogy, he’s the bratty Padawan turned mildly exasperated Jedi Master. In the original trilogy, he’s the wise sage. We get a bit more of Obi-Wan being alone in the animated “Clone Wars” series (voiced by James Arnold Taylor), where he shows more of his personality (my personal favorite trait being the fact that this man literally does not know when to stop flirting with the enemy). But for the first time, we’ll be really seeing Obi-Wan Kenobi up close and personal. Where the movies were much more focused on the overall plot and the “Clone Wars” series was more interested in an ensemble cast, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” will be turning the spotlight solely on this character who’s so closely tied to the mess of the Skywalker family. Oftentimes, Obi-Wan Kenobi is the voice of reason in this disastrous lineage—and yet, he is also another voice of hope in the Star Wars franchise. After all, he’s one of the last survivors of the prequel trilogy. He’s the one who warns the other Jedi to stay hidden—and to wait, because in his words, “in time, a new hope will emerge.” And so Obi-Wan Kenobi emerges too, once again a quiet message of perseverance and hope when the state of the world seems to be anything but. So on May 27, get ready: Master Kenobi’s got one more lesson to teach us.

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