In the second episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, our indefatigable hero will need to stop wallowing in his own guilt and shame, reconnecting with the part of himself he’s long since abandoned. For ten years, Obi-Wan’s entire life has been focused on denying his Jedi past, hiding in plain sight to avoid detection from the Empire. But now, with the young Princess Leia in danger, he has no choice but to embrace a little bit of the old General Kenobi.
The second episode of the show displays the same flaws and strengths evident in the first, and it’s clear that if Obi-Wan Kenobi is to succeed, it will be through the sheer charm offensive of Ewan McGregor in the lead role. Although it’s fun to see the younger version of Leia (especially since she is so frequently in Luke’s shadow), Obi-Wan’s journey to reconcile with the past will be the most compelling aspect of the show.
We begin with the reluctant Obi-Wan traveling off-world for the first time in ten years, flying to the gritty planet of Daiyu (here, we see a continuation of a strange Star Wars quirk in which planets can only be one thing – Tatooine is a desert, Hoth is ice, and Daiyu is a big city). His goal is seemingly simple: Track down and rescue Princess Leia. But as it becomes clear, this ploy was simply a trap to lure Obi-Wan into the clutches of Riva, who honestly is kind of obsessed with him. Undoubtedly, we’ll learn she’s one of the Jedi younglings featured in the first episode’s opening sequence and is out for revenge against Obi-Wan, Anakin, or both.
Let’s begin with the good. It’s a lot of fun to watch Obi-Wan get back into fighting shape, even if, let’s face it, plenty of things just happen to go his way in this episode. It’s gratifying to see that ten years of not using the Force takes its toll: When he has to hit someone, he nearly breaks his hand, and levitating someone takes every ounce of his power. The fact that it isn’t a smooth transition back into being a Force-user plays to Obi-Wan’s strengths as a character; More than most Jedi, he has a certain comfort level with the grittiness of the urban landscape, as we well remember from his surreptitious conversations with Dexter Jettster in Attack of the Clones. It’s this ability that allows him to smoothly make his way through Daiyu without drawing too much attention.
That is until he has a pint-sized Princess Leia in tow. She is significantly less interested in keeping a low profile, loudly asking him questions about the Jedi as though she were holding up a neon sign attracting every assassin and bounty hunter within five miles of them. The two have good chemistry together, the natural warmth of Obi-Wan overcoming his stoicism and blending nicely with Leia’s precociousness. If she is to be his Grogu, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
The biggest problem with Obi-Wan Kenobi thus far lies not in its protagonists but in its villains. The dynamic between the Inquisitors is plodding and cliche-ridden, doing none of the actors any favors. Their dialogue is stilted and relies on every cop trope in the book – you half expect one of the Inquisitors to say to Riva, “I don’t approve of your methods but damn it do I respect you.” Riva’s a wild card, a loose cannon who plays by her own rules, etc. Hopefully, some of these issues will be ironed out as the series goes on and we learn more about Riva, but as it stands now, it’s a clear weak link in the show, one that doesn’t give actress Moses Ingram much to work with.
Still, more Obi-Wan is always a good thing. The second episode gives our characters a little room to breathe, as the scope extends beyond Tatooine, and we are introduced to more potential allies and foes. It leaves us cautiously optimistic for the rest of the series, even if it does have its fair share of flaws.