The final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi is over. It presented itself, in no unclear terms, as the bridge to everything we know from A New Hope. Here are five major moments or scenes that I believe deserve a bit of elaboration and a closer look – even though more would deserve it:
Battle of the Heroes
This is what fans have been looking forward to with anticipation – but also with fear. There was so much that could have gone wrong. Details that could cause discontinuity with the canon. Out-of-character behaviour. Fortunately none of that has come to pass.
The final battle did justice to Obi-Wan’s and Vader’s prowess and skill. Both in terms of lightsaber combat and the manifestation of their Force powers the audience was left with the feeling that these are masters you don’t want to mess with.
And in terms of emotional impact? The final dialogue was a tragic underlining of the bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It did not bring anything new, and I would say that it did not bring anything that needed to be said aloud. However, it did put into words some things that we assumed, but that we had not explicitly heard.
Such as Vader’s confession that he killed Anakin. Nothing new really, but a confirmation, and further justification of what Obi-Wan tells Luke: that it was Vader who killed his father. The only tiny thing it changes is that now Obi-Wan is less to blame for lying to Luke, because Vader had said this himself.
What lifted the entire scene to a new level was Obi-Wan breaking off a piece of Vader’s mask. Star Wars Rebels fans will have seen the same “trick” before, when Vader encountered Ahsoka. While this is an obvious reuse of an emotionally impactful effect, it has been handled superbly. This is no mere cheap reuse of a trope, this is an emotionally charged, well-built scene.
Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru Squad
The other part of the episode was aimed on Owen, Beru and Luke facing Reva. In terms of screenwriting it was a great move to interlace the big final encounter of Obi-Wan vs Vader with this one. The fact that Obi-Wan was otherwise engaged also made it clear that he was not coming to the rescue.
Even though it was fairly certain that the Larses could not stand against a powerful Force user on their own, they nonetheless managed to shine. This episode offered an insight into their pretty good contingency plans. We saw that they were not just dumb farmers waiting like nerfs for the slaughter. Anticipating that a day would come when taking Luke in would come to bite them back puts them a level above your average Dursleys. They could not stop Reva, but they put up a fight.
This set the stage for the conclusion of Reva’s story. Everyone may have their own favourites, but one thing must be said – Reva’s redemption was reasonably well-written and believable. And not just in terms of that it exists, but the “how”, and how it was presented.
And her story, in the end, felt good and made sense. Which is not an easy task. Star Wars already has two major villains with nearly the same attributes as Reva: Vader and Kylo Ren. Reva could easily have been written and portrayed as yet another run-of-the-mill fallen former Jedi in black armour who gets redeemed in the end. Despite that, the authors have managed her to seem different. And let me repeat once again: that is no simple task.
The episode, and the entire series, would not be complete without two things. One is Obi-Wan reestablishing his contact with his dead Master, the other is Obi-Wan saying “Hello there”.
I am partly joking, but not entirely. This line (the first line Alec Guinness speaks in A New Hope, and the line repeated by Ewan McGregor in the prequels) is something so iconic that I (and likely many others) had been surprised by its absence throughout the series.
But of course, the narratively important part is the context in which Obi-Wan utters this line: his meeting with young Luke. The sharper-eyed audience have already noticed in the first episode that the ship model Obi-Wan brings is the same one Luke plays with in A New Hope.
Even more notably however, the fact that Luke has met Obi-Wan before is also in line with what we see in A New Hope! While it is clear that Luke has no idea who Obi-Wan really is, and takes him for an eccentric hermit, his reaction after he wakes up after the tusken attack – “Ben Kenobi? Am I glad to see you!” – makes it clear that he had at least seen Obi-Wan before. It was a master stroke that the makers of Kenobi decided to show us this, and a move that should be commended.