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Obi-Wan Kenobi: Part 1

What is it ? : We begin with a brief reminder of Anakin and Obi-Wan's story through The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith before dropping us into the Jedi Temple as Order 66 is issued. A Jedi protects a group of younglings, fighting through Clone Troopers before finally succumbing to overwhelming fire. The younglings flee through a large chamber and you see numerous Jedi fighting the horde of Clone Troopers assaulting them.
We then drop to 10 years later, an Imperial Inquisitors shuttle lands, and the Grand Inquisitor, the 3rd Sister and the Fifth Brother disembark and walk into a Tavern. The Grand Inquisitor reveals who they are, and tells how Jedi hunt themselves, as their nature means they help others and reveal their location. He tells how the owner of this Tavern was in trouble and a young Jedi came to his help, and afterwards the Tavern owner sheltered him. The Third Sister throws a knife at the Tavern owner, but a young man uses the force to halt the blade, revealing himself as the Jedi. The Jedi flees, and the Grand Inquisitor chastises the Sister for her impulsiveness, and she complains that this prey and this place are beneath them, and he again chastises her for her fixation with Obi-Wan Kenobi, telling her she will be removed from her duties if she continues down this path.
Elsewhere Obi-Wan Kenobi is in disguise, working with a team butchering the remains of a Krayt Dragon in a production line next to its enormous body. As they finish up, Kenobi takes a small chunk of the meat, and lines up to receive payment and the supervisor reveals they are only being paid half of what was offered. He challenges Kenobi as to whether he is going to do anything about it, but Kenobi backs down and leaves peacefully.
He travels back to Anchorhead with the other workers and once there collects his Eopie, feeding it the chunk of meat he took. Travelling to his home, a sensor warns him someone is within, and he meets with a Jawa who has brought him parts for a toy T-16 Skyhopper, and offers replacement parts for Kenobi's vaporator which has had parts stolen. Kenobi complains if the Jawa is going to sell him his own stolen parts, he could at least clean them, but the Jawa tells him that costs extra.
The Jawa then offers him parts from a crashed Jedi starship in the Dune sea, but after examining the parts and a belt, Kenobi just tells him the Jedi are believed to be extinct.
Kenobi goes out to the Lars farm, and watches Luke through a set of Macrobinoculars happy that Luke is safe and loved, sneaking in under cover of darkness to drop off the T-16 toy. However on his way home he is confronted by the Jedi from the Tavern, who recognises him. Kenobi tells him he is mistaken his name is Ben, but advises him to go into the desert and bury his lightsaber, and hide. When the Jedi asks about the people they should be helping, Kenobi tells him that the battle was lost and the time of the Jedi is over.
On Alderaan, attendants dress a young girl in finery, and when Queen Breya Organa comes to collect her daughter, she realises this is not her, and is told that Leia thought it would be funny.
In the forest outside the palace, Leia sits in a tree watching ships leave with her tiny droid, Lola, when her mother comes for her, telling her that they have family visiting and she must perform her duties. As they return to the palace, they are watched by a dark figure from the trees.
Back on Tatooine we follow Kenobi's daily routine once more, of working butchering the Krayt Dragon, taking some for his Eopie, travelling back to Anchorhead. But this time when he is feeding his Eopie, he is confronted by Owen Lars, who throws the T-16 toy to the ground, warning Kenobi to stay away from his son. When Kenobi remarks that he needs to be around to train Luke, Owen reminds him that he also trained Luke's father and that didn't turn out well, and that Luke should remain on the farm with his family where he will be safe.
As Owen walks away, the Inquisitors arrive, and Obi-Wan hides in the shadows of the Eopie shed. The Inquisitors are still looking for the Jedi and question members of the crowd, including Owen. The sister asks him if he might have a Jedi hiding on his farm, to which he replies that he has no love for the Jedi, and just wants to protect his family. She asks him if he thinks he can protect them from her, to which he is silent. She then announces to the crowd, that unless someone tells her where the Jedi is, she will kill Owen, and his family, but the Fifth Brother intervenes, and they leave.
Obi-Wan thanks Owen for not revealing him, but Owen tells him he didn't do it for him.
On Alderaan, Leia attends with her mother, Queen Breya Organa, and her Father, Senator Bail Organa as her Aunt, Uncle and cousin arrive, they then head to an official function. There her uncle praises the Empire for filling some peoples pockets, but Bail expresses concern about slavery and other excesses of the Empire, but the Uncle tells him he should leave his bleeding heart for the Senate, he only came to eat his food.
When Leia thanks one of the serving droids, her cousin is bemused as he considers them lower beings, when Leia comments about manners her cousin tells her she isn't really an Organa, only being adopted. So Leia responds by telling her cousin that he only repeats his fathers thoughts without knowing what they actually mean, because he wants his father to like him, that without knowing him very well she realises that he fears his father and hasn't made one decision of his own in his life. Breya and Bail take notice of their daughters words.
Later Leia explains to her parents her words and actions, but Breya is outraged, however Bail is somewhat proud of his daughter, explaining to her that her future lies in ruling their people, and while she must apologise to her cousin for now, her revenge in the long term will be that she will be able to boss him around when she is Queen.
Instead of apologising, Leia heads into the forest instead where she is confronted by the dark figure, even though she attempts to flee, she is captured by the man and his two companions, who lock her in a cell on their starship.
Back on Tatooine, Obi-Wan receives a communication from Bail, explaining that Leia has been kidnapped, and calling on him to help. He tells Bail that he cannot, his duty is to guard Luke, but Bail asks of his duty to Leia, but Kenobi asks them to get someone else, perhaps a bounty hunter.
The next day, Obi-Wan goes through his daily routine, working butchering the Krayt Dragon, and feeding his Eopie. But the body of the young Jedi is strung up over the streets of Anchorhead, as the Inquisitors have killed him. When Obi-Wan gets home, the alarm shows someone is within, and Bail Organa confronts him. Kenobi is reluctant, and somewhat pessimistic about being able to help, but Bail tells him that he trusts no one more to save his daughter.
On the starship, Leia reactivates her droid Lola and tries to get her to cut the ties so she can escape, but her captors enter and destroy the droid. Leia tells her captor that she isn't afraid of him, but he simply tells her to give it time. He then leaves and communicates with the person who has hired him to kidnap Leia, the 3rd Sister who tells him that the Organa's were close friends of Obi-Wan, and that they will call on him to help rescue Leia, luring him out of his hiding just as she planned.
Back on Tatooine, Obi-Wan goes into the desert, and retrieves his and Anakins lightsabers from a box he buried, before heading to a transport offworld . . . .

High Points : A great start to the series, but as a first episode it has a lot of heavy lifting to do to set up the storyline for the season, so does seem a little slow at times. That said, the repeated routine of Kenobi's day butchering the Krayt Dragon works, showing how the plot is slowly coming into his life.
I really have to complement the actress who plays Leia in this, she is brilliant as are the lines she delivers. This is perhaps a little more Carrie Fisher than Leia, brilliantly smart and snarky, a slight level of viciousness the character hasn't shown before, but this could just be character growth as Leia becomes tempered by her Fathers influence.
Speaking of her father, Jimmy Smits is again absolutely wonderful as Bail Organa, and comes across as a fantastic father, telling his daughter off and trying to teach her, but all the same secretly proud of her and who she is becoming. He does look a little older now, having lost some weight and perhaps looking a little frailer than when we last saw him in Rogue One. But this makes not one jot of a difference, and given that he never appeared to age between when I first became aware of him in the late 1980's and the later 2010's, it had to happen sometime unless he'd made some deal with the devil for unending life.
All of these actors returning, from Joel Edgerton as Owen, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, through to Jimmy Smits as Bail, all make this really feel like a continuation rather than a reinvention of Star Wars.
Also worth mentioning is the presentation, it really looks lovely, with the scene with the Jedi temple at the beginning looking up to movie standards, right through to how gorgeous Alderaan looks. It really takes the advice to Gamesmasters from the Star Wars RPG to heart, where it advised you to always make things bigger for Star Wars. If you were going to have a Temple at the top of a waterfall, then it should be a Temple populated by weird aliens, which is at the top of a mile high waterfall. So in this, Obi-Wan does just work cutting up meat, he works in a camp cutting the meat from an enormous Krayt Dragon which is larger than the camp itself creating a sheltering wall.
it's also nice that John Williams has returned to create the Obi-Wan theme for the series, which while I adore the music in The Mandalorian, this feels so much more Star Wars, making me instantly feel more at home with this story.

Sometimes these days Star Wars can seem a little small, with everything tying together too neatly (the Marshall in The Mandalorian having Boba Fetts armour and Anakins Pod Racer engine for example). But I did really love that the T-16 that Obi-Wan buys from the Jawa, and then leave for Luke, is probably the one we saw him playing with in the garage in A New Hope. It's small enough and subtle enough that I enjoyed it, but it doesn't slap you around face with a "Hey remember that think, well here's it's backstory." like we'd had so often with the Bad Batch, etc.

Low Points : As said above, the story can seem a little slow at points, and we'll see if that's a feature of the series stretching a movie idea out to six episodes, or whether it's just because this episode has to set up the series so is doing a lot of work.

So what do you really think ? : I really enjoyed this, it looked great, it sounded great, it was acted great, I hope it continues into greatness.

Final Words : Although they released the first two episodes together, at this moment I've only watched the first episode so I've no idea what happens next. They've totally taken me by surprise by making the plot seemingly about the rescue of Leia, as the trailers made me thing it was mainly going to be a Tatooine story about protecting Luke. This is far more epic than I was expecting, and that's a far more pleasant surprise for me, may they surprise me more and more.
So I'll be watching the next episode later, and writing up my review tomorrow, and we shall see if it gets even better (I've deliberately been a bit harsh in my marking for this episode, to leave myself somewhere to go if it gets better).

Score : 8.5/10

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