Set 10 years after Order 66 and the fall of the Jedi Order, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” follows up on the eponymous Jedi Master, who has set up camp on Tattooine. He continues to keep a lookout over the young Luke Skywalker, alongside Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Nevertheless, the looming threat of the Empire casts a shadow over the dunes of the planet. A group of Jedi hunters known as the Imperial Inquisitors are scattered across the galaxy in pursuit of any remaining Jedi. To remain hidden, Obi-Wan must keep his connection to the Force in check, setting aside the Jedi code for survival.
Even though it is in the past, the sting of his greatest defeat on Mustafar still hurts. Anakin Skywalker, the student, the Chosen One, his ‘brother’ had to be struck down by Kenobi’s blade. The downfall and corruption of a best friend is just something one cannot simply shake away. But a dark secret about Anakin looms within the galaxy… And Obi-Wan is about to face his past once again.
Reprising their roles from the prequel era are Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen as Obi-Wan and Darth Vader respectively. Certainly, this is a triumph of sorts as it marks a renaissance for the latter, who has been out of the main scene for a while now. Christensen has also been confirmed to appear in the next chapter of the “Star Wars” anthology, “Ahsoka”, which would see the Vader meet with his former student once again.
It has been 17 years since we last saw McGregor and Christensen walk amongst the Jedi order. Yes, one might recall that both of them were in the Star Wars sequels albeit in a very minute role. Providing only their voices in the “Force Awakens” and “Rise of Skywalker”, it’s a cup-your-ears-and-you-miss-it event that you need to be on the lookout for.
Although the prequel era was initially criticised with regard to its tones, a great following has risen and surfaced over the last two decades due to the expanded universe built around it. McGregor and Christensen admit that they are aware and fond of such nostalgia for the era they contributed to.
“For the younger generation who watched the films that Hayden and I made, they love them,” he says. “It’s been nice for me to realize that our work in those films is really loved and appreciated. During my prep for this film, I watched all nine of the Star Wars movies just to get into the Star Wars world again, and it was nice to watch our three again. I enjoyed them a lot.”
Christensen also admits that “Star Wars” has a staying power. “It’s remarkable just how much these stories mean to so many people.”, says Christensen. “I think that’s because we’re able to learn about ourselves through them and the world around us. We learn about good and evil and what it is to be a hero giving yourself to something bigger. And this is kind of the foundation that has allowed others now to come in and tell new stories within the “Star Wars” universe.
As the series premieres, we’ll take a look at some details about the crew, innovations, and characters in the show to get you primed up. Oh yeah, this is where the fun begins.
Taking on the helm of the project is Deborah Chow, who first made her first foray into the galaxy far far away by directing Chapters 3 and 7 of “The Mandalorian”. Received well by both fans and critics alike, Chow proved that she was a natural fit for the innovative production style and storytelling.
Prior to “Star Wars”, Chow was known for her work on her 2010 feature “The High Cost of Living” and Marvel’s “Jessica Jones”. She’s also done work on the CW’s “Beauty and the Beast” along with “Mr. Robot” starring Rami Malek.
Now, here’s a bit of trivia. Chow has actually played a character in Season 1 of “The Mandalorian”. Playing a New Republic Starfighter pilot, Sash Ketter, she appeared alongside fellow Season 1 directors, Rick Famuyiwa and Dave Filoni. It’s a small cameo but one that has carbonized her on-screen legacy in the Star Wars bible.
When Chow got the call to direct “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, she was ecstatic. “I was really excited at the idea of getting to do a limited series because you got to tell a bigger story, but you also really get into the character. I was most excited about doing a character-driven story and really having the opportunity to get to know the character.”
She adds, “I had just finished directing episodes of “The Mandalorian” when Lucasfilm contacted me about “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, This story takes place ten years after “Revenge of the Sith.” So we’re right between the two trilogies, which is an interesting place to start because it’s a period that hasn’t been developed much.”
Chow admits that her experiences on “The Mandalorian” set the stage for her with “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” “I don’t think I could have done this show if I hadn’t done “The Mandalorian” first,” says Chow, “and there are a few reasons for that, just in terms of “Star Wars”. I learned so much from Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. They really mentored me in that galaxy in terms of storytelling and understanding, and the tone of how to do “Star Wars”. And the second part of it was the technology, and Stagecraft, which I loved.”
Her cast members hold her in high esteem. McGregor and Christensen both praise her vision as a director and a leader. “All her notes make what I’m doing better, more interesting and more thoughtful. She just knows the stories inside-out.” McGregor says. “She knows the characters inside-out. She’s also very confident and assured. I’ve never seen her in a flap. I’ve never seen her stressed. She really leads the film crew from the front. The way she runs her set, and the way the set feels, it’s really just a great atmosphere. It was a great pleasure to come to work every day.”
EVEN IF THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES, THERE IS JOHN WILLIAMS
“Kor-ah, Mah-tah, Kor-ah, Rah-tah-mah.”
You know, Disney cheated when they used the choral highs of “The Phantom Menace” track in the “Kenobi” teaser. The immediate chills that resound down the spine once the Sanskrit chorus bursts onto your speakers are immense. And for many across the world, including ourselves, that was the hook. Not so much the Inquisitors, or Luke, but the fast flitting turnover of notes across the E minor scale.
Regardless, there is a very good reason as to why it was used because the 90-year-old who created that masterpiece is back. John Williams, the legend who has created notable themes for films for more than half a century, is back for this round. Indeed, he has been confirmed to have crafted the theme for “Kenobi, which was scored in two weeks.
It is worthy to note that this is Williams’ first work on a television show in a long time as his last work for a weekly series was for “Amazing Stories.” Guess how long that was? That was almost four decades ago!! We expect nothing but absolute fire from the man himself and we can’t wait to hear the theme during the pilot episode!
CRAFTING A STAGE FOR THE FUTURE
The Emmy winning “The Mandalorian” featured a game-changing filmmaking technology from Industrial Light and Magic, the studio created by George Lucas when he worked on the original trilogy. The VFX studio had created an innovative virtual production workflow called ILM StageCraft. It seems to be a tradition now for “Star Wars” projects to be using such a technique and “Kenobi” is no exception.
Now, this technology is a massive deal as it allows filmmakers to work with dynamic backdrops in real-time. Those who film on StageCraft can shoot scenes more quickly during the day and obtain more final shots as opposed to green screen footage that had to be edited in post. The lights from the stage volume also meant that lesser lighting needed to be set up for a shoot. It is a massive time-saver especially since fewer parameters need to be edited in post and a significant part of the VFX can be negated.
Besides, it also gave the performers a reference as to what type of terrain or backdrop was being used. For actors like Ewan, it was a game-changer. His experience with blue and green screens meant it was harder to immerse himself into the role and make something believable.
“It’s very hard to make something believable when there’s nothing there. And here we were in this amazing set where, if you’re shooting in the desert, everywhere you look is the desert. And if you’re flying through space, the stars are flying past you as you scout along.”, says the actor.
Speaking of the technology, Chow admits that she was massively enthused to be able to work with it on “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. “It was really exciting to be able to design and develop material knowing that I was going to shoot StageCraft.” says Chow. “A lot of times, I’d be looking at the scene even as we were writing it, thinking about how this is going to translate and how we can take advantage of the tech as best as possible.”
Fun fact, the developer behind Fortnite, Epic Games is also a part of the party, as they lent their Unreal Engine tech to allow for real-time rendering. Indeed, it’s a fun little collision of gaming and filmmaking that sets the stage for the future of filmmaking.
CHANNELING ALEC GUINNESS
Whilst his flair at twirling sci-fi blades has not diminished, as testified by an appearance on the Graham Norton show, McGregor’s physical presence has surely been missed. McGregor’s portrayal of the beloved Jedi has been widely celebrated. He’s sassy, wise, and incredibly skilled.
Yes, Obi-Wan was a master of the force, but one could also attest to his incredible ability to churn out one-liners. Indeed, the countless memes that have come out of that are golden. General Grevious would be proud to have said his name before dying because he’s now immortalised in Internet culture.
“Obi-Wan… Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time…”
When we last saw McGregor’s Obi-Wan, he had been in hiding, living out a solitary life on Tattoine. He has denounced his title as a Jedi and his Council has fallen. There is no Republic, but only the shadow of the Empire looming above the stars. He’s not able to use the Force, as that would mean that he would be found out.
Speaking to the press, Ewan McGregor said that the character has a loss of faith. “It’s like somebody who’s stepped away from their religion”, says McGregor. “The only responsibility to his past life is looking over Luke Skywalker who he’s delivered to – we see at the end of Episode III – to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. So, that’s his only sort of link to his past.”
“So, it was interesting to take a character that we know and love from Alec Guinness’ creation of the character in the seventies of this wise, sage-like, spiritual man. And then, the work that I did in Episode I to III from the padawan, from the student to the Jedi to somebody’s who’s sitting on the Jedi council, you know, to take that Obi-Wan and take him to this more sort of broken place was really interesting to do.”
There was no one who wanted more to come back to the character than McGregor, who relished in the idea whenever interviews came. “It was always the last two questions as the publicist is poking her head around the door saying, “That’s the last question.” And so, I just started answering it honestly and I think I became more aware of the fondness that the generation that we made the prequels for have for those films.”
Nevertheless, returning to the role wasn’t the slip-on experience McGregor had hoped it would be. It was there but he was also a little rusty with it. “I was doing a sort of vague English accent and it wasn’t really Obi-Wan’s voice at all. Luckily, we had months before we actually started shooting. So, I went back and did some homework on Alec Guinness and what I’d done in the original films.”
Of course, one has to go back to the source of the magic that is Alec Guinness whose profound nature made him one of the most memorable aspects of the original trilogy. His wisdom resonated throughout and gave Luke the final push to become the Jedi we love. “Alec Guinness had this wit behind his eyes all the time. He had a twinkle, I think, in his eyes. I always try to think of him and feel sort of somewhere, as in, hear him saying the lines. From the get-go, all of the dialogue felt to me like it could have been Alec Guinness.”
Considering that McGregor is closer in age to Guinness’ portrayal than when he first started out, an emulation of the elder would probably be more appropriate to distinguish between the Padawan and Jedi Knight of old. Though some may question why Obi Wan’s hair looks great despite only being 5 years away from “Rebels”, we can only say, the Force works in mysterious ways.
AM I A MASTER NOW?
You know him. He needs no introduction here. There is only one image when you sense that chilling muffled breath marching down the hallway. As his rounded helmet comes into full view, one can only gaze in sheer terror at the might of The Sith Lord himself.
Having Obi-Wan face off against his former student is a no brainer here. The stories of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader have been tied together ever since the 1977 original. Nevertheless, their legend and relationship became fully fleshed out during the prequel era and especially in the Clone Wars. This became especially tragic because their friendship was filled with sound advice and it didn’t feel like it would end in betrayal.
“You can’t win, Vader. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.“
At this point in time, Vader has already been an acolyte for the dark side for 10 years and he’s hunting down the Jedi in hiding. Why? Because they represent the face of a rebellion. They have become oppressed and opposition is not what the Galactic empire wants as a hurdle to its cause.
One should remember that in this series, we begin with Obi-Wan being aware of Vader, but not knowing the identity of the Sith Lord. He believes that during that fateful duel on Mustafar, he had killed his “brother”. Indeed, the events leading up to the Jedi Purge still play in his head and he feels a deep sense of regret. But soon, Obi-Wan will have to face down his greatest failure once again.
Returning to the role is a man who has slowly warmed up to the fandom over the years. “It’s a different time,” says Hayden Christensen. “It’s personal for [Vader]. It goes back to this sort of internal struggle that Vader has with his personal identity – in trying to kill the Jedi, he is trying to kill that part of himself.”
To step back into the role, Christensen rewatched all of the “Star Wars” films but took it a step further by binge-watching “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” series. “It was interesting,” Christensen said. “They did a lot with these characters in those shows. And they did further explore the relationship. There was interesting stuff there to learn about. It was great fun getting to go back and re-immerse yourself in this world that just continues to grow and become vaster and vaster.”
All attachments to the light side of the Force have been extinguished. Vader is an absolute Sith now. Yet, the man inside, Anakin Skywalker, would remember the bond he shared with his master? Is there a softer side to that unbreakable cocoon that has been built over a decade? We’re uncertain.
However, if there’s one thing we can certain of, it’s that Obi-Wan is definitely safe on Tattoine. You know, the sandy place. Sorry Anakin, we couldn’t let that slip by. Everybody across the galaxy knows your weakness.
ANAKIN’S DARK DEEDS
Although Vader is one of the main threats in this series, Obi-Wan will also be facing down a group known as the Inquisitors. Now, these baddies aren’t exactly new to Star Wars lore and were first introduced in “Star Wars: Rebels.”
The Inquisitors, otherwise known as the Inquisitorius Program was first brought about as a group that was commissioned by the Emperor to hunt down any remaining Jedi after Order 66. Led by the Grand Inquisitor, they are ruthless in pursuing their targets and will not relent until they get their jobs done. For them, failure is not an option and such would lead to terrible consequences.
The naming of the Inquisitors follows a pattern with each of them being assigned digits along with being called “brothers” and “sisters”. As of now, there are eleven Inquisitors in the currently established canon with possibly much more on the way.
Consisting primarily of Force-sensitive individuals, a major number of corrupted Jedi fill up the ranks such as the Second Sister, Ninth Sister, and Tenth Brother. Under the Program, they were all trained in the dark side of the Force. One disturbing detail is that most of them have lost parts of their bodies as lessons of loss by Vader.
Besides, a trademark of these antagonists is their spinning double-bladed lightsabers, which, in “Rebels” could be used as a sort of rotor to fly around. These dastardly “helicopter blades” are deadly, and one definitely wishes to stay away from such a battle.
So far, there are five confirmed Inquisitors for the series. The Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) leads the charge, and his fellow vile numerics, Third Sister (Moses Ingram), Fourth Sister (Rya Kihlstedt), and Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) will all feature in this series.
THE REVA-LUTION IS HERE
The Third Sister will be the Inquisitor taking the spotlight for this particular series as she has a particular fixation on Kenobi. Like most of the others, she is a former Jedi who has fallen to the Dark Side. Yet, not much is known about the Third Sister other than a namedrop in a reference canon booklet.
Now, there is one interesting detail about this Inquisitor as her name has already been revealed. Reva, the Third Sister, shares a unique connection with the Second Sister, Trilla Suduri, in which they are the only two Inquisitors to have their original names revealed. This could be intentional as a way to humanise their characters and help them be more sympathetic.
You might have seen Moses Ingram, who plays the character, in a few things recently. She had some small roles in both “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the Michael Bay thriller “Ambulance”. However, she is most known for her role in “The Queen’s Gambit” alongside Anya-Taylor Joy.
For once, Ingram confessed that she was excited to be the bad girl. The weaponry and stunt work was a challenge, but once she got it down, it all flowed together.
When asked about being a part of the “Star Wars” universe, Ingram had a stoic reaction but credits it to her surprise. “I had seen ‘Revenge of the Sith.’ And then I saw the newer iterations with John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. But it was so crazy because while watching these things, it wasn’t something I ever saw myself in.”, Ingram said.
FALLEN FORTRESS, NEW ORDER
We know, there’s a lot to take in with regards to the Inquisitors, but trust us, there’s more than meets the eye with this one.
In several shots in the trailer, we are able to see the headquarters of the Inquisitors located on Nur, the Oceanic moon in the Mustafar system, where Vader’s base is also located. Known as the Fortress Inquisitorius, what makes this place so fantastical is that it is located underwater. The Inquisitors hold combat training and imprison and interrogate captives here.
This, however, is not the first time that we have seen the structure as it was first introduced in the 2019 video game “Jedi: Fallen Order”. In the climactic events of the game, the Fortress Inquisitorius was visited by Cal Kestis, the main hero in order to reclaim a Jedi Holocron that contained the names of Force-sensitive younglings scattered across the galaxy.
The arrival of the Fortress Inquisitorius in live-action, along with a BD unit recently seen in “The Book of Boba Fett” suggests that a jump to live-action for some of the game characters could be in the works. While we shouldn’t hold out too much hope for Cameron Monaghan to show up in the show (but fingers crossed anyway*), we do expect that the events of the game will be referenced in part, especially since a huge portion of it was blown up at the climax of “Fallen Order”.
It is cool to see some of these concepts bleed into Obi-Wan, as it further connects the immersive worlds of “Star Wars” in one massive galaxy far, far away.
The first two episodes “Obi-Wan Kenobi” are now streaming on Disney+!