Ricky Church reviews the second episode of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi…
Obi-Wan Kenobi continues its momentum from the first episode as Obi-Wan left Tatooine for the planet Daiyu to rescue a certain young princess from a group of bounty hunters. While taking more of an action-orientated approach, ‘Part II’ was still character driven as Obi-Wan had to truly reconnect with the Force while confronting some hard truths, particularly in the closing moments.
Lately in some Star Wars media it’s felt like we’ve been stuck on Tatooine for ages as the famous planet has been revisited frequently in The Mandalorian and was the primary location in The Book of Boba Fett, so it was very nice to see the newly introduced Daiyu in the galaxy far, far away. The planet is an interesting contradiction with its vibrant lights and diverse collection of aliens, but a closer look reveals gritty streets, seedy locations and a shady population mostly made up of conmen, spice dealers and bounty hunters. Temuera Morrison even makes a cameo as a homeless clone veteran sleeping on the city streets.
The new location definitely adds to the tension for Obi-Wan as he’s like a fish out of water since this is his first time in a decade anywhere else but Tatooine. From the way he awkwardly interacts with some of Daiyu’s citizens to the looks he gets, not to mention skulking away from Stormtroopers, there is a sense of foreboding as anything could happen to Obi-Wan on the streets. This is proved not long in the episode as Obi-Wan is seen to be out of practice fighting physically as he hurts his hand, gets bloody and does not call on the Force to help him at all. Ewan McGregor nicely portrayed how tough this was for Obi-Wan through his physical performance, but also still emphasized his cunning with how he snuck around or used the spice against the bounty hunters.
As great as McGregor continued to be in his return, the scene stealer turned out to be Vivian Lyra Blair as a young Princess Leia Organa. Leia’s inclusion in the show was a total surprise in the premiere and it makes sense her kidnapping would be the only other thing that could possibly force Obi-Wan out of hiding. Blair perfectly encapsulated everything that makes Leia such a great character, even at a young age, displaying the traits that we know will only grow: her insight, her bravery, her intelligence and, most of all, her sass as not even Obi-Wan is safe from her cutting remarks. The way Blair portrays Leia is the perfect blend of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s best characteristics.
Her chemistry with McGregor is excellent as the pair banter and grow closer, allowing Obi-Wan to gradually lower his guard with her and reminisce how she reminds him of Padmé. Their interactions reshape moments from A New Hope, namely Leia’s famous plea to Obi-Wan or her reaction to hearing Ben Kenobi is on the Death Star to rescue her. It is certainly exciting to watch Obi-Wan and Leia’s relationship blossom with how easily McGregor and Blair play off each other. Even Kumail Nanjiani’s eccentric conman Haja played well against McGregor’s disgust and anger at his scheme, though he did eventually turn to help Obi-Wan and Leia escape even if his turn from selfish conman to potentially risking his life for them by delaying Reva seemed a little too quick in his arc. It’s likely though we haven’t seen the last of Haja and his development could be further explored.
Deborah Chow is known for directing a couple of The Mandalorian’s most action-packed episodes and though ‘Part II’ didn’t feature a ton of action, it was well-choreographed and smoothly edited. As already stated, Obi-Wan was reluctant to call upon the Force and instead relied on the ‘uncivilized’ weapon of a blaster, forcing him into a few shootouts that are outside his comfort zone. The rooftop battle was exciting as Obi-Wan was pinned down from multiple angles while trying to prevent Leia from acting rashly, finally using the Force to prevent her from falling to her death. The fact this seemed to take a huge effort from him speaks to how little he’s used the Force in the decade since Order 66.
Moses Ingram further showed why Reva is such an intimidating figure with her parkour run to catch Obi-Wan and how she nearly had him cornered. There is the small matter of her action to the Grand Inquisitor and how that seemingly conflicts with Star Wars Rebels, but that will likely be explained in the next episodes and either way, Ingram’s performance is marking Reva as quite an interesting villain given her individualism compared to her fellow Inquisitors and how she is unafraid to do things her way. The Grand Inquisitor’s insinuation over her backstory is quite interesting too, adding to why she’s so desperate to catch Obi-Wan and be seen in a better light by Vader and other Imperials.
Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s second episode continued the focus on the character driven story as Obi-Wan slowly began opening himself up to Leia and recognize her own potential. In just two episodes, Vivian Lyra Blair has made a huge impression as Leia, channeling Carrie Fisher and even Natalie Portman into her performance and her chemistry with McGregor is one of the show’s most enjoyable elements already. With Obi-Wan discovering Anakin’s survival from Mustafar and the closing image of the episode promising what’s in store for the Jedi Master, the anticipation for ‘Part III’ is already very tense for what McGregor, Blair, Ingram and Chow will deliver.
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