Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi follow. For more on the series, check out our reviews of the Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 2, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 3, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 4, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 5, and everything that’s been said about a potential Obi-Wan Kenobi season 2.
“You are the future,” Obi-Wan pointedly tells Leia early on in the Kenobi finale. The show’s place on the Star Wars timeline, tucked in-between the prequels and the original trilogy, always ran the risk of leaving Ewan McGregor’s return handcuffed – and that timely reminder to Leia was liable to cause some concern. But there was never any need to worry. Obi-Wan Kenobi signs off with a rousing concluding episode, one packed with an abundance of fan service, well-earned emotional interactions, and a lightsaber battle that will live long in the memory.
The episode begins with Vader chasing down Obi-Wan and the Path refugees as they head to Tessen. Obi-Wan quickly concocts a plan to distract Vader and get Leia to safety. To stall for time, Obi-Wan takes off to a nearby planet and – inevitably – the Sith gives chase. While there can be no complaints on getting straight to the action, it does leave Leia feeling like a little bit of an afterthought after the show spent a considerable amount of energy on her.
If Obi-Wan and Vader’s lightsaber battle in the third episode was a rehearsal, then this is showtime; a main event that’s worth the wait – and then some. Obi-Wan is close to the peak of his powers and Vader matches him at every turn. Whisper it, but their showdown might just top Phantom Menace’s Duel of the Fates-backed Maul fight. In terms of emotion, that’s without question. The choreography is on-point and by far the strongest yet seen in the show (if Obi-Wan was holding back before, you get the impression director Deborah Chow was too), but it’s the dialogue shared between the pair that hits hardest.
With just two words – “I’m sorry” – Obi-Wan gets under the skin of Vader and finally admits to his own failings. It’s real lump-in-the-throat stuff that wisely uses nostalgia towards the prequel to twist the knife into those who grew up watching the two grow apart. If the pair spoke as openly as this before, Obi-Wan might never have left him burning on the lava banks of Mustafar. Yes, that really hurts.
The scene is heightened, too, by smart creative choices from Chow. The flashes of red and blue across the cracked mask of Vader act as clever flashes of symbolism, while the distorted clashing voices of both Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones is the perfect way to communicate the final whispers of internal strife from within the Sith Lord. If there were any fears that the Obi-Wan Kenobi interquel would feel redundant, this scene is proof enough that it simply isn’t the case. It’s a powerful and worthwhile set-piece that deepens both their relationship and the Vader mythos. Job done.
Like Vader says, however: the strength returns, but the weakness still remains. This isn’t a perfect episode. Reva’s search for Luke – while a nice way to bring the series full circle back on Tatooine – lacks any real energy. So, too, does the clunky fight between the one-time Inquisitor and Owen and Beru. Reva may have been ‘saved’ by not striking down Luke, but her redemptive arc feels like a plotline strangled by the truncated six-episode run. With Andor running for a full 12 episodes later this year, it’s frustrating knowing that certain aspects of Obi-Wan Kenobi could have been improved with just an extra hour.
Vader’s quick discussion with a returning Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine also fees similarly rushed. Vader is reprimanded by his mentor for his obsession with Obi-Wan and – just like that – the full transformation to Vader is seemingly complete, with little more than a stern telling-off and a blast of the Imperial March. It may have been a chastening defeat, but the unifying thread tying this Vader to the one we see in A New Hope feels a little too flimsy.
Yet, any lingering discontent is rapidly washed away by the episode’s final act. While it comes close to matching Return of the King for the sheer amount of endings on offer, it at least makes sure to pack each farewell, goodbye, and (who knows?) fresh start with enough poignancy and pathos for each moment to land.
In a pair of scenes that will surely give goosebumps for years to come, Obi-Wan says goodbye to Leia – not without giving her Tala’s holster first – and says ‘hello there’ to Luke before departing into the dunes of Tatooine. While the latter stretches canon a little too much, the scene with Leia is pitch-perfect, acting as a celebration of a relationship few thought possible, as well as newcomer Vivien Lyra Blair’s talents as young Leia.
In one last piece of fan-service, Obi-Wan is met with one final surpris: Qui-Gon Jinn. In Liam Neeson’s best cameo this year – with apologies to Derry Girls – he marks the first step forward for Obi-Wan’s inner peace, and gives the show one last chance to showcase Ewan McGregor’s incredible facial acting as he tearfully glimpses the Force ghost of his former master. Does that journey involve a second season? Who knows – but if we don’t see Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan again, the finale was a fitting send-off.
For more on Obi-Wan Kenobi, check out our interviews with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen on their favorite memories filming the show and how their characters’ relationship has changed, as well as Christensen on why he didn’t speak to George Lucas before returning as Darth Vader and Moses Ingram on playing the galaxy’s newest villain, Reva.
For everything else coming soon from the galaxy far, far away, see our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows.
4.5 out of 5
If this is Ewan McGregor’s final hour as Obi-Wan, he makes it a worthwhile one. The Vader showdown will get all the flowers – but the quieter moments shine just as brightly.