The action-packed, yet emotional finale was made available to stream yesterday on Disney+, but its best moment was copied.
This post contains spoilers for the entire series of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, chances are that for the past five weeks, you’ve been watching Obi-Wan Kenobi every Wednesday with a feverish sense of nostalgia. Ewan McGregor returned to his iconic role as the Jedi master who trained Anakin Skywalker, who then turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Hayden Christensen also returned to play Anakin/Vader while James Earl Jones lent his deep, booming voice to Vader yet again.
Obi-Wan Kenobi started off a little underwhelmingly and ended that way too. The inclusion of a young princess Leia (and Luke, in smaller capacity) seemed like a strange choice as it stripped the entire series of any kind of tension. We know Leia, who had been kidnapped by Reva (Moses Ingram, the show’s best new recruit), would be rescued because she’s alive and well in A New Hope.
Similarly, in the finale, it’s hard to feel scared for young Luke as the wounded and furious Reva threatens to slay him with her admittedly very cool lightsaber. Of course Luke lives, he’s the hero of future films! Obi-Wan Kenobi lacked conflict, because most of the conflict had already been resolved in the sense that we knew the outcome.
The best element of the show was by far Darth Vader. Vader has always been a menacing presence and an iconic villain for sure, but this is the first time we’ve seen him at the height of his powers. The final fight between Obi-Wan and Vader is epic in terms of visuals and the choreography, but grounded in the history between the two characters.
The fight also featured the most powerful image of the entire series. Obi-Wan slashes through Vader’s helmet, exposing the burned face of Anakin Skywalker. It’s a visually and emotionally dynamic moment; on one side, the smooth, black helmet of Darth Vader and on the other, the broken and burned face of a once brilliant young Jedi. He says, in a raspy voice that’s a mixture of both Anakin and Vader, “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan.”
Such a shame that it was copied completely from another Star Wars show. Star Wars: Rebels, an animated show, did it first, back in 2016. In the final episode of season 2, Ahsoka – who is getting her own live-action Disney+ show after appearing in The Mandalorian – battles Vader and also slashes through the mask, exposing one side of his face. She also calls him Anakin and promises not to leave him this time, pleading to any remaining humanity Vader might still have.
The moment from both of the series speaks of Vader’s duality, his past as Anakin. That’s where its power lies and why they’re so resonant. But why would Obi-Wan Kenobi, a series that already had enough nostalgia going on, almost directly copy a moment from an animated series? Was it an oversight, did they simply not know it had been done before?
Whatever the reason, it slightly cheapened the finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi. What should have been a moment in the making for 15 years, much needed closure for fans, was ever so slightly ruined by a clumsy copycat moment. Not only that, it speaks volumes of the appreciation towards animation and the animated series as part of Star Wars canon.
The finale left things open enough to do a second season and Kathleen Kennedy hasn’t ruled it out, but Star Wars desperately needs to bring in new blood rather than wallow in the depths of nostalgia. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the perfect example of playing it safe and catering to fans without really adding much to the conversation.