‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 6 Review: The Last Duel

Of all the cameos from all the characters from all the iterations of Star Wars that show up in Obi-Wan Kenobi, the one I was hoping for the hardest isn’t even alive anymore. Fortunately for us prequel fans—again, we’re out there!—being dead is no longer enough to keep a good Jedi down.


Yes, that’s Liam Neeson as the Force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, returned from the dead at long last to help guide his former student Obi-Wan Kenobi. Based on the wide-open door on which this series ends, Obi-Wan may well need the help.

That big moment may overshadow much of what else happened in this final (?) episode, so let’s go over that nice and quick. In order to save the refugees from the Jedi/Force-sensitive relocation program called the Path from the Darth Vader–helmed Star Destroyer that’s firing on them, Obi-Wan jets off on his own and lures Vader into battle. Even buried under tons of rock and rubble, Obi-Wan is still a better fighter than Vader and gets the best of his former friend, once again walking away before dealing the killing blow.


Meanwhile, former Third Sister Reva heads off to Tattooine to track down and kill Luke Skywalker, whose existence she learned of in the communiqué from Bail Organa to Obi-Wan that she found. I’m not quite sure why—to get back at Obi-Wan for his failure to protect her as a kid, I suppose—but she can’t go through with it, and returns the boy to his brave adoptive parents Owen and Beru Lars, both of whom risked their lives against the lightsaber-wielding ex-Inquisitor rather than let her seize Luke without a fight. Obi-Wan essentially tells her to go and sin no more.

Kenobi’s actually quite a busy boy even after the dust settles. He heads to Alderaan to return Leia’s droid LOLA and wish the girl the best, telling her she inherited good qualities from both of her mystery-shrouded biological parents. He returns to Owen’s farm to meet Luke and give him a toy ship. (How this squares with the fact that neither Luke nor Leia never seemed to have met Obi-Wan prior to the events of A New Hope is beyond me, but oh well.) 

And finally, he and Qui-Gon ride off into the distance, to watch and wait and prepare for that one final mission. It’s a tender denouement, and it makes it hard to get too worked up about the continuity issues it raises; I mean, are you gonna get mad at poor Obi-Wan Kenobi winning over the hearts of two little kids? The guy could use a little light in his life! And hey, he even gets to drop his catchphrase. Say “Hello there,” Ben!


If I may raise a quibble with how this episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi works, it’s the fact that people keep leaving their grievously wounded enemies alive. Darth Vader does it with Reva; Obi-Wan does it with Darth Vader; an entire Star Destroyer does it with the ship full of Path refugees, on Vader’s orders. If any two people in the entire galaxy are familiar with the perils of not killing someone when you had the chance, it would be the former Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan, the guy who didn’t kill Anakin when he had the chance—and yet!

In Reva’s case and that of the refugees, I guess they’re leaving them open for future spinoff projects; in Vader’s, well, he’s Darth Vader, and he kinda needs to stick around. But in that case, why write yourself into a corner by leaving him at Obi-Wan’s mercy and then having the old Jedi simply walk away?

Which leads to a larger concern I have about the show: Why, exactly, does it exist? As with so many Star Wars tie-in projects, it dances between the raindrops of existing continuity, while occasionally shifting that continuity to its own ends. Like, we kind of knew Obi-Wan had to whip Darth Vader’s ass, because in A New HopeVader tells Obi-Wan he was “a learner” the last time they met. 

But establishing a pre-existing relationship between Obi-Wan and Leia—and in this episode, even Obi-Wan and Luke—adds a whole lot to the existing canon. And for what? A six-episode show with all the visual flair and emotional heft of a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order cut scene? I don’t think the game is worth the candle. (This is why stuff like “Why didn’t he just kill him when he had the chance?” is popping up in my mind—not because I’m some CinemaSins-style pedant, but because the project’s overall sense of mild aimlessness gave my brain a chance to question plot holes I’d otherwise overlook.)


All that being said, it’s certainly not all bad. The duel between Obi-Wan and Vader is not my favorite thing in the world, but it did seem to try to carve out a tonal space between the all-out emotional warfare of the climactic fight in Revenge of the Sith and the cool, collected encounter between two masters aboard the Death Star in A New Hope. Certainly the visual and sound of Vader/Anakin with his mask cracked half-open, creakily claiming credit for “killing” Anakin Skywalker—which, as Obi-Wan will one day say, is “true…from a certain point of view,” was a memorable and welcome twist. 


I even enjoyed Obi-Wan’s parting shot of calling Anakin “Darth,” which is not a name but an honorific, and which he will do again on the Death Star years later. (As many have said, George Lucas almost certainly originally intended “Darth” to actually be Vader’s first name, not a title like “Lord,” but plans change; here, it sounds like an insult, which is surely how Obi-Wan intended it.)

I also want to give a special shoutout to Joel Edgerton’s brief but powerful work as Owen Lars, the grizzled moisture farmer who’s been raising Luke as his own. Bonnie Piesse is good as his wife Beru (a role originated by Shelagh Fraser), too, but Edgerton really feels like the gruff, protective, no-bullshit man played by Phil Brown whom we meet in A New Hope. Edgerton is as good at this in his own way as Ewan McGregor is in capturing some of the vocal mannerisms of Alec Guinness. He knows that the age situation between himself and Guinness really can’t be explained away, so he spent the whole series going hard on Obi-Wan’s overall sense of loss, failure, weariness, aging himself before his time. It’s impressive work.


So that’s where we’re left with Obi-Wan Kenobi—an interquel that answers some questions that needed answering, provides some answers for questions that didn’t, and raises new questions entirely. It doesn’t do this work with nearly the brio of, say, Rogue One, an interquel that took real tonal risks and neatly tied itself off at the end (to the detriment of any characters you might have wanted to see live to fight another day, but still). Obi-Wan is clearly designed to be open-ended, as everything from Reva’s survival to the climactic appearance of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force ghost makes clear. Where will it lead, and will you follow where it goes?

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island. 

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