Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry cuts into the Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer and discusses some noteworthy moments.
Whatever your opinion of the Star Wars prequels, we can all agree that Ewan McGregor was perfectly cast as the young version of Alec Guinness. He compellingly juggled wisdom, bravado, and naivety, presenting a Jedi Knight on the verge of a tragic fall. Now, 17 years since we last saw him as the Clone Wars crusader, McGregor returns to the role. However, this time, he’s center stage, in Star Wars: Obi–Wan Kenobi.
We’re months away from release (May 25th), but the first trailer is here, and it’s packed with numerous goodies. The Obi-Wan we see below is in an incredibly different headspace than where he was during Revenge of the Sith, or where he’ll be when he squares off against Darth Vader for the last time. This Obi-Wan is not quite in exile, but his hope dangles over oblivion. His eggs are all in one basket, and that basket is named Luke Skywalker.
We see a lot of sand in the trailer, but series director Deborah Chow promises Obi–Wan Kenobi will escape Tatooine. She’s not looking to replicate The Book of Boba Fett‘s dusty visual palette. Phew. And from what we can tell here, some seriously sinister and familiar agents will draw Obi-Wan from hiding.
So, let’s chop into this thing and break out a few shots. Obi–Wan Kenobi exists within a particularly nasty time within Star Wars continuity, and it feels aligned with where many of our own thoughts might be lingering these days. Darkness surrounds us; can we be the light to cut a path for others? Also, um, there are a few potential hidden cameos here amongst all the other wacky cameos front and center.
Lonely One Kenobi
“The fight is done…we lost.” The trailer opens with an Obi-Wan struggling in the Clone Wars aftermath. The Republic is no more. The Empire grips the entire universe. The light was extinguished by the dark, a dark that consumed his best friend.
Obi–Wan Kenobi exists somewhere along the timeline near Star Wars: The Bad Batch. As we saw in that series, this era is a grim landscape. Our heroes attempt to operate in secret, fighting the good fight in small battles, hoping one tiny win can lead into another. The Obi-Wan we’ll meet in this series will undoubtedly be at his lowest. Having lost so spectacularly, his ego crushed, it’s easy to imagine his cynicism on the rise. Yet, he still holds Qui-Gon Jinn’s chosen one prophecy close to his heart. Anakin was a strikeout, but there is another. There’s always another.
“Now, this is podracing!”
The hermit keeps his distance. From his perch, Kenobi spies on the child he rescued and placed under the care of Owen (Joel Edgerton) and Beru Lars (Bonnie Piesse). Hopped aboard a hut, the young Luke Skywalker attempts his best podracing posture, unknowingly mimicking his father’s victorious performance in The Phantom Menace.
Watching McGregor observe Skywalker is some of the best bits from the trailer. What must his Obi-Wan be thinking? The little boy below represents unknowable possibility. If he carries a fraction of his father’s skill, he could be a tremendous Force for good or evil. Considering where Obi-Wan resides emotionally, kiddie Luke represents the Light Side persisting. He’s the New Hope on the horizon.
Of course, with our Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi knowledge, we know that the kid will help and hinder the future. Maybe no one person is any one thing. Maybe that’s what the Jedi got wrong in the prequels?
Darth Vader’s Jedi Kill Squad
Obi–Wan Kenobi will introduce the Jedi hunters into live-action. Seated with his back to camera, we see Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) addressing Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram), a new character to canon. As explained in the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, these Imperial agents work directly for Darth Vader, scouring the galaxy for rogue Jedi. Obi-Wan Kenobi would certainly be at the top of their hit list.
We know Vader, played by Hayden Christensen, will return in Obi–Wan Kenobi and that a clash between them will be an epic rematch to rival the one that left Anakin in pieces on Mustafar. That doesn’t sound like something we’ll get during the show’s first half or even the first two-thirds. Vader will hang like a poisonous shadow over the series, with the action mostly centered on Reva and the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend). These hunters will have a lot to prove to impress their Sith boss.
“The Jedi cannot help who they are…their compassion leaves a trail.” The Grand Inquisitor voiceover plays as Reva seemingly Force chokes some poor sap in the streets of Mos Eisley as Owen looks on. Is she there for Obi-Wan? The question and its possible answer are curious.
When we meet Obi-Wan and Luke on Tattooine in A New Hope, it does not appear that Vader or the Empire is aware of their presence there. Thanks to the Star Wars Marvel Comics, we know Vader only becomes aware of Luke Skywalker’s existence after his Death Star dogfight with him. Whatever happens in Obi–Wan Kenobi cannot break that timeline.
So, does Obi-Wan leave Tatooine to pull the scent off Luke Skywalker? That seems very likely. And whatever occurs off-world between the Jedi hunters and Obi-Wan will convince them not to ever look at Tatooine again until a couple of dopey droids crashland there.
“Where is he?”
As far as the first trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi is concerned, the big bad of the series is the Grand Inquisitor. Seeing him in live-action is a little weird, as Friend’s face cannot be as impossibly thin as his Star Wars: Rebels iteration. The actor is leaning heavily into his sinister voice, and the spinning sabers cast a menacing glow on his mug, but the jury is still out regarding his creep factor.
The Grand Inquisitor is Vader’s number one lapdog. He’s probably most famous for allowing his own death at the hands of Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) in the Rebels episode “Fire Across the Galaxy.” He submitted to their duel because he believed his demise would incur Vader’s wrath. Yeah, he just loves his master so much. If only his master felt the same.
Jedi Breaking Bad
Ranking below the Grand Inquisitor is Fifth Brother, seen here marching some Stormtroopers through the Hong Kong-inspired planet Daiyu. He was a Jedi who survived Order 66 and immediately switched sides when things looked their most dire. He trained directly below Vader and even lost a hand during a sparring session.
After the Grand Inquisitor dies in Rebels, Vader tasks Fifth Brother with Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger’s destruction. Eventually, he meets his demise alongside Seventh Sister and Eighth Brother when they engage with the former Sith Maul and the former Jedi Ahsoka Tano. Tough ain’t always enough.
“No match for a good blaster.”
Inquisitor Reva meets a shadowy figure in a Daiyu alleyway. It’s a badass shot that put the hairs on my neck up. Her opponent’s blaster sure does look like the one Han Solo usually carried. Is the scoundrel’s return here possible?
Well, Solo: A Star Wars Story took place roughly around 10 to 13 years before A New Hope. Based on Luke Skywalker’s age in the trailer, Obi–Wan Kenobi appears set about 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, which is 19 years before A New Hope. So, that would mean Obi–Wan Kenobi takes place directly after Solo, making it a perfect place to continue that film’s Maul/Crimson Dawn tease.
Han Solo could be on the hunt for those gangsters, which could put him face to face with Reva. But not Obi-Wan. We know those two didn’t meet until the Mos Eisley cantina. We also know that when they did meet, Han seemed pretty adamant that the Force was just a bunch of hokum. If he saw Reva in action, would he maintain such a feeling? Or maybe when Han scoffs against the Jedi’s ancient religion in A New Hope, he’s putting on a bit of the pirate show. Playing it cool.
Or, maybe, that’s just somebody else’s blaster. Like, say, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who we know for sure is getting a show later on down the line.
A Forceful Flock
The trailer cuts from the alleyway shot to Obi-Wan Kenobi in a rooftop skirmish and blaster fire interrupting a flock of green birds. Their shape is somewhat reminiscent of the green Convor that frequently followed Ahsoka Tano. That bird, named Morai, was more owl-shaped than these winged beauties, but we shouldn’t simply dismiss them as fowl decoration.
In the animated shows, animals carry tremendous meaning. They’re extensions of the Force, often protectors to our heroes. Obi-Wan Kenobi could certainly use some critter friends even if all they do is provide comfort. And this shot’s placement toward the trailer’s climax suggests importance beyond action enhancement.
What or who could emerge below them? Ahsoka Tano arriving in Obi–Wan Kenobi is not out of the realm of possibility. No one knew Anakin Skywalker better than his master and his apprentice. They would have a lot to discuss in a post Revenge of the Sith reunion.
At this story’s start, neither should know Vader’s true identity. Tano doesn’t learn the truth until Rebels. Obi-Wan doesn’t seem shocked by Vader’s appearance in A New Hope. Clearly, it had been a while since they’d seen each other, but the black samurai get-up raised no eyebrows for Obi-Wan. So, the Vader revelation will occur on Disney+.
We crave it. We need it. We will get it.
Obi–Wan Kenobi starts streaming on Disney+ on May 25th.