Storytelling school

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Finale Is Pointless, A Barren Storytelling Checklist

This article contains spoilers for the Obi Wan Kenobi finale, “Part VI,” on Disney+.

Immediately after the release of the last episode of Obi Wan Kenobifour trending words on social media: “HE SAID THE THING.” It looks like a proper encapsulation not only Obi Wan Kenobibut so much modern pop culture.

Obi Wan Kenobi started with a reasonable amount of promises. An early introspective suggested the miniseries could offer a character-driven narrative focusing on the eponymous Jedi, played by Ewan McGregor. Early episodes were generally light on fan service and surprisingly restricted when it came to creating content that was designed to be GIFs or memes. In its first two episodes, Obi Wan Kenobi looked like a real story. Even that turned out to be too good to be true.

As Obi Wan Kenobi raced to its conclusion, it suffered the same fate as many Disney+-era streaming shows like Wanda Vision and Loki. It stopped working as a cohesive narrative and became a transparent exercise in brand management. The show’s season finale feels like it’s receiving notes from the studio in real time, running through a checklist of everything that an algorithm-generated spreadsheet shows will lead to a satisfying and soothing conclusion for the fans. Tellingly, the series awaits its penultimate scene for Obi-Wan to meet Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely). The show ends after Obi-Wan’s “Hello there”.

For a moment, this reference to a line delivery that is certainly emblematic of Revenge of the Sith looks like it’s the grand crescendo of the six-part televised event, this old The Simpsons “Say the line” gag played deadly right. The most comforting thing about this moment is the complete lack of shame. Obi Wan Kenobi isn’t embarrassed that it’s the best button he can place on six weeks of storytelling and the return of Ewan McGregor. He is proud to have made the public wait for this award.

To be fair, this isn’t the episode’s closing scene. There is one more checklist item to deliver. In the show’s closing scene, Obi-Wan reunites with the Force ghost of his former mentor Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson. It’s sort of an even less satisfying payoff, given that Neeson has already reprized the role in The Clone Warsopenly talked about wanting to return to it live, and every fan knew that the reappearance of the character was inevitable.

Is this really the most satisfying place for Qui-Gon Jinn to come back to? Would it make more sense and carry more emotional weight if the character communicated with Obi-Wan Kenobi at the climax of the story? Much like Ian McDiarmid’s cameo as Palpatine in the same episode, Neeson’s return as Qui-Gon Jinn feels like he’s positioning himself more as fan service than storytelling. There are some interesting ways to include both characters in a story about Obi-Wan, but that’s just complacency.

Like so much modern pop culture, Obi Wan Kenobi turned into a fan service delivery mechanism trading in nostalgia. It’s worth noting that a significant portion of the finale is devoted to an attack on Luke Skywalker and his uncle Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton), despite the fact that neither Luke nor Owen had appeared on the show since the premiere. There is no dramatic or character line for Owen or Luke that can be followed. Obi Wan Kenobi. It’s just bad storytelling on a basic level.

The finale actually rests on two misconceptions. First, it assumes that audiences will care about these characters because they recognize them, despite the fact that they haven’t actively participated in this story at this point. Second, it assumes that because they both appeared in the first episode, having them reappear in the finale without doing anything with them in between will create the illusion of consistency. This is a crude and amateur trick. It does not work.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Part VI Final Episode 6 Lacks Point of View, Disappointing Story Checklist, Banal Storytelling Aimless at Disney+ Lucasfilm Joby Harold

The few narrative and character beats played over the course of the finale largely exist to fill in the gaps that didn’t need filling. As with the incorporation of memes, this feels like an opening to the “extremely online” generation of audience members who have confused “tattooing” with meaningful engagement. It’s a very condescending kind of storytelling, which takes CinemaSins and Everything is wrong with as very serious schools of critical thought.

At one point, Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones) berates Obi-Wan, “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker; I did.” It’s an extremely literal way to solve the “plot hole” between the original star wars and The Empire Strikes Back where Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) notices that Vader killed Luke’s father. Sure, Return of the Jedi already solved this inconsistency by presenting it as a metaphor, by making Obi Wan Kenobi largely redundant.

This redundancy is built into the way Disney has chosen to approach Obi Wan Kenobi. It’s hard to write a satisfying prequel or interquel, where a story’s ending is already predetermined and the narrative is basically built around what happened. before events of interest to the public. There are good prequels, such as The good the bad and the ugly or the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, but they require skill and thought.

The key to building a satisfying sequel is understanding that the story ends where the original begins. In many cases, that means the prequels must have a more disappointing ending, as the original film was likely a triumphant tale. That is why, apart from final act issues, A thug worked relatively well. He engaged in the darkness necessary for a story that unfolds in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and the original star wars. It’s a rare film where all the protagonists die, and that’s great.

Disney has been open about rejecting original showrunner and Oscar-nominated Hossein Amini’s plans for Obi Wan Kenobi because they were too dark. Disney replaced Amini with Transformers and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword writer Joby Harold. Watching the season finale, you can feel this strong push for a “happy” ending to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s story. In its finale, Obi Wan Kenobi tries to position itself as a triumphalist narrative.

Obi-Wan reconnected to the Force. He apparently resolved any lingering issues he had with Darth Vader. His faith in the larger universe was restored. He no longer turns his back on suffering and conflict, understanding that the universe needs heroes more than ever. After his old friend Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) complains that the Empire is “getting stronger and bolder”, Obi-Wan replies, “Well, if you ever need my help again, you know where. to find me”.

There’s just one pretty big problem with that. the original star wars presents Obi-Wan Kenobi still living in exile on Tatooine and disconnected from the larger universe, dismissed by Owen (Phil Brown) as “a crazy old man”. Indeed, while Obi Wan Kenobi ends with Owen and Obi-Wan reconciling, with Owen letting Obi-Wan into Luke’s life as a sign of goodwill, star wars implies that Owen tried to keep his family away from Obi-Wan as much as possible, with little warmth.

It is difficult to build a triumphant narrative where the hero is reconciled with exile on a desert planet, where the inhabitants reject him like a madman. When called into action, he must find his own way to Alderaan, with no existing contacts. The central premise of star wars is that Obi-Wan and his generation have failed. For all its faults, Revenge of the Sith understood that. Obi Wan Kenobi seems afraid to admit it, so it becomes a story of heroes who have accomplished nothing.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Part VI Final Episode 6 Lacks Point of View, Disappointing Story Checklist, Banal Storytelling Aimless at Disney+ Lucasfilm Joby Harold

When Obi Wan Kenobi touches on these contradictions, he just stops and hopes the audience won’t notice. When Obi-Wan defeats Vader in a duel, knowing that this monster is tearing the universe apart, Obi-Wan just lets him go because…well, Vader has to appear in star wars. Despite being defeated and humiliated by Obi-Wan Againthe final episode forces Vader to give up his vendetta against his former master because… well, the series has fulfilled its assigned runtime.

These are all items on a detailed checklist, but they add nothing of significance. It’s typical of much of modern pop culture, especially the star wars franchise since the reshoots on Solo. Whatever we think, it is possible to talk about it the force awakens, A thugand The Last Jedi like stories. They talk about things. They have points of view. They make arguments. They reflect the world around them and engage with what it means to be star wars.

What is Obi Wan Kenobi on? What does mean Obi Wan Kenobi to say, whether about its universe or its characters? What does it add to star wars? How is the understanding of each of these characters enriched or deepened by these six episodes, which could perhaps be split into an entire trilogy of films? What’s the point of all this, beyond giving the internet a new GIF of Ewan McGregor saying “Hello there”?