The 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Finale Was Lit, But The Story Potential For Multiple Future Seasons Is Seemingly Limitless
SPOILERS FOR OBI-WAN KENOBI AND OTHER STAR WARS PROJECTS AHEAD!
As a huge Star Wars fan, I'm not going to sit here and say the Disney era has been perfect. Far from it. The latest Disney Plus streaming effort, Obi-Wan Kenobi, was designed to be a limited series, but I'm hoping against all hope that it extends beyond the six episodes. They're only scratching the surface of what's possible. While the show could stand on its own decently and saved by far its best for last with the final two parts, I can't help but wonder just how much more is left in the tank.
First, let's talk about the finale that dropped Wednesday. It was an absolute whirlwind. We got a proper, moonlit, high-powered duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. The artist formerly known as Anakin Skywalker gained the high ground early and tried to bury his former master, not dissimilarly to how Obi left Anakin to burn on the molten rocks of Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith.
Of course Obi-Wan taps into the Force, rises again, and proceeds to kick the shit out of Vader, culminating in a split of his mask. Finally, we get to see Hayden Christensen as Vader, in the flesh, communicating directly with Obi-Wan. Christensen's performance dunks on everyone who remains adamant that he's a terrible actor. Half his face is showing and he's giving the audience one of the most bone-chilling moments in franchise history. Ewan McGregor does some of the best work of his career to cap off this sequence, too.
The whole duel is bookended by amazing references to the Vader-Ahsoka Tano showdown from "Twilight of the Apprentice" in Star Wars Rebels which I won't get into here. Just go watch that immediately if you haven't.
Anyway…we get a satisfying resolution to Reva's journey as a character. She stops short of killing Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, afraid in her quest for vengeance on Vader that she's becoming just like him. We get a cameo from hologram Sheev Palpatine, we get Obi-Wan greeting Luke for the first time with a, "Hello there." HE SAID THE THING! YES!
And of course, finally, a Qui-Gon Jinn Force ghost to cap it all off. But if I have one complaint about Disney Star Wars in general, it's that they haven't taken big-enough swings.
I understand streaming is a new frontier, and there will be growing pains. That said, there's almost too much reverence for what George Lucas did and an innate sense of obligation to be over-the-top about paying homage to what came before. "It's like poetry/they rhyme" paradigm aside, we either get storytelling that drags too long for the sake of runtime, plays it too safe or is too flat-out derivative to stand on its own. The Obi-Wan Kenobi finale was an exception to all this for the most part. When it did pay tribute, it enhanced what came before and what was happening in the moment.
Now that we've spent plenty of time with young Leia and gotten her drawn-out kidnapping subplot out of the way, the path is clearer for rich Star Wars lore expansion. No second season of Obi has been confirmed to date, yet it seems like everyone would be eager to return for more. Here are just some of the ideas/concepts that come to mind. I'll keep my thoughts streamlined and chronological so they're easier to follow. Let's start off with something quick, fun and easy…
"Iron Man view" from behind Vader's mask
I have no idea why this wasn't a thing from the start. You know how they show Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark inside the Iron Man suit, just looking around and shit? I know this is ripping off another big preexisting IP under the Disney umbrella, but this feels like such a great opportunity to see more of Hayden Christensen as Vader without having to contrive a bunch of ways for his iconic helmet to get shattered in half.
Between the prequel era flashback in Part V of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his performance in the finale — even for much of Revenge of the Sith too, by the way — it's clear that when you give Hayden even halfway decent dialogue, he's gonna kill it. They don't need to go overboard with this concept. But like when they were cutting back and forth on close-ups of Obi-Wan and Anakin's face in the episode that dropped today, you could do this for quieter, character-driven moments between the ex-besties.
Even if it's during moments between them connecting through the Force, to be able to see more of the humanity on Anakin's face inside the suit while he's interacting with Obi-Wan would be a treat and add dimension to his character. Hayden loves playing Anakin/Vader and has proven he has the chops to be given a shot for something like this. It'd amplify the emotional resonance of the central interpersonal conflict.
Obi-Wan takes on Reva as an apprentice
Because Reva is a completely new character, her fate is up in the air. Some of the stakes to Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't feel as intense because you knew most of the characters have to survive. That's not the case with her. While I wasn't thrilled with Reva to start, it now makes so much sense why she wasn't a convincing, badass Inquisitor. She was putting on a front to get close to Vader and then ultimately murder him. By the end of the series, you could see how much of a toll going that dark took on Reva, setting up a potential future as Obi-Wan's second in command.
Imagine Reva using her skills as an Inquisitor/Jedi hunter to help Obi-Wan track down other Jedi across the galaxy and at least make some effort to rebuild the Jedi Order. This is where the real dramatic potential occurs, because as we know from A New Hope, the Jedi aren't really a thing anymore. If those efforts were to fail, it'd likely be viewed as a killing blow to the ancient religion.
With the introduction of "The Path" in Obi-Wan Kenobi — which is essentially a network of rebels/Jedi sympathizers who protect the valiant warriors from persecution — we can see an escalating conflict between Obi-Wan, Reva, anyone else still in The Path pipeline and the fledgling rebellion vs. an even more enraged Vader, Emperor Palpatine, the Inquisitors and the expanding Galactic Empire. How dope does that sound?
Quick aside: We need an in-show "Duel of the Fates" needle drop
Come on now. I think that's tactful-enough fan service. This moment alone would almost single-handedly justify another batch of Obi-Wan Kenobi 'sodes as long as the accompanying lightsaber action lived up to the hype.
Go SUPER DARK in Season 2
Obi-Wan is among the most stoic, disciplined and in-control characters in the Star Wars galaxy. To this point in the canon timeline, he's seen Darth Maul kill the love of his life right in front of him, dealt with the guilt of failing Anakin, and seen the Jedi Order and the Republic fall. He spent 10 years hiding in anonymity, closing himself off from the Force…and as we've learned through the events of his eponymous TV show, STILL found a way back to being the hero we've known and loved for decades.
Now would be the time to really fuck with him. Ewan gave it all he had with the moments that were written. I still feel like they could've explored his inner turmoil, conflict and regret in a deeper way than they did, especially for how deliberately-paced the series was.
Here are my initial ideas on how to proceed: Run with the Reva apprentice story thread. Find Cal Kestis, the protagonist of the Jedi: Fallen Order video game who's rumored to be involved in an eventual live-action show. Start building some momentum for reigniting the Jedi. Have that snuffed out almost immediately. Have Vader kill off Reva, because if he can't get back at Obi, striking down someone newly close to him is the next-best thing. Then we have Obi and Cal really on the run.
Cut to a B story with referenced-in-Season-1 surviving rogue Jedi Quinlan Vos, who's crusading around the galaxy and trying to find Obi-Wan. Quinlan is fighting off Inquisitors at every turn and, once it's revealed he's alive, becomes the Jedi hunters' No. 1 priority outside of the new Obi/Cal duo. We get some sick Inquisitor duels with Quinlan and see how dangerous the Grand Inquisitor in particular can be, but Quinlan gets the upper hand and extracts information about Obi-Wan from them.
Meanwhile, Vader is singularly focused on Obi-Wan while the Inquisitors hone in on Quinlan. Vader finds Obi-Wan and Cal. This turns into an Attack of the Clones-style, 2-on-1 lightsaber battle. Like Count Dooku did before, Vader bests Obi-Wan and Cal, captures them, and takes them to the Emperor. Then Palpatine kills Cal, Force-lightnings the shit out of Obi-Wan to accelerate his aging, Kenobi loses a subsequent duel to Vader and is officially sent into a tailspin. His faith in the ways of the Force is shaken.
ALL OF THAT would set up a real, tangible dramatic purpose for Qui-Gon to be around to mentor Obi-Wan and get him to see the bigger picture. Well…and we want to see how he teaches Obi to become a Force ghost, if possible.
A deeper exploration of Darth Maul
It's much more fleshed out in the animated shows, but the rivalry between Maul and Kenobi is one of the best in the galaxy far, far away. Turns out, Maul survived getting bisected by Obi in The Phantom Menace. For the uninitiated, I'm sure that sounds stupid. Trust me. Maul's return SLAPS. He becomes a crime syndicate leader, seizes the darksaber and the throne of Mandalore and does a whole bunch of other awesome stuff I won't spoil here.
Although they could translate their Star Wars Rebels duel from "Twin Suns" into live action for a potential Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 3, I'd be more interested to see an encounter between them that predates the Rebels era and stands on its own. Making that the final climax of an Obi-Wan series would undercut his deeply personal conflict with Vader.
In any event, Maul was built out so well in The Clone Wars and Rebels and was reportedly meant to be featured in the Obi-Wan show at one stage before the creatives decided to focus on Vader instead. That goes to show how well-done the animated TV is, and how the live-action folks could learn from some of the big swings taken therein. Everyone knows Maul is a badass, and throwing his non-allegiant ass into the mix would triangulate the larger conflict and create a richer, more layered and complex overall story.
That whole "Duel of the Fates" needle drop I discussed earlier? Hehe. Doing it in a scene with Maul, with whom it debuted, would be particularly epic.
The World Between Worlds
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, again, I'm talking about BIG. SWINGS. I would argue the most successful, biggest swing since the original trilogy outside of Luke Skywalker's cameo in The Mandalorian was what Rebels did with The World Between Worlds.
This is essentially a place where someone has access to any moment in space and time. Think the 4D tesseract from Interstellar, but cooler. Bottom line: It's Star Wars' version of time travel. In the Rebels episode, a young Jedi-type character named Ezra Bridger saves Ahsoka Tano from potential death during her aforementioned duel with Vader. He has a chance to save someone else…and then has to realize he can't.
So how could this translate to an Obi-Wan show? If Reva/Cal/others Obi-Wan gets close to are killed, out of desperation, or thanks to the maverick Qui-Gon's knowledge, he may become privy to the WBW's existence. Then he sets out to save Reva/Cal.
Want to hear another mind-blowing possibility? Qui-Gon's penchant for prophecies starts to rub off on Obi-Wan, and at some point in the future, he's fated to intervene and set the stage for the remainder of the Skywalker Saga as we know it. How you would stick the landing on this, I have no idea. Or it could even be a brief but formative side quest that informs Obi-Wan on how to move forward and what he must do to fulfill his ultimate destiny.
You might be thinking it'd be a cheap, cash-grabby type of thing if Obi uses the WBW and suddenly pops up in The Mandalorian. I disagree. What if I told you that, once upon a time, Obi-Wan Kenobi almost left the Jedi Order to become a Mandalorian Duke? I'm telling you, these animated series are INSANE.
It'd also be pretty crazy if Obi-Wan got a WBW glimpse of Vader chucking Papa Palpatine down the reactor shaft from Return of the Jedi, prompting him to mercifully let Vader live during their grand-finale prospective Season 3 encounter and also to play along with what unfolds in A New Hope.
And those are just SOME of the ideas I have for future Obi-Wan Kenobi adventures on Disney Plus. So to Lucasfilm, I say this: I've got a pretty sweet gig to be writing about this right now but if you want any help in the Story Group from a passionate fan who studied at a world-class drama school, HMU. I'll even become a diehard Penguins fan for Dave Filoni. No sweat.