How Obi-Wan Kenobi Changes The Original Star Wars Trilogy
The Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ definitely works as a prequel, but not without completely changing how we perceive the larger Star Wars franchise. The show is set between the Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope movies. With the entire 6-episode first season now at an end, audience and critics’ reactions have been divisive, as apparent by the difference in the show’s Rotten Tomatoes score. The first season has received a lot of criticism for creating plot holes in the established Star Wars movie canon. However, the show actually corrects a lot of inconsistencies between George Lucas’s original vision for the first trilogy, and the subsequent multi-media franchise that came from it.
Before continuing, let’s keep in mind that multiple creators after Lucas added, expanded upon and enhanced a lot of the current Star Wars canon in the 45 years of its history. So these aren’t necessarily ‘plotholes’, but more inconsistencies due to the longevity of the franchise, that those new creators are now connecting and reframing.
How Dave Filoni Changed How We Perceive The Prequel Trilogy
The biggest contribution to enhancing Star Wars canon came from Dave Filoni. In the animated The Clone Wars series, Filoni had the challenge of taking aspects of the Star Wars prequels that many would call plot holes, and bringing context and layers to the superficiality of those movies. For example, the most maligned actor of the prequels was Hayden Christensen, for his brash and petulant depiction of Anakin Skywalker, which didn’t entirely connect with audiences. However, Filoni took that performance and gave it nuance during The Clone Wars series’ depiction of the same character.
Similarly, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series writers Joby Harold, Hossein Amini, Andrew Stanton & Stuart Beattie have had to take established scenes that can be considered ‘plotholes’, and revise them to become compelling moments in the larger Star Wars universe. Not an easy task by any means.
How Obi-Wan Kenobi Turns Its Biggest Complaint Into A Strength
The biggest supposed plot hole, that audiences became keenly aware of early on during the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, is the relationship between Leia and Obi-Wan. Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) phrasing of the hologram plea for help to an older Obi-Wan (Sir Alec Guinness) in A New Hope, implied that they didn’t know each other. However, the entire first season of Obi-Wan Kenobi sees the two having their own adventures, and developing a close relationship. So why weren’t these references in A New Hope?
The answer came in the Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale when Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) advised young Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) to be cautious of revealing their relationship. This was a time when the Empire and its Inquisitors hunted Jedis and Jedi sympathizers. So exposing their relationship would jeopardize the Organas’ diplomatic standing with the Empire and risk Kenobi’s life. Which very clearly explains Leia’s choice of words in A New Hope. Besides the obvious explanation of the movies and stories taking place decades apart. Obviously.
The show also seems to subtly convey that Leia’s time with Kenobi, witnessing the plight of the universe under Empire rule, is what leads her to become part of the rebellion. But she’s not the only Skywalker Kenobi influenced.
Straight From The Horse’s Mouth: Darth Vader Did Kill Anakin Skywalker!
In A New Hope, when Kenobi meets Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), he tells him that Darth Vader killed his father, Anakin Skywalker. However, Revenge Of The Sith showed that it was his battle with Kenobi that left Anakin so wounded that his physical transformation into Darth Vader was complete. For decades, audiences took older Kenobi’s words as a metaphor. That Anakin Skywalker died the day Darth Vader was born. But now, Obi-Wan Kenobi changes how we perceive that scene.
In the season finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, after an epic lightsaber battle, Vader gives new meaning to those words from A New Hope. Vader tells Kenobi he is responsible for the (symbolic) death of Anakin Skywalker. It’s a mostly metaphorical line of dialogue, separating the Jedi the Anakin was, and the villain in Darth Vader that he became. So when Kenobi says the same to Luke decades later, he is simply repeating Vader’s own words.
What’s In A Name? Well, Almost Everything!
Similarly, another inconsistency in A New Hope is when older Kenobi meets Vader and calls him ‘Darth’, as if it’s his first name. Later movies in the franchise reveal that ‘Darth’ is actually a Sith title given to users of the Dark Side. When Lucas wrote A New Hope, this wasn’t the case. So when revisiting the original trilogy after the prequels, it feels odd that Obi-Wan would call Vader ‘Darth.’ However, in the context of the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale, it finally makes sense.
Hearing Vader declare that he killed Anakin, Kenobi acknowledges that the man he knew, is truly gone. And so to differentiate between the two, Kenobi walks away, calling Vader ‘Darth’ for the first time, instead of Anakin, as he knew him. It was a way for him to face the reality that there is no more Anakin within Vader, allowing him to move on. Although, he’s not the only one who does.
The Lost Years Of Darth Vader In The Obi-Wan Kenobi Series
While Obi-Wan Kenobi focused on the adventures of Kenobi in between the movies, the show also shed light on Vader’s journey during those same years. We all presumed that Vader thought Kenobi to be dead, which is why he wasn’t in relentless pursuit of him between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. However, the explanation in the show was a lot more nuanced.
In the Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) takes Vader’s obsession with Kenobi as a weakness. When confronted, Vader had to decide to either hold a grudge from his former life or move on and devote himself to the Emperor’s cause. He chose the latter. It’s a much more meaningful explanation than one of the most powerful Sith in the universe mistaking Obi-Wan for dead for years. It also shows how Vader’s path to the dark side wasn’t entirely due to the manipulation of Palpatine, or his own unruly emotions but, at least at this point, of his own choosing.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi Series Is One Of The Best Star Wars In Decades!
Prequels are always difficult. They have to toe the line between telling new and interesting stories, while also preserving the canon that came before. Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ succeeds in both those aspects while providing context for Kenobi’s motivations in A New Hope and deepening our appreciation of that story so much more. Those same moments in the movies now have more meaning, more emotional weight attached to them after the events of this season. The stories flow from one moment to the other seamlessly, even though the stories came decades apart.
It’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is a major milestone in the current Star Wars landscape.