Obi-Wan Kenobi's finale isn't surprising, but Ewan McGregor conjures a lump in the throat nonetheless
If ever you need an example of well done fan-service, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 6 has you covered. The sci-fi series finale delivers an emotive climax by doing just about what everyone expected, in exactly the desired fashion – for the most part, anyway.
After five episodes of anticipation, Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan and Hayden Christensen’s Darth Vader come to blows. Their rematch has been the lynchpin of the Disney Plus TV series since the first look, building on years of fan desire to see the two actors back in Star Wars. The actual fight itself isn’t exactly the boldest lightsaber duel in the franchise, but it’s the conversation they have during that makes it a thrill.
Reva and Leia each get satisfying beats that are intertwined with Anakin and Obi-Wan, combining their destinies. We know where Leia’s story goes, obviously, but Reva’s is left wide open for a spin-off that digs even deeper into Order 66 and the ramifications of Darth Vader’s rise with the Empire.
Obi-Wan Kenobi wisely doesn’t jump the blaster on the major standoff. It’s all couched in context. The rebel ship is being chased by a Star Destroyer, the classic Star Wars motif, with everyone on board growing incresingly desperate. Repairs are needed, but there isn’t enough time, unless there’s some sort of distraction.
Keen to end the unfinished business, Obi-Wan volunteers himself to draw his former padawan away from the others. The decision is not popular, least of all with young Leia. Throughout the previous episodes, we’ve had the lingering question over what makes Obi-Wan so special to the heir of Alderaan. Now we know, and their bond is solidified in a quiet conversation that’s one of several stand-out scenes from McGregor.
Having lived with Obi-Wan for so long, McGregor brings a certain emotional intelligence to the iconic Star Wars character. He’s comforting and sagely, but also clearly carrying around some anguish. George Lucas had this manifest as mystique in A New Hope, worldbuilding that sounded cool and alien and came with a tinge of past trauma. This Obi-Wan Kenobi is still sitting on the raw nerve, and his impassioned speech to the other survivors and Leia comes with a slight selfishness.
Obi-Wan needs to face Vader for the good of everyone else, and a little part of him is very comfortable with it, perhaps even happy about it. He gets to face up to his part in Anakin’s downfall by making an enormously noble sacrifice. What better circumstances for one of the last members of a dying religion? If he wins, he’s rid the galaxy of a great evil, and if he loses, martyrdom.
In a galaxy far, far away: The best science fiction movies
The fight with Darth Vader echoes the training flashback from episode 5. Director Deborah Chow captures both Vader and Obi-Wan with a fiery grace, dance partners that know each other’s every move. The ferocity is palpable, as is the tragedy in the broken-hearted finish. Obi-Wan, finding renewed purpose in the Skywalker children he promised to look over, pushes back against Vader’s more aggressive Force powers.
Someone at Disney loves some boulders being thrown around. Obi-Wan wields chunks of rock like a ten-year-old that’s just watched Thanos wreck everything in Avengers: Infinity War. Darth Vader, the poor chump, is the younger sibling in this scenario who gets pelted. You’d nearly feel sorry for him except for all the space fascism.
The Mad Titan worship is saved by a scene that scratches at the emotional core of Star Wars. An injured Vader reveals himself to Obi-Wan, who has a cathartic breakdown over Revenge of the Sith. For just a second, they see each other properly again, only to re-establish that now they’re on opposing sides.
Beep-boop: Star Wars movies ranked
McGregor leads the way, calling out to Anakin in desperation and guilt over what became of his spiritual sibling. One of McGregor’s great acting talents is wearing his performance in his eyes, telling us everything with a look or a stare. In this vain, Obi-Wan Kenobi is towards the upper echelons of his career, a working out of unrequited feelings that never stopped lingering.
This carries through to Reva’s last moments, and the closing scenes. If Moses Ingram doesn’t get her own Star Wars show, we’ll be both surprised and disappointed, as she grants unique perspective on Order 66, and her performance has been continually great.
The show becomes slightly too neat once the danger is gone, piling on cameos and callbacks. Star Wars has an issue with not fully trusting its audience at times, spelling out the timeline in plain dialogue. You can see exactly where the next wave of TV series and films could spring from, and where Obi-Wan Kenobi season 2 will pick up from.
The part of me that enjoys clean endings would’ve liked something less open, but the part of me that welled up watching this episode in an airport is eager for what’s coming. Can’t have the light without the dark, right?