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Obi-Wan Kenobi, And PTSD Make For A Powerful Series. Much To The Chagrin Of The Gatekeepers

This cover image from the Kenobi book is from John Jackson Miller.

 

The season finale of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” dropped on Disney Plus and fans couldn’t get enough of it. As a lifelong “Star Wars” fan, I have to say that this series gives me a lot of hope for the future of this beloved franchise.

Before the series debuted, I was cautiously optimistic  Star Wars fans have had to endure some heartbreak over the years.  We have had our ups and downs, but bungling a series on (arguably) the most important character in Star Wars canon would have been a deal breaker for millions of fans. The pressure for this to succeed was immense. 

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi square off for a friendly spar in a flashback scene.

There would have been a fan revolt the likes of which we haven’t seen since “The Last Jedi” ripped the fanbase apart.  More likely than not, a bad “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series would have been a large nail in this franchise’s coffin.

Thankfully, we got a thought provoking and exciting series that kept the viewer waiting for the sixth episode with baited breath.  The series was well written, well executed, and a whole lot of fun to watch.

What Made The Series So Good

In the game of baseball, a well thrown curveball can make a game very exciting.  The same principles of that statement apply to the world of television.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi” had twists and turns throughout the entire season.  Some were predictable especially if you’re well versed in Star Wars canon. Others were extremely creative, and jarring.

For all intents and purposes, the trailer indicates that this will be a series focused on Obi-Wan’s life on Tatooine.  Where he watches over Luke Skywalker as was discussed at the end of “Revenge Of The Sith”.

For most of the series, this is all we see of Luke Skywalker.

It seemed like a perfectly safe bet. Reasonable plot, familiar characters, and a lot of directions for Young Skywalker’s fate.  You can’t go wrong with it.  

That is not the direction that this show went in at all.

Making a hard left, and making Leia Organa the secondary protagonist for a large portion of the show was a brilliant move. Nobody saw it coming, and expectations were raised immediately.

The Cast Was Stellar

Ewan McGregor was great in the title role, as per usual.  He brought a lot more weight to the character in this go round.  His performance was emotionally charged.  He played a man who has lost his way, and was desperate to get back on the right path.  As the series goes on, he even subtly adopts some of Sir Alec Guinness’ mannerisms.  The acting was stellar.

Vivien Lyra Blair was fantastic as a young Princess Leia.  She was feisty, contentious, and witty.  She was everything that I would imagine Carrie Fisher to have been as a child.

Young Vivien Lyra Blair captured Carrie Fischer’s spirit perfectly, and delivered a first rate portrayal of a young Leia Organa to us.

Indira Varma turned in a very solid performance as rogue Officer Tala Durith. Part spy, part protector, part mother figure, Durith handled the role with ease.

O’Shea Jackson Jr. brought a human element to the show as Kawlen Roken.  He was an exasperated leader of a rebel transport who was working tirelessly to get persecuted people taken to a safe place.  Jackson shined in this role.  You could see the worry, and fear of failure being tamped down behind his tired eyes, and the perseverance that drives him rising up.

O’Shea Jackson Jr. was an unsung hero in the series, playing an exhausted rebel leader who was doing his best to keep vulnerable people out of harm’s way.

Kumail Nanjiani brought comedic relief to the series, as a sweet natured huckster who pretends to be a Jedi.  It was a small role, but a good one.

Moses Ingram was menacing as The Third Sister.  A ruthless inquisitor who stops at nothing to get what she wants.  She is the character that we love to hate.

Hayden Christensen returned as Darth Vader, and he completely owns it.  It is hard to convey emotions from behind a mask.  Christensen seemed to have done it with ease.  Some of his scenes pull at the heartstrings a little.

What I Didn’t Like

As much as I enjoyed this series, it was not without flaws.  The pacing was slow at times in the middle episodes.  They could have given us some more action, and livened it up a little bit.

The Leia chase scenes were laughably bad.  They were choreographed horribly.  They looked cheesy, and out of place. Leia looked like she was being coached by somebody who has never seen a person be chased before.  The bumbling kidnappers running into each other, and knocking themselves out on tree branches had an unintentional comedic effect.

The Grand Inquisitor is one of the weakest characters in this series.  That is a huge disappointment, because he was one of the best characters in “Star Wars: Rebels”.  Voiced by Jason Isaac, he was cunning, ruthless, and the personification of evil.  Rupert Friend just doesn’t deliver in this role.  He is robotic, and wooden.  There is no real reason to care about this character one way or the other.  He’s just there, being boring.  He makes us wish for the next scene to come sooner rather than later.

Rupert Friend turned in a lackluster performance as The Grand Inquisitor. He was stiff, and uninspired. One of the few things to fall flat in this series.

Addressing The Gatekeepers

When I refer to “Gatekeepers” in this article, I am not referring to every person who didn’t like the show.  The show isn’t for everyone, and I understand that.  I am referring to the nitpickers who relentlessly attack Moses Ingram, rail against anything that even begins to resemble a powerful female in media, and criticize Obi-Wan’s gun shy behavior at the beginning of the series.

Moses Ingram did a phenomenal job as Reva.  She was brutal, calculating, and intimidating.  As her character develops, there is a depth that she has to dive to in order to give us the performance that she provided.  It was masterful acting.

The detractors can try to trivialize her performance, but the show doesn’t lie. Moses Ingram was powerful and menacing as Reva.

Of course, Ingram tends to get political.  I tend to like it when actors stay away from the political side of things, but this is America.  She has the right to speak her mind.  The racism directed at her, regardless of what she thinks, is abhorrent.

We should all be adult enough to be able to separate the role from the person, and enjoy her performance without being reminded about her twitter feed in every article.

Obi-Wan as a character was criticized for going soft, and not acting like a Jedi.  People were being really hard on his journey throughout the show.  His was not at the best point in his life at the shows start.

  • He had witnessed the Sith return, and kill his master.
  • He fought in a long, and brutal war.
  • The clones he fought alongside of, suddenly turned on the Jedi, and almost all of his friends were slaughtered.
  • He dismembered his best friend.
  • He watched The Empire rise.
  • He is reminded of Anakin daily, due to his assignment to watch over Luke Skywalker

It wasn’t exactly a happy time for Obi-Wan.  That was the point of the show.  He was lost, and had to find himself again. ((Any comparison to Luke in TLJ? That guy suffered some harsh PTSD as well.))

A Deeper Message

One of the things that really shined in this series was the ability the writers had, to subtly showcase a serious topic such as PTSD.  Two characters in the show exhibit symptoms of PTSD. Reva, and Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan’s PTSD leads to his depression.  His lack of faith in the force, and his unwillingness to restore it are heartbreaking to watch.  Throughout the series he tries to contact hi old master, Qui Gon Jinn through the force.  He can’t connect.  He can’t get over his personal strife.

Obi-Wan Kenobi constantly tries in vain to contact his old master. His depression has cut him off from the force.

His adventure with Leia reignites his willingness to live, and you slowly see Obi-Wan return to form over the course of the series.  He even survives his heartbreaking final confrontation with Darth Vader, and moves on.  In many ways, Leia Organa saved Obi-Wan’s life as much as he saved hers.

Reva was also suffering from PTSD.  Her manifestations were different.  After witnessing Darth Vader slaughter all of the other younglings in her group, she became inconsolable.  Her anger overtook her, and she was only focused on revenge.  She was willing to get that revenge at any cost.

It was very satisfying at the end to see her realize that she is becoming the monster that she swore to kill.  She eventually sees the light, and stops herself from making a tragic decision.  A path to redemption is still possible for the Third Sister.  She still has a story to tell.

Why Addressing PTSD Was Important

PTSD is a serious issue that doesn’t get discussed, or addressed nearly as often as it should be.  The statistics show that:

  • Six Percent of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.  That adds up to almost twelve million people per year.
  • The numbers for women double that of men, with eight percent of females being effected by the disorder.  Only four percent of males exhibit symptoms.  This might be a matter of men being more reluctant to report it, but that isn’t proven.  As the numbers stand, women have a significantly harder time coping with trauma.
  • Around 5.5 million children are reported to have PTSD per year.
  • Veterans unsurprisingly suffer the greatest numbers.  With fifteen percent of Vietnam Veterans, twelve percent of Gulf War Veterans, and anywhere from eleven to twenty percent of Veterans involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom are reported as suffering from PTSD.

An average of fifteen percent of Veterans have come home with PTSD in our last three major conflicts.

These numbers indicate that we have a very serious mental health issue on our hands as a country.  It is almost never discussed outside of a military setting. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” does a good job at subtly shedding light on this.

It also did a fantastic job in showcasing how PTSD effects different people by contrasting Obi-Wan and Reva.  Some people retreat inward, some people manifest rage outward.

So, with apologies to all of the machismo aficionados out there, but Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t merely just become “weak”.  He was in pain, and looking for something to believe in. 

Now that he’s found it, I think it’s safe to say that we can look forward to many more adventures in this new chapter in the “Star Wars” universe.

How do you feel, GNN faithful?  Did I miss the mark?  Were you not a fan of the series? Did you love it? regardless of your answer, I would love to hear from you! Sound off in the Comment Section below.  Stay Geeky everybody!

Thank you for reading.  When I am not writing I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my two year old daughter Frankie, My hound dog Marbles, and my feisty Ferret: Ms. Farrah Pawcett.  For more fresh, geeky content and insightful discussion don’t forget to check out our Youtube channel.

 

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