Obi-Wan Kenobi Recap Catch-Up: Episodes 1-3, “A Life Less Obi-Nary”

Disney’s latest Star Wars entry, Obi-Wan Kenobi, opens on a classic “previously on” montage. Which is weird, because this is its first episode. What is there to show?

The answer? The entire Prequel Trilogy.

It’s like, we’re on the umpteenth series about these familiar characters and situations, and suddenly they’re getting cold feet that no one has seen Revenge of the Sith. “Sure, everyone knows Boba Fett, but what if some Star Wars fans haven’t watched the entire first third of the films…?”

“Meesa so sad…”

So first we revisit how Padmé died of a broken heart shortly after giving birth, Jar Jar cried, Luke and Leia were passed off to some disparate families, and Obi-Wan and Anakin were never really very convincing “brothers.”

Now that we’re all caught up: back to Tatooine!

Where else?

There are some “Inquisitors” over in Tatooine looking to hunt down all remaining Jedi—and they think one is hiding in the area. And it’s not the Jedi you think!

These Inquisitors have red lightsabers and are basically just Sith, but like how Sith weren’t even a thing in the Original Trilogy and were just added later, these Inquisitors apparently had to also be invented to circumvent the arbitrary “only two Sith” situation invented in the Prequel Trilogy. It’s a whole thing.

The group is led by the Grand Inquisitor. More specifically, it’s Rupert Friend, apparently giving a belated audition for Dark City in white pancake makeup and bondage gear. And, like every other goddamn Star Wars “badass” since Darth Maul, he’s also made too-busy with some symmetrical face markings or tattoos or something. He’s backed up by the Fifth Brother (Han from Fast/Furious, looking just as unrecognizably wan and puffy) and the Third Sister (The Queen’s Gambit’s Moses Ingram, looking completely normal). The latter very quickly sets herself up as the loose cannon we’ll be following when we’re not watching Obi-Wan look stressed. (Soon to come!)

While Third Sister would like nothing more than to catch Obi-Wan, that is not who they’re there for. They, like so many Good Time fangirls, are after the oh-so-kissable lips of Benny Safdie.

Turns out, Safdie was a Youngling who escaped Anakin’s lightsaber to since age into a more-or-less full-fledged Jedi. He also has caught the stupid symmetrical facepaint syndrome, and is likewise caught and killed almost immediately, so let’s not even worry about him.

Anyway, it turns out Obi-Wan has not just been tucked in as a hermit all these years, living off his general’s pension. He’s been, like, a factory meat butcher, taking a shuttle out to this place where he hacks up chunks of flesh and saves a bit to feed to his gross camel thing. He’s also been vaguely checking in on Luke every now and then in the creepiest way possible: just lurking around, peering at him through binoculars. As if the way to keep a child safe is to snoop on them while they pretend to podrace.

Meanwhile, off on Alderaan, a ten-year-old Leia is off being a precocious scamp. She is a very strong-willed lil’ moppet! This is one of the most infuriating throughlines being carried on from the Phantom Menace era: that we ever need to see any of these characters in preadolescence. I wouldn’t even care to see what my parents were like in fourth grade, let alone the Skywalker clan. Who cares? Just let these dumb kids be dumb kids, and stop trying to shoehorn in all this needless, retroactive foreshadowing. They can’t all be doing shit as a child, alright? Not everyone is Mozart.

Back in Tatooine, the Inquisitors have yet to catch Benny Safdie. Third Sister is being inquisitive with all these random townspeople, asking about him, but none of them will give up the Jedi. Luke’s Uncle Owen is also there, and he’s thinking, “Man, you know a Jedi I’d like to give up? Obi-Wan Kenobi. I just had a scene where I showed how I actually resent that guy a ton. In another decade, when Luke asks me about Obi-Wan, I’m going to say something like, ‘Oh, do you mean ol’ Ben Kenobi?’ And at the time it’s going to seem like a completely innocuous comment. But now we know it holds all kinds of unnecessary weight because of that scene I was just thinking about.”

Jumping back to Leia, she is once again running off to climb trees instead of doing her princess duties. This on-the-nose characterization leads to her getting into a laughably bad chase scene that ends in her being abducted by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Unsurprisingly, Alderaan King(?) Jimmy Smits is very sad that his adopted daughter was kidnapped by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He basically sends Obi-Wan his own, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.”

Obi-Wan declines, so Jimmy Smits simply tries again in-person like a scene or two later. (This “thing that just happened happening again moments later to more striking result” is the series’ most recurring theme.)

It works! Obi-Wan digs up the lightsabers he metaphorically and quite literally buried in the sands of Tatooine—as was established as a thing a Jedi apparently does in Rise of Skywalker. Time to eventually swing a lightsaber!

End Part One.

As we open the second episode, Obi-Wan has arrived at a knock-off of a knock-off of a Blade Runner city—some real sub-Mute shit—where Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers has apparently taken Leia. Kenobi runs into a depressing Boba Fett clone and a depressing Sarah Squirm clone before finally running into this kid who is like, “You should see Kumail Nanjiani. He’s ripped now and it’s weird, but maybe he could be helpful?”

So Obi-Wan heads over there, and you can barely even tell how grossly jacked Nanjiani is through his “Jedi robes.” That’s in quotes because he is faking being a Jedi, and series director Deborah Chow seems to have told him, “Play this like you’re being really jokey in your typical way about how obviously fake you are as a Jedi.”

Conveniently, this somehow leads Obi-Wan to the storage locker (or something???) where Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is holding Leia. Obi-Wan and Leia escape! It’s honestly not even much of a thing!

They escape wearing some loose disguises, but soon after, Third Sister puts out a bounty for Obi-Wan, and inexplicably, he’s like, “We need to take off these shoddy disguises and just look immediately identifiable as the wanted characters we are.”

They’re sneaking around or whatever for a bit, but finally Leia is rightly like, “Wait… how do I know you’re not a pedo?” After all, he is just this old single guy who basically only wears robes and is constantly peering at kids through binoculars.

Then we get this rooftop-jumping sequence that all but confirms Third Sister is The Tick. But here she is not to claim her little wooden-acting girl.

Leia drops off the side of a roof, Obi-Wan makes her float, that convinces her he’s the real deal, and—yada, yada, yada—thanks to Kumail Nanjiani, they head off toward a cargo ship to depart the city of Bland Runner.

Unfortunately, Third Sister has other ideas. She intercepts Obi-Wan at the dock to make a big reveal: That Lord Vader she keeps talking about? That’s Anakin Skywalker! Turns out, he’s alive, bro!

Hidden away, a visibly shaken Obi-Wan is finally realizing that there’s a second reason not to leave your best friend charred and writhing in agony under the assumption he’ll probably just die at some point.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Grand Inquisitor shows up and demands to take over duties on gettin’ Obi. Third Sister responds by stabbing him in the belly.

Obi-Wan uses this dramatic turn to hightail it out of there. He senses now that Anakin is indeed alive—and having a lovely bath!

End Part Two.

Bathtime over, Lord Vader takes a holo-meeting from Third Sister. He lets her know that should she want to get that promotion as the new Grand Inquisitor, nothing would look better on her cover letter than saying she’d nabbed Kenobi. So she will continue trying to do that, as she already was.

But where is Obi-Wan? He and his young charge have escaped to a planet that, as should be no surprise, is quite sandy. It’s not Tatooine-level sandy, but it’s not not-sandy. It’s like the Joshua Tree of planets—sandy, but it’s got some weird trees and shrubs.

At Leia’s insistence, she and Obi-Wan manage to flag down a pickup hover-truck. It’s driven by Zach Braff—though you’d barely know it, because he looks like a dumpy, hairless mole-man. MoleBraff agrees to give them a lift, and as they climb into the truck bed, they see something even grosser than MoleBraff’s looks: he’s got a homemade Imperial flag on the back. Figures this podunk would be a (Stormtrooper-colored) White Lives Matter guy, right?

MoleBraff reaffirms his support when he picks up a few Stormtroopers on the way. These dudes start asking questions, and soon enough Obi-Wan has messed up the father-daughter story he had going. And when the cops want Obi-Wan to submit to a probe droid facial scan to prove he’s not the Jedi they’re looking for, instead of doing his “These aren’t the [characters] you’re looking for” shtick, Obi starts blastin’.

Obi-Wan successfully blasts those guys, but it turns out there are more guys. Does this show knows how to up the stakes or what? But also it turns out that one of these new bad guys is Ellaria Sand from Game of Thrones, and she is actually a good guy. She shoots the bad guys and is like, “Let’s go to a clumsy Underground Railroad analogue.” And so they do.

At the same time, Third Sister and her cronies have sorted out that Obi-Wan is on Planet Joshua Tree. They’ve told Vader about it, and he’s like, “Hell yeah, let’s do this. R2-D2 is actually named after U2, because I love their seminal 1987 album Joshua Tree that much.” Or close enough.

Well, Ellaria Sand has guided Obi-Wan and Leia to this little town at this point, and she takes them into a place with a dopey robot and a little hidden passage to a spaceport. But while Obi-Wan is checking out all the cool Jedi graffiti in the passage’s safe room, some Stormtroopers arrive. Sand demands the passage ship gets ready ASAP, because they’re gonna have to come early. She also makes sure to point out how Leia “will make a good fighter one day.” YES, WE GET IT. SHE IS ALREADY SHOWING HER STUBBORN RESOLVE AND PROPENSITY FOR ADVENTURE. Now, every time we watch the OT, we can vacantly grin and say, “She was like this before puberty, too!” Great job, everyone.

Not long after, Kenobi starts making his worried I sense a familiar presence face, and we know what’s coming long before the scuba-tank breathing starts. Anakin Skywalker has arrived on the red carpet—and tonight he’s cutting a silhouette in an all-black Ralph McQuarrie number.

Darth Vader is here, and he’s snapping necks like nobody’s business. So while Sand guides Leia off down the tunnel out of there, Obi-Wan decides to play distraction by giving constant delay of scared reaction shots before he scuttles off to a nearby quarry.

Vader, now treated like Mike Myers, has become the tall, silent, masked foe who inexplicably catches up to his prey with a few lumbering strides. He strolls up to Obi-Wan and extends his lightsaber.

It should be sort of cool, except that, like every Disney franchise entry, it’s shot with such little contrast that every nighttime shot looks like dogshit.

Any mainstream and many B-movie night scenes have looked vastly better than this since the advent of cinema. This is outrageous and not at all edited:

Not even kidding with this. This is a screencap.

Again, great job, everyone!

Obi-Wan, for his part, prolongs this scene looking so terrible for as long as possible. Every time Vader tries to confront him, he jogs off to hide behind another pile of rocks or whatever. He does not want to confront his old friend again! And he will exhaust as much runtime as he needs to prove it.

Finally, Darth Myers just immediately shows up behind Obi-Wan and they’re forced to have their little duel.


They aren’t, because Obi-Wan quickly figures out a Darth Vader weakness Luke will later explode: slashing some tube to blast some steam out. Classic.

Meanwhile, Third Sister has also become enamored with the graffiti in the little hidden room.

But back to Obi-Wan and Vader: they’re fighting again already. This battle of contrived fits and starts is finally reaching its apex, with Vader doing his signature throat grab for like the fifth time in the last ten minutes. This dude is a real MacGruber.

MacVader lights the ground on fire, hoping to force Obi-Wan through what is the closest thing he can create to his Revenge of the Sith lava situation in a Joshua Tree quarry scenario. He force-drags Obi-Wan into the flame, and while it seems like it should be a pretty big deal, it basically just scorches Obi-Wan’s shoulder—which is probably meant to be a ret-con to explain why the later Vader-Kenobi duel in A New Hope is so lackadaisical. These dorks never stop trying to over-explain this nonsense.

“Bring him to me,” Vader says, extinguishing the fire so his boys can get through. The guy has tossed around a half-dozen people with his mind today, but now he wants Obi-Wan carried over to him. Sure!

But guess who’s here. It’s Game of Thrones. And she uses her blaster to REIGNITE THE FLAME.

Since Vader is now very adamant that Obi-Wan must be delivered to him by hand, even at four yards away, he stands idly by as Sand’s dumb robot just strolls in and carries Obi-Wan off under the cover of the fire Vader literally just dragged the guy through. He and his Stormtroopers could literally just go around the fire and get him again, or he could just grab him with The Force, but instead he just gives a slightly huffy sigh and we move on.

Throughout all this, Leia has ostensibly been scurrying along the hidden tunnel to GTFO of this place. But somehow Third Sister has managed to cut her off.


And that’s that.

End Part Three.

See you next time with a proper single-episode recap! In the meantime, this show is:

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