Give Kenobi a Chance | National Review

Give Kenobi a Chance | National Review

Ewan McGregor in the first trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Star Wars/YouTube)

In response to Obi-Yawn Kenobi

Rian Johnson and Jack Butler share a flaw: They don’t understand Star Wars.

Admittedly, this is a graver indictment of Johnson, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi‘s director, than it is of Jack, the submissions editor of National Review. But nevertheless, the latter has seen fit to weigh in — hatefully, I might add — on the trailer for the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi show. This is what he objects to:

Jack suggests, without pointing to anything from the trailer, that he expects the series to be nothing more than a retread. It’s a remarkable enough thing for him to have denounced a series he hasn’t yet seen as stale and decadent, but it’s also ignorant in this case.

While the sequel trilogy — of which Johnson’s entry fits in as the ugly duckling and middle chapter — was inexplicably undertaken without a unified vision of the themes and plotlines that would dominate it, and thus ended up relying upon its forbearers to fill in its many gaps, other mediums have been a wellspring of new characters, and concepts.

Take the Inquisitors, the Jedi-hunters first featured in the animated Rebels show, who now play a prominent role in the Kenobi trailer. Jack brushes off the role they and other novel aspects of the show might play — “there may be new some new elements introduced, some new characters explored . . . But . . . ” — without fully considering the implications of their involvement.

Indeed, while he mocks the feasibility of reconciling a line from the original Star Wars ( “When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master”) with the anticipated duel between Darth Vader and Kenobi in the series, he fails to see how Vader acting as teacher to a legion of red-saber wielding Force users can give new meaning and credence to the line.

But in levying his mistaken claim of sameness, Jack also misses the more important point: Star Wars shouldn’t be about telling stories completely untethered from those that have already been told. It’s about capturing that ineffable feeling that grabs you by the lapel when John Williams’s score hits, exploring the themes of family, brotherhood, betrayal, and ambition from within its singularly unique universe, and yes, to an extent, entertaining fans of the franchise. It didn’t need the wholesale makeover Johnson gave it in The Last Jedi, and it need not treat Ewan McGregor’s beloved portrayal of the beloved titular character like a leper now.

Obi-Wan Kenobi shows great promise, and if the reasons why have to be explained to you, you might be beyond redemption.

Jack confesses to being “something of a Star Wars hater now,” but I suspect that he has never understood it for what it is.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.