Obi-Yawn Kenobi | National Review

Obi-Yawn Kenobi | National Review

The Star Wars fan-service machine churns along. Behold: a trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi, a forthcoming Disney+ series depicting events in the life of the famous Jedi between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope:

Given that prequel Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor is, well . . . alive (though that hasn’t stopped Disney before), and Disney (since 2012, the owner of Lucasfilm) has lots of money, the existence of this series — set to premiere in May — is not much of a surprise.

In fact, we can probably expect little in this series to be a surprise. In 2020, when Ross Douthat found himself turning toward the Star Wars prequels for their purported anti-decadent spirit, I argued that he was mistaken:

To a person concerned with decadence — a kind of comfortable yet staid cultural holding pattern in which an already-existing civilization circles endlessly around its past achievements without generating anything new — novelty is high praise. To bestow upon the prequels this honor, even if they failed to achieve it properly, is a bold claim. It is also an incorrect one. It is wrong on its face, belied, in the first place, by the very idea of a prequel, which is to elaborate upon things we already know. And it is further confounded by the evidence of repetition that abounds in the stories themselves. Oh, look: A Skywalker destroys the enemy’s command ship! That’s new! Oh, look: A Skywalker loses a limb! Unprecedented. Oh, look: a younger Jedi loses his mentor! Haven’t seen that before. The whole enterprise exists in conscious, deliberate, rote relation to what came before, relying on allusion and reference and what one could charitably call “symmetry” to fill in the gaps left by vacuous storytelling.

“In relying on their own form of cultural inheritance to the point of exhaustion and turning endlessly upon themselves,” I argued, “they represent a form of decadence all their own.” I expect this series to be similar. There may be new some new elements introduced, some new characters explored. Star Wars fans might find this all very wizard. But at the end of the series, Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker will all be alive, waiting for the events of A New Hope to begin.

I doubt, morever, that this series will attempt to reconcile some of the more nonsensical incoherencies of the prequel trilogy with the original trilogy. Such as the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi, supposedly in hiding, uses the airtight disguise “Ben Kenobi,” while also wearing the same Jedi garb he did before it was decreed that all Jedi be killed. Or how when Vader and Kenobi see each other again for the first time in two decades — unless this series retcons that — Vader calmly and confidently approaches the man who cut off his limbs and left him to burn by a fiery lava pit. “When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” Sure, George Lucas was definitely planning everything all along.

Anyway, I’m something of a Star Wars hater now that I can spend time in a richer, more entertaining desert. Come at me, Star Wars fans.

Jack Butler is submissions editor at National Review Online.

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About the Author

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