Obi-Wan Kenobi will focus on 'a time of darkness in the galaxy'
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Things looked pretty gosh darn bleak at the end of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. Poor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) had to watch his Jedi pupil Anakin slice off Mace Windu's arm, slaughter a bunch of younglings, Force-choke his own wife, and then, perhaps worst of all, attempt to defeat someone on higher ground. On higher ground!
Throw in the fact that the entire Clone War had been a savvy manipulation by a Sith lord, and that Jedi (and Varactyl!) were simultaneously killed all over the galaxy thanks to the diabolical Order 66, and times were tough… to put it mildly.
But could the mood be even dicier when things pick back up for Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi? It certainly doesn't sound peachy keen — at least according to series writer Joby Harold. "It takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, in a time of darkness in the galaxy," Harold tells EW. "The Empire is in the ascendancy. And all the horrors that come with the Empire are being made manifest throughout the galaxy. And the Jedi Order as we know them are being all but wiped out. So everything that was in the prequels has crumbled."
Well, that sounds terrible. As if it was not brutal enough for the Republic-turned-Rebellion to watch everything go to hell in Episode III, now it seems they've had to sit and watch the dark side consume all that it touches in both the inner and outer rim for a decade. But wait, it gets worse! "Those surviving Jedi, those that do survive, are on the run," explains Harold, "and they're in hiding. And Vader and his Inquisitors are chasing them to the end of the galaxy."
Such is the setting when we pick things up with our titular hero. Says Harold: "Within that hopeless fatalistic world, we find possibly the most famous of all our surviving Jedi in hiding struggling with that faith that defines the Jedi, and wanting to hold onto it and hoping to regain that faith within that sort of hopeless world."
It is that (literal) transition from hopeless to A New Hope for our titular hero that the new series hopes to explore. "Within that environment and that galaxy, his faith is tested," Harold says. "And he goes on a journey that allows him to travel from that character that we saw in the last of the prequels, where [McGregor] really felt like he was embodying Obi-Wan Kenobi to a pretty extraordinary degree, and ends with him as the more finished article that Sir Alec Guinness gave to the world in A New Hope. And so in this very specific time in the history of Star Wars, when the Jedi are on run, we get to sort of stand next to and watch Obi-Wan as he runs the gauntlet and has to survive a pretty extraordinary experience."
Of course, getting to that place of Episode IV Zen master may not be so easy, especially for a guy who not only is dealing with the pain of losing his pupil to the dark side and still feeling responsibility for that, but is also coming to terms with leaving that former friend burning to death on Mustafar after chopping off his three remaining limbs.
"Obi-Wan is defined by his past to a pretty great degree," Harold acknowledges. "I mean, Obi-Wan and Anakin [Hayden Christensen] share so much screen time together. They're so close that everything that he's experienced and everything that happened with Anakin cannot help but define him. And we meet a man who's very much defined by that history, whether he wants to be or not."
How Obi-Wan handles that history, especially when he is drawn out of hiding to face the dark side once again, will be the key. "Part of the journey of what he goes through is reconciling that past and coming to understand it and coming to understand his place in it," Harold says. "And that journey and the places he has to go emotionally as well as physically, and some of those battles he has to fight, are very much to do with facing that past and understanding who he was, his part in his own history, in the history of others."
And that history will play out when Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts May 27 on Disney+.
Order a copy of EW's final print edition here, or find it on newsstands now.
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