Such debate is inevitable, but hardly anything here offset the pleasures of seeing Ewan McGregor back and completely owning the title role, and a light-saber rematch with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) that delivered spectacularly on that promise.
In a way, the show’s real triumph was its initial, very clever ruse in focusing not on a young Luke but rather a pint-sized Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), establishing a bond between Kenobi and the princess while creating a rousing excuse to bring him out of hiding and back into the world of adventure and heroism.
That was only the tip of the project’s inventiveness, which included cleverly employing a flashback to provide Christensen actual screen time without being buried under that Darth Vader armor or totally ceding his voice to the great James Earl Jones.
The creative spark extended to the finale, and give enormous credit to the writing team (Joby Harold, Andrew Stanton and Hossein Amini collaborated on the script) and director Deborah Chow, who — having also worked on “The Mandalorian” — has more than earned the right to play a major role in Lucasfilm’s plans should she choose to continue operating in this part of the cinematic galaxy.
Even anticipating some of the flourishes, it was still thrilling — and for some perhaps chill-inducing — to hear Kenobi echo his previous words to Anakin by saying “I will do what I must” before their muscular duel, or to see Obi-Wan reunited with the ghostly specter of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), a meeting foreshadowed since the end of “Sith.”
Ditto for Vader telling his former master, “You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did,” a line that feeds directly into Kenobi’s explanation to a more grown-up Luke about his father’s fate in “A New Hope.”
Although the ending certainly felt neat and conclusive, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Disney and Lucasfilm plot a return to Tatooine if McGregor’s willing. Because while fans might have their own ideas about when it’s time to ride into the twin sunset, after a project as polished and commercially marketable as this one, well, studios will do what they must, too.