It is difficult being a Star Wars fan - whether it be chronology, or the fact that one of the most harmful things for the IP was its creator George Lucas himself.
It has been hard to find the right creative leads to helm entries in the Star Wars franchise. Every big name hire since Disney's acquisition has mostly been misses rather than hits. Unfortunately, for the time being, Obi-Wan Kenobi falls into the former.
Unlike the other two smash hit Star Wars series, Kenobi has no creative input from either Jon Favreau or Dave Filoni. All the money probably went to hiring John Williams to do the score again.
The beginning two episodes are too mired in connecting the original and prequel trilogies into the current chain of events. Add to that, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series takes place in the time period between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, ten years after the final instalment of the prequel trilogy and around four years before the latter.
The Empire has firmly cemented its hold on the galaxy although many planets of the Outer Rim remain semi-governed on the fringes of charted space. Obi-Wan has eked out a surreptitious existence on Tatooine as a butcher. He lives in a cave in close proximity to Luke Skywalker's foster home. Every day is the same and it is heavily implied that Obi-Wan has cut himself off from the force to avoid detection from the Jedi hunter Inquisitors.
Ewan Mcgregor shines as the titular leading man and every scene he is in, feels like he just took a quick break from the set of the prequel trilogy. It is a joy to see the actor embody Obi-Wan as the magnanimous former general of the clone wars. Unfortunately, much like Ewan's last outing as the Jedi Master, he is being hamstrung with a bad script.
The pacing in the show suffers greatly. It is evident that the script went through too many writers' hands for it to maintain any intrinsic throughline of auteurship. Take for example The Mandalorian, each episode feels like a short standalone story unto itself with bits of overarching plot points peppered in subtly and deliberately. Obi-Wan does the exact opposite.
The series is trying to carry the entire emotional weight of the Star Wars canon on its shoulders. This can be proved by the fact that Disney did not release the Kenobi series piecemeal like The Mandalorian, because just the first episode would not have been a satisfying standalone watch.
This brings us to the next point, even within the first two episodes the series manages to muddy the waters of established continuity. This does not bode well for any Star Wars fan because causal relationships and the chain of events are already a chronological mess in the lore.
In terms of cinematography and set design, however, the crew has outdone themselves. The planet of Daiyu (which we see in the second episode) can rival science-fiction set pieces from any of the other big name IPs. Creature designs and CGI are blended so masterfully that nearly almost nothing breaks immersion; except the action sequences.
The action sequences, if you can even call it such, are not well done at all, wire work feels very evident and Obi-Wan's action sequences leave a lot to be desired. Unlike the Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian, none of the action sequences feel dangerous or visceral.
The Third Sister's parkour sequence especially feels very janky, The Matrix had better stunt coordination and rotoscoping effects. All danger feels manufactured and as an audience member you never feel any sense of urgency, which somehow manages to infect all the main characters as well.
There are so many moments which should feel terse and high stakes, but all we are treated to is our main characters surviving solely based on plot armour.
Having said all of the above, the series still has four more episodes to turn it around. As a huge Star Wars fan I have to hope that most of the budget and care has been funnelled directly towards the last four episodes.
George Lucas obviously imagined his sci-fi epic as a space opera, but the Star Wars franchise tells better stories when it shirks that genre aside and goes for more world-building and individualistic themes.
Obi-Wan contains too much of Lucas's DNA and gets way too mired in making sure Obi-Wan is anchored to all the film trilogies. It genuinely feels like the live action arm of Star Wars is trying to redeem, rectify and justify those trilogies. I'm certain that such an undertaking is possible, but I also feel that it is too big of a burden to put on the Obi-Wan Kenobi series; and afterall, hasn't Kenobi been through enough?