There's a recurring joke on Twitter about 'Star Wars' fans getting overly excited over the reappearance of vague, periphery characters from the franchise's wider universe of novels, comics, videogames, animated series, action figures and so on.
The kernel of the joke - Glup Shitto is the character's name - is that 'Star Wars' fans will get excited over literally anything, very often neglecting the fact that these characters were on the edges for a reason.
'The Book of Boba Fett' is a good example of this joke containing a few grains of truth. Boba Fett was, after all, the original Glup Shitto. He turned up in all of maybe three major scenes in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi', died by accident, and was written off in the movies. However, Boba Fett had a rich and varied backstory in the expanded universe which the casual viewer could have easily gone without knowing were it not for 'The Book of Boba Fett', which had some very cool moments but was largely a seat-warmer for the third season of 'The Mandalorian'.
The reason why we're bringing all this up is that this week's episode of 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' could be trivialised as Glup Shitto-ing. Except it can't. Not really. Darth Vader isn't some sideshow character who turned up in a half-decent novel in 1998, or was an unlockable character in a crap game for the PlayStation (He was, but that's irrelevant). No, Darth Vader was the very first human character to appear on screen in the entire franchise. After a huge fire-fight aboard the Tantive IV, he strides out into the corridor, inspects the dead bodies, steps over them casually and then proceeds to choke out some poor survivor for information. From the very get-go, Darth Vader is shown as a murderer. It's the intervening movies, novels, games, and so forth that have filled in the reasons as to why he's a murderer.
The last time we saw Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi cross paths was 'Revenge of the Sith', where his turn to the Dark Side was shaped not as some all-encompassing lust for power but as a tragedy of good intentions. The final scene between them saw Kenobi angrily blaming Vader / Skywalker for destroying the Jedi Order as he burned alive on the edges of a stygian river of molten lava. That their meeting again years later takes place around piles of ashes is a wonderful piece of visual metaphor. The lead-up, however, is just as powerful.
Ewan McGregor as Kenobi looks absolutely terrified when he sees Darth Vader walking toward him. That he's randomly killing people as he walks towards him almost feels like - pardon the pun - overkill. He's a terrifying enough figure as it is, but seeing him break someone's neck with a mere wave of his hand is on another level for 'Star Wars'. Before this, Kenobi sees his old friend in a vision out on the plains, robed in his Jedi garb and looking squarely at him with an expression of disappointment. Later, when he and Vader are squaring off, there's a line that some him up - "I am what you made me." Vader is a living, breathing embodiment of Kenobi's failure, walking around, killing people at random, and the very personification of all his fears.
That there's this kind of drama, that it's all so wrought with emotions and weighted performances is what's setting 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' apart from 'The Mandalorian' and 'The Book of Boba Fett'. Sure, they've had their moments and Pedro Pascal's done a lot with very little, but this is really meaty stuff for 'Star Wars' and it's not hard to see why Ewan McGregor came back. There's really a chance to play this character in a different light, one where he's not as slick and suave as he was, but rather someone who's wounded, frightened, unsure of himself, and constantly on the back foot. For his part, McGregor seems to be relishing it and doing it just terrifically well.
What's going to be interesting about this series is that we know they're going to meet again, and that the likelihood is that Obi-Wan Kenobi is not going to have some major catharsis by the end of this series. Sure, when Luke Skywalker meets him in 'A New Hope', he definitely seems to be quite contented and what have you, but he's certainly not at peace with what he's done. Moreover, he flat-out lies to Luke Skywalker about what happened to his father. Certain point of views, sure, but he lied about it.
If this episode does anything, it sets up the remaining three episodes for another rematch. Darth Vader clearly isn't going to let any of his hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even though he got some kind of satisfaction, it's not enough. As for Kenobi, he's so damaged by all of this - emotionally and physically - that he's going to need a lot more help if he's going to survive. Our guess is he'll get some of that next week.
- Mentioning Quinlan Vos is definitely a Glup Shitto, sorry fans
- Indira Varma deserves a shout-out for her performance, but was kind of looking forward to seeing her playing a complete shit
- Moses Ingram continues to do stellar work as the Third Sister, but how about we see her fight the other Inquisitors rather than trying to swindle them?
- No, Freck the backstabbing, Empire-loving driver wasn't voiced by Seth Rogen - but Zach Braff of 'Scrubs' fame