It feels like we’ve been discussing rumours of Ewan McGregor’s return to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi for as long as Disney has owned Star Wars at this point—but until earlier this year, for much of that time the idea was specifically floated as a brand new spinoff Star Wars movie. Now it’s a TV show, and according to its director, Deborah Chow, that’s for the best.
Thanks to a jaw-dropping episode of The Mandalorian last week, Chow is now the first woman to officially direct a live-action piece of Star Wars storytelling. (About damn time.) But her future in the galaxy far, far away will take her away from the seedy underworld of outer rim bounty hunting and back to the rise of the Empire (the two-decade period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope) for the still-untitled Obi-Wan TV series set to arrive on Disney+. It’s a period of Star Wars history that Chow believes needs the space of a TV show to breathe.
“The situation is so complex both for [Obi-Wan] personally and in a way, the state of the galaxy, you sort of need time to explore it,” Chow recently told the New York Times in a discussion about her time with The Mandalorian. “And to be honest there are loads of other stories within that period as well, it’s quite a few years. There is so much going on between [Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope] that hasn’t been explored. The idea of being able to go into a character journey plus the politics and plus all the vastness of the Empire and what’s going on is exciting just because it feels like a proper period of history and sometimes that is hard to do in two hours.”
There have already been tons of stories told in this fertile time period in Disney’s updated canon—from games like Jedi: Fallen Order, to Marvel’s comics, and then TV shows and films like Rebels, Rogue One, and Solo. But Chow’s right that the premise of this period in Star Wars history—the changing of the guard from the Republic to the Galactic Empire, the birth of resistances to this new order, and struggling hidden Force users comprehending the seemingly total eradication of everything they knew—has enough to warrant exploration at a measured pace.
And that’s even before you get to Obi-Wan’s journey itself, which has likewise had some exploration here and there in the comics, but is still ripe for mining over the course of a series.
A Star Wars Story-style movie that attempted to do all this would inevitably come up short—it’d have to focus on either Obi-Wan or the state of the galaxy around him in order to not serve up undercooked examinations of both, and you’d always be left wondering what could’ve been said with more time. A show that runs for six to eight hours or so can do so much more simply because it has that time to do so, and can really dig deep into what all these status quo upheavals mean not just for Obi-Wan on a personal level, but for the people around him likewise surviving in a tumultuous time.
We’ve taken a long, long road to eventually get to a new Obi-Wan Kenobi story from Lucasfilm. But if that long wait has meant we’re going to get a much more in-depth take on this premise, it’ll have been worth it. We’ll bring you more on Chow’s plans for Obi-Wan as and when we learn them.