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In the years since George Lucas gave us one more trilogy with the Star Wars prequels, numerous stories have explored the dark period that falls between Episode III and Episode IV in the franchise timeline. Whether we're talking about Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, or Jedi: Fallen Order, there's clearly still an appetite for stories set in that time when hope was in short supply. Next month, Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi will join their ranks.
The new series, starring Ewan McGregor as the title Jedi, might seem to have a fairly predictable setup due its place in the overall timeline. Obi-Wan, still smarting from the Jedi Order's defeat at the end of Revenge of the Sith, is thrust into a new adventure while in hiding on Tatooine, as he's watching over a young Luke Skywalker and dreaming of the day when the Jedi might rise again. There are notes of familiarity to that premise, and stuff like Rebels and Marvel's Star Wars comics have already given us glimpses of Kenobi's Tatooine exile, but Obi-Wan Kenobi writer Joby Harold promises that, when it comes to the character's new arc, it's not just about the familiar.
"Within that environment and that galaxy, his faith is tested," Harold told Entertainment Weekly. "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 the 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."
That transformation comes during a period that any longtime Star Wars fan will recognize as a very dark era. The few Jedi who are left in the galaxy are either in hiding or on the run, and Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen reprising his prequel role) and his Sith Inquisitors are viciously hunting down the ones who are still unlucky enough to be found. Add to that the ever-present rise of the Empire and the tightening of its grip around the galaxy, and it's easy to think you know what's coming, particularly when Obi-Wan's past is taken into consideration. We know what he's seen, what's endured, and what he's survived. The key to the new series, according to Harold, is knowing that, and then growing beyond it.
"Obi-Wan is defined by his past to a pretty great degree," Harold said. "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.
"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. 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."
Obi-Wan confronts his past when Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives on Disney+ May 27.