The big news about the new Disney+ Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is that unlike the vast majority of the Star Wars films, this story features parents making healthy decisions about their kids. Like The Mandalorian did in 2019, Obi-Wan Kenobi seems intent on giving families a power fantasy about protecting our kids in a way the Star Wars films never could. Here’s how Obi-Wan’s most shocking character addition balances the Force perfectly. Major Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Obi-Wan.
Just like The Mandalorian gave Mando Baby Yoda, the two-episode debut of Obi-Wan Kenobi gives old Ben (Ewan McGregor) a tiny, adorable person to take care of. But, this isn’t some character we’ve never heard of. It’s Princess Leia!
The addition of 10-year-old princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome development in the grim storyline of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In case you’re confused, Obi-Wan takes place about nine years before the first 1977 Star Wars, in which Leia is 19. That’s why she’s 10 here, and, at first, still living with her parents Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and Breha Organa (Simone Kessell) on the planet Alderaan. But, of course, Leia isn’t biologically an Organa and was adopted by Bail and Breha as an infant after her mother Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) died in childbirth and her father, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christesen) turned into Darth Vader.
Leia is shielded from all of this information in the films, but the new series adds a nice layer to that. We see her parents making it very clear that she is very much their child, regardless of who her birth parents might have been. They don’t talk down to her, but they don’t give her too much information either. This is good parenting and renders Bail and Breha the most emotionally supportive and smart parents in Star Wars nearly by default.
But, that’s not all! Uncle Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) also comes across as a great parent in the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the original 1977 film, it was easy to scoff at Owen for holding Luke back, for wanting to keep him on the moisture farm. Obi-Wan (McGregor) even recalls this kind of thinking in the new series, accusing Owen of preventing Luke from seeing a wider galaxy, making it seem like Owen is a bad parent by not letting Luke have more experiences. However, Obi-Wan is a little bit wrong here. Luke is only 10-years-old at this point. Owen’s job at this point is simply to provide for Luke, keep him safe, and provide the kind of emotional support parents are supposed to provide. Obi-Wan playing the “cool uncle,” who drops off toys, is actually kinda messed up, and Owen calls him out on it. Big time.
Owen standing up to Ben in the first episode is an amazing and brave parenting moment. Correctly, Owen intuits that Obi-Wan only brings danger to his family, and to 10-year-old Luke in specific. When the Inquisitors threaten Owen’s life and the life of his family, he stands his ground and doesn’t betray Obi-Wan either. Again, in the original movie, our sympathies were with Luke and Obi-Wan, making Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru seem like an annoying plot inconvenience. But, what this new series is doing is showing the deeper truth underneath that.
If we believe that Luke and Leia are fully-formed, well-rounded characters then that means their family history is defined by way more than their biological father, Darth Vader. Even though this series is technically about Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, by introducing young Leia and by fleshing out her parents — and Luke’s parents — the show is moving toward more realism.
The larger Star Wars narrative may be obsessed with who people are related to by blood but in this galaxy, family isn’t defined by any of that. Even Old Ben himself briefly becomes a father figure for Leia in episode 2, or as she hilariously quips, “grandfather, maybe.” In the existing films and animated shows, Obi-Wan doesn’t really have a family. Anakin was kind of a son to him, but also a “brother.” In Obi-Wan Kenobi, we see Ben grappling with how to watch over that brother’s children — Luke and Leia — and what it takes to keep kids safe.
Of course, because this is Star Wars, the stakes are cranked way up. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something new going on here. In Obi-Wan Kenobi, the young heroes are still literal children, meaning the people making the decisions, and driving the adventure in this story, are, by default, the parental figures. It’s something Star Wars has never really pulled off before, and, if the rest of the series is as good, the famous space opera franchise will have finally taken its first step into a larger world.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney+. New episodes drop on Wednesdays, starting next week. The series will run for another five weeks.