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Aug. 9, 2022

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Leia in focus in ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’

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When Bail Organa and his wife Breha reach out to Obi-Wan Kenobi for help rescuing their daughter, the senator from Alderaan tells the exiled Jedi master something “Star Wars” fans have long understood.

Princess Leia is just as important as Luke Skywalker.

It’s this statement that pushes Obi-Wan into action during the series premiere, and one that serves as “Obi-Wan Kenobi’s” thesis over the course of its season. The Disney+ series, which concluded Wednesday, expanded and reframed the legacy of Leia Organa, one of the franchise’s most beloved characters — and one whose central role in “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was kept hidden prior to launch.

A blaster-wielding princess who refused to be intimidated by even the galaxy’s most formidable villains, Princess Leia has been an essential part of the “Star Wars” tapestry since its debut: Leia sending a couple of droids to the desert planet Tatooine to seek Obi-Wan’s help in 1977’s “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” kicks off the adventure that launched the franchise.

Introduced as a fierce and capable leader of the Rebellion in the original trilogy, adult Leia (Carrie Fisher) is sassy, intelligent, brave, kind and committed to the cause, and has long commanded a legion of devoted fans. If it’s undeniable that Leia is one of the pillars of the franchise, though, “Star Wars” movies have always focused on telling stories about Chosen Ones. And unlike her brother Luke and father Anakin, Leia was not the Chosen One, so she was never the center of the narrative in the way they were.

Leia’s role in “Obi-Wan Kenobi” both expands her significance in the overall “Star Wars” story and recontextualizes existing canon in a way that deepens Leia’s imprint on the saga.

Directed by Deborah Chow, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” is set 10 years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” The 2005 film saw Obi-Wan, played by Ewan McGregor, face off against Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) after learning that his former apprentice has been seduced by the dark side of the Force.

The aftermath has left Obi-Wan broken and haunted by his perceived failures — a far cry from the calmer, wiser Obi-Wan portrayed by Alec Guinness in “A New Hope.” “Obi-Wan Kenobi” reveals that it’s Leia who helps pull Obi-Wan out of this rut and put him back on the path to be the hero he’s meant to be.

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