Jen and I took some well-deserved time together to watch the new season of Stranger Things and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and while we had some problems with each of them, I enjoyed them both very much.
Stranger Things took a long time to get things going over the first bunch of episodes, and there were several plotlines I could easily have done without. Everytime the action moved to Russia I looked at my watch and reached for my beer. My irrational dislike of Matthew Modine continues—how did that guy get cast by Kubrick? Oh, right, he’s a blank piece of wallpaper. They sidelined Maya Hawke into a caricature of anxieties, when she was the deepest character from last season. But the last two episodes paid off handsomely, and just to have a character play Master of Puppets on a trailer roof in the middle of Hell was worth the wait. When the other characters were bumbling around in the dark, Max took center stage and carried most of the show—and it worked. P.S. I’ve had enough Kate Bush, thank you.
Obi Wan Kenobi was also a fun ride, if you’re willing to look past the obvious plot holes (and as a superfan of the original Star Wars, I knew they would be Death Star-sized.) Yeah, it’s another “save the kid” setup—this, after the Mandalorian spent two seasons showing us how it’s done properly—but it was great to see these characters in a different, non-Lucas situation where a director understands how to engage with people. Ewan McGregor killed it. There’s a scene where he’s got to bust out the lightsaber and take out some Stormtroopers in a hallway, and after he’s dropped the last one, he does the badass twirl-lightsaber-and-return-to-ready-position thing from the Phantom Menace, and that’s when we know Shit Just Got Real. I about fell off the couch. The duel he has with Vader is probably one of the best swordfights in the whole series—Rey and Kylo going through the Red Guards might be the top of that list—but it had me on the edge of my seat, even though I know how the whole thing is going to end. My guess is that Ewan McGregor was thrilled to return to this simply for the opportunity to revisit the character and show what could have been possible twenty years ago. It’s not often in life we are offered a do-over; I’d say he made the best of it.