I have to be honest with you. I think much of the Disney+ original content is terrible, especially the shows that expand the cinematic universes of both Marvel and Star Wars. Now, many of us know that Star Wars has been on a steady decline ever since it came under the Mouse’s roof and rule. If you don’t think so then I envy you but we will just have to agree to disagree there. Of all of the Disney+ Star Wars shows so far, I am forcing myself to enjoy Obi-Wan Kenobi the most but it’s been challenging for me.
Focusing specifically on the Obi-Wan show, it is hard not to love Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen returning to their respective roles but beyond that, the acting has been cringeworthy and the story just hasn’t done it for me. Among most of my gripes with Obi-Wan, besides feeling fan-servicy and offering a weak reason to justify its existence in the first place, I can’t stand how bad the acting is. Specifically that of Moses Ingram.
Reva “Third Sister” Sevander, who is played by Moses Ingram, is at first glance a troubled Sith follower and dark force user who is after Obi-Wan Kenobi so that she can please Darth Vader. Along the way, she orchestrates an elaborate plot to catch Kenobi while spewing awful cliched dialog while over-acting so far into contempt that I felt like I would never stop with the eye rolls (I feel the same with almost all of Book of Boba and with much of Mandolorian). Now, understand that no part of whom the actress is as a person nor the character herself is the problem. It is the acting and the acting only that is the issue. And despite having a very short resume of acting roles, she was fantastic in Queen’s Gambit so we know she can act. For that, we would reasonably place most of the blame on Deborah Chow for allowing those takes to make the final cut. But now, after getting to Obi-Wan’s fifth episode, I have found a way for the terrible acting to make sense in-universe.
In the fifth episode, Reva comes face-to-face with Obi-Wan after tracking him down and the two engage in a moment of civilized dialog where Obi-Wan discovers Reva’s secret- she was a youngling who watched Anakin Skywalker slay her fellow students and peers under Order 66. She manages to survive the ordeal by masking herself under the corpses of the other younglings so as to not be discovered by Anakin, who is pretty much Darth Vader without the machinery at this point. Since then, she has been fighting and clawing her way through the Empire’s ranks to reach the position of Grand Inquisitor for the purpose of getting close to Vader so she can kill him and get her revenge for the slaughter of the only family she ever knew. So, why is she after Obi-Wan? She blames him for not being there to save her and her peers and for abandoning them. Plus, she feels she has gotten this far on her own so she doesn’t need him which, to a point, is pretty much accurate.
That is some pretty dark stuff.
It is for this reason that I believe there is a certain level of meta-acting here. In my mind, I am telling myself that I no longer blame Ingram or Chow for the lousy on-screen presence but that this is just Reva herself acting and trying to come across as a believable bad guy to deceive them all. To reiterate, this means that Moses Ingram, who we know to be a good actress, is trying to act as a good guy (in her own way) who is impersonating what she sees as a bad guy to take down the biggest bad there is (aside from the Emperor). To clarify further, what I am saying is, Reva is the bad actress and not Ingram. If anything, this is a deeper layer of impressive acting from Ingram and it makes perfect sense if you don’t think too hard.
Knowing this, or at least telling myself this, definitely changes the perspective. Now, keeping all that in mind, I actually did sense some quality acting from Ingram in this episode when she chatted with McGregor and revealed Reva’s backstory. So, again, we have plenty of evidence that she is a good actress and because this was evident during her origin reveal, it further suggests that when Reva is being honest about her mission, the weight of her secret being lifted allowed her to show who she really is and what her true intentions are and therefore is seen as more genuine with a solid performance.
Look, all of our favorite actors and actresses have had a movie or two that sucked hard and made them look like amateurs. I get that it happens to the best of them but it sucks that Star Wars keeps having a bunch of missteps when it really should be homerun in every movie and every episode. Still, at least we got a cool twist with a stronger performance from Ingram and some Christensen face time. Lord Vader knows, we needed it.