In Part III, viewers got to see either the Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen/James Earl Jones)-Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) rematch or the Darth Vader-Obi-Wan Kenobi prematch, depending on how you want to define it. It’s the thing viewers have been excited about since Disney announced the series. However, the show wisely chose to eschew a huge action climax in favor of an ugly fight that saw Vader dominate his former master. Only Vader’s decision to torture Kenobi instead of quickly finishing the Jedi off gave Tala (Indira Varma) enough time to interfere. Her sniping proved enough to save the badly overmatched Kenobi and Vader, interestingly, chose not to pursue.
Meanwhile, Third Sister Reva (Moses Ingram) put aside her desire to ruin Obi-Wan long enough to stop Leia’s (Vivien Lyra Blair) escape. She murders the pilot set to escort Leia and Obi-Wan off-planet and seems poised to kidnap the child by episode’s end.
Worse Than Any Burn
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part IV opens with Tala rushing the near-delirious Jedi to Jabiim for a dunk in a Bacta tank (you may know the Bacta tank from its starring role in The Book of Boba Fett). The Jedi’s experience in the tank, however, proves too much. He’s beset by flashbacks to his drubbing last episode and moments of connection with his twisted padawan via The Force. Between the two, the physical healing isn’t enough to overcome the ongoing psychological wounds. Plus, he’s got a princess to save!
If saving her the first time was a challenge, though, getting to Leia this time is a needle in a haystack hunt with considerably higher stakes. She could be anywhere in the galaxy, for starters. Worse, wherever she is, she’ll be near, if not right next to, Reva. They need someone who shrinks the search radius a bit. Thankfully, Tala knows just the guy.
A New Ally
The answer is the initially reluctant to get involved Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). He lets them know any rescue mission will likely be akin to a suicide run. The princess’s been transported to the water moon Nur where she’s a prisoner in the Fortress Inquisitorius. As the name implies, that’s the Inquisitors’ home base and not the sort of place one simply strolls into without an invite.
Kenobi’s one possible avenue of entrance is Tala’s Empire credentials. Of course, there’s no guarantee those credentials are still current after last episode. Even if they haven’t been, they’ll still need a way to the world and some kind of support to make a safe getaway. That’s where Roken’s reluctance comes into play.
Kenobi’s frustration leads him to declare that Roken has no idea what the Empire can do. However, as it turns out, Roken has become quite familiar with their brutality. The Inquisitors discerned his wife was at least Force-sensitive, if not a Jedi, and took her out of his life. Reminded of that tragedy, Roken quickly changes his mind about helping.
The turn comes way too fast—it happens over the course of maybe four lines of dialogue and in about a minute—but Jackson plays it well. He resists sentimentalizing the moment, masking his pain by acting as though Obi-Wan offended his honor. It pairs with two other moments discussed below, highlighting how well the series has been in creating emotionally subtle but satisfying moments amongst the running and fighting.
Against All Odds
Despite some moments of friction, Tala’s credentials hold, allowing her to act as Obi-Wan's person in the chair as he creeps around the base looking for Leia. The princess, meanwhile, is doing her best to hold her own against Reva. While the Third Sister initially tries to break Leia’s hope, then attempts to create an emotional connection, she gives up on both quickly. Eventually, she decides to go the torture route.
This feels very on-brand for Reva. While Obi-Wan is a priority, there isn’t a ticking clock on the case. She has time to work either of her first two approaches a lot longer, making them more likely to succeed. Instead, she rapidly cycles through them and reaches for violence out of frustration instead. In addition to just being a grim way of business, it also encourages the princess to scream for help, enabling Kenobi to get a lock on his charge.
While Tala provides a distraction by claiming she has crucial information that Third Sister needs to hear right away, Obi-Wan quickly dispatches Leia’s Stormtrooper guards and frees her from the torture rack. While not as stealthy without Tala’s directions, a droid seeing Kenobi and Leia actually ends up beneficial, saving Tala from interrogation and likely execution by calling Reva away to find the Jedi.
Back in Fighting Shape
As Kenobi runs Leia through the Fortress in search of an escape, it doesn’t take long to see that the Jedi acquitting himself quite nicely against the soldiers and droids alike. While this could result from sloppy writing, given his performance last week, it seems more likely a confirmation of how Obi-Wan’s maelstrom of emotions affected him going into battle with the formerly known as Anakin.
Before that fight, the Jedi had shown himself to be fairly impressive with a blaster and his hands, taking down several foes with punches, tosses, and lasers. Against Vader, however, fear consumed him. Additionally, he was probably also still struggling with feelings of guilt. He was rusty, yes, but not that rusty.
This also addresses several fan complaints about how this weakened Kenobi could be the same as the one from various animated projects where he appeared to be competent and spry. The Jedi’s struggles with Vader were very much psychological. The Sith apprentice might well be the better fighter and wielder of the Force, but that’s not why it seemed such a lopsided fight.
Death is All Around
Death mars Team Kenobi’s successful escape. One of the two fighter pilots helping the Jedi, Tala, and Leia escape goes down thanks to a Force propelled transport box courtesy of Reva. The other pilot’s wordless sadness sells the aftermath as a kind of pain she was wholly unprepared to experience. Star Wars has sent so many pilots to early graves, but it rarely lingers on the effects, especially when it comes to minor characters.
Beneath the Fortress, Kenobi discovers an even more overwhelming reminder of the cost of battle. The Inquisitors have chosen to display a series of Jedi bodies encased in some kind of amber-colored substance. The dual tomb/trophy case makes it clear how many Jedi the group has cut down and how far they’re willing to go. A child is among the slain, arranged as though caught mid-run by the killing blow or shot. It’s perhaps one of the darkest moments for the franchise. Yet, the series lingers with it, refusing to quickly cut away or give Kenobi—or the viewers—some kind of splashy moment of emotional catharsis.
After last week’s high-water mark, this episode was bound to lack in comparison. That said, by focusing on movement and tension, Part IV doesn’t give viewers much chance to reflect on how it doesn’t compare to its predecessor. Kenobi’s growing lack of hesitancy to use the Force feels both exciting and organic, arriving just in time to set up what will likely be a significant action climax in the final episode.
This episode also features arguably the most visually striking scene in Obi-Wan Kenobi yet when the Jedi takes on two Stormtroopers in a dark room with only their white armor, the Fortress’s red lights, and Kenobi’s blue lightsaber stranding out against the black. It makes what would otherwise be a fairly underwhelming fight scene stand out.
While Kenobi and Leia have escaped, they’re hardly out of danger yet. Reva outfitted Lola with a tracker meaning the Empire is only moments away from heading back into the galaxy in hot pursuit. Worse, that also makes Roken’s outfit vulnerable, further putting the whole Path in danger of being exposed and destroyed by the Inquisitors or Stormtroopers.
Tim Steven is a sad tomato, Tim Stevens is three miles of bad road. He’s also a therapist, staff writer and social media manager for The Spool, and a freelance writer with publications like ComicsVerse, Marvel.com, CC Magazine, and The New Paris Press. His work has been quoted in Psychology Today, The Atlantic, and MSN Ireland. Feel free to find him @UnGajje on Twitter or in a realm of pure imagination.