Ahoy, kids. We’re back with another Obi-Wan Kenobi recap. Considering the fourth episode (literally titled, Episode IV) replicated the events of A New Hope, is it fair to assume Episode V will be this season’s Empire Strikes Back? Let’s find out!
We open with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) standing in what looks like the Jedi temple on Coruscant. He’s adorned in the rat tail look from Attack of the Clones, so this is supposedly young, whiny Anni before he grew out his hair and became older, mopey Anni — despite Christensen looking like a well-groomed 40-year-old. Obi-Wan appears and somehow looks much younger than his Padawan. Evidently, Ewan McGregor is on the Tom diet (as in Tom Cruise and Tom Brady).
So, yes, after hours of waiting, we finally get our first flashback to a younger iteration of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, which is what many of us expected way back in the first episode. (I swear I won’t bitch and complain throughout this recap, but I also can’t promise I won’t bitch and complain throughout this recap. Positive thoughts. Seriously, though, there’s a lot of great stuff in this episode worth celebrating.)
MORE: Lightyear Review: A Beyond Fun Film
Anyways, the two Jedi engage in a semi-serious training regime throughout the episode that occasionally interrupts the main storyline and inspires present-day Obi-Wan to take certain actions based on his knowledge of young Anakin (you know, like Slumdog Millionaire).
Back to our main story, Darth Vader stands on the bridge of his ship The Executor — at least, I think it’s The Executor, though it’s hard to tell as we don’t get any external shots of the massive vessel — and is informed by a nearby Admiral that “the Third Sister is here.” Reva wanders in and informs Lord Vader that the tracker she placed on Leia’s droid has revealed the location of a hidden rebel base. “Cool,” Vader says before granting the young Inquisitor the rank of Grand Inquisitor. (The scenes between Reva and Vader are always so awkward. He says something and pauses long enough for her to respond, but never gets a reply. After a few beats, Vader shrugs and continues. Rinse and repeat.)
Back with Obi-Wan (and he is indeed Obi-Wan Kenobi and not ole Ben Kenobi), our heroes return to Jabiim and delight a small crowd of bad extras stolen from The Matrix sequels with news that Leia is okay. The good guys care, you see? Though I don’t recall anyone but the old-looking dude (Jan Dodonna) displaying any emotion when adult Leia returned safe and sound to the rebel base on Yavin at the end of A New Hope. Maybe people are just more bitter in the future?
Among the crowd is that
goofy Marvel fake Jedi character Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani). Obi-Wan is surprised to see him. “I had nowhere else to go,” Haja says. “Right after I saw you, I got into a fight with that scary lady Inquisitor. Now, I’m wanted by the Empire.” (Actual dialogue.) I mean, if the galaxy is enormous enough to hide Obi-Wan Kenobi, it stands to reason that Haja could ditch the Jedi robes and go to one of a billion planets and blend right in.
RPG-like character Obi-Wan then wanders over for a chat with Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) while those helpless extras mill about the cheap set behind them. Obi-Wan wants to
get the hell out of there before Vader arrives return Leia to Alderaan but must wait for the helpless extras to evacuate first. Roken plans on using an old trade route to evacuate the people. They delayed the evacuation because, well, Obi-Wan needed to find Leia. Now, they only have a few hours. “Cool,” Obi-Wan says.
Back on the ship that might be The Executor, Reva informs Vader they have reached Jabiim (hopefully, she doesn’t come out of hyper-speed too early). “Lock down the facility,” Vader grumbles (again, I’m astonished at how great his voice sounds). “If we seal them in now, they can hold out for days,” Reva objects. “If we cannot break them …”
“It is not them we need to break,” Vader declares.
On Jabiim, Leia’s stupid evil droid engages in sabotage that effectively shuts the docking bay doors, trapping our heroes inside the base. If that weren’t enough, Roken nonchalantly states that an Imperial Destroyer just appeared. “[Reva] must have tracked us,” Tala (Indira Varma) says. “It’s not [Reva], it’s Vader,” Obi-Wan retorts. “He’ll attack next. He hasn’t the patience for a siege.”
You’d think this would be an opportune moment to show Anakin losing his shit in a similar situation during the Clone Wars, but since this show has a budget of approximately $26.19 (and apparently only had Christensen for a day or so of filming) we jump back to the aforementioned fight sequence on Coruscant. Anakin grows more impatient, choosing brawn over serenity. He actually looks like he wants to hurt his master, raising a serious question: What if Obi-Wan sneezed during one of his Padawan’s attacks and lost an arm or a leg?
MORE: Jurassic Park Movies Ranked Following Jurassic World Dominion
Back in the present predicament, Obi-Wan explains they (meaning he and the helpless extras) don’t need to fight their attackers but do need to hold them off. (Again, this show enjoys borrowing important plot points from The Last Jedi.) “If we defend our position together, then by the time they get inside we’ll be gone.” I guess that makes sense? The speech works and everyone gets to work (a pair of aliens touch heads to further impart their helplessness) just as a pair of transports land somewhere offscreen and unload a legion of Stormtroopers. Reva also arrives in her own ship (seems like a waste of fuel, but bad guys gotta make an entrance) and immediately kicks off the siege. Naturally, our villains use a gun that’s big enough to be foreboding but far too small to destroy the outer doors, giving our heroes just enough time to fix their big door problem — and simultaneously give actress Vivien Lyra Blair something to do in this episode.
“Haja will you keep an eye on her,” Obi-Wan asks.
“I am not a babysitter, Ben,” the faux Jedi replies in a Marvel-ish sort of way.
Obi-Wan heads to a corner to listen to a private hologram voice mail from Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and likely spends the entire message determining just how much he should tell him about this f***ed-up mission. “If [Vader’s] found you, if he’s learned of the children … if I don’t hear from you soon, I’ll head to Tatooine,” Organa says. “Owen will need help with the boy.” Just a quick tip to anyone who wants to drop vital clues in a voice mail that may or may not reach the recipient: don’t do it. I mean, imagine if Reva had gotten ahold of this incriminating message …
Obi-Wan suddenly realizes his great error: Disney marketed this show around me and a young Luke Skywalker. I’ve got to get back to Tatooine! Maybe there’s still time to rectify this series after all.
Before the big battle begins, Tala tells Obi-Wan her sad tale. The Jedi Master listens quietly, probably thinking, “Lady, you don’t know pain.” She laments losing 14 people (including six children) to Inquisitors under her watch. (How, exactly? The Inquisitors suck!) Meanwhile, the entire galactic republic fell due to Obi-Wan’s incompetence. Apples and oranges, I suppose. Anyway, now Tala has a reason to
die a noble death fight real hard.
With that BS out of the way, Obi-Wan gets back to the task at hand and attempts to slow Reva down through the power of intimate conversation. He touches the door and presses his eyes shut… I’m not sure why, but the trick works and suddenly he knows everything about the young Inquisitor. And yes, we were all correct: she was a youngling during that whole Order 66 fiasco and saw Anakin Skywalker (as Darth Vader) hilariously sidestep Jedi Knights to kill all the younglings. (This is such a bizarre plot point in Revenge of the Sith. Vader is a bad guy, but having him straight up murder kids was a careless decision on George Lucas’ part. Then again, I suppose he does blow up planets later on … so …) “You’re not serving him, are you,” Obi-Wan asks suddenly. “You’re hunting him.” Wut.
Obviously, we knew this was coming but there’s something, ah, off about this reveal. A key problem with this show is a lack of a true villain. With Vader relegated to the sidelines, Reva was supposed to be the one creating tension. Except, because she’s a good guy pretending to be a bad guy, the writers couldn’t have the character do anything that despicable. As such, we never feel threatened by Reva, who subsequently comes across more as a nuisance than an actual threat. I don’t mind the character arc, but imagine if she had originally set out to stop Vader and slowly succumbed to the Dark Side. At some point (like, say, during the above conversation with Obi-Wan) she realizes just how far she has fallen and ultimately decides to do the right thing. Just a thought.
Anyways, Obi-Wan wants to help Reva but still doesn’t know if he can kill Anakin
unless he has the high ground. Ole Ben isn’t against maiming and burning a former ally, but don’t ask him to kill. (Also, wasn’t Obi-Wan burned a few days ago? Are there not going to be any repercussions stemming from that injury?) “I don’t need your help,” Reva says before slashing the door open with her lightsaber.
Admittedly, the action scene that follows is pretty awesome. Obi-Wan fends off the legion of Stormtroopers with his own lightsaber while the helpless extras offer blaster support from the back of the set. (The camera shakes to show the futility of the situation.) Tala’s slow-ass droid gets its own big moment, resulting in the second saddest droid death of the entire franchise. Seeing her metal friend drop is too much on Tala, who makes like Vasquez and blows herself to smithereens using a thermal detonator (#nostalgia).
A quick flashback to Obi-Wan’s fight with Anakin helps our Jedi hero determine that he needs to give himself up in order to aid the helpless extras. Which he does. Cool.
Leia, meanwhile, fiddles with wires.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Obi-Wan comes face-to-face with
Vader Reva. The pair exchange scowls and then Reva proclaims that Vader is coming. “You’re not bringing him to me,” Obi-Wan says. “I’m bringing him to you.” Is this the first time Obi-Wan has impacted his own storyline? “There are families back there. Children,” Obi-Wan notes in front of a bunch of nearby Stormtroopers. “Are you going to let him do it again? We could end this together.”
“What makes you think he won’t see it coming,” Reva asks.
“Because all he’ll see is me,” Obi-Wan strikes back.
Reva orders two — yes, two — Stormtroopers to haul Obi-Wan away. (The show seems to think we’re holding our breath wondering whether Reva will turn to the good side, even though we’ve known where this plot point was going from the opening tip-off.)
We’re treated to another flashback. Anakin easily overcomes Obi-Wan. “Your need for victory blinds you, Anakin,” Obi-Wan says … causing doubt to wash over the
old young man’s face.
Back to the present, Vader practically skips with delight through his army of Stormtroopers. He tells Reva he will bring Obi-Wan in himself, but, alas, Obi-Wan has somehow escaped his prison escort. Who could’ve seen that coming? (I’m pretty sure Reva did this on purpose, but who knows.)
Leia, meanwhile, fiddles with wires a little more before realizing her evil red droid is in fact evil. She fixes the dumb toy and then manages to get the docking doors open. For some reason, our helpless extras aren’t on the escape craft. I mean, since there was no Plan B, they probably should have just hopped on the ship and waited for freedom or certain death to greet them. I guess it doesn’t matter. By the time Vader arrives, everyone has boarded the escape vessel in record time. The first transport is away.
Except, Vader uses his immense Force power to destroy the craft Galen Marek style. (Composer Natalie Holt finally gives us music that at least resembles the Imperial March.) This sequence is pretty great. But wait, there’s more! The Sith Lord rips open the hull and peers inside. Empty. And then another ship (apparently parked out of frame) takes off. Vader realizes his great blunder (his brief pause killed me) and can only watch (?) as the helpless extras (and Obi-Wan) take off into space. I mean, he could probably alert the nearby Star Destroyers … or use the Force to pull the ship down again … but then he would catch Leia and that would screw everything up, right?
Instead, Vader realizes he’s been duped by his former master — and it’s not the first time. Indeed, another flashback reveals how Obi-Wan outsmarted him all those years ago! Ah, Vader, you’re still just the learner.
Reva decides now is the perfect time to strike. Except, Vader knew she planned to betray him all along. A pretty gnarly fight occurs between the pair in which Vader presses “Y” to deflect her double-bladed-saber attacks using his Force power. At one point, he takes her blade, splits it in half, and gives her a piece (awwwww). The two continue fighting. Reva flips through the air like Yoda but can’t land a blow. Vader tosses his lightsaber, misses, then blocks Reva’s next attack with the Force and calls back his own saber. That moment made my head explode. (No shit, this sequence was actually really well done. Why can’t the whole show be like this? This one moment alone made Reva more badass than any of the previous four episodes. Come on!)
Now wielding two sabers, Vader approaches the young Inquisitor. For a moment, I think he’s going to resort to the ole decapitation method Anakin used on Count Dooku all those years ago. Instead, he stabs her. “Did you really believe I did not see it, youngling,” Vader snarls. (Theoretically, this means he knows about Leia too, right?) And then the big twist (unless you’ve seen Star Wars: Rebels): the Grand Inquisitor is alive! And, apparently, behind this whole charade? Was this the plan from the get-go? Did the Grand Inquisitor go to Vader immediately after his “death” and set about ruining Reva’s reputation? Shouldn’t Vader be pissed at the Grand Inquisitor seeing how his plan to capture Obi-Wan failed? I mean, Obi-Wan got away again — that tidbit won’t exactly play well during a debriefing.
Since Vader and the Grand Inquisitor are bad guys (and seeing how we have one more episode to fill), Reva is left alive in the dirt where she discovers Obi-Wan’s cell phone. I guess we’re supposed to believe the former Inquisitor will chart a course for Tatooine to capture/kill Luke, presumably as a giant “f– you” to Lord Vader. “Something’s wrong,” Obi-Wan says, echoing what we all say when we leave our cell phones at home.
We linger on Luke sleeping in his bed for a spell before cutting to credits. Needless to say, shit just got real.
Okay, so, this episode was great. Some of the production values were a little wonky, but the action was well staged and I didn’t notice any glaring dumb moments. (That could change as the week wears on and more reactions come out. I’m too easily delighted by Star Wars that I need someone else to point out the numerous inconsistencies.) Obi-Wan behaved like Obi-Wan, Vader was Vader (and greatly supported by the appearance of Hayden Christensen as Anakin), and Reva finally found her footing. That final fight sequence was exciting and gave Vader an opportunity to do things we hadn’t seen the big guy do before. Great stuff!
One more episode to go. Will this show continue its positive trajectory and go out with a bang? Or will it explode into a glorious mess like an Ewok in a microwave? Tune in next week to find out!
ODDS AND ENDS
- Everyone knew Reva would end up turning against Vader, but this latest plot development (going after Luke) is rather unexpected. I assume this is the last time we see Vader because he can’t go to Tatooine, right? So, will it be Obi-Wan v. Reva in the grand finale? Or, maybe Obi-Wan teams up with Reva to thwart Vader’s attempts to locate Luke … lots of ways this could go, which is rather exciting.
- Look, the first several episodes of this series were extremely lackluster. Bad acting, bad production design, bland action, and villains … then you get an episode like this that checks all the boxes and delivers quality entertainment. Obi-Wan is still light-years from the blockbustery feel of Stranger Things and nowhere close to the spectacular action seen in The Boys, but it’s a lot better than Disney has delivered thus far. I still think these Star Wars productions deserve a little more care (and money), but at this point, I’m just leaning on as many positives as I can find.
- Obi-Wan still hasn’t been given an opportunity to really contemplate Vader’s existence. After their first battle, the series dove head first into action. That’s fine, but it would’ve been great to see a scene or two where the pair connect via the Force; or engage in some sort of conversation. Maybe that moment still happens.
- I’m still holding out for a Liam Neeson (or Yoda) cameo.
- I honestly thought we’d see Vader on Coruscant. Again, that could still happen — the Emperor is slated to appear, right? Though, we’re running out of time!
- Finally, I’m not the biggest prequel fan. I appreciate George Lucas’ creative ambition and do believe Episodes 1, 2, and 3 are far better than any of the Disney Star Wars entries (save for, perhaps, Rogue One), but something about those films doesn’t quite work, and they continue to disappoint all these years later. Yet, as soon as Hayden and Ewan appeared together in this episode of Obi-Wan, I was mesmerized. Maybe it’s nostalgia or the hope that they get it right this time. Either way, I’m always rooting for Star Wars to succeed. No matter how many times it kicks me in the balls.