On Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Has Lost a Step Or Two

On Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Has Lost a Step Or Two

Obi-Wan Kenobi is halfway over. That’s odd to say considering this highly anticipated Star Wars show has only been out in the world for less than a week but it’s true. Part III marked the midpoint of the six-episode series and, as such, things we may not have expected to happen so soon, did. That also left us wondering, what is really going on with all of this? Is that really…it? Let’s discuss.

Image: Lucasfilm
Image: Lucasfilm

After the end of the second episode of the show, it seemed pretty obvious this one would feature Darth Vader. What wasn’t obvious was that “feature” would be an understatement. Vader ostensibly starred in the episode, from his elaborate and cool costume fitting to a one-on-one with the ambitious Reva, and finally a deadly stroll through town and a lightsaber battle with Kenobi. There was so much Vader in the episode that it almost felt like too much too soon, no matter how cool it was to see him. And of course, hear James Earl Jones back as the voice of one of the most iconic villains in movie history.

That Vader stuff began very quickly. After Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), again, tries to contact Force Ghost Qui-Gon, we see Hayden Christensen as Anakin fitted with the Vader suit. The suit looks pretty crisp and clean all things considered, but I think that’s purposeful — to show us Vader hasn’t really been challenged at all up to this point. From his throne in his palace on Mustafar, Vader talked to Reva (Moses Ingram) and confirms that the Grand Inquisitor is, in fact, dead. He agrees to give Reva the role…if she can bring in Kenobi.

A very Vader episode.  (Image: Lucasfilm)
A very Vader episode. (Image: Lucasfilm)

After escaping in the previous episode, Kenobi and Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) land on a brand new Star Wars planet called Mapuzo. Which, if we’re being honest, kind of looks like a lot of other Star Wars planets, but that’s ok! At least it’s new. Kenobi explains that he’s been there before and the Empire has decimated it, giving the audience a chance to remember that, in this time period, many people — including Leia to an extent given her father’s role in the Senate — think the Empire can be a force for good.

After the person they’re supposed to meet with doesn’t show, and Kenobi has a vision of an uninjured Anakin, Leia breaks protocol (which seems to be a defining trait) and stops a transport driven by an alien named Freck, who is voiced by Star Wars fan and director Zach Braff. Freck isn’t convinced by the very unconvincing story “Luma” and “Orden” from Tawl tell him about getting lost in some random field, but he lets them board anyway.

After her meeting with Vader, Reva heads to the Fortress Inquisitorius on Nur (seen here for the first time in live-action, but it originally debuted as the final level in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order). There were treated to composer Natalie Holt’s excellent, menacing Inquisitor theme and we see more of the riff between Reva and the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang). The Fifth Brother thinks he deserves the title of Grand Inquisitor, but Reva’s communications with Vader puts her in the driver’s seat. She sends out probes across some possible mining routes hoping to find Kenobi, and it’s all very Empire Strikes Back.

Freck, played by Zach Braff (Image: Lucasfilm)
Freck, played by Zach Braff (Image: Lucasfilm)

Back on Mapuzo, we see that Freck has an Imperial symbol on the back of his transport. Leia and Kenobi lie that they’re also sympathetic to the Empire (“Nothing wrong with a little order, right?” Freck says) so, in theory, it shouldn’t be a big deal when a group of Stormtroopers comes on board. Leia and Kenobi show off their good, and bad, respectively improv skills trying to convince the troopers they’re harmless and friendly to the Empire, which somehow works. However, Leia can sense that Kenobi is hiding something — which, obviously to us, he is. She asks if he knew her mother ,and if he’s her father, to which he lies about the former but is honest about the latter. He also explains that he too was taken from his family at a young age and doesn’t remember much about them. Maybe he has a brother, Ben wonders, in a moment that made my jaw fall to the floor. Could there be more Kenobis out there? We’ve got three more weeks to find out.

As one might expect, being arguably the most famous hidden Jedi in the galaxy means the “Luma” and “Orden” from Tawl bit doesn’t last for long — and Kenobi is forced to fight his way out of a pickle. He defeats a few troopers, saves Leia, but there are just too many. They’re about to be captured when the Imperial officer in charge (played Indira Varma, later revealed to be named Tala) shoots the troopers. We learn that though she’s an Imperial officer, she long ago broke ranks for them and now helps Force-sensitive people, including Jedi, disappear. This process is called The Path, it leads to a planet called Jabiim — a reference to a world from the beloved Republic Dark Horse comics series, the site of a brutal warfront where Obi-Wan is missing, presumed dead for a period of time — and a Jedi named Quinlan helps out from time to time. Which, yes, is our confirmation that Clone Wars favourite Quinlan Vos is indeed still out there.

Indira Varma as Imperial officer/Jedi helper Tala (Image: Lucasfilm)
Indira Varma as Imperial officer/Jedi helper Tala (Image: Lucasfilm)

Just as Kenobi, Leia, and Tala are about to head towards their escape, Kenobi stops in his tracks. It’s like he’s sick and, in Star Wars, when a Force-sensitive person gets overpowered like that, we know what it means. Someone, or something, bad is nearby. And that’s when Darth Vader himself returns. He slowly walks through the Mapuzo village randomly killing and torturing people to the point where Kenobi sends Leia and Tala off on their own. He needs to keep Vader off Leia’s scent.

After some honestly not all that convincing cat and mouse, Vader finds Kenobi in some sort of quarry. As Vader ignited his red saber I couldn’t help but think “Is this really about to happen?” Which, it sort of did? But also didn’t. Instead of immediately engaging his old apprentice, Kenobi runs from Vader. He tries to get away, moving in and around the big piles of dirt. (Which, again, was this the best location for this epic scene? I was a little let down.) Vader is too smart though, and Kenobi is too old and out of practice, so a fight becomes inevitable. Red and blue lightsabers ignite and though the battle is nowhere near the ferocity of their previous encounter, there’s still something magical about seeing two lightsabers clash in the dark.

It’s a gorgeous scene, but Vader is just too powerful. He force chokes Kenobi, holding him in the air, and it should all be over. But Vader doesn’t want to just kill Obi-Wan, he wants to hurt him. Torture him. He ignites some spilled minerals and drags Kenobi through the fire. Obi-Wan screams just like Anakin did all those years ago. Vader is about to get his wish when Tala, who abandoned Leia even though she promised Kenobi she wouldn’t, shows up. She saves him and instead of pursuing, Vader turns and walks away.

A clash of the titans this was not. (Screenshot: Disney+)
A clash of the titans this was not. (Screenshot: Disney+)

This, obviously, was the moment of the series so far and frankly, a potential all-time Star Wars moment. Or at least it should have been. Maybe it was because Vader showed up so soon in the series or that the location was just so drab and uninteresting but it just didn’t work for me. Was Kenobi bathed in blue light as he tried to hide, cool? For sure. Same for Vader’s evil intentions once he corners Kenobi. But to let him go at the end when one person fired a few blaster shots just didn’t track. What is Vader’s deal? Hopefully, we’ll find out soon. And, you have to think, they’ll battle again.

Finally, because Tala specifically broke her promise to Kenobi and left Leia alone, that allows the cunning Reva to track her down relatively quickly, ending the episode with the strong implication that Darth Vader’s biological daughter is about to be kidnapped again — but this time, by one of his closest soldiers.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Part III had some solid moments but ultimately, for an episode that featured the long-awaited rematch between Kenobi and Vader, it felt a little underwhelming. Maybe that’s because the story had to come to a standstill for the showdown to happen. Nevertheless, with three episodes left, there is a whole bunch more story to tell, and not a lot of time.

Vader contemplating  (Screenshot: Disney+)
Vader contemplating (Screenshot: Disney+)

Random thoughts

  • What’s up with the fact the NED-B droid can’t talk? Was that some kind of not-so-subtle commentary about droid freedom? Something else? It made sense but since it got mentioned at least a few times, I was hoping for a bigger payoff.
  • When Kenobi and Leia were first walking on Mapuzo, was I the only one to get that Lone Wolf and Cub/The Mandalorian vibe? It sure seems like that’s becoming a pretty standard formula here. Star Wars loves a father figure and their surprise ward, I guess!
  • Though it should have been the Vader fight, for me the moment of the episode was Kenobi talking a bit about his family. That was just so magical and exciting to hear and we hope there’s more to it soon. Not like full-blown revelations, but a few more morsels.
  • I may not have loved the action of the Vader vs. Kenobi rematch but the writing was very strong. Vader saying “I am what you made me” and things like “Your pain has just begun” work on so many levels. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Obi-Wan and Vader leave things once this series is over.

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