Obi-Wan Kenobi and his new allies must undergo a daring rescue mission in a more straightforward, yet powerful episode of the Disney+ show.
This morning brings the fourth episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, leaving us with just two more episodes to go! Picking up from the events of last week’s ass-kicking handed down by Vader, today’s episode presents a much more straightforward story while setting the stage for a final confrontation.
As I’ve done for the previous recaps, we’ll be diving head first into spoiler territory, so if you haven’t watched yet…maybe do that first. Catch up on our previous Obi-Wan Kenobi articles here: Part I and II, Part III.
Signs of Life
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part IV wastes absolutely no time in getting things going. The episode opens up with Obi-Wan being rescued and dunked into a Bacta tank on Jabiim (the safehouse location they were trying to get to previously). Given the history with previous shows, it seemed like a prime spot for some flashback action, but that’s not the case here and it’s not long before the story gets things moving.
That said, I absolutely loved how this brief scene was intercut with a parallel sequence of Darth Vader within his own Bacta tank. It’s a haunting moment that once again emphasizes the bond between the two characters and how they’ll always share a connection. More so, it expertly shows were Obi-Wan’s real damage lies…
While Vader’s injuries are clearly physical and drastically more significant than Obi-Wan’s within the tanks, we also know how easily he defeated his former Master. Yes, Kenobi was hurt in the encounter, but as we can see, those are wounds easily healed for him. The deeper damage is within his mind; something Tala (Indira Varma) even points out during the episode.
After a brief dunk in the tank, Kenobi wakes up and his first thoughts are for Leia’s safety. Reva captured her at the end of the last week’s episode, but this time around she’s hunting for something more beyond Kenobi. She wants the whole network of ‘The Path’ who’ve been helping Jedi and Force-sensitives hide from the Empire. Thus, she’s brought Leia to the Fortress Inquisitorius for interrogation.
Thankfully, The Path is decently connected with their intel (it probably helps they have at least one Imperial Officer spying for them), and is able to relay all this information to Obi-Wan Kenobi after a bit of coaxing. Those working for the Path aren’t exactly eager to compromise their positions, something heading directly to the Fortress would likely do. After a heartfelt appeal, Roken (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.) reluctantly agrees to help.
I’m definitely digging pretty much everything about The Path at this point. It’s an interesting idea, for one, but also shows how many different factions in the galaxy are willing to fight back against the Empire in different ways. As they say during the episode, the people running The Path aren’t soldiers, so it seems clear they aren’t aligned directly with the Rebel Alliance. They clearly have solid resources, however, and it’s neat to see how they’re completely dedicated to helping a niche group.
As for Roken himself, I loved how he has a personal stake in The Path, given his wife was a Force-adept, who was killed by the Inquisitors. More so, I’m interested in how he clearly refers to Kenobi as “General” at one point. Makes one wonder what Roken was doing during the Clone Wars that he would instinctively refer to a Jedi by their old designation. Perhaps his wife was a full Jedi who fought in the wars…Either way it’s a subtle reference, but does some excellent world-building in a short amount of time.
Always On The Move
This all happens within the first few minutes of the episode, the rest of which is dedicated to a rescue mission within the heart of Fortress Inquisitorius. Honestly, this aspect highlights one of the things I’m enjoying most about the show: pacing.
We all know the adage from George Lucas while he was filming the original movie, “Faster, more intense.” While it was mostly a direction given to actors, it’s an idea he continued to bring to every aspect of the storytelling process (making edits, streamlining plot threads, etc). More than any other filmmaker in Star Wars in recent years, it seems Deborah Chow has managed to embody that style better than anyone.
Where some have taken “Faster, more intense” to the extreme, where important backstory/character elements are glossed over in favor of driving the action and story forward. Too often the result is a lack of balance. A show/movie that feels engaging, but lacks the oomph at key moments (no, I won’t tell you which ones I’m referring to).
Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, strikes the perfect balance. It doesn’t waste time on the details that don’t matter. We don’t need to see how Kenobi was taken to Jabiim, dodging Vader and all the Imperials still on the planet. Nor do we really need to see all the prep work that went into Kenobi and Tala getting to Nur and inside the Fortress walls. I mean, we don’t have to see Kenobi getting dropped off into the ocean to know that’s what happened and how he ended up underwater.
Those are the kind of minor details the show allows audiences to fill in the gaps for themselves. It doesn’t assume you need those aspects to understand how characters got from point A to point B. Essentially, it’s cutting out the unnecessary exposition in order to focus on the story it wants to tell. Within in that, things are able to slow down at key character moments and provide necessary background as it pertains to the story being told.
It’s a delicate balance, because “Faster, more intense” doesn’t apply to every single scene. It’s more about “trimming the fat” so to speak and letting the actual story be told. Each episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi has done this in different ways; quickly establishing where all the elements of the episode are so it can tell a singular story. Yes, they’re all part of a bigger story for the series, but each episode also has a self-contained goal driving the characters/plot.
Breaking and Entering
The Empire’s arrogance is once again a failing point for them. As they assume no one would be dumb enough to break into the Inquisitors’ home base, they take few precautions in guarding against such a thing. Yes, it’s kinda funny considering this marks the SECOND time a Jedi survivor has broken into the Fortress (go play Jedi: Fallen Order), but whatevs.
While Obi-Wan sneaks around the base with the help of Tala, Reva is doing her best to extract information from Leia. Once again, we’re treated to the early version of Leia’s rebellious nature as she remains firm against Reva’s questioning. We even see how strong Leia’s mind is as she manages to prevent Reva from taking the information using the Force (as she did with Haja in Part II).
It’s a neat moment showing that Leia has always been strong-willed and eager to stand up to bullies. But also nice in that we get to see Reva in a slightly different capacity. For the most part she’s been a blunt-force rage machine, but here her cunning has to take the center stage; even dropping some tantalizing hints to her backstory for audiences. Of course, that doesn’t last too long before Reva decides to go with the tried and true torture method!
Obi-Wan steadily makes his way deeper into the Fortress, making for a tension filled sequence as it jumps back and forth between him dodging seek droids and Stormtroopers, while Tala/Leia deal with their own problems. I enjoyed how it was presented, giving all three of them their own points of danger that kept me on edge throughout.
Things come to a head as Obi-Wan stumbles across the macabre room (or “tomb” as Obi-Wan says) containing the many various Jedi/Force-sensitives the Inquisitors have captured over the past decade. It’s both a terrifying and heartbreaking moment. I mean, it’s bad enough to have Inquisitors hunting down Jedi, but seeing them display their kills as trophies is some twisted shit.
We know Inquisitors have used the bodies of Jedi to lure out others (Luminara Unduli in Star Wars Rebels)…So maybe that’s why they’re all hanging around there. Hell, perhaps they’re being preserved to be used in the various experiments we know the Empire (Palpatine specifically) seem interested in. Either way, it’s pretty awful, and also seeing a Youngling, helmet and all, among them hammers home the horrors of Order 66.
Getting Back in the Groove
Thanks to a distraction from Tala, Leia is spared from the torture rack, giving Kenobi the opportunity to sneak in and free her. Now it’s a race to get out of the Fortress before they’re all captured. Unfortunately, their luck doesn’t hold out entirely and soon the base is put on alert to their presence.
It’s here we begin to see Obi-Wan really begin to recover some of his old self in terms of combat. As he blocks blaster bolts with ease and takes down hosts of Stormtroopers, you can practically see the rust flying off of him as he moves. Where his Lightsaber movements in the last episode against Vader felt desperate/reactionary, here some of his old elegance is shining through.
This comes into more focus as Obi-Wan uses the Force to hold back the ocean, eventually turning it against the troopers chasing them down. While it’s clear he’s still very much not where he used to be, we’re finally seeing him embrace the powers he let languish for a decade.
As I mentioned last week, this feels like the overall point of the series. We’re seeing how Kenobi goes from broken/haunted, to the wise Jedi Master putting Luke on his first steps to destiny. We see it as Kenobi practices his Force powers on the ship as they head towards Nur, where even pulling such a small thing across a table is a struggle.
Slowly, but surely, we’ve seen Kenobi begin to break down those mental barriers. More than just being forced back into the “hero” role he occupied during his life with the Jedi Order, he’s also beginning to understand something far more important: there’s reason to hope.
His mindset is shifting from the hopeless, broken man we first met at the beginning of the series. The cynical man who saw no reason to trust anyone and believed the fight had been truly lost. As he’s come out of hiding on Tatooine, he’s come across others who are still willing to risk it all to fight back; learned there are more Jedi who’ve survived and younglings that need help; and come to understand things are still worth fighting for.
He’s still not where he was, but we’re seeing that change happen in each episode as that hope begins to rekindle. This comes into focus as other members of The Path arrive to help them get out of the Fortress, even though it cost one of them their lives. Unfortunately, it’s also a moment that didn’t completely work for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved it overall, but this is where the VFX proved to be a bit of distraction. The T-74 speeders flying into the Fortress just looked…off. The sense of scale just doesn’t feel right, and maybe that’s because in the Volume, it’s hard to truly give that sense of vastness. It’s not a huge thing, but one of the few times where the effects work stood out to me.
While Obi-Wan, Leia, and Tala managed to escape the Fortress, we come to learn it was Reva who actually let them go. Under the rage of Darth Vader’s grip, Reva explains how she placed a tracking device with their group and allowed them to escape so they could lead the Imperials to The Path. Makes one wonder if this is where Vader gets the idea to do the exact same thing with the Millennium Falcon on the Death Star in A New Hope…
Based off the final shot in the episode, following a very touching moment with Leia holding Kenobi’s hand, it’s clear the LOLA droid is where the tracker was placed. So where are things heading into the show’s final two episodes?
Clearly, we’re coming up on another confrontation between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. I’m sure the Empire won’t waste any time in heading to Jabiim and directly attacked The Path, so I expect the last couple episodes will be moving at a breakneck speed.
I’m curious to see if, when The Path comes under attack, anyone comes to help them. Will the Rebels show up to aid in their evacuation, or could we see the end of this particular Jedi refuge? I suspect they’ll have some help, but where it comes from could be anyone’s guess at this point. Perhaps we’ll see some of the other Jedi who were previously saved come out to assist.
Also, at some point, we’re going to get the details on Reva’s backstory. Again, I’m pretty sure she’s among the Jedi younglings running through the Temple in the series’ opening sequence. How she ended up as an Inquisitor is still unknown, but I suspect will play an important part in her overall goals within the show. If I had to guess, I imagine this information will come into play next week, leaving the final episode to handle big climatic stuff, while showing how Obi-Wan gets back to Tatooine (preferably without bringing the Empire with him).
As always, today’s episode brings plenty of references and Easter eggs for fans to pick through. While I don’t think any are on the level of deep cuts as last week’s Children of the Jedi character references, there are still neat ones.
Tera Sinube – The first Jedi Obi-Wan sees in the tomb, and the one we linger on most, is none other than Master Tera Sinube. Fans initially met him during The Clone Wars, and is something of a detective within the order (once serving on the Council). Hell, he’s even popped up in The High Repbulic era now!
Other Jedi – It’s really tough to try and pin down all the Jedi shown in that tomb area. There are a TON of them (at least two floors worth), and it’s not like their names are hanging there with them. We can do SOME speculation, however.
There’s a Jedi on the right hand side from the opening who is clearly of the Ongree species. So this could be either Coleman Kcaj or Pablo-Jill
T-47 – There’s something neat about seeing classic ships in action once again. The “snowspeeders” make their appearance at the end of the episode.
Balnab – This planet gets name-dropped by Reva early on. It’s not hugely important, but featured in a later episode of The Clone Wars before popping up in a comic a few years back.
Florrum – This was another planet name-drop, as Leia mentions it as the location of The Path (a lie, obviously). Florrum appeared in The Clone Wars and was notably the home of Hondo Ohnaka!
Purge Troopers – We get to see some live-action Purge Troopers in action! The specialty troopers introduced in Jedi: Fallen Order make their debut here and it’s neat to see the crossover.
Comlink – The classic, tube-shaped, comlink appears in the episode as Tala helps Kenobi navigate the fortress. Hell, we even get a direct A New Hope call back as Tala has to leave the comlink on the desk, much like when C-3P0 and R2-D2 did on the Death Star. The framing of the shot is very clearly a reference to the original film.
Distracting Stormtroopers – Speaking of references to A New Hope, there’s a moment where Obi-Wan uses the Force to distract a pair of Stormtroopers, much like he did on the Death Star.
While things were a bit more straight forward in today’s episode, there was plenty to chew on and think about. The endgame for the series is coming into focus, and seeing Obi-Wan becoming more and more himself remains at the emotional core of the show. With teases of things from the past, and a looming confrontation ahead, these last couple episodes can’t get here fast enough.