The penultimate episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi has arrived, bringing with it fresh trauma, some answers, and much to think about. Let’s break it down.
As we near towards the series finale, today’s new episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi not only gives us some answers to previous questions, but sets the stage for a finale I don’t think we’ll soon forget. More so, it manages to do it all with a lot of heart and surrounded by heaps of action.
Like normal, proceed below with caution if you haven’t watched yet, as I’ll be diving deep into spoiler territory for the episode. Get caught up on our previous Obi-Wan Kenobi recaps here: Part 1 & 2, Part 3, Part 4.
No Breathing Room
To start, let me say I am really digging the overall flow of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s very much a singular story, where each episode leads into the next, almost like watching a movie. Yet, it’s broken up in such a way that each episode still feels like its own thing, telling it’s own micro-story within the larger arc and ending at logical points. It’s something other Disney+ shows have struggled with in the past (even beyond Star Wars), but Kenobi seems to be hitting exactly the right balance.
Picking up from their daring “escape” from Fortress Inquisitorius, Tala, Obi-Wan, and Leia return to The Path’s hideout on Jabiim. While Obi-Wan is eager to get Leia back to Alderaan, Roken makes it clear he needs to help the other refugees get off-planet first since many have been waiting there for months.
Allow me a brief digression here, as this moment highlights one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about how the show has been crafted. The “waiting for months” line is, ostensibly, such an off-hand comment. As you (through Kenobi’s perspective) gaze around the hideout, however, and see the bedraggled appearance of the various people—of all ages/species—you get a sense of their hardship. You can sense the struggles they’ve had to endure just to survive and even get to this point.
This type of subtle world-building is rampant throughout the series. It allows the mind to wander, assuming deeper stories to be told, all while keeping the focus on the primary tale being told.
Another subtle shift we see here, is Kenobi’s response about doing all they can to help. It’s a marked departure from the man we we first introduced to at the beginning of the story. The one who wouldn’t trust anyone, ignoring others in order to complete his goal as quickly as possible and get back to his watchful post. His time away, and seeing how others are working together, has given him a bit of that old spark back.
Anyway, the sense of relief doesn’t last long, as LOLA’s deception goes beyond merely tracking, and ultimately sabotages everyone’s ability to leave Jabiim. With an Imperial Star Destroyer now in orbit, Kenobi and the refugees must hold out long enough to get the doors re-opened to escape.
This is the focus of today’s episode, which means there’s tons of action (plenty of pew pew) to go about. It’s action that’s at once familiar and harrowing. The might of the Empire is well established, and this is still long before the Rebel Alliance was able to organize a proper resistance. Instead, we’re seeing a desperate people, who aren’t soldiers, doing everything they can to fight back.
The sense of tension and desperation is almost palpable. Regardless of the righteousness of their cause, it’s evident they can’t win this battle. Even in the show’s slower moments (Leia working to fix the issue in the ducts, or Obi-Wan’s conversations with Reva) there’s an ever pervasive sense of time being against them. Just as the heroes are given no time to rest, audiences aren’t either.
It’s neat to see Kenobi fall back into his “General” mode as he tries to direct the ragtag fighters into something of a defense. It’s brilliantly inter-cut with the flashbacks to Obi-Wan and Anakin dueling back in the day. Anakin is still a Padawan, so this is just a little bit before Attack of the Clones takes place. While it’s ridiculously cool to see Anakin and Obi-Wan back together this capacity (and the fight scene is pretty great too), it serves a crucial role.
Even with all that’s happened, Obi-Wan still knows Anakin. He’s trained him, fought beside him, and understands his tactics probably even better than Vader himself does. Kenobi is able to use that as he devises a way to fight back and ultimately help everyone else escape. These flashbacks clue audiences into that mentality, but manages to do something more in the process.
Something the show has done better than almost any other Star Wars media using Darth Vader at this point; is keeping in mind that ANAKIN is very much inside the suit. It’s easy to look at Anakin and Vader as separate entities; hard to reconcile thee disparate actions of them.
Where The Clone Wars cartoon gave us greater insight into Anakin as the heroic Jedi Knight (and adding more context to his eventual fall), Obi-Wan Kenobi is highlighting how he’s taken those aspects and twisted them to the dark side. Even though we’re not seeing the conflicted aspect of the character—Vader is very much in his evil prime here—this is the most we’ve gotten the sense of Anakin behind the helmet.
This is the first time I’ve been able to imagine Darth Vader acting the same way even if he never needed the suit. Too often it’s easy to conflate the horror of Vader’s actions with his terrifying visage. Here though, between using Hayden Christensen’s obvious body language, Kenobi’s insight, and these flashbacks, it’s possible to imagine Vader still being just as bad while looking normal.
Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like an important gap to bridge. Most of the Vader material we’ve seen (comics, books, games, etc) have been so focused on making him terrible that I’ve struggled a bit to jive that up with his ultimate redemption in Return of the Jedi. By doing so much to remind us of the man INSIDE the suit, however, I’m able to make that connection on a human level once again.
Beyond going back to his days commanding troops, however, I loved seeing Kenobi fall back into his, much-lauded, negotiator role. While we’ve seen him throw off the rust and regain some of his previous skills, he’s still a man who’d much rather talk things out. Finding the path without violence, no matter how hellbent the other side seems intent on it.
It’s in these moments we get some crucial answers.
Forever Will it Dominate Your Destiny
In trying to buy some much needed time, Obi-Wan engages Reva in conversation between the blast doors. Quickly, he deduces that Reva was one of the younglings in the Temple during Order 66; explaining how she knows Anakin and Vader are one in the same. As many fans suspected, she is indeed among the younglings we see at the Temple in the show’s opening. It’s her survival of these events that have driven her to this point.
It’s a hard scene to watch, as Reva recounts how she had to play dead in order to escape Vader’s wrath on that night. Along with continual allusions to the Inquisitors finding her “in the gutter,” it’s clear her life had been one of constant hardship since that night.
More, Reva’s motives have become clear. Not only is she after Vader for her own revenge, she also lays the blame squarely at Kenobi’s feet. He wasn’t there to stop his one time apprentice, couldn’t stop him. It’s a guilt we know Obi-Wan has keenly felt, as we glimpsed in h is nightmares at the beginning of the series. He blames himself for not being able to prevent Anakin’s fall, and now we’re seeing his guilt over failing to finish the job back on Mustafar.
Reva’s story is revealed to be a tragic one, but speaks to the Saga’s central themes regarding light and dark. As Yoda tells Luke many years later, “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will…” While this is clearly in reference to Vader’s fall, it’s neatly encapsulated within Reva’s own journey.
Sure, her motives are all about killing Vader, a thing that would likely be “good” for everyone, but her single-minded drive for vengeance has led her to do awful things. Just as Vader tells Obi-Wan he’s “what you made me,” we see that Reva is a product of Vader’s actions. It’s beautiful poetry.
Anyway, it’s not a long conversation, and Reva’s impatience leads to an all out assault, but manages to give Kenobi a vital piece of information he’s able to use later on. As the Stormtroopers swarm the tiny base, Obi-Wan does his best to protect everyone as they retreat. It’s a losing battle, however, given the sheer numbers the Empire has, which leads to a pair of sacrifices.
Poor Tala and NED-B. Having only been with these new characters for a relatively short period of time, I was surprised at how strongly their deaths impacted me. NED-B’s commitment to shielding his master, protecting her long enough to provide the necessary means for more to escape, gives proof to Tala’s previous description of the droid and how “actions speak louder than words.”
My attachment to Tala is almost entirely due to Indira Varma’s impressive portrayal. She’s instantly likeable, and her going from Imperial to “rebel” makes her easy to relate to. More importantly, she’s served as the keystone for Obi-Wan understanding it’s worthwhile to keep fighting. With her help, understanding some of her pain, Obi-Wan has learned there’s reason to hope and keep helping, even with the odds stacked against you.
So yeah, super bummed to see her go, and would have loved to see Tala pop up in Andor fighting for the Rebellion proper. Alas, the fate of too many excellent side characters in Star Wars isn’t to live a long life…
The Hunt is On
After retreating to the inner tunnels, Leia is able to fix the problem and get LOLA back under control (I was really hoping that droid would make it out okay). With Imperials literally beating down the door, however, escape still seems unlikely. Here, Obi-Wan puts those negotiators skills back to work, along with the knowledge of Reva’s true intent.
After surrendering himself, he’s able to convince Reva he can help her defeat Vader. As his capture brings the Dark Lord down to the planet, it presents her with an opportunity. Turns out Kenobi bet on the right horse, and she allows him the chance to get away. While Vader is occupied trying to stop the shuttle (a decoy!) from escaping, Reva springs her trap.
It goes horribly. Vader’s mastery of the dark side is on full display as he toys with Reva, revealing he knew the truth of her past, and has been waiting on her to make a move. As he stabs her, in an echo of what happened during Order 66, he manages to drive the (figurative) blade in deeper as the REAL Grand Inquisitor steps out. As expected, he’d survived his wounds and has been working with Vader behind the scenes throughout.
It’s a tough loss all around, but Reva’s not entirely down for the count. Left there on the dirt of Jabiim, presumably to die, she comes across Obi-Wan’s communicator. The one Haja had accidentally dropped during the retreat. While it’s beat up, it works well enough for Reva to hear the gist of Bail Organa’s last message, revealing the existence/importance of Luke Skywalker to her.
As we head into the final episode next week, it feels like there are quite a few story threads to wrap up, but I have some ideas (pure speculation) on how certain things might go. For one, I suspect we’ll get Leia dropped back off on Alderaan fairly early into the episode. They’ve finally escaped, the tracker is no longer active, and it’s time to get her back to her family.
After that, however, I’m curious to see what Obi-Wan does next. Technically speaking, he’s managed to successfully shake-off the Imperials and could potentially head back to Tatooine and keep his head down. I suspect that won’t be the case. Knowing full well the Inquisitors and Vader are after him, it’s still not exactly the safe option.
Instead, I think Kenobi is going to go on the offensive so to speak. Since the Empire has no way of tracking him at the moment, he could bring the fight to them in order to try and get them off his back completely. This would lead to one more showdown against Vader, potentially even giving us context for Vader telling Luke, “Obi-Wan once thought as you did” in reference to there still being good in him.
That leaves Reva. It’s hard to say whether or not she’s pieced together that Leia/Luke are Anakin’s kids, or just that she knows they’re important. Either way, I’m curious to see what she does with this information. Obviously we know Luke makes it out safe and sound, and their secret remains hidden for another decade, but I’ve loved how this series has woven the story around the canon we know. At this point, I’m more than willing to give the storytellers the benefit of the doubt in how they wrap things up.
Generally speaking, I’m LOVING the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. I think my feelings on that have been made clear throughout these recaps. That said, there have been some issues. I mentioned it last week with regard to the T-47s flying in, but the visual effects in today’s episode make the problem stand out even more. Namely…it just feels off.
No, I’m not talking about the flashback scene that didn’t use any de-aging for some reason (the actors look great, but still), but the overall battle on Jabiim. More than the other shows—even earlier episodes of THIS show—it feels like they’re filming on the Volume.
The sense of scale is completely off, and the attempts to make the space feel larger only seems to highlight the fact they’re on a limited stage. I don’t know if it’s due to a lack of real-world sets/props used to accentuate the backgrounds going on for the Volume and add depth, but it just feels like they’re big a big open space rather than anywhere in particular.
On top of that…the Lightsabers still feel off. This one, I’m able to pin down a bit better as it seems like they aren’t actually enhancing the blades during certain sequences (mostly when it’s darker). Instead, they’re letting the natural glow from the saber they use now stand on its own, and only adding that computer enhanced glow in brighter scenes where it wouldn’t work.
It feels like a minor gripe, considering the story is fantastic. Considering Star Wars is a franchise known for pushing things forward with visual effects, it’s hard not to feel a little bummed at seeing some of these things slip through the cracks.
Corran – Our old pal Corran (the kid Haja helps in Part II) shows up in today’s episode. It’s a blink and you miss it moment, but we see him in the background, even interacting with Leia.
On the Wall – As with Part III, Jedi who used The Path to escape have left their mark on the walls within the hideout. Much of what we see can be translated to various phrases/tenets of the Jedi, but some names can be made out as well.
Both Djinn Altis and Roganda Ismaren’s names appear again, but a new one is Corwin Shelvay. This is another deep cut character who was first mentioned in the old West End Games Galaxy Guide expansions (#9 Fragments from the Rim). Shelvay was a survivor of the Jedi Purge and ultimately joined the Rebel Alliance.
There’s a third name as well, Tiberius, but I’m drawing a complete blank on this one. If it’s a reference to an old character, it’s an even deeper cut than the others. Hell, maybe it’s a fun Star Trek reference to James Tiberius Kirk…
Garel – Reva name drops the planet Garel, which was featured in multiple episodes of Star Wars Rebels and even popped up in the Forces of Destiny shorts!
I’m sure there many others I’m missing here, but in an action-packed episode, these are the ones that stood out most to me.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi series continues to do things right. While it’s easy to be cynical about some of the “nostalgia bait” moments, they feel so rooted into the current story being told, it’s hard to see it as a negative. While I still wish the VFX were a bit more on par with other Star Wars media, it’s quickly become one of my favorite stories in the galaxy far, far away.
Deborah Chow needs more.