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“Obi-Wan Kenobi” goes off-world in another exciting adventure (Part II Recap)

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd

Following up a premiere episode could be easy or difficult, vastly depending on the series — if the opening did its job, and properly established character, setting and conflict, the following episode should be able to get the ball rolling at the very start without much set-up.

This is barely ever a problem for a Star Wars series — let’s except The Book of Boba Fett from this sentiment — because the movies did all of the heavy lifting, fleshing out the world and introducing the characters. The premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi merely had to reintroduce some of our favorite characters to us and give us a reason for their arcs to intersect.

At the very start of episode two, not given any title aside from “Part II,” Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) arrives on the lawless planet of Daiyu to find a young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), who has been kidnapped by bounty hunters. He discovers that all signals in or out of Daiyu are blocked because, as a passerby explains, “people like their secrets” there. Thus, Obi-Wan has to find Leia the old-fashioned way: by simply looking around.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd

Before he can do so, though, we get my personal favorite of the series’ cameos so far: Temeura Morrison returns as a homeless Clone veteran, begging for credits so he can buy himself a warm meal. Obi-Wan contributes before moving on. I can imagine Morrison popped over for a day from Boba Fett filming, which I’m sure was happening in a nearby studio. It’s a neat appearance which shows that many Clone troopers are still out there, having to survive on their own after the Empire’s discontinuation of their services.

After conversing with a young spice trader (played by McGregor’s own daughter, Esther-Rose McGregor), Obi-Wan comes across a boy who tells him that a Jedi lives nearby and could help him find who he is searching for. Why a Jedi would broadcast themselves like this is beyond Obi-Wan, but he decides to check it out.

The Jedi in question, Haja Estree, is played by none other than Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals, The Big Sick), and though he helps refugee families get to safety, in reality he is no Jedi at all. Using magnets to create the appearance of the Force, and an ally at the transport station to falsify a Jedi mind trick, he has a good racket going. When he’s caught by Obi-Wan, he claims he’s still doing good, he’s just using the guise of a Jedi so people will be more likely to trust him. From a criminal’s perspective, it’s incredibly smart, especially in a galaxy where Jedi are so few and far between. Of course, real Jedi wouldn’t promote themselves to strangers on the street at this point in the galaxy’s history, but that’s the least of Obi-Wan’s worries.

Haja Estree is just one of the characters recently introduced to the Star Wars canon whose story would make for an interesting series all on its own. It makes me think of Underworld, a Coruscant-set live-action Star Wars series developed by George Lucas years before the Disney purchase. It would have explored lesser-known areas of the Star Wars universe, and even had over fifty scripts written for two potential seasons from a fully-formed writer’s room. It was placed “on hold” in 2010 due to financial concerns (such a thing would require a Disney-sized budget), but then outright canceled when Disney actually bought Lucasfilm.

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While recent Star Wars series have dipped into the “underworld” aspect of the canon (The Mandalorian, Boba Fett, and an arc in the final Clone Wars season come to mind), it’s never been the full focus of any one project. Even Mandalorian has become about the Jedi, Boba Fett became Mandalorian, and The Clone Wars was always about the broader galaxy. If there were any time to make Underworld, Disney, it would be now. There are so many pieces already in place!

Obi-Wan does his best Walter White impression as he dons protective gear to enter a laboratory, and after causing an explosive distraction he engages in some good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat with two of the workers. His victory earns him Leia’s location, but as know, it’s all a trap set up by the Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram).

Reva arrives on Daiyu to collect her prize, but her actions are criticized by the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), who calls her “the least” of the Inquisitorius. The visual distinction is made by the fact that Reva is the only on-screen Inquisitor without cerebral cybernetic modifications — Sung Kang’s Fifth Brother and Rya Kihlstedt’s Fourth Sister, as well as the Grand Inquisitor, are all enhanced by machinery around their heads. Perhaps it’s the lack of cybernetics that make her function less effective in the eyes of her supposed superiors, but Reva’s ruthlessness certainly makes up for anything else she may lack. Her efforts to prove the Grand Inquisitor wrong has made her the most interesting antagonist presented by the series so far.

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After squabbling with Reva’s hired bounty hunters, Obi-Wan successfully locates Leia, and the pair escape. They quickly develop a rapport (Leia quips she would more likely be Obi-Wan granddaughter), but that begins to sour when an open bounty is set for Obi-Wan all across Daiyu. Suddenly, his face is plastered everywhere, and Leia’s trust in him begins to wane. This is the only element of the episode I thought was forced: Leia’s sudden distrust of Obi-Wan seems unfounded, and the reason is apparently because now everyone is looking for him. Then again, she’s only ten years old, but the series is intending her to be smarter than she seems in this moment.

One of the mercenaries looking for Obi-Wan is an alien-looking droid that I thought at first was 4-LOM, one of the bounty hunters present on the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back as a part of Darth Vader’s search for the Millennium Falcon. However, this droid is actually named 1-JAC, which seems like a missed opportunity to me, because the timeline fits; he could easily be 4-LOM, and it would make nerds like me unreasonably happy.

“Kenobi is the last ember of a dying age,” proclaims the Grand Inquisitor as he takes up Reva’s search for Obi-Wan himself. He mercilessly kills Reva’s bounty hunter Vect Nokru (played by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea) before he and the other Inquisitors move through Daiyu’s streets, allowing nothing to stand in their way. Reva is off on her own, though, scouring the rooftops, believing that Kenobi will show himself there. She winds up correct, with a rooftop chase continuing to prove Debora Chow’s prowess as an action director.

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On the ground, Obi-Wan encounters Kumail Nanjiani’s Haja Estree once again, and while you might think a grifter would be the first person to sell Obi-Wan out to the Inquisitors, it seems that all this time playing a Jedi may have made Haja into a better person. He gives Obi-Wan a location that he and Leia will be able to safely leave Diayu from, and even confronts Reva himself, going so far as to nearly sacrifice himself for the people he barely knows. It’s an interesting character turn, and one that I’m fully on board with — I just want to know more about Haja, and what about his past would lead him to make this decision. Hopefully he’ll reappear at some point in future canon.

Obi-Wan and Leia have nearly made it out. Using information extracted from Haja, Reva catches up to them, and drops a bombshell on the titular Jedi before the episode can wrap up: his former Padawan Anakin Skywalker is still alive, and has assumed the identity of Darth Vader.

This is an interesting turn for a number of reasons. The first (and arguably most important) is that not many people knew Vader was Anakin. As far as we know, none of the Inquisitors were trusted with that information, and that makes Reva’s knowledge here all the more intriguing. This brings me to my primary theory: Reva’s hopeful independence from the Inquisitors is due to her not actually being a part of the squad. If my idea that Reva is one of the younglings from the premiere’s cold open is correct, perhaps Anakin came upon her during the destruction of the Jedi Temple and took her under his wing. Based on the Sith Rule of Two, he would not be allowed to take on his own apprentice, but he might have done so without Palpatine’s knowledge or consent.

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He did such a thing in the no-longer-canon video games, Star Wars: Unleashed and its sequel, with the force-sensitive child who becomes known as Starkiller. Reva could be the canonized version of the character, an apprentice to Vader who must act as an Inquisitor to keep up appearances. This also means that she is acting purely on Vader’s orders and not those of the Grand Inquisitor, which is why she is targeting Kenobi specifically — he is what Vader wants more than anything else. I imagine, if this is true, that it will be fleshed out and explained in subsequent episodes in which Vader will play a larger role. Here, he appears in a bacta tank, played once again by Hayden Christensen. Whether Christensen will be relegated to the Vader suit in future episodes or if we’ll get flashbacks remains to be seen, but I hope we get to see both. Vader and Obi-Wan are essential parts of each other’s stories, and to see them intersect again will be absolutely delightful.

Before the episode concludes, Reva finally rebels against the Grand Inquisitor in a tactile way, shoving her lightsaber through his chest and apparently killing him. Now, I believe that Star Wars is aware of its own canon, and killing off the Grand Inquisitor years before his later death in Star Wars Rebels is definitely a way of breaking said canon. I have a feeling this will also be addressed in future episodes — perhaps his cybernetics mean he can be repaired, or the Grand Inquisitor we see in Rebels is a clone of the original. There are many ways to get around it, and I must say, to see this in Obi-Wan Kenobi was certainly shocking. The impact it will have on future stories is something I’m really looking forward to.

Part II of Obi-Wan Kenobi was even better than the first. It builds beautifully on the story of the first, and mercifully brings our main characters to a planet that isn’t Tatooine. I’m thrilled to see what this series has in store for us next, and how it will address the essential questions raised in its two-episode premiere.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd

Obi-Wan Kenobi Part II premiered on Disney+ on May 27, 2022. Read Rowan’s Recap of Part I here.