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Obi-Wan Kenobi Part IV Retreads the Franchise in a Bid for Nostalgia (Part IV Recap)

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

With only six episodes, Obi-Wan Kenobi will be coming to an end in two weeks’ time. If the story were to drastically change course from how it began, I believe it would have happened already. It seems that the series’ primary storyline, kept fiercely under wraps before its premiere, is indeed Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor)’s custody of Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) and her eventual return to safety.

Of course, the true conflict runs much deeper, as Darth Vader and his Jedi-hunting Inquisitors are on the prowl for Kenobi. At the end of “Part III,” the Third Sister Reva (Moses Ingram) succeeded in capturing Leia for the second time, and now another rescue is necessary.

After his burning at the hands of his former apprentice in “Part III,” Obi-Wan is placed into the seemingly magical healing machine known as a bacta tank. Memories of the duel cause Obi-Wan to climb out of the tank, however, and his new ally Tala (Indira Varma) informs him that they’re in a secure location on the planet Jabiim — last seen in the now non-canon comic series Star Wars: Empire. Obi-Wan’s mission is still clear, though, and so he and Tala prepare to set off to rescue Leia.

In fact, Leia has been brought to Fortress Inquisitorius, the home base of the Inquisitors that first appeared in the video game Jedi: Fallen Order and arrived in live-action in the previous episode of this series. Reva is questioning her on the location of the fledgeling Rebel base using a variety of tactics, including proof that she is sensible with a direct (and borderline respectful) line of queries. Leia is smarter than she appears, as we’ve learned in the last few episodes, and doesn’t give in to Reva’s demands, even when the Third Sister attempts to use Kylo Ren’s methods of Force interrogation on her. As we know, Leia is Force-sensitive, though she doesn’t know it herself, and simply asks Reva if this is a staring contest. It seems that Reva has met her match in the defiant young royal.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

Back on Jabiim, Obi-Wan meets Roken, played by Straight Outta Compton‘s O’Shea Jackson Jr., who tells the retired Jedi about his wife, who was Force-sensitive and murdered by the Inquisitors. At first, he refuses to help them break into Fortress Inquisitorius, but mere moments later, he recants and decides to assist, for no real reason I can discern. Perhaps the character will prove to be more useful and interesting in the final two episodes, but I’m left wondering what his role really was in “Part IV.”

On the way to the water moon Nur, where Inquisitorius is located, Obi-Wan practices the Force, which he has had to use more (in-universe) in the last few days than in the ten years beforehand. Obi-Wan’s unexpected need to return to his Jedi training is barely touched on in this episode, but I’m counting on the fact that the series named after him will give him more of a spotlight in the final two episodes. I’m still not ruling out an appearance by Liam Neeson as Obi-Wan’s deceased Master, Qui-Gon Jinn — in fact, I think Obi-Wan finally communing with Qui-Gon after trying for so long would be an excellent way to close out his arc in his series. Only time will tell.

When they reach Inquisitorius, Tala assumes her guise of an Imperial officer to infiltrate the fortress. She is scrutinized by another officer, but manages to use the presumed-deceased Grand Inquisitor as leverage. Apparently, the “death” of the Grand Inquisitor — which will have to be explained, due to his future canon appearance in Star Wars: Rebels — is not common knowledge, and the everyday Imperial still believes him to be alive. I found Tala to be much more imposing in this scene than Reva is in the entire episode. I’m not sure if the Third Sister is losing her edge or if she’s just going easy on Leia, but it doesn’t fit in with her characterization that has been established in Obi-Wan Kenobi so far. I almost wish Reva was introduced in another Star Wars property, because she’s the most interesting character that this series has dealt with — its titular one included — and I feel that she’s been reduced to one note as of late. I hope to see that change in the penultimate and finale episodes.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan pulls the same move that Cal Kestis (the protagonist of Jedi: Fallen Order) used to get into Fortress Inquisitorius: he uses his swimming skills honed in The Phantom Menace to break into the very foundation of the castle. With Tala’s help, he gets in, avoiding some seeker droids that are failing in their functions, and makes his way towards Leia.

One of the most interesting things he comes across in his trek through Inquisitorius is a twisted display hall, filled with the preserved corpses of dead Jedi. This perverse presentation gives us confirmation that the Inquisitors have been successful in many of their missions, including the deaths of Ongree Jedi Coleman Kcaj (who appeared in Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars) and Tera Sinube (also from Clone Wars), as well as a youngling, likely killed in the initial Jedi Temple massacre.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

The hall of bodies also explains a moment in the Star Wars: Rebels episode “Rise of the Old Masters,” where protagonists Ezra Bridger and Kana Jarrus were searching for Jedi Master Luminara Unduli. When they finally find her, she is preserved in a very similar casing, complete with the yellow light, indicating that her body was moved from Inquisitorius to lure in Ezra and Kanan. The explanation of this scene eight years after its debut is one of the many touches that I love and respect, and keeps my manic, canon-oriented brain excited about what comes next.

A New Hope is echoed many times throughout the episode, but the most deliberate one is surely Reva confronting Tala. As a distraction for Obi-Wan to rescue Leia, Tala curtly informs Reva that the Rebels are hiding on Florrum, a desert planet previously seen in multiple episodes of The Clone Wars and the anthology storybook Stories of Light and Dark. It’s a direct parallel to the scene in A New Hope where Leia falsely tells Grand Moff Tarkin that the Rebels are hiding on Dantooine, a remote desert planet not even worth checking. Like Tarkin, Reva sees right through the deception, giving us some of the cunning that is indicative of who the Third Sister has been set up to be.

Despite an array of complications, Obi-Wan, Leia and Tala have almost escaped. Reva is hot on their tail, but two Rebel fighters, Sully (Pen15’s Maya Erskine) and Wade (Dog’s Ryder McLaughlin) bail them out in T-47 airspeeders, which would later be modified for use in the Battle of Hoth. Reva manages to use a bomb to blow up Wade’s speeder, causing the first of many losses in the name of rebellion. Roken’s sadness at Wade’s death reinforces that every loss counts, even characters we haven’t gotten to know intimately well. After all, the Rebel Alliance hasn’t been formed yet, and collateral damage when it comes to these splinter groups is inevitable.

Such is the wrath of Darth Vader. Mid-strangulation, Reva reveals that she allowed the dissidents to escape, due to the fact that she placed a tracker on their ship. It turns out that the tracker is in Leia’s droid L0-LA59, which will certainly prove to be trouble in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s penultimate episode. This is yet another direct echo of A New Hope akin to the tracker that led the Death Star to the rebel base at Yavin IV.

This episode essentially plays like an extended version of Leia’s Death Star torture and imprisonment from A New Hope, complete with a rescue afterward that has several direct nods. The situation even features two of the same characters that participate in the New Hope sequence, which only makes me wonder why the entire operation was necessary. It’s not like the series needs to be condensed any further, but it seems that there could have been space for more creativity and a variety in set pieces and action sequences if Leia’s rescue took up half an episode, or was handled differently. We’ve seen it before many times in Star Wars, done better in most instances, and the repetitive nature is beginning to wear on me.

“Part IV” is not the best of the series so far, but as a counter to my previous point, it does illustrate the very purpose of the show. It’s not meant to be a particularly necessary canon-changing entry in the Skywalker Saga, it’s an exciting and thoughtful adventure featuring characters we know and love, pretty visuals, a killer score (courtesy of Loki composer Nathalie Holt) and not much else. Anyone looking for anything more is probably looking in the wrong place.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

Obi-Wan Kenobi Part III premiered on Disney+ on June 8, 2022. Read Rowan’s Recap of Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here.