The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi premiered last Friday, and five days later the third chapter was released!
The final three episodes will release over the next three Wednesdays, and it’s crazy to think that we’re already halfway through this epic series – but it’s clear there’s a whole lot left to explore. The third episode was every bit as amazing as the first two, and it raised the stakes considerably in the process.
If you thought the first two episodes were intense, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Let’s dive in to our review of Part 3, but full spoilers are ahead, so be warned!
As Obi-Wan Kenobi and Leia travel to the planet Haja Estree sent them to, Obi-Wan meditates and tries to commune with Qui-Gon Jinn – but all he can think about are the words of Reva, telling him that Anakin Skywalker is alive. He senses his former apprentice through the Force, and whispers, “He’s coming, master.” Meanwhile, we see Darth Vader being put together, with his suit assembled as he is taken out of the bacta tank. From his castle on Mustafar, Vader talks with Reva via hologram, telling her that Kenobi is all that matters and that if she delivers him, she’ll be the new Grand Inquisitor – but if she fails, she won’t live to regret it. Reva arrives at the Fortress Inquisitorious and tells this to the Fifth Brother and Fourth Sister, who are unhappy with the developments but unwilling to go against Vader, and they dispatch probes to pinpoint Kenobi’s location.
Obi-Wan and Leia arrive on Mapuzo, a mining world controlled by the Empire, and begin making their way toward the meet-up location. Along the way, Obi-Wan glimpses a figure off in the distance – Anakin Skywalker – and is taken aback, while the figure then disappears. He tells Leia to stay close. Leia gets them transport to the spaceport by hitching a ride with Freck, a friendly driver working for the Empire. He also picks up some stormtroopers, and Leia and Obi-Wan have to talk their way through the situation. The stormtroopers leave, but they soon approach an Imperial checkpoint – where Freck tells more troopers to check out the two strangers. A probe droid gets a read on Kenobi’s face, and the Jedi springs into action, taking out the probe and stormtroopers with his blaster.
An Imperial Officer, Tala, quickly approaches them with reinforcements, but she kills the stormtroopers and reveals herself to be the ally they were supposed to meet. She takes them to a safe house in the city, where she reveals that she is part of a group known as “The Path” that help Jedi get to safety. Kenobi discovers that Quinlan Vos has been there too, and she says that he helps them from time to time. With the stormtroopers scouring the planet – and nearly discovering them – Tala decides they should move for the transport right away, showing them a secret tunnel to get there. At that moment, however, Kenobi is stricken with fear and a warning from the Force, and he rushes to the window to peer outside. There, the Inquisitors have arrived, and Darth Vader marches forth through the city streets. Vader senses Kenobi, and so he begins using the Force to kill civilians. Obi-Wan tells Tala to get Leia to safety and decides to draw Vader’s attention. He does so successfully, luring the Sith Lord away from the city, where they confront each other. “What have you become,” a terrified Kenobi asks, to which Vader responds, “I am what you made me.” Obi-Wan dodges Vader for a while, but the Sith eventually catches up with him, easily overpowering him in lightsaber combat.
Vader then uses the Force and his lightsaber to ignite flames, and he uses the Force to throw Obi-Wan into them and hold him there, insisting that now Kenobi must suffer. As Obi-Wan screams in agony, Tala arrives – having sent Leia on ahead – and provides enough of a distraction for her and her droid to get to Kenobi, creating an obstacle of fire to keep Vader from getting to them. They tend to Obi-Wan, while Reva finds Leia.
DARTH VADER IS BACK. And what a return it was! The ending of episode two made it clear that Vader was coming, and he was a major focus in this third episode from start to finish. There’s a lot to talk about, but let me just start with the question that many of us had: who would be voicing Vader? We hoped it would be the immensely iconic James Earl Jones, who had returned to provide the voice in Rebels, Rogue One, and The Rise of Skywalker in recent years, but those were for more select roles. But James Earl Jones is back for this series, and the voice is absolutely a perfect fit with the Vader from the original trilogy. That has me thinking that they may have used some of the AI voice that they did for Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure. Regardless, the voice is perfect here.
And they also perfectly captured the sheer horror and terror that Vader brings better than any other Star Wars material to date – and yes, I’m including the Rogue One sequence in that. Ewan McGregor said that he actually got scared by Vader on set, and after seeing this episode it’s not hard to see why. Everything about him here is haunting, and Deborah Chow’s pacing of him on Mapuzo is fantastic. His slow march through the city that turns into him killing people in cold blood just to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding is terrifying. As is his desire to make Kenobi suffer like he suffered, and that’s a dimension to his character that I’d never really considered before but that makes perfect sense. Of course Vader would be motivated for revenge, and of course he’d want to enact some measure of punishment on his former master after Obi-Wan left him burning on Mustafar. That’s what led Vader to this suit, in a state of constant agony, and he wants his master to suffer as he did. Vader could have easily killed Obi-Wan at any moment during this fight – it was clear that Kenobi was in no state to fight back – yet he chose not to because he wanted to inflict as much pain as possible. Vader is utterly consumed by hatred, by suffering, by pain – and he wants Obi-Wan to feel it. So Obi-Wan lies in the flames, screaming like Anakin did on Mustafar, unable to escape.
Both master and apprentice have now been through the fire – literally – and we know how Anakin came out of it: he became all the more consumed by his hatred and suffering, cementing his fall to the dark side into the mechanical monster that he became. The question here is how will Obi-Wan come out of it? I think this will mark a turning point in the series (which makes sense given that we’re now at the halfway point and our hero is literally at his lowest point ever), and I think we’ll see how Kenobi emerges through the flames to become the heroic Jedi once again.
Because right now, he’s not a heroic Jedi. It’s hard to even say that he’s a true Jedi at all, in this moment in the timeline, because he’s broken down by his failures, he’s lost all hope, and he’s given into fear. Ewan McGregor truly conveys the sense of terror that Kenobi feels facing Vader in this fight. He tries to run, he tries to just lure Vader away, but he can’t best him in combat. Even the moment where he ignites his lightsaber for the first time (presumably in ten years) is out of fear, almost instinctually. Earlier in the episode, in a poignant moment with Leia, Obi-Wan described the Force to her like turning on the light when you’re afraid of the darkness – here, the light in the darkness for Kenobi is his lightsaber, not the Force. He’s overcome by fear, and even more burdened by his failures. He admits to Tala that he made mistakes, and he can’t seem to get past them. He already felt like he failed Anakin, but now he realizes that he also failed in putting an end to him – such that not only did he fail his apprentice, but he failed the Jedi and the galaxy. And as Obi-Wan recovers from his burns, he now has a sense of what he left Anakin with. In many ways, Vader is right: he is what Obi-Wan made him. And so Kenobi has to stare down his failures in the face, but instead of the hopeful conviction of a Jedi, he’s afraid.
By contrast, those around Obi-Wan continue to hope – most of all Leia Organa. That shouldn’t be a surprise, because in the grand narrative of Star Wars Leia is the continual beacon of hope, and that’s true even here. Obi-Wan trusts absolutely no one, but Leia does. And even when she might not be exactly right, such as with Fleck, she’s at least heroically hopeful and trusting. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, refuses to trust anyone, and when they arrive at the destination and no one is there he automatically assumes no one is coming at all. Leia thinks they should wait, but Obi-Wan knows there’s no hope. Ironically, if he had kept a bit more faith, Tala would have arrived and the events of the rest of the episode wouldn’t have needed to happen. His hopelessness has also gotten him into trouble.
It’s not just Leia who is a contrast to that, however, as Tala represents a whole network of people who are helping protect the Jedi and Force sensitive children. This is essentially the Star Wars underground railroad, where Jedi are transported in secret to freedom by people who are loyal to the cause, and many Jedi have been saved. People like Quinlan Vos and Tala are risking their lives to see to it (as is Haja Estree in the previous episode) – which is a contrast to Kenobi in the first episode being unwilling to help Nari. Tala admits she’s made mistakes, but she has decided she can do better and still help people, not bound by her past failures. That’s a lesson Obi-Wan needs to learn.
And I think we’re about to see him learn it. I think we’re going to see him regain some hope in the Force as the true light in the midst of the darkness he sits in – with what’s happened to him, and to Anakin, and to Leia. He’ll commune with Qui-Gon, he’ll become the heroic Jedi Master, and he’ll face Vader again. I think we’re going to see how he winds up going from this place to the moment in A New Hope, where he’s resolved and calm in the face of his former apprentice, able to taunt him and distract him without a hint of fear, but only of purpose. Obi-Wan Kenobi has gone through the fire, and will emerge stronger for it, unlike Anakin Skywalker. A horrified Obi-Wan asks Vader, “What has become of you?” Vader, of course, responds, “I am what you made me.” From a certain point of view, he’s right. But think about years later, in Rebels, when Maul says an almost identical statement to Kenobi: “Look what has become of you.” But to that, Obi-Wan calmly responds, “Look what I have risen above.” That’s the difference between Obi-Wan and Anakin. And it’s a major element of Kenobi’s character, a confident purpose rising out of the ashes of darkness that this series is showing him recover.
Returning to the duel between Kenobi and Vader once more, I did appreciate how it foreshadowed the duels between Luke and Vader in the original trilogy. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke uses his lightsaber to cut some machines that cause steam to burst forth, distracting Vader – just like Obi-Wan does here. “Obi-Wan has taught you well,” Vader tells Luke in Empire. In their next duel, in Return of the Jedi, Luke tries to hide in the shadows while Vader’s voice rings out, something that felt familiar in this episode when Kenobi stands alone but hears Vader’s voice. I appreciate those subtle nods. I also really appreciate the lighting of the lightsabers that were used in this episode, continuing the filming method used in the sequel trilogy, that gives a tremendous effect on the actors and surrounding area, particularly in the dark.
Another aspect of the episode that I appreciated was Obi-Wan’s heartfelt conversation with Leia. It’s brilliant how Leia already can talk her way through tricky situations, like when the stormtroopers confront them, and she’s more adept than Kenobi is at this. Obi-Wan accidentally calls her Leia at one point, but recovers very nicely by saying that was her mother’s name and that the girl reminds him of her. Leia picks up on this and realizes that there’s more than just a cover here – but that Obi-Wan really did know her real mother, and that she really does remind him of her. She wishes that she did, but Obi-Wan shares a truly touching moment of comfort with her. He tells her that he doesn’t remember his family either, only glimpses of his dad and mom, and that he had a younger brother that he never knew either. But he got a new family, just like Leia did. Aside from being a really great scene, and from revealing that Obi-Wan had a younger brother, I think this could prove to be a significant moment for Leia. It’s a validation that even images, brief glimpses, faint memories, are worth holding on to, which will come into play when she tells Luke in Return of the Jedi that she only really remembers images of her birth mother. More significantly, though, this might also shed some light on why Leia is thoroughly unsurprised by Luke’s sibling revelation – because Obi-Wan has a brother he never knew, why would it be a shock if Leia did?
This was another fantastic episode. The way they’ve developed Obi-Wan and utilized him in this series is perfect, and Darth Vader is too.