Obi-Wan Kenobi - Review (Episode 3)
It's been ten years since the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. All remaining Jedi not ensnared by Order 66 are in hiding. Obi-Wan Kenobi (an older, scruffy looking Ewan Macgregor) is living on the desert planet of Tatooine, watching over Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, Leia Skywalker, is being raised by the Organas as their own on Alderaan. The true identity of the Skywalker twins is known only to a handful of people. But ten years after the destruction of the Jedi Order, events conspire that threaten to tear everything apart...
OK, now that we got that dramatic opening out of the way, a couple of notes on the review. It's quite SPOILER HEAVY, so don't read on if you don't want to know what happens. Also, what's written in this article are my views, and my views alone, so don't take them as gospel. And with all that said and done..
THE ACTUAL REVIEW
I have to admit, this episode fell off the rails for me. Not immediately, but towards the end. Let me explain by throwing some plot out there. Obi-Wan and Leia make it to the mining world of Mazpuzo. He insists to Leia that they pretend to be a mining family from Tawl, and gives her a fake name, Luma, while he takes the name of Orden. Along the way, they see the negative effects the Empire has had on the planet: it's been overmined and the landscape has become a veritable wasteland. Obi-Wan explains that before the dark times, Mazpuzo was a thriving land, filled with farms and families. But that is no longer the case. It's quite a touching scene, and I did not have much of an issue with it, apart from the feeling that Obi-Wan and Leia probably shouldn't really be sharing screen time. Obi-Wan is still suffering from the shock of learning about Anakin's survival, and there's a nice scene in which he imagines he sees a hooded version of his former apprentice. But it's only a mirage. Obi-Wan and Leia are making their way to the coordinates provided by Haja in the previous episode, but the former Jedi is sceptical that any help is actually on the way. Still, they have no choice.
Meanwhile we cut to Darth Vader in his castle at Mustafar. There's a great scene where we see him being assembled, piece by piece, reminding us that he's more machine now than man. He makes his way to the throne room and makes contact with Reva. Vader dismisses the death of the Grand Inquisitor, and upon being informed that Obi-Wan is still alive, promises to raise her to that position if he's satisfied with her performance. Fail him, and the consequences will be dire, he says. Three things I take from this scene. First, Reva is ambitious as well as reckless and impulsive, although I never got the feeling that she wanted to be Grand Inquisitor; I simply believed that her former boss was getting in her way, and she killed him for it. Second, I get the feeling that Vader doesn't much care for Inquisitors in general, and their omission from the Original Trilogy is telling (although explained outside of canon by the fact that no-one that thought of creating the role of Inquisitors back then). Third, it was great to see Vader and hear James Earl Jones again. He sounds better than he did in Rogue One, and you can tell they've gone to great lengths to make him sound like he did in Episode IV. I'm not sure about the suit, though. It almost comes off as a Halloween costume.
Anyway, on with the story. Reva arrives at Fortress Inquisitorius on Nur (the water planet with the large obelisk like structure seen in the trailers). She informs the other Inquisitors that Vader has put her in charge of the hunt for the former Jedi general. To be honest, I am not sure why the Inquisitors don't just kill her on the spot after all the amount of insubordination they've had to suffer at her hands. One of two theories occurs to me: Reva is now under the direct command of Lord Vader, and they dare not cross him. The other is that Reva has copious amounts of plot armour. Whatever the case, they reluctantly agree to follow her leadership, and probe droids are dispatched to seek out Obi-Wan's location.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Leia arrive at the supposed rendezvous point, and no-one is there to meet them. Obi-Wan suspects his reservations were well-founded. At that moment an imperial transport driven by an alien with an octopus for a mouth named Freck (voiced by Zach Braff of all people) arrives on the scene, and Obi-Wan reluctantly gets on board, egged on by Leia. Freck is a big proponent of the Empire and the order and stability he says they bring. Obi-Wan and Leia simply go along with it. Together, the trio head to the nearest spaceport. There are some heartfelt scenes between Leia and Obi-Wan during this journey. She asks him about her mother and if he's her real father, and he heartbreakingly replies that he wishes he was. He also reveals some of his backstory: he barely remembers his parents and was taken away to be raised as a Jedi at a very early age. He says he seems to remember a brother, and I'm wondering if that will be important in a later episode or future season. At some point during the trip, a group of stormtroopers climb onboard the vehicle and there's a tense scene in which Obi-Wan lets his guard slip and calls Leia by her real name, although he soon claws it back. The stormtroopers leave the vehicle, the transport continues on its merry way, and a crisis is averted.
Another crisis soon looms in the form of an imperial checkpoint guarded by stormtroopers. Freck reveals his suspicions of the duo to them and soon a fight breaks out in which Obi-Wan takes down the stormtroopers and shoots the mechanism keeping the barrier in place. More stormtroopers arrive, alongside an imperial officer, in an apparent response to the fight. It transpires that the imperial officer, a woman by the name of Tala (Indira Varma), was the contact they were waiting for all along. The three stormtroopers that came with her are taken care of, and the trio flee the scene and move to a nearby settlement, where they hide in a workshop. It appears that they will have to lay low for a few hours until a pilot is available who can take them off-world. During their time in the workshop, Tala confides to Obi-Wan that she she once believed in what the Empire stood for, but that she saw through their evil ways and now helps former Jedi evade its clutches. Night then falls, and before they can leave the workshop, Obi-Wan senses a disturbance in the Force. Vader is in town, and he's after his former master!
Here is where things fall apart from me. Lord Vader has arrived with a trio of Inquisitors, alongside a contingent of stormtroopers. Cool. Then Vader proceeds to walk down the street, terrorising the civilian population and even killing several of them using the Force. I believe it's meant to echo the ending of Rogue One, but it doesn't work for me. First, the whole thing has a cheap look to it. Vader's suit looks a bit too plastic-y and shiny, and I'm not sure the actor wears it well. Second, the settlement is basically one street seen from different angles. From what I hear, this episode had a relatively low budget, and the fact that it was made for TV shows in places. Anyway, Obi-Wan tells Tala to get Leia safely to the spaceport and subsequently away to Alderaan while he goes out to confront Vader, and she complies. I say "confront" but really, Obi-Wan just runs away into a quarry (again, not the best set I've seen) and Vader pursues.
OK, couple of things about what happens next. Vader is waiting for Obi-Wan in the quarry. He sees his former master and ignites his red lightsabre. Fine. Obi-Wan, looking like he's about to piss his pants, thinks about igniting his own lightsabre, but doesn't. Instead he runs away. Yes, he actually runs away. I'm not going to go as far as to say he's a coward (after all he can't use the Force that well and he's still in shock about the revelation of Anakin's survival). He probably can't defeat Vader in his presence state. But have him run away, really? It was a trifle annoying. Anyway, Obi-Wan runs away and Vader channels his inner Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise. No matter where Obi-Wan runs, Vader is seemingly there to confront him. Finally, the former Jedi finally ignites his lightsabre and the pair exchange a couple of cheesy lines: "What have you become?" Obi-Wan asks. "I am what you made me!" Vader spits back. Like I said, cheesy, but I happen to like a bit of cheese now and again. Then a duel of some sort does happen, but it's very one-sided and Obi-Wan is getting his a** handed to him. I'm not sure that this is the first duel that was rumoured to take place between them, but I hope not. At one point, Vader tips over a storage container full of coal and proceeds to ignite it with his lightsabre. He then uses the Force to levitate Obi-Wan and drags him through the flames using the same. Then I'm not sure what happens. I think Vader extinguishes the flames using the Force, but again, I'm not sure.
While Vader and Ob-Wan have been having their little reunion, two things have happened. First, Leia has persuaded Tala to go back and help Obi-Wan while she continues on to the rendezvous point with the space pilot. Secondly, Reva has discovered the secret compartment that leads to the tunnel that Tala and Leia were using to make good their escape. Quite how she found it when literally no-one else seems to have done so, is another mystery to me. Perhaps she used the Force. Anyway, best not to think too hard about it. Back at the quarry, things are looking bleak for Obi-Wan. Vader, joined by a contingent of stormtroopers, promises that his suffering has just begun. He sends one of the stormtroopers to retrieve his former master, but he's shot dead by Tala, who then proceeds to ignite the coals once again, creating a wall of fire between the good guys and the bad. OK fine, but given that Vader seemingly put out the flames just minutes earlier, can't he do the same again? Apparently not, as he's forced to retreat along with his stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is rescued. Things are not looking good for Leia though. Somehow, Reva managed to find the other end of the tunnel (again, not sure how, happens off-screen), and is waiting for the little princess. Leia is kidnapped once again, and her story arc continues into episode 4.
So, my conclusions? The episode started off well, but devolved towards the end. We got the full Vader reveal in the suit, Mustafar, his castle, some heartfelt moments between Leia and Obi-Wan, but the scenes in the settlement and quarry leave something to be desired. It looks like they run out of budget (or had a reduced budget). Vader's suit doesn't sit quite right with me. Plus he had a habit of teleporting when he reached the quarry. The character of Obi-Wan was given somewhat short thrift, running away and behaving an an almost cowardly fashion. I'm still hoping his arc will be a strong one, and that his journey to being almost like the Jedi of old will be complete by the end of the series. Also, I'm not sure this is the reunion I wanted to see between Obi-Wan and Anakin, as it's all a bit meh. And again, not sure how Reva was able to discover the escape route so easily (it was the Force!). Speaking of Reva, I'm not sure how her colleagues haven't murdered her yet for being supremely insubordinate. Finally, the canon breaking still seems to be strong with this one.
So that was my review of Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 3. Stay tuned for my review of Episode 4 coming soon! According to the showrunners, it's meant to be the most important episode of the show, so looking forward to seeing it for myself.