Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi follow. For more on the series, check out our reviews of the Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 3.
Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t hanging around. Fresh from a beating (and a burning) at the hands of Darth Vader, the defeated Jedi is put on the Bacta Tank Treatment Plan and is back on his feet in no time. With just six episodes in the series, it’s a move that could be seen as surgical – a swiping cut that does away with any bloat. Instead, it hurriedly sets the scene for a so-so episode that counts as the series’ first real minor disappointment.
Leia has been whisked away to Fortress Inquisitorius, a location that will be familiar to fans of Jedi: Fallen Order. The premise – essentially a prison break, aided by an Imperial spy – also proves familiar. It’s here where the episode falls down, namely because it’s a pale imitation of two far stronger episodes of The Mandalorian in ‘The Prisoner’ and Bill Burr’s double agent turn in ‘The Believer’.
With Tala on distraction duty, Kenobi swims in and just about outmanoeuvres on-duty troopers. In his sights? Leia, who is being interrogated by Reva for the location of the Path and all those who hide within it. The moxie of Leia (“Is this a staring contest?” she quips) proves to be one of the episode’s highlights, though there are just one too many scenes of Reva – supposedly the Inquisitors’ shining light – trying and failing to get information from a ten-year-old for these scenes to really hold much weight.
There is still plenty to like dotted throughout the episode. There are a few breathless moments as Obi-Wan and Tala sneak into the Fortress, especially as their responders cackle, drawing the attention of Stormtroopers. Later, too, when Obi-Wan rescues Leia, his attacks in the dark showcase the Jedi slowly finding his feet again in a visually arresting scene that acts as a warped mirror to Vader’s own rampage in Rogue One. Coupled with the tunnel fight later in the episode, the episode shows just how capable Deborah Chow is at handling all sorts of action in a galaxy far, far away.
The episode is also a treat for Jedi: Fallen Order fans, with the location, troopers, and even the final act’s flood and escape sequence feeling like fun nods to the 2019 video game. Obi-Wan’s discovery of the Jedi tomb – a twisted monument to Order 66 – also brings in a deep cut Clone Wars character. If nothing else, it proves Lucasfilm has become more adept at casting a wider net around Star Wars’ legion of side stories and spinoffs and is now capable of weaving them into a ‘main’ narrative without feeling like throwaway fan service. Instead, this is a rich, full galaxy that Obi-Wan Kenobi exists in.
Aside from the Fortress’ beautiful interiors – Star Wars’ retrofuturism has never looked better – there’s something oddly cheap about the assault and escape on the Imperial base. That’s best seen in an awkward sequence involving Reva deflecting blaster shots while clearly not in eyeline with the rebel ship. When looking at The Mandalorian and even the cinematic quality of the Andor trailer, it stings to see Obi-Wan occasionally feel like a B-tier show when it should be the main event.
Vader does, however, swoop in and provide the episode with a much-needed jolt of energy. His confrontation with Reva is as terrifying as anything we’ve seen so far in the series, though his limp excuse for keeping her alive less so. Reva, presumably, is still breathing for plot purposes – but Vader has never been one to suffer fools gladly. The show’s failure to reconcile immediate story with established canon, then, is something that could work against it moving forward as it continues to fill in more gaps.
Obi-Wan, Tala, and Leia eventually escape but, with Reva’s tracker firmly in place on Lola, it’s clear they’re not in the clear yet. The Empire – backed by Vader’s fury – promises a more vicious response next time around and should make for a stronger episode. When the season is over, it’s likely that this will feel like an anomaly – an episode that doesn’t quite match up to what’s come before it.
For more on Obi-Wan Kenobi, check out our interviews with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen on their favorite memories filming the show and how their characters’ relationship has changed, as well as Christensen on why he didn’t speak to George Lucas before returning as Darth Vader and Moses Ingram on playing the galaxy’s newest villain, Reva.
For everything else coming soon from the galaxy far, far away, see our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows.
3 out of 5
While Leia’s prison break at Fortress Inquisitorius contains a handful of engaging scenes, the episode stands out as the weakest of the bunch so far thanks to redundant Reva scenes, tough-to-swallow Vader logic, and wobbly CGI.