Wednesday, June 19, 2024

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 4 Recap: A Jedi Master Steps Into a Dark Fortress

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Wednesday brought us beyond the midpoint for Obi-Wan Kenobi, as episode 4 of the live-action Star Wars miniseries dropping onto Disney Plus. Jedi-in-exile Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is in bad shape after nearly being burned alive during his horrifying reunion with fallen former apprentice Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).

Our hero managed to escape with the help of Tala Durith (Indira Varma), an Imperial officer who’s secretly helping Jedi escape Vader’s clutches via an underground railroad known as the Path. The volatile Sith Lord will undoubtedly be pleased when he finds out.

Unfortunately, Tala and Obi-Wan left little Princess Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) to reach the ship that’ll take her home to Alderaan alone and she stepped right into the clutches of Imperial Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram), aka the Third Sister. The villain is determined to win favor with Vader, so it’s lucky that only Obi-Wan knows Leia is the Sith Lord’s lost daughter.

It’s time to immerse ourselves fully in the Force and dive into a galaxy of SPOILERS. This show takes place around 10 years after Revenge of the Sith and nine years before A New Hope.

No escapeObi-Wan reconnects with the Force awesomely and teams up with Tala to rescue Leia from Fortress Inquisitorius on Nur, but the wily Reva placed a tracker in the girl’s beloved droid LOLA. It’s part of her plan to track down the Jedi and the Path, which just about saves her from being fatally Force-choked by Vader (who storms into the room in an extremely cool manner).

“It seems I have underestimated you,” the Dark Lord says as he releases Reva. Every line induces chills, James Earl Jones is still magnificent at 91.

Darth Vader will seemingly tolerate Reva’s weakness no longer, but she manages to change his mind.

This calls back to the original Star Wars movie (aka Episode IV: A New Hope), since Vader employs a similar tactic in allowing the Millennium Falcon to lead the Empire to the hidden rebel base in Yavin IV. Since that movie takes place nine years after this show, it makes sense that the Sith Lord would employ the tactic again.

Leia also remembers the move in A New Hope, reasoning that having a tracker on board is “the only explanation” for their escape. I guess the events of this show taught her that lesson the hard way.

Seeing Obi-Wan sneaking around an Imperial facility is visually similar to the original Star Wars, in which he slinks around the halls of the Death Star to disable the battle station’s tractor beam. Fortress Inquisitorius was previously seen in 2019 video game Jedi: Fallen Order, in which Cal Kestis infiltrates it for the final mission (the game takes place five years before this show).

Early rebellionBefore his trip to Nur, Obi-Wan has a brief dip in the healing fluids of a bacta tank to fix up his burns after his battle with Vader. Like any good action hero, he cuts his recovery short because he needs to rescue Leia. This trope always stresses me out — rest up Obi-Wan, you don’t want to get a horrible space infection.

No time for flashbacks Obi-Wan, you’ve got a princess to rescue.

This bath also presented the perfect opportunity for a delightful flashback — just ask Boba Fett, that fella loved his snoozy recollections — to Obi-Wan and Anakin being super Jedi best friends and leaping about in their cool armor during the Clone Wars, but that doesn’t happen. We just get a memory of his recent trauma in battling Vader, and the image of the Sith Lord in his own bacta tank. Which is still pretty cool, and better for pacing than hopping back further in the chronology.

Obi-Wan is also introduced to anti-Imperial network leader Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who’s trying to help surviving Jedi. His wife was either a former member of the Order or a Force sensitive who was hunted down by the Inquisitors. It’s unclear if she’s someone we’re familiar with.

Underground network operator Roken has some personal history with Empire’s Jedi hunting program.

Roken’s network isn’t quite the Rebel Alliance we see in the Original Trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). At this point in the timeline, the resistance effort is a scattered series of cells operating largely independently — they’re united by renegade Imperial Senators Mon Mothma and Bail Organa (Leia’s foster father) during the events of CGI animated series Rebels a few years later.

Creepy InquisitorsDuring his Fortress Inquisitorius infiltration, Obi-Wan discovers a horrifying room filled with the preserved bodies of dead Jedi — including younglings. It’s a striking reminder of the Empire’s terrible deeds.

Some fans might recognize a Cosian that looks like Jedi Master Tera Sinube among the entombed. He showed up multiple times in The Clone Wars CGI animated series, perhaps most memorably when he helped Anakin’s Padawan Ahsoka Tano recover her lost lightsaber.

There are some familiar faces among the dead Jedi preserved in Fortress Inquisitorius.

He also lived a pretty long life, having also shown up in stories set in the High Republic era (more than 200 years before the events of this show). We previously had no clue about his fate in the wake of Order 66, in which clone troopers turned on their Jedi allies.

It’s unclear why the Empire is holding onto the bodies of Jedi, but it could be related to Emperor Palpatine’s attempts to genetically engineer Force-strong beings to act as replacement bodies in the event of his death.

The Bad Batch’s first season (which takes place 10 years before Obi-Wan) and The Mandalorian (which occurs around 18 years after this show) allude to Palpatine’s attempts to use science to extend his own life indefinitely. He hadn’t quite pulled it off by the time he was killed in Return of the Jedi, which is why he returns in a yucky, failing cloned body in The Rise of Skywalker (around 44 years after the events of this show).

Since we know how the Palpatine plotline plays out, this feels like a bit of a storytelling dead end. Hopefully these genetic experiments will turn out to be about more than just his machinations.

Obi-servations and Easter eggsThe badass scene where Obi-Wan strikes the Stomtroopers from the darkness mirrors a similar moment seen in a trailer for 2010 game The Force Unleashed 2.Obi-Wan’s swimming into Fortress Inquisitorius calls back to his swimming on Naboo in The Phantom Menace and mirrors Cal Kestis’ method of infiltration for Jedi: Fallen Order’s last mission.Leia’s Force sensitivity likely allowed her to resist Reva’s mind probe.We overhear a Stormtrooper saying Nur gives him the creeps — I never tire of getting snippets of Imperial goons’ conversations, reminding us that they’re mostly average Joes just trying to make a living in a galaxy run by space wizards.The torture chamber Leia is brought to is similar to the one where Jedi: Fallen Order’s final boss takes place.The black-armored Purge Troopers make their live-action debut in this episode, having previously appeared in Jedi: Fallen Order (where they were a serious pain to defeat in battle), its Dark Temple tie-in comic series and writer Charles Soule’s 2017 Darth Vadercomic run. Their helmets have been redesigned in the years since those appearances, likely as the Empire transitioned from clone troopers to stormtroopers.Obi-Wan with Leia under his trenchcoat looks like a pathetic attempt to sneak a kid into a movie theater.It is awesome to see Roken’s pilots using T-47 airspeeders. The Rebel Alliance will later modified into snowspeeders for use on the icy planet of Hoth, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back.We would be honored if you would join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, June 15 , when episode 5 — the penultimate chapter — of Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney Plus.

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