Welcome to the Fortress Inquisitorius. This place has everything a discerning Sith Lord could ever ask for: Dark Side-infused Jedi hunters, cool evil architecture, a tomb full of the frozen bodies of Jedi and other Force-sensitive people, a room where you can torture children if you’re so inclined. We hope you enjoy your stay!
Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 4 clocks in at a tight 35 minutes or so minus the opening “previously on” and the closing credits, and in this ep Obi-Wan and his newfound ally Tala, a rogue Imperial officer, infiltrate the Fortress Inquisitorius, home of the Empire’s Jedi-hunting cadres. While Tala bullshits her way into a control center to feed Obi-Wan information, the old Jedi tracks down Princess Leia. The poor kid is on the verge of being tortured by Reva, the Third Sister, for information on the Jedi-relocation network called the Path until Tala stages a distraction and Obi-Wan swoops in for the rescue.
But they don’t get away scot free. Between “seeker” droids, non-blaster-proof windows cracking from the pressure of the ocean waters outside, and phalanxes of stormtroopers, including some in menacing black armor, Obi-Wan and Tala have their work cut out for them if they want to escape. Fortunately a pair of Path members zoom in and start blasting away, rescuing our heroes at the expense of one of their own lives.
Vader shows up after the fact, furious about Obi-Wan and Leia’s getaway and the Third Sister’s secret machinations. But she has one last trick up her sleeve: She placed a tracker on the ship the Jedi used to escape. Not on the ship literally, but in it—specifically in Leia’s pet droid LOLA. That’s gonna be a bummer for Leia to discover.
All in all, it’s a brisk little episode that reminds me of nothing so much as a cut-scene sequence from a Star Wars video game like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. (It doesn’t hurt that the game features a Fortress Inqusitorius break-in/break-out sequence of its own.) It utilizes the spartan Imperial aesthetic to create an illusion of impregnability, then shows our characters shattering that illusion. It’s a tried-and-true method of Star Wars storytelling that goes all the way back to Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO’s adventures on the first Death Star. And there are interesting glimpses of how the Empire has handled Force-sensitives since its establishment, namely a hallway full of Jedi bodies in suspended animation that Obi-Wan stumbles across. Entombing the Force sensitive is at least part of the Fortress’s true purpose, and that’s some good Dark Side storytelling.
But the episode brushes past some of the series’ most momentous moments to date. Take that confrontation between Vader and Obi-Wan in the previous episode. That scene was already burdened by the filmmakers decision to wedge in a new face-to-face between the two old frenemies that had little of the mythic power of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s confrontation on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith or their final battle on the Death Star in A New Hope. Now, its one moment of real urgency, Vader using the Force to push Obi-Wan into a fire so as to mimic Vader’s own injuries, gets brushed away with a quick dunk in a bacta tank. Hell, Obi-Wan doesn’t even stay in the tank for the doctor-recommended length of time! If this was all that was gonna come of that confrontation, why have it happen in the first place, given how it short-circuits the “circle-is-now-complete” loop between Mustafar and the Death Star?
I think the show fared better with its handling of Princess Leia. Despite her young age here, I was reminded of Vader proclaiming his surprise as to how resistant her older self is to the Empire’s methods of torture and interrogation in A New Hope. The longer the little Leia held out against Reva’s questioning and intimidation, the more she felt like the impossible-to-break Leia of the original film. (And fortunately for us, Obi-Wan sets her free before we get to the physically-torturing-a-child portion of the festivities.)
Four episodes in, I think it’s pretty clear that Obi-Wan Kenobi is not the top-shelf Star Wars material we might have hoped for. The mythic stakes of the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader relationship, seemingly supported by the return of actors Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, are simply not as central to the story as they should be; when the pair do take center stage together, as they did last week, the confrontation doesn’t measure up. And at a certain point, the Disneyfied Star Wars franchise is going to go to the Lone Wolf and Cub “ronin warrior protects a small child” well one time too often, if it hasn’t already. Surely there were other ways to dive back into the Obi-Wan/Anakin relationship without dragging a precocious Princess Leia into the proceedings, you know?
But I do enjoy seeing Ewan McGregor’s world-weary performance as Obi-Wan, whom he convincingly plays as a guy about eight or nine years away from being fully a senior citizen with snow-white hair and a beard to match. In his performance, you’re being shown what his failure with Anakin and the fall of the Jedi did to him, not told, and that’s something worth celebrating.
The post ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 4 Recap: Tonight There’s Gonna Be a Jailbreak appeared first on Decider.