Obi-Wan Kenobi returns with Part IV and its first real misfire. It’s not that Part IV is bad, but it’s not only redundant of this series, but also of A New Hope in many ways. It also put a magnifying glass on an underlying problem with the series as a whole, which is a criminal lack of character development for both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
The episode opens up with Kenobi in the bacta tank, reliving the encounter with Darth Vader. The juxtaposition between his own pain in the tank and Vader’s is a little on the nose, but serves its purpose of showing that Kenobi now shares in the pain he inflicted on his former padawan. He wakes up and finds himself at a hideout and quickly formulates a plan with Tala and Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to rescue Leia from Fortress Inquisitorious.
I found the whole break-in to Fortress Inquisitorious to be a bit unbelievable, especially when having played Jedi: Fallen Order and seeing that Kenobi’s plan of infiltration is the same exact plan that Cal used in that game. Seriously, who is in charge of security at this place? Also, what are the odds that the group Kenobi falls in with just so happens to have schematics to this super-secret Imperial castle? As the show pointed out, Nur (the planet) isn’t Tala’s station, so she wouldn’t have that information on her. It comes off as convenient to the plot. The Fortress comes off as one of the most secure and heavily armed places in the galaxy, but Kenobi is able to sneak in with little resistance and quickly rescue Leia from the Empire and Reva, who was on the cusp of torturing her for information on The Path. Tala, an Imperial double-agent, uses her credentials to infiltrate the base and aid Kenobi from within.
Part IV is the shortest episode we’ve had to date and it also feels a little misguided. Instead of taking an episode to let the confrontation with Vader marinate with Kenobi, we instead little to no character growth in this episode as it focuses almost entirely on the mission to rescue Leia…again. So far, Obi-Wan Kenobi has been about Leia being abducted, forcing Kenobi to rescue her. Then, she gets taken again and Kenobi is forced to rescue her for the second time in four episodes. I’ve mentioned on Film & Spirits that things are feeling a little formulaic with the Star Wars shows being about a grizzled adult teaming up with an important child (see The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian) and this episode seemingly reinforced the problem with that trope, in that it feels redundant in more than one way now. There’s also no tension, as we know Leia will come out of this just fine. I’m starting to wonder if Kenobi should have been partnered with a youngling Jedi survivor, which could in turn not mess with the canon and create genuine stakes as we would not know the outcome of this new character. Instead, I think the show should have used the bacta tank opening to segue into a flashback with Anakin during the Clone Wars to really dive into the emotional crutch of their relationship, especially for those who haven’t seen the animated series.
There’s also a few issues with the writing here. We know for sure that Leia knows Ben as Obi-Wan Kenobi now, which certainly contradicts A New Hope’s message for help now. Why didn’t Leia reference this important part of her life where she bonded with Kenobi on a rescue mission when pleading for his help? There’s also more situational problems, such as Kenobi knocking out an isolated stormtrooper but opting to not disguise himself in the trooper’s armour. Maybe that would have been too similar to A New Hope’s rescue of Leia in the Death Star (as is this episode), but it would have been far more logical than running around, face exposed in his robes. No wonder that Sentry Droid found him. Furthermore, why exactly does Vader spare Reva? Spoiler alert for Jedi: Fallen Order here, but Vader did not hesitate at all to kill Trilla (The Second Sister) for failing him, so why show mercy here? It just doesn’t make sense. Roken’s conflict of helping is also brushed aside way too quickly, likely a victim of the thirty-minute run time and Reva’s interrogation of Leia didn’t have any menace or threat to it, deflating the scene.
The episode isn’t without some merit though. I really loved the Fortress as a setting. It’s nice to go somewhere Imperial that isn’t a star destroyer or a death star and a top-secret (ish) castle in the water is definitely new and exciting to see. I also liked that Kenobi started using the Force again. He’s still rusty, but he’s getting back into that old way. The final scene, with Kenobi holding Leia’s hand, was also touching (despite further complicating my previous point about A New Hope).
In the end, Part IV is something of a misfire for Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s entertaining but terribly misguided. Too much is spent on another rescue mission, which is something we’ve already seen, and nothing is done to further the plot or the character. We learn about a Jedi Tomb inside the Fortress, but what bearing does this really have on anything? With only two episodes left, let’s hope we get to the meat of this series, lest Obi-Wan Kenobi ends up feeling like a missed opportunity.