‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ episode 4: A daring rescue that doesn’t quite hit the mark
Obi-Wan narrowly escaped Darth Vader’s clutches last week, but the Empire still ended up with a win in the form of a captive Leia. It’s hardly surprising then that anyone tuning into Disney Plus (opens in new tab) this week gets to follow the titular hero as he infiltrates the supposedly impregnable Fortress Inquisitorius to rescue the princess.
If old Ben heading off to save Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Empire sounds at all familiar, that’s because it’s essentially the plot of ‘A New Hope’. But, if you were expecting plenty of Darth Vader, you might want to manage those expectations. The question is, can Reva and co hold the fort in his absence? And can Star Wars’ latest rescue mission live up to the universally adored season finale of ‘The Mandalorian’?
If you’re not quite up to speed, check out our review of ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ episode three, along with our Obi-Wan Kenobi streaming guide to find out more about the show and its release schedule. And if you’d like to remind yourself what this latest Star Wars outing is up against, refresh your memory by reading our Star Wars TV shows ranked, worst to best.
We begin with Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) drifting in and out of consciousness en route to Jabiim. In episode three we learned that the planet serves as the hub of the fabled Path, a series of intergalactic highways that provide safe-passage for enemies of the Empire.
Upon his arrival the injured Jedi is swiftly dunked in a bacta tank, à la ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (minus Luke’s giant nappy…). During his recovery Kenobi writhes in agony as he experiences the effects of the bacta and flashbacks from his recent duel with Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen/James Earl Jones) on Mapuzo. This is interlaced with snippets of Vader in his own bacta tank, who seems equally as troubled. We like the juxtaposition here, with the former experiencing trauma from the duel itself and the latter reflecting on his former master slipping through his grasp.
Following a violent flashback of the flames that nearly killed him, Obi-Wan regains consciousness and surfaces in a panic. Tala (Indira Varma) tries to comfort him, telling him he’s safe and on Jabiim, but Kenobi instantly enquires about Leia before we cut to Fortress Inquisitorius.
The plucky youngster is being held in an interrogation room and is busy informing two unfortunate guards of her royal status, when Reva (Moses Ingram) enters the room and tells the child that Obi-Wan Kenobi is dead.
Back on Jabiim, Obi-Wan and Tala approach Path mastermind, Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr), who believes Obi-Wan is endangering the underground trafficking operation. As Kenobi pleads his case, Tala points out that Leia knows too much about the Path to be left in the hands of the Empire. Roken explains that his force-sensitive wife was tracked down by the Empire and agrees to help.
He reveals that the fortress is on Nur, a moon in the Mustafar system – where Vader’s personal fortress is also situated. Roken confesses he has no idea how much of the complex is underwater, but it’s Obi-Wan’s only way in. Tala volunteers to go with him and use her credentials as an imperial officer to help the Jedi out from the inside.
While on Tala’s shuttle, Obi-Wan continues his attempts at reconnecting with the force but struggles to manoeuvre even a small object. Tala tells him he needs to heal more than just his body and that: “The past is a hard thing to forget,” insisting he has to overcome it if he’s to save Leia.
Back at Fortress Inquisitorius, Reva continues grilling the youngster and admits the Empire thought the Path was a rumour. When Leia asks how Obi-Wan died, the inquisitor changes her demeanour. With feigned compassion, she softly explains that he burned to death and that the fugitives’ she’s hunting left him for dead. She then tells Leia she can go home if she reveals the location of the Path. But when the senator’s daughter claims she doesn’t know anything, Reva drops the act.
Moses Ingram’s ability to flit between intergalactic good cop and bad cop makes for compelling viewing. And it really fits with the constant battle that’s perpetually raging through her character’s head.
Tala has no trouble landing her shuttle in the fortress and makes good headway, before she’s stopped at a security checkpoint by an imperial jobsworth who demands to see her identification. He realizes she’s in the wrong sector, but before he can act, the quick-thinking rogue officer dresses down her inferior for not calling her sir and is swiftly granted access.
The errant officer sets up at a series of computer terminals and uses a commlink to let Obi-Wan know she has access to the complex’s system. We then cut to an underwater scene that’s reminiscent of Obi-Wan’s descent into Otoh Gunga in ‘The Phantom Menace’.
But this isn’t the only reference. Fortress Inquisitorius was first depicted in the video game ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’, where player-controlled Jedi, Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan), also infiltrates the complex from underwater. Apart from being a pretty cool Easter egg, decisions like this create greater cohesion between the many forms of Star Wars media and that can only be a good thing.
Back in the base, Tala overrides an entry port to allow Obi-Wan access. Once inside, he incapacitates a stormtrooper and we cut to a scene of Reva attempting to use her mind probe force ability on Leia, but the child resists.
“You’re strong,” says the inquisitor, “The braver you seem, the more afraid you are. I learned that at a very young age as well.” This is an important snippet of information as it certainly seems like a Jedi teaching – another clue that Reva was once destined to become a Jedi perhaps.
While the inquisitor is speaking, Leia’s droid, Lola (L0-LA59), sneaks out of her pocket and throws herself at the Third Sister, who effortlessly uses the force to stop the little machine in its tracks.
“I had a droid when I was younger too. It was taken from me, like everything else,” she says. This is an interesting statement as it could refer to her presumed capture by the Empire, or her enrolment in the Jedi Order.
Tala tells Obi-Wan he needs to head to the detention area, but she can see from her terminal that the route is full of patrolling security droids. As she directs him an imperial officer interrupts her and asks for identification. She follows him into a secluded area and leaves Obi-Wan to fend for himself as he narrowly avoids a passing droid. Tala manages to incapacitate the suspicious officer, but not before a pair of stormtroopers approach Obi-Wan’s position. The Jedi just about manages to slip behind a metal pillar at the side of the corridor but Tala’s voice through the Jedi’s commlink raises suspicion.
As the stormtroopers double back, Kenobi squints in concentration and uses the force to cause a distracting sound behind a nearby set of blast doors. The stormtroopers buy it, and Obi-Wan is able to slip away. This is a neat nod to ‘A New Hope’, when old Ben uses the same tactic to distract a pair of stormtroopers on the Death Star.
Reva continues to try and break Leia, but just as she seems to have gotten through to the youngster, the girl says: “I’ll tell you where they are. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt…” Once again, Reva plays good cop and with hand on heart, swears not to harm anyone.
But the young Leia is playing her, much like she’ll later attempt nine years later, in the company of Grand Moff Tarkin. “I’ll have to tell my father first,” she says with a sarcastic undertone. Reva beckons a stormtrooper and says: “I hope you like pain,” as Leia screams that she will never give up her friends.
While Obi-Wan gains access to a secure part of the facility, the stormtroopers carry a screaming Leia into a large chamber and strap her into what is either a torture device (dark, we know…) or perhaps linked to what Obi-Wan is about to stumble upon (probably worse…). When we catch up with the Jedi he pauses and looks ahead at a double-tiered corridor, with rows of cell-like blocks. On closer inspection they each contain a force-sensitive host, preserved and suspended in an amber-like material.
A shocked Obi-Wan says: “This place isn’t a fortress; it’s a tomb.” The camera lingers on one of the cells, where ‘The Clone Wars’ fans will recognize the face of Tera Sinube (opens in new tab), an elderly Jedi who helps Anakin’s, then apprentice, Ahsoka Tano retrieve her lost lightsaber in season two.
Reva enters the torture chamber and initiates the device, which begins to tilt a now hysterical Leia backwards. This is cut with shots of Obi-Wan pacing down the grisly corridor and viewing the motionless bodies, including an unfortunate youngling, who looks very similar to one of the young Jedi seen at the beginning of the series’ first episode.
Suddenly, Obi-Wan hears Leia’s cries and heads off to find her as a visibly disgruntled Reva apologizes to Leia and attempts to justify her actions. But before the girl is harmed an imperial officer calls Reva away and the machine stops.
Leia and Reva’s interactions throughout the episode aren’t particularly well paced and can prevent the plot from moving forward. However, we once again enjoyed Vivien Lyra Blair and Moses Ingram’s performances, as the latter displays shreds of remorse, while leaving the viewer in no doubt that she’s prepared to harm the child.
The Third Sister storms into the inquisitor’s meeting room, where Tala is waiting for her. She insists she has news about the Path and that the insurgents are on the planet Florrum. Reva is instantly suspicious, but opts not to head straight back to Leia, which makes the whole scene feel a little far-fetched. Nevertheless we cut back to the chamber, where Leia is guarded by a pair of stormtroopers and suddenly, the power is cut.
What happens next is easily the coolest scene in the series thus far. The confused stormtroopers shuffle uncomfortably in the dark before Obi-Wan’s blue lightsaber is ignited and the hapless guard on the left is taken out before the Jedi retreats back into the shadows. The remaining trooper helplessly aims his blaster into the darkness before the distinctive hum of Kenobi’s lightsaber signals his impending demise.
Not only is this great cinematography, but for perhaps the first time in Star Wars history, the stormtroopers’ plastoid armor appears to serve a purpose. As Obi-Wan bears his lightsaber down upon the first trooper, he hacks twice at the same spot to break through the armor.
As exhilarating as this scene is, it does highlight the lack of Obi-Wan action sequences. Obi-Wan’s reluctance to fight is solid character building, but we can’t help but feel a better middle ground between Ben’s troubled mind and moments of action could have been struck.
Meanwhile, Tala’s bizarre exchange with Reva continues as the deceitful officer pretends she’s an imperial spy who infiltrated the resistance on Mapuzo.
As Obi-Wan and Leia make their escape, a security droid detects them and sets off an alarm. Reva, who still isn’t sure what side Tala is on, orders her to be taken for interrogation, just as the fortress’ alarm sounds. Just after the inquisitor leaves, Obi-Wan starts shouting down Tala’s commlink. This causes her two stormtrooper captors to hesitate, giving her enough time to snatch one of their blasters and shoot them both.
Obi-Wan and Leia are trapped in a corridor with the security droid at one end and a pair of advancing troopers at the other. Having clearly listened to Tala’s advice to forget the past, a slightly more able Obi-Wan is now deflecting blaster fire and makes short work of the enemy. He even has time to do his signature saber spin when he’s finished. Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally back!
The fighting begins anew in a connecting corridor that’s flanked by the sea and unsurprisingly a wayward blaster bolt strikes one of the windows and creates a crack. Obi-Wan takes down more troopers with increasing accuracy and throws in a few more flourishes, reminiscent of his years spent carving through tens of battle droids, before directing a bolt at a control panel and sealing the doors in front of an advancing squad of troops.
The window crack begins to expand, but Obi-Wan is able to hold it at bay using the force, as Tala rounds the corner and drags Leia to safety. Just as the imperial troops breach the corridor, Kenobi allows the window to shatter and legs it as gallons of water submerges the troopers before Tala seals the flooded corridor.
Obi-Wan dons an overcoat and cap from a fallen officer and with Leia hidden beneath his coat, the trio walk out into the busy main hall and past the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) who is barking orders and telling the Fourth Sister (Rya Kihlstedt) that Reva will pay for the fugitives’ escape. The trio make it all the way to the main hangar before the Third Sister catches up and instantly recognizes them.
Tens of troopers point their blasters at the group of rogues and there appears to be no way out, until two airspeeders advance on the hangar. Original trilogy buffs will recognize these aircraft as the snow speeders used on Hoth in ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’
The speeders strafe the imperial troops, while Tala and Obi-Wan begin blasting their way down the hangar. When one of the speeders makes an impromptu landing, the heroes pile in, with Reva hot on their tails.
The second speeder fires a burst at the inquisitor to slow her down and when the laden speeder is safely away it attempts to follow. But Reva uses the force to hurl an explosive canister at the retreating craft, destroying it and killing the pilot.
The Fifth Brother appears (yep, he’s still stomping around) and snarls at the Third Sister. Four episodes in and his character hasn’t evolved beyond sour faces and impromptu guttural sounds. It’s hard to understand what he’s complaining about anymore, since all he seems to do is grumble at Reva’s incompetence, despite her being far and away the most competent member of the group.
This is reinforced by what happens next. The camera cuts to Darth Vader striding through a corridor and bursting into the inquisitors’ meeting room, where he instantly uses force choke to lift the Third Sister up into the air and in a rare display of emotion, shouts: “You were warned what defeat would bring!”
Reva attempts to speak and the Dark Lord humors her by relaxing his grip slightly. “I put a tracker on their ship,” she says between gasps of air. Vader lowers the inquisitor to the floor and looms over her, asking her to assure him the tracker is with Kenobi. From Reva’s point of view the camera looks up at the towering Sith Lord and from Vader’s point of view it looks down at the inquisitor, effectively displaying the power dynamic. Quite why the Dark Lord wasn’t present at the fortress when a rescue mission was so likely is anyone’s guess, but this is all the Vader we’re going to get in episode four…
The airspeeder lands on an awaiting ship in Nur’s atmosphere and the group meet up with Roken who asks after the missing pilot, Wade (Ryder McLaughlin). As Tala comforts the pilot who saved them, Sully (Maya Erskine), Leia offers her hand to Obi-Wan.
The Jedi master looks into her eyes and smiles. It’s a pointed moment, because Leia has given him a purpose and in doing so helped him reforge his attachment to the force. We’re expecting a much livelier Obi-Wan for the penultimate episode!
But before the credits roll the camera pans down to the pocket of Leia’s coat. Lola blips as two bright red lights reveal that Reva installed the tracker when she snatched the droid in the interrogation room.
Obi-Wan’s latest outing isn’t necessarily a bad episode in its own right, but when you consider it’s part four of a six-episode miniseries, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed. After all, the stage was set: a daring assault on the impregnable Fortress Inquisitorius, following a tense encounter with Darth Vader the week before.
Seeing Obi-Wan swing his lightsaber with conviction was as thrilling as we’d hoped, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it. And Darth Vader – despite hovering nearby in his star destroyer – merely bookended the episode in what essentially amounted to a brief cameo.
It doesn’t help that ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’s’ outstanding depiction of Fortress Inquisitorious is quite simply better and that the episode doesn’t come close to the daring rescues in ‘The Mandalorian’s’ superb season two finale and the OG itself, ‘A New Hope’.
This is now the third episode where Obi-Wan has essentially zipped off into the sunset, and while we thoroughly enjoyed Vivien Lyra Blair and Moses Ingram’s performances, Leia and Reva took up more screen time than perhaps they should have.
As for the other inquisitors – bar the absent Grand Inquisitor – their roles have been reduced to the point where any screen time seems superfluous.
This week we leave ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ knowing nothing more about Darth Vader, avoiding any big reveals regarding Reva’s backstory and in a similar place to episode 3. With just two episodes to go, the series has a lot of catching up to do, but if anyone can bring us back into the light, we’d bet our last few credits it’s old Ben.