This discussion and review contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 4, “Part IV,” on Disney+.
We’re officially in the back half of the six-episode Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, and “Part IV” tied up a lot of the loose ends left in last week’s dramatic, if underwhelming episode, while providing some illumination for where the last act of this story might take us. With a great depiction of the familiar Fortress Inquisitorius, some wonderful character moments with Obi-Wan and Leia, and a few thrilling reveals, the episode is definitely a step up from last week’s disappointing encounter. And while it still suffers from playing things a bit too safe, this installment gave us another exciting Star Wars prison break, especially for those who’ve played through the entirety of 2019’s underappreciated Jedi: Fallen Order.
We kick things off with an Obi-Wan who’s both physically and mentally defeated after his reunion with Vader. The hand of his unconscious body tries and fails to grasp at something, a visual that pays off at the end of the episode when Leia holds his hand. After joining Vader, Luke, and Boba Fett as members of the Bacta Bath Boys, we’re introduced to a few straggling folks on the Path, which seems to have early traces of the Rebellion that forms over the next decade or so. While I thought Roken’s (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) story of his Force-sensitive wife being taken away by the Inquisitors was a well-performed moment, I wish this opening allowed us more time to spend with these freedom fighters, especially given what happens near the end of the episode.
An infiltration/prison break plan is quickly formed, delivering similar vibes to the excellent pair of Mandalorian episodes that dabbled in similar stories. While this scenario again highlights the problem with modern Star Wars drawing from the same well over and over, I really appreciated the editing and pacing of the entire sequence. The tension is palpable as Tala uses her Imperial officer credentials to go deeper into the fortress, Obi-Wan’s cat-and-mouse game with various guards is a nice callback to his journey on the Death Star in A New Hope, and Leia showing her heroism under interrogation works really well. I especially liked Leia’s snide quip of “Is this a staring contest?” as Reva failed to gather information from her using the Force.
“Part IV” makes overt callbacks to the aforementioned Jedi: Fallen Order, as the way Obi-Wan Kenobi makes his way into Fortress Inquisitorius mirrors exactly how Cal did the same thing five years prior in the timeline. In fact, this entire episode feels like a neat expansion on that final chapter of the 2019 game, complete with a terrifying glimpse at Vader to cap things off. I’m not going to lie — there was a moment during this episode where I thought they might even reach out to Cal, as he seems to be the only person who’s ever managed to infiltrate and escape the fortress in one piece.
Unlike with the muddied editing, framing, and lighting of last week’s episode, Fortress Inquisitorius and the entire mission were conveyed with a lot of effective artistry. The cold sheen of the Imperial base was juxtaposed nicely with the murky green waters of Nur, one of the moons of Mustafar. And whether it was a probe droid scanning for intruders, officers questioning Tala’s clearance, or Obi-Wan using the Force to distract incoming stormtroopers, everything on screen was legible and entertaining.
“Part IV” really hit its stride at the point Obi-Wan Kenobi reaches the inner sanctum of the compound and finds that it houses a tomb of all the Jedi that the Inquisitors have hunted down over the past decade since Order 66. In previous episodes, I noticed that the Inquisitor conference room they all hang out in has its walls lined with lightsaber hilts, which I had assumed were the only trophies they kept. But seeing the hundreds of lifeless bodies, including those of younglings, did a great job of showing just how ruthless Vader’s bloodhounds have become.
After a distraction from Tala, Obi-Wan is able to sneak into the torture room and rescue Leia (though it echoes what is to come later in A New Hope). This was probably my favorite scene from a visual standpoint of the entire series so far. With all of the lights out, save for the harsh red glow emanating from a ring on the floor, it’s thrilling when Obi-Wan’s blue lightsaber ignites as he dispatches the first guard. It only got better as the blade disappeared, shrouding him in darkness once again, only to reignite as he took out the second guard. The lighting and framing of this sequence reminded me of Rey and Kylo’s throne room fight in The Last Jedi in the best possible way.
I also dug the sequence with Obi-Wan, Leia, and Tala escaping the fortress. Watching Kenobi slowly gain confidence in the battle, using his saber to deflect blaster bolts, slicing through stormtroopers, and using the Force on the cracked glass long enough to ultimately set a trap and down the incoming guards shows that he’s learning how to ride this bike again. We’re seeing the roots of how an older Obi-Wan managed to finally defeat Darth Maul in the incredible “Twin Suns” episode of Star Wars: Rebels.
While these few scenes were genuinely thrilling, I thought the final stretch of the episode landed with a thud. Using the ol’ “hide a child under my trench coat” thing was cartoonishly silly, and while we’re meant to mourn the death of one of the two pilots who came to rescue them, the only thing I know about him is that his name was Wade. And I only know that because I was watching the episode with subtitles. Again, if we had spent more time with these people at the start of the episode, perhaps this moment would’ve held more weight.
Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part IV” pretty much encapsulated my opinion on the series as a whole. I adore spending more time with Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair is an absolute treat as a young Leia, and I like all of the new characters we’ve met like Tala and Reva, but I still wish there were more meat on their bones for us to chew on. I’m hoping that the final two episodes of the series really stick the landing and make it clear why this whole endeavor exists in the first place, other than just being a nice hang with some old friends and a couple of new ones. But at the very least, this episode made me want to go back and replay Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, so I guess that’s a win regardless.