By Josh Reilly B.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part V is here, and it’s safe to say it did not disappoint.
In the previous outing, Obi-Wan infiltrated the Inquisitor base in order to rescue Leia (once again), while also reconnecting with his Force powers more and getting used to using a lightsaber again. For fans of the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, this episode was amazing to see, particularly as this base was used as the location for the story’s finale. While an entertaining and well executed episode, it felt like the plot of the series was running in circles as Leia needed to be rescued yet again.
The same can’t be said of Part V, where the plot and character work are on hyperdrive. The episode begins with a flashback of Obi-Wan and Anakin from their Attack of the Clones era, with Hayden Christensen donning the infamous padawan haircut. It’s a moment that fans had wanted to see ever since the show was announced, and it most certainly did not disappoint. These flashbacks are interspersed throughout the episode, appearing when both Kenobi and Vader were thinking of their past together.
Beyond these flashbacks, the episode is almost exclusively set on Jabiim, the planet where Roken and the rest of the Rebels are attempting to relocate Jedi and Force sensitive children to new, safer homes. The Empire’s tracking beacon placed inside Lola, Leia’s droid, leads Vader and Reva to this base, meaning that Obi-Wan and co. need to find an escape route to save everyone. It’s a more intimate and enclosed setting, but works well for the plot of the episode. The characters don’t physically move very far, but there’s plenty of development for them to be explored more as people, as is the case here.
Vader and Obi-Wan don’t come face to face in this episode but they do sense each other’s presence, and Reva continues to be the person in the middle of these two. Her motivations become clearer in Part V as she is officially revealed to be the youngling on Coruscant in the first scene of the pilot, where she saw Anakin wreak havoc on the padawans in the temple. It’s a harrowing scene and one that was always meant to be a metaphor for school shootings, and is unfortunately just as, if not more, relevant than it was in 2005. Reva survived the massacre but was left scarred mentally, and is working as an Inquisitor to get close to Vader in order to end him once and for all. They’re very different people, but Reva and Obi-Wan seem to have similar motives, albeit with the latter seemingly unwilling to kill his former apprentice. Reva is left on the ground and injured by Vader, who discovered her plot, but stumbles upon Bail Organa’s message revealing that there are twins, one of whom is on Tatooine. The safety of Leia and Luke in particular seems to be under threat going into the finale.
The aspect of this episode that will be most talked about are the flashbacks, something that fans have been hoping for since the series began. Some have become frustrated that the flashbacks didn’t arrive earlier, which seems to be an extreme showing of impatience from fans too set on the series simply being exactly what their in head fan fiction pictured it to be. Despite what one prominent TikToker said last week, this series is firmly about Obi-Wan and Anakin and Hayden Christensen being masked in the Vader suit for the majority of the time doesn’t change that. And as another popular online Star Wars personality stated that the franchise must be “exactly what [he] wants, it has to be perfect”, it seems fan expectations have impeded on the enjoyment for some. However, to label any of that as a criticism of the series would be extremely unfair, as Obi-Wan Kenobi has consistently done what is right for this particular story rather than simply being a live action Clone Wars series as some clearly want it to be. It must also be said that having one episode with flashbacks (so far) means that the scenes with younger Obi-Wan and Anakin are more impactful and meaningful. There’s a danger to including scenes like that too often, not only as they could impede upon the overarching story at hand (that takes place over a decade in the future), but also the emotional experience for audiences.
Ewan McGregor continues to go from strength to strength in this series and Part V resolidifies this as the best depiction of Obi-Wan to date and a particular highlight of the Scottish actor’s career to date. Kenobi is warm, kind, and selfless, and it’s truly incredible how McGregor has been able to get closer to Alec Guinness in each of his performances. In the prequels, Obi-Wan became more similar to Guinness’ iteration as the trilogy went on, and the character is now even closer to that in this series, set only nine years before. A particular shoutout must also go to Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker again with such ease that it seems like he’s never been away. Christensen has also excelled as Vader in the suit, adding more emotional weight to the character in these scenes.
Another main character of this episode was Reva, and the writing of this character continues to impress. Reva is not a typical villain, nor is she a typical Inquisitor set on punishing Jedi. She is out for revenge, as is the way of the dark side, and is not morally good by its Star Wars definition, but her motivations and end goals closely align with those of Obi-Wan (for now, anyway), making her truly complex. Vader is the out and out villain here as his redemption is years off at this point, but Reva seems more likely to go back to the light in this series. Given that she knows the existence of Anakin’s children now, it also seems unlikely that she’ll survive beyond the impending finale. Moses Ingram has played this character so well over the course of the five episodes thus far and deserves immense credit for the way in which she blends Reva’s evil with true humanity throughout.
Some have been critical of the music in the show so far, which is understandable given that the creators have refrained from using classic tracks like the Imperial March, but the original score has also matched the series well. One would hope that Obi-Wan and Vader’s fight next week will include Duel of the Fates or Battle of the Heroes, but for now, the music has been worthy of a Star Wars title.
A particularly odd aspect of this series continued in this episode, and although it’s far from a big enough problem to derail anything, it can be distracting at times. This is the production design and the way in which certain scenes are directed, as both of these elements combined makes it too easy to spot that these characters are not outside, for example, or that the actors are filming on LED screens. The method of dressing a set in the foreground and leaving the background to the volume has worked wonders for these Disney+ series thus far, and has also helped the shows’ budgets massively, but doing this requires a certain skill to ensure that these ways don’t become obvious. There’s only a few times in The Mandalorian where this problem appears, but it’s more prevalent in Obi-Wan Kenobi here. It’s an unfortunate issue that has continued throughout, but again, far from bad enough to result in any serious damage.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Part V might just be the best episode of Star Wars TV to date, with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen giving top tier performances in this outing. The episode advances the plot greatly and also continues the emotional journey of these characters, perfectly setting up next week’s finale.