Review: ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Part IV Brings a Classic ‘Star Wars’ Subplot to Live-Action TV

Part IV of Obi-Wan Kenobi picks up right where we left off last week’s episode, with our protagonist now with Tala’s Rebel cell, healing from his wounds and planning Leia’s rescue from the Inquisitors’ grip. This episode is classic Star Wars, a smaller mission inside the larger story trying to rectify the wrongs of what happened the last time we saw our heroes. It’s the second act of A New Hope, the first 45 minutes of Return of the Jedi, and approximately 30% of the episodes of the animated series.


That is, perhaps, the best way to describe it. This is the typical rescue-from-the-Empire episode of Star Wars: Rebels brought to live-action, on the plus side and on the downside. I know there have been some criticisms out there about Deborah Chow’s directing in past episodes, though I have personally not shared them. I have been enjoying Obi-Wan Kenobi even more than I anticipated, and I thought last week’s episode was exceptionally good. In Part IV, Chow and the screenwriters (Joby Harold and Hannah Friedman, this time around) worked together to create some amazing sequences with nail-biting tension and very high stakes, and fooled me into thinking our heroes might not make it out at several points.


WARNING: Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi: Part IV ahead.


Obi-Wan Kenobi healing in a bacta tank


Let’s start from the beginning, because Obi-Wan Kenobi continues to impress me very much with its depiction of its characters. After a shocking execution of Star Wars poetry during the third act of Part III, with Vader trying to burn his former Master alive, Obi-Wan must get into a bacta tank to heal his wounds. But there are internal wounds the tank won’t be able to reach, those of the mind. Chow worked with her editor Kelley Dixon to deliver great visual storytelling that works on multiple levels.


As he enters the bacta tank, Obi-Wan can’t stop thinking about Vader and what he’s become after their fight on Mustafar. This is very clear to us thanks to great editing that cut between both characters. He’s so troubled by what just happened he snaps out of it and has to leave the tank to get some air. Meanwhile, Vader has been preparing for this for a long time, and his healing bath proceeds normally. He is calm and getting mentally ready for the next fight. I also love how, in some shots, we can’t really tell who is who. In some way, they are one and the same, but we immediately realize they are very much not.


O'Shea Jackson Jr. in Obi-Wan Kenobi


After Obi-Wan decides he’s had enough healing for one day, and it’s time for them to get Leia back, we meet O’Shea Jackson Jr., who is playing a Rebel officer named Roken. While he’s only in a couple of scenes here, the episode’s final scene definitely teases we’ll get more from him next week. I mentioned earlier that Part IV feels like a Rebels episode brought to live-action, and that is for the good and the bad. This scene is one of the weaker aspects of that — Roken is initially against the idea of getting into the Fortress Inquisitorius, but after he remembers out loud his deceased wife, he’s all for it. It took him less than a minute.


It’s a turn that in animation may be acceptable, but came off a bit cringy in live-action, a weak link in a script that needed the action to get going. That being said, the mention of Roken’s wife, who we understand used to be a Jedi (or at least Force sensitive), being taken by the Inquisitors was a good foreshadow of what Obi-Wan would find inside the Fortress. Obi-Wan and Tala then travel all the way to the water moon Nur, where Tala will try to infiltrate the facility using her Imperial credentials. This is something the actress already teased this past week in interviews, and Obi-Wan Kenobi did not wait any longer to show.


The two split up but stay in contact through the comlink, something that proved to be as useful as dangerous during the mission. I must say, though, I was bothered a few times by Obi-Wan calling Tala out several times when she didn’t answer. As we saw in The Clone Wars and in the prequels, this is not the first time he’s done something like this, so he, better than anyone else, should know that if the person on the other end of the line isn’t answering, it might be because something is not going according to plan. And if that’s the case, that person could do without more proof that they are doing something suspicious like, say, talking to a Jedi through a comlink. Again, this is something they do a lot in animation, but in live-action becomes very questionable.


Reva and Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi


Jumping to the other side for a moment, Part IV gave us several scenes between Reva and little Leia, though I must say, I wasn’t a big fan of this part. It felt very awkward to see a little girl being interrogated, especially because it was very noticeable that they were holding back so they wouldn’t scare the children watching. I appreciated the fact that Leia tried to mess with Reva multiple times, but that didn’t stop the Third Sister from being as ruthless as she’s been so far. I was a bit distracted for a moment when she didn’t destroy Lola (though I loved that she foresaw the droid’s attack and was able to stop it), but that had a very nice payoff at the end of the episode, so I’m very satisfied with that part of the scene after all.


The biggest problem of this part of the episode, for me, came when Reva was very conveniently interrupted a second before Leia was to be tortured. This was the biggest downside of directly translating animation into live-action. It was a very cartoonish scene that would have never happened this way. No officer should have been allowed to enter the room, no matter how “urgently” another Imperial needed her, and even if Reva was forced to exit the room, why wouldn’t she make little Leia suffer while she was gone, as cruel as that sounds? I understand they don’t want the little kids to be upset or too scared, but the execution was a bit poor. I was actually looking forward to Obi-Wan suddenly breaking into the room and getting into a lightsaber confrontation with Reva. That would have been a much better option for me, as it avoids Leia being tortured, gives us another lightsaber fight, which Star Wars can always use, and would put Tala in a very interesting position, now having to leave her post and go down there to help, prompting another nail-biting subplot for her.



I’m not sure how much Tala thought she could fool Reva, and how much she didn’t really care, as long as they got Leia out of there. This did provide us, however, with some awesome shots inside the torture room, with Obi-Wan using the cover of the dark to attack the stormtroopers without being noticed. I am a huge fan of how Deborah Chow is using Obi-Wan’s lightsaber in this series, which is brighter than ever and is the light source of many scenes, like some shots in the third act of Part III and in this sequence, as well as the subsequent scene in the hallways.


As Obi-Wan and Leia were surrounded by stormtroopers there, I thought at first that this would have been the perfect moment to give the prequels a nod and include some lightsaber shenanigans with Obi-Wan spinning his lightsaber really fast and blocking every single blast fired by the stormtroopers. A shorter version of the opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith, if you will. But this is a different Obi-Wan, and in hindsight, I love what they did. He’s still got Jedi reflexes and manages to block every single blast, but he is ten years older and out of practice, so he can’t pull off those movements anymore. It makes perfect sense. There is, however, a scene later on where they could have had those over-the-top lightsaber movements, and I’m confused why they didn’t, but we’ll get to that.



As soon as Obi-Wan is spotted by a probe droid, Reva’s priorities shift again, and Tala escapes in a laughable sequence that forgot there was a third Imperial in the room. She then reunites with Obi-Wan, who is about to pass out trying to hold the integrity of the window of the hallway. This was yet another example of a showcase of great filmmaking from Deborah Chow in this episode, who pulled off some incredible tension in some of the sequences, especially with Indira Varma as Tala infiltrating the facility.


Things rapidly spiral out of control, as alarms start ringing all over the facility after the hallway is flooded, and we see Sung Kang’s Fifth Brother ready to unload his rage upon the Third Sister, while Obi-Wan, Tala, and Leia pass by his side unnoticed. But not to Reva, who quickly confronts them as they try to escape, only to be rescued at the eleventh hour by two Rebel ships who start blasting their way into the hangar. Again, a very convenient moment that felt very cartoonish. The first transport takes our heroes away from the Fortress, but the second one stays, trying to cause more damage.



This sets up a duel between the second ship and Reva, that, while very cool, could have been much more visually stunning. I feel like both sides were holding back, with the ship only firing a handful of times and Reva only trying to deflect the shots instead of taking down the ship. I understand that the script needed Reva to survive the attack, but I still feel like it could have been much more intense. And Reva, a powerful dark side Force user, could have deflected many more blasts. The prequels would have played this scene much more over the top, and I get that they are trying to stay away from that, but Vader already had a similar scene at the end of Rogue One, so there is a precedent for something like it in the Disney era. Of course, Reva is not as powerful as Vader, but there must be some middle ground there. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt it was a bit underwhelming that a character who is trying to take on Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles to handle a single Rebel ship.


Skipping to the final scene for a moment, I love the fact that our heroes are devastated by the end. Often times, these missions end with one or more faceless allies untimely dying, but since we haven’t really met them, we usually close with our heroes celebrating their escape. Not this time. A pilot died, and they feel responsible and are wrecked by the loss. Even though they rescued the Princess and our main characters survived, one of their friends didn’t, and the episode ends on a very somber note.


The scene right before that sees a ruthless Vader confront Reva while the other two Inquisitors amuse themselves watching. But what started off as a great scene that even scared me, suddenly featured another character (Vader, this time) immediately changing his mind as new information comes to light. In a split second, he goes from very angry to saying he underestimated her. It’s probably one of the more believable cartoonish moments of this episode, but I still feel like a small rewrite of Vader’s reaction to learning about the tracker, or even an edit around it, could have worked to its benefit.



I know I am probably nitpicking here, and overall I thought it was a solid episode, though it’s probably my least favorite so far. While there has been some character development, the plot hasn’t advanced much, and Part IV felt more like fixing the mess the last episode ended with while also setting up the final two episodes. It’s the closest Obi-Wan Kenobi has come to a filler episode, and it’s more evidence that the strongest episodes of the show have been the odd-numbered ones. I hope that’s not a bad sign for the finale.


Some additional comments:


  • Obi-Wan finds out the Fortress Inquisitorius contains a crypt for former Jedi, including Master Tera Sinube. The initial shot featured a character on the left that looked like Quinlan Vos, but since Obi-Wan didn’t even react to him, I assume it’s not him. Obi-Wan name-dropped him last week, so it’s clear that the show is aware of their friendship.
  • Reva hints again that she might be one of the younglings we saw in the opening sequence of the show, but four episodes in, we still don’t have a clear explanation. I’m not sure if Part V will address it next week, but I fear they won’t have time to fully get into it. I hope I’m wrong, and by next Wednesday, we finally understand why she’s so focused on Kenobi, and also why she knows who Darth Vader really is.
  • While I was aware that little Leia was in Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s been a big surprise (and a welcome one too) to realize she’s still in it this many episodes into the show. Vivien Lyra Blair has definitely been one of the highlights of the show, I adore her as little Leia, and I hope this represents yet more proof that Lucasfilm should not be afraid to recast younger versions of our original trio. I know it’s not the same as a 19-year-old Han, and I won’t get into that discussion, but I love the fact that they fully embraced this path.
  • That being said, every second she spends with Ben Kenobi, I question more and more how much this show is bending canon to tell the story. Not because it will undermine the Vader and Obi-Wan confrontation in A New Hope, which I never thought it would, but because now Leia’s message in that movie doesn’t make any sense. When pleading for help, instead of identifying herself as the little girl he traveled the galaxy with nine years earlier, she talks about her father and needs to remind him that they served together in the Clone Wars? It’s a stretch, to say the least. But I will allow it for now, just because I think the show is working in a big way because of Leia’s inclusion.


For more thoughts on Part IV of Obi-Wan Kenobi, make sure to tune into our YouTube channel tonight, as our friends from The Resistance Broadcast will be having a live discussion on the episode at 9pm ET.


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Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as movies from Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.

Miguel Fernandez

Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as movies from Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.