Last week “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” arguably the most anticipated “Star Wars” series on Disney+ got underway. And honestly, things were a bit wobbly. It didn’t really deliver in the ways that you might have expected, either emotionally or viscerally, and saddling Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor, back for more) with a pint-sized ward felt overly familiar after two seasons of “The Mandalorian” (plus his episodes of “The Book of Boba Fett”). But still, with four more episodes to go, things could change and veer in a totally new direction, especially with the second episode’s tease of the return of Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
And honestly, the third episode (simply titled “Part III”) was an improvement over last week’s inaugural installments, with more action, more droids and – yes! – more Vader. Read on for our full breakdown of “Part III.”
Major spoilers follow for “Obi-Wan Kenobi’s” third episode. If you haven’t watched yet, turn back now!
Prayer for the Dying
We open with Obi-Wan on the unmanned transport ship they hitched on Daiyu. He’s on his knees, “praying” (for lack of a better word). He’s attempting to contact Qui-Gon, something that Yoda said that he would be able to do. Qui-Gon doesn’t answer, but he hears several voices (including Yoda), but he keeps getting interrupted with the sound of Reva’s (Moses Ingram) voice, telling him that Anakin is still alive. This is intercut with footage of Darth Vader being “built” (again, lacking a better word) – his mechanical arms and legs being affixed to his body, his iconic chest piece getting drilled into his flesh, his helmet being placed upon his badly scarred head.
We cut to Mustafar, the lava planet where Obi-Wan has a castle. (We have seen this castle, in all of its glory, in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”) Vader sits on his throne. Reva, the Third Sister, appears in hologram form. He says he doesn’t really care that the Grand Inquisitor is dead (although he would probably be miffed if he knew that Reva killed him). “I know what it is you seek,” Vader tells her. He says that if she completes her mission, he will make her the Grand Inquisitor. And if not, well, she won’t be back for season 2!
Back on the slow transport ship to nowhere, lil’ Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) asks, “Are we almost there?” He says he doesn’t know. She asks if he could use the Force to make them go faster. He says that’s not how the Force works. When she asks what it is like (and it’s very clear that she has a deep connection to the Force already, whether she knows it or), he asks if she’s ever been afraid of the dark. She says yes. He says the Force is like turning on a light. It makes you feel safe.
What makes this whole exchange very funny is that it’s an old, grumpy Jedi, refusing to teach a young female Force-user how to properly weird her power after his earlier protégé goes bad. It’s almost exactly the set-up of “The Last Jedi,” a “Star Wars” movie that caused such outrage that angry nerds are still posting about it on the Internet to this day. Apparently, this scenario is okay for Obi-Wan but not for Luke. Got it.
The cargo ship lands on some mostly barren planet (hey, this is a TV show after all). They pass by a chunky robot who looks sort of like Ace, the pilot that was supposed to take over for Rex in the updated storyline for Star Tours. Obi-Wan says they’re on a planet that is part of a “mining system.” It used to be lush and beautiful, that is, until, “The Empire ravished it all.” Out in the middle of a plain he thinks he sees Obi-Wan, his face a ghostly white. He is imagining it.
Elsewhere, on some watery planet, Reva lands and travels down a cylindrical building to the Inquisitors HQ, below ocean level. The Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) is there, as is the Fourth Sister (Rya Kihlstedt). There’s some bickering. Reva tells the Fifth Brother that she actually spoke to Vader; he’s taken aback. “He asked me to lead the hunt,” she says. After slightly more discussion, she orders the probe droids to be unleashed – these are the same probe droids that searched for Luke on Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back.” It was neat getting to see them constructed and sent on their way, out into the galaxy, searching for spies.
Good Moleman to You
Back on the dusty mining planet, Obi-Wan and Leia start to get their stories straight. He tells her that she will be his daughter and that she doesn’t talk. “I can’t talk or I don’t want to talk?” she asks. (It’s a good line!) They flag down a truck that is being driven by a moleman, who we will call Hans, and who is inexplicably voiced by Zach Braff. He offers them a ride to the spaceport but as they’re climbing in the back that notice that he has a hand painted Imperial flag. (This is like getting into somebody’s car and noticing a Trump bumper sticker.) When they get seated they realize just how into the Empire he is – VERY.
They stop and pick up Stormtroopers that need a ride. They tell him that they’re looking for a Jedi. He says he wouldn’t know how to even pick out a Jedi. Obi-Wan accidentally calls her Leia instead of the made-up name. In one of the nicer moments in the episode, Obi-Wan gives the Stormtroopers a sob story – he called her Leia because that was her mother’s name. He gets mixed up sometimes. He can’t help but look at her and not see the woman who passed. The Stormtroopers, never burdened with much intellectual curiosity, buy it. They get off at the next stop.
Leia says that she knows he was telling the truth, that he knew her mother. She asks if he is really her father. He says he wishes that he was her father but he’s not. She says she can’t remember her mother and he can identify with that; he was taken away from his parents at a young age and given a new family – the Jedi. But he thinks he had a brother. This could open up other avenues of storytelling (there’s probably already a novel or something being written right now). Imagine being the deadbeat brother of the coolest Jedi ever.
The Moleman comes to a laser gate. Hans tells the Stormtroopers at the gate that they might want to check out his passengers. They go around back and start to search him. Also the probe droid shows up and gets a good look at him. Obi-Wan takes out his blaster, puts one in the probe droid’s mainframe and shoots several more of the Stormtroopers. One falls from an outpost and gets cut in half by the laser fence, which is admittedly pretty cool. Before they’re out of the woods, er, dusty plains yet, another transport vehicle shows up with even more Stormtroopers and a very severe-looking Imperial officer (Indira Varma, who played one of the Sand Snakes in “Game of Thrones”). Just as the Stormtroopers are about to unload on Obi-Wan and Leia, the officer shoots all the Stormtroopers.
As it turns out, she was the contact they were supposed to make that Haja (Kumail Nanjiani) told them about in the previous episode. Maybe they will make it off this backwater planet in one piece.
Back in the water tower, they review the footage from the probe droid. More bickering (you know how Brothers and Sisters are). They agree to travel to the planet and lock down every port. Obi-Wan and Leia can’t slip through their leather-gloved fingers again.
The Imperial officer takes them to a droid factory in town. She says she’ll connect them with a pilot that can give them off-world. (For a minute, I suspected that Riz Ahmed could be making an appearance as Bohdi Rook, his character from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” This theory was proven wrong by episode’s end.) Leia says she misses her home.
There’s another one of those big boy droids, like the kind Obi-Wan and Leia saw when they first landed on the planet. The not-Imperial officer tells them that the robot is a loader droid, meant to help with mining, but that they aren’t allowed to communicate. Leia, who loves her little droid Lola (Obi-Wan fixed her droid earlier in the episode), can’t believe that they wouldn’t let the droid talk.
The not-Imperial officer takes them into a secret room. “There are safehouses throughout the galaxy,” she explains. It’s a network called The Path, which calls to mind the Underground Railroad. Obi-Wan asks if it’s just for Jedi trying to outrun Order 66 and their forced extinction. She says no. The Empire, it seems, “hunts anyone who is Force-sensitive, even children.” Ouch!
Some Stormtroopers come to the droid shop but the nonverbal big boy holds them off. Obi-Wan, the non-Imperial lady and Leia are headed down a secret tunnel. But Obi-Wan has a vision or a sensation or something and turns to look out into town. The Inquisitors are there. And so is Vader. This is definitely the Darth Vader from the end of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – he’s ripping people out of their homes and snapping people’s necks. Obi-Wan sends Leia way with their new friend. He can distract Darth Vader, he says. Just get Leia home safe.
Obi-Wan leads Darth Vader to a mining operation. He asks his once-friend who he has become. “I am what you made me,” Darth Vader bellows back. (It should also be noted that James Earl Jones, whose godlike voice is part of what made the character so iconic in the first place, has returned. He is a spry 91 years old.) Meanwhile, the Inquisitors are rounding up people in town and Reva arrives at the droid workshop and starts piecing things together. This stuff is being cut to during the face-off between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader so for the sake of recap efficiency, we can say that she sees a Jedi symbol carved into the wall and finds the secret escape tunnel.
Obi-Wan and Vader are having a full-on duel, meaning that the duel between the two of them in the first “Star Wars” movie wasn’t the first time they had squared off since the prequels. “The years have made you weak,” Vader says, his lightsaber swinging. Finally they get to an opening. Vader spills some kind of mineral on the ground and lights it on fire.
In the tunnel as Leia and the not-Imperial officer are running away, Leia tells her that she can find the pilot herself. The officer lady needs to help Obi-Wan. They split up.
Vader Force-grabs Obi-Wan and throws him into the fire. He’s trying to recreate their fight on Mustafar, only this time Obi-Wan will the one writhing in agony as his flesh melts off of his body. “Now you will suffer Obi-Wan,” Darth Vader taunts. “Your pain has just begun.” Stormtroopers show up and flank Darth Vader. The non-Imperial officer lady shows up and starts shooting the Stormtroopers. She also ignites a much bigger fire, that now stands between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan (who is pretty messed up). The loader droid shows up and carries Obi-Wan away from the fire. Obi-Wan is burnt pretty bad. The Stormtroopers fire on not-Imperial lady.
Leia makes it to the end of the tunnel but it’s not a sympathetic pilot waiting for her at the opening; it’s Reva. The camera swoops down to see a pilot, dead in the dirt. Credits roll.
This is a much better episode than the previous two. It’s a richer looking episode and there are some nice emotional beats along the way, along with more assured action staging. And it’s something of a surprise that Darth Vader and Obi-Wan have already had their showdown. We’re only halfway through the series. Maybe they will come to blows again. We hope so. There’s still unfinished business there.