*Warning: The following piece contains spoilers for episode four of Obi-Wan Kenobi*
Every movie or TV series needs to follow a hidden [but golden] rule to freshen things up a bit: the same character cannot be kidnapped twice. If they do, that screams laziness because the other characters will have to go on another rescue mission. We’re four episodes into Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) has already been kidnapped twice. Our titular character (Ewan McGregor) has to go on another rescue mission before Reva (Moses Ingram) tortures her and accesses information on the Path…or worse.
Some will say, “but Leia got kidnapped in A New Hope!” Yes, I know. Re-read the last paragraph. Don’t kidnap the same character twice in the same title. It’s lazy, and the fourth episode of Obi-Wan greatly suffers from it. A few interesting aesthetic flourishes prevent the episode from being outright terrible. However, we’re finally seeing the effects of having a pretty dull basis for a show that can quickly be resolved in a two-hour film. Now that you’ve rescued Leia in the second episode, what do you do for the next four? Why, kidnap her again, of course! And here we are with this week’s filler episode that barely expands on the show’s great third episode, which literally [and figuratively] left Obi-Wan for dead. His arms were enflamed by the rage Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen/James Earl Jones) carried inside of him since the end of Revenge of the Sith.
Now that is an infinitely better follow-up to last week’s episode than “Rescue Mission #2.” And since the stakes are so low, because we know that a) Obi-Wan survives, b) Leia survives, and c) Darth Vader survives, we have a relatively standard 32-minute action setpiece that adds nothing to the story and immediately drops whatever interesting themes the show left off from last week. As I said, that’s not saying that the entire episode is terrible. For instance, any scene with Moses Ingram’s Reva is terrific, and she continues to prove how incredible of a STAR she is in this series. Chills came down my spine when she started to interrogate Leia because we know how unpredictable she is. Reva can snap at any moment if she doesn’t get what she wants, and Ingram plays her oh-so-brilliantly. Every time she is on screen, the screen lights up and awakens me from my slumber, and the scene where she tries to use the force on Leia to extract information, but the young princess says, “Is this a staring contest?” is probably the best of the entire series by far.
We knew that Leia was force sensitive, but watching her in action and actively blocking Reva’s mind probe is unabashedly cool. Of course, it helps that Vivien Lyra Blair’s line delivery in this scene has the right amount of sass to give us a huge smile on our faces. I have to say that Young Leia is certainly growing on me. Blair’s performance in the last two episodes has been outstanding. Her chemistry with McGregor is starting to solidify itself into a more palatable father/daughter relationship, akin to Logan and X-23 in James Mangold’s 2017 film.
And there’s another scene, a very brief one, where Obi-Wan takes out two stormtroopers in the dark that’s reminiscent of Darth Vader’s attack from Rogue One that’s just plain cool. Because of that specific callback, I found myself loving that particular moment, but the rest of the episode is incredibly standard. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse between Obi-Wan, Tala (Indira Varma), and Reva, who is trying, once again, to find the Path, as she believes Obi-Wan will be there. But it’s a quickly boring premise, filled with so many “undercover” clichés we’ve all seen before in film and TV, with the person undercover (Varma) almost getting caught many times before, until some miracle occurs that prevents Reva (or other members of the Empire) from knowing the truth.
Of course, when Darth Vader shows up, the screen also lights up, as his rage (beautifully represented through an erratic camera from Chung-hoon Chung’s lens) causes him to force choke Reva. But the aspiring inquisitor tells him that she managed to put a tracker on Obi-Wan’s ship before they took off to God knows where. Clever, and, yes, it’s making me look forward to seeing where the show will end up next. However, after four episodes, I don’t share the same enthusiasm for the show as some critics and fans are. Its basis has contrived the show in a lazy circle where we had to kidnap Leia twice instead of expanding upon the ideas presented in last week’s incredible episode. The series’ final two episodes will have to knock me out of my seat for me to love Obi-Wan, or else it may just be the most disappointing Star Wars project I’ve seen in my lifetime. Yes, the experience of watching Obi-Wan Kenobi is more soul-crushing than The Rise of Skywalker because we can see the potential right in front of our eyes. Yet, it gets squandered by one bad creative decision after another…
The fourth episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.