Leia has been captured by Reva and her forces and she’s ready to go to any lengths to extract the information she needs. Meanwhile Kenobi and Vala look for any way to get into the isolated facility in which she’s being held.
However Darth Vader himself is heading their way and time is running out. Can the fugitives survive against the overwhelming forces stacked against them?
There were many expectations for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series and though it comes with the high pedigree of any Lucasfilm production, it isn’t quite the animal you might have been expecting. The pre-publicity indicated that if the connective tissue between trilogies was to lean in any direction it might favour a young Luke Skywalker, with Obi-Wan/Ben keeping an eye on him from a distance. Instead the series has fully invested in the young Leia and made the whole of the six-episode run about Kenobi’s mission to retrieve her from her kidnappers and the grip of the Empire while simultaneously tracking the Empire’s initiative to wipe out the Jedi once and for all.
Last week gave us that notable click-bait attraction of a Kenobi/Vader rematch and this week’s entry sees Leia in the clutch of Reva and her cohorts as Darth Vader closes in in an effort to trap Obi-Wan. It a;; feels very much like a deliberate nod to the scenes in Star Wars where Luke, Kenobi et al do their own Leia rescue and consequently sneak around the Death Star corridors and try to avoid detection. This time it’s an Empire enclave surrounded by water rather than a ‘not a moon’ space-station but, inside, it’s still a series of familiar corridors with sinister soldiers and hapless stormtroopers on the march. It’s not that the Part IV episode isn’t fine to look at, merely that for six-episode run, there doesn’t seem to have all the urgency of momentum you might expect. So far we’ve largely got Kenobi and Leia on the run, skipping from one encounter to another and narrowly escaping or surviving each in a staggered trip back to the safety of Alderaan, almost as if the remit of the season is to lay the groundwork for the galactic state-of-play rather than tell a solid story-arc of its own.
Ewan McGregor is the lynchpin of the production, often better than the script itself. It’s fine that we’re seeing a reluctant warrior who’d rather not be overt with his skills and McGregor handles the quieter and more internal moments with aplomb, but audiences have tuned in to see the titular character be proactive and it’s good that we’re finally getting to see him use his lightsaber and the Force rather than merely frown, duck and hide. The corridor confrontation, with overwhelming forces stacked against the fugitives is the kinetic punctuation a sometimes slower series needs. (However the docking area sequence, full of enemy fire arguably works less well. The rescuing speeders seem to defy the laws of physics and Kenobi hiding Leia under his long cloak as they walk along veers dangerously towards an almost comical variation of trying to smuggle yourself into a movie-theatre as a child). On the flipside, the pre-torture scene where Reva attempts to intimidate Leia into revealing information is tense – any scene where someone is deliberately cruel to a child should always be unsettling – and though Leia is in danger of becoming the wise-mouthed maguffin of the piece, Vivien Lyra Blair herself continues to impress with a real sense of presence. It’s incredibly good casting with every inch of the young diminutive actor recalling a young Carrie Fisher.
Moses Ingram’s Reva might still feel like a standard boo-hiss villain, but the actor works well and if the possible rumours about the back-story to her character prove true, it will add some serious weight. It’s also good to see Indira Varma’s Tala survive another instalment, managing to thread the needle between looking every inch an Empire official but circumventing the base’s security… especially as it initially seemed her days might be numbered, her presence reduced to more collateral damage.
It’s clear to see that every penny of the budget has been lovingly used on creating the right environments for the story – from claustrophobic corridors to wider vistas, the post-production and VFX department are always on fine form and the acting rises to the challenge… but it will also be interesting to see how the final two episodes of the run play out… it’s unclear how much more story there is to tell or whether Kenobi’s return to Alderaan continues to be forestalled for episodic convenience.
- Production Design / VFX9