Published on June 10th, 2022 | by Craig Silliphant0
Obi-wan Kenobi Round Table Review – Episodes 3 and 4
In this Obi-wan Kenobi Round Table, Craig and Kim discuss the third and fourth episodes of Disney Plus’ new Star Wars show, featuring Ewan McGregor.
CRAIG: Okay, we looked at the first two episodes of Obi-wan Kenobi here. There’s six episodes in total, so we’ve decided to look at two more — then the last two when the show is done.
CRAIG: Uh…not to be confused with Episode III, of course.
I really just have one really positive thing to say about the episode — and one negative. Let’s go positive first.
On the plus side, I absolutely loved the growth of the relationship between Leia and Obi-wan. Not only in how he relates to her past and being close to her mother and father, but also in what it exposes about him. The whole thing about him also being an orphan and vaguely remembering his own birth family was powerful.
We know that the Jedi took children. But Star Wars has always been about archetypes. Black and white. Good vs. evil. I always assumed that bringing kids into the fold was a benevolent approach, because the Jedi are supposed to be the good guys. However, it’s interesting in the new era when they show more of the grey, like they did in Rogue One (when Andor will straight up murder guys for the Rebel cause).
And as a side note, why not set up a housing project for the immediate families of force-sensitive children you’re taking? Shmi Skywalker had to get murdered by Sandpeople but you get to take her son? Actually, I guess the reason they don’t do this is nefarious — they don’t want a young Jedi to have attachments. The moral of the story is that the Jedi are pricks, I guess.
Anyway, I’m starting to drive off into the bushes like Leia running from Flea. What is your positive about the third episode?
KIM: I like being back in the Star Wars universe and thoroughly enjoy the sets, costumes, and landscapes of a universe that keeps expanding and colouring itself with little details. With each new iteration of Star Wars characters, we learn a little bit more about new places and the people/creatures/droids that inhabit them.
And speaking of characters, I hate to love how I love to hate the villains. Darth Vadar is likely the greatest villain in movie history, and they are showing us how he went from a prize-winning, pod-racing world champion to a child-murdering, intergalactic overlord of misery and hate. He’s ferociously intimidating and the physical acting of Hayden Christiansen is a high point. He really keeps the continuity of David Prowse’s original stature intact. They also managed to create yet another hateable, evil, power-hungry villain in the Third Sister, played by Moses Ingram. She must be a good actor, because I hate her so much! I want to see ‘ol Ben spank her with her own lightsaber.
The most significant parts of Ep. 3 are about the relationship between Ben and Leia, but it was small details of Darth Vader that I enjoyed the most. Apparently, no star system is too big, no town is too small for that guy to snap necks, drag around villagers or conquer with oppression. I suppose my take is a little more bleak than yours, but, as you said, Star Wars has always been about good vs. evil and if we want a Jedi hero, we need a Sith villain. The better the villain, the braver the hero. You know how the Force works!
CRAIG: Well said. Vader and the Third Sister are both pretty badass. And I like how flawed her character is. She’s perfectly petulant, but also an unstoppable force. No pun intended.
On the negative side for this episode, I really thought they bungled the staging of the Vader/Kenobi face off. It’s really cool that we get it; it would be annoying to wait until the last five minutes for them to meet. I loved the lightsaber colours against the darkness, though I also heard some people say it was hard to see what was happening because it was too dark. I had a glare on my TV so I didn’t get a great sense of it. I need to watch it again.
Anyway — they clash. Then Ben gets away, incredibly easily. There’s a little wall of fire blocking him that Vader and any number of stormtroopers could have walked through, walked around, or just used the damn force to pull him back again. I heard some good theories about why he lets Ben get away so easily, which is fine. But I just didn’t believe the staging of it. I think it could have made sense. But for me, it didn’t. It just reminded me of Leia escaping from three lumbering grown men when they had her surrounded. It was cheap.
KIM: Darth Vader may be, “more machine than man now,” but he’s still human and has some seriously understandable PTSD around anything fire. Y’know, from getting his arms and legs chopped off and being pushed into a lake of molten hot magma.
And you’re right, there is plenty to pick apart here. Why didn’t Obi-wan change his last name, too? Like he went, “I got it. Obi…wan…Miller. No no no no, that won’t do. Too obvious. BEN…Kenobi. There! Now no one will ever find me!”
And all these tense scenes that put Ben and Leia in peril, in possible mortal danger, have to subside. It doesn’t work for me because I know they’re going to be fine, and so it seems like wasted time that could be used for other aspects of the story, like this struggle that Ben seems to have about not being able to commit to a single task or idea. He’s on Tatooine to protect Luke, but right after Uncle Owen is threatened and put under a microscope by The Inquisitors, Ben takes off to go help Leia, and leaves the Lars and their nephew open to serious danger.
Again, we know that Luke is going to be fine (not so much Owen and Beru) but Ben had no way of knowing that at the time. As with his padawan in the prequels, Obi-wan can’t fully commit to Anakin or the advice of Yoda or the orders of the Jedi Counsel. Obi-wan’s real inner turmoil is that his heart wants to help everyone but, in war, that just isn’t possible. It makes me think that your comments earlier, regarding the need to separate Jedis from attachment, is bang on.
CRAIG: Haha, I thought of the PTSD thing too, which is fine. I’d hope the most badass man in the galaxy isn’t afraid of fire, but who knows? Some people thought maybe it was because there was still good in him. But again, it was a staging thing; he could have walked around the fire. Or sent stormtroopers. Or ships. Or used the force. You see where I’m going with this.
CRAIG: Okay, we’re starting to run long here, so I will basically repeat the same things I just said about episode three.
I love the end of the episode where we see Leia and Ben holding hands. I’ve been praising bringing Leia in since the beginning, but this has become the emotional heart of the story. I almost wish we could retcon some of A New Hope to show how they interact when Leia is grown up. That said, in A New Hope, when Luke comes into her cell, she jumps up and says, “Ben Kenobi — where is he?!” That used to mean she was ready to be rescued. Now her enthusiasm can mean she’s thrilled to be reunited with her old friend. Love it.
It was also awesome to see Ben/Ewan finally do some Jedi stuff, swinging his laser stick around and whatnot. I get why they built to his use of Jedi powers and I’m fine with it.
My only real annoyance with this episode was similar staging stuff. First, they saunter into the hanger bay full of bad guys with a grizzled Obi-wan in an ill-fitting jacket hiding Leia underneath like a couple of Little Rascals stacked in an adult’s coat. Then, they’re able to board a speeder and get away in a room full of bad guys, including Third Sister. Do they want us to believe she couldn’t deal with a speeder that’s just hanging in the air in front of her? Again, you could make this make sense. And you could make it awesome. She jumps up on it and rips it apart with her lightsaber or whatever. But the whole thing was staged so poorly that it’s laughable.
I know that may seem like nitpicking, but it’s one of the first rules of suspension of disbelief. I will believe there are Jedi and Sith and that they have remarkable power. But when her life is literally on the line (because Vader will kill her for failure), she sort of lazily bats away laser blasts and lets Obi-wan get away AGAIN. It breaks the rules. It means she can use crazy power when the script needs her to, but when it needs her to suck at her job, she does. It’s just weak writing and staging. I’m guessing some of this is budgetary limitation, but come on.
KIM: This is difficult to write about, especially in an objective way, because I’m watching it with a friend each week and he’s really enjoying it. I’m enjoying it too, but there are so many problems with this show it’s becoming increasingly difficult to defend. I’m struggling to hold back my criticisms like Ben holding together that broken window. And why are there so many windows in an underwater fortress? Is it because Lord Vader, ruler of the galaxy, likes to go down that hallway and look at all the fish? You know he goes down there because it’s right next to his Dexter tomb of dead trophy bodies. This entire building has me puzzled. There are no shields surrounding it, “because no one would be stupid enough to attack them,” and yet the inside is crawling with probe droids and patrol guards. I suppose I could consider that those measures are in place to keep an eye on the employees and not intruders, the way video cameras in a box store work but, again, now I’m doing all the work that the show is supposed to do for me. I’m a customer, not an employee!
The entirety of the Empire seems like the most dysfunctional family ever, with an alcoholic dad constantly drunk with anger towards Old Ben. And can they please stop calling him an old man in every goddamn episode? Ewen McGregor was in grade 12 when I was in grade 9. He’s old, I’m old, we all get it, let’s move on.
The getaway was supposed to be hot sauce, but turned out to just be ketchup with Tabasco stirred in. I could consider that it was all an act by Third Sister to make them feel like they escaped, but knowing the tracker would lead them to an entire base of undesirables. You know Darth will accept that idea because he accepts it in The Empire Strikes Back. We also now know where Vader gets the idea for that electric torture-rack he uses on Han in Cloud City. Third Sister. (I think Darth likes her).
I’m going to watch the last two episodes with my buddy Earl, another childhood friend who shares my love of Star Wars. And we’re going to get excited, make popcorn, and enjoy it. So even though the internet seems to hate this series, and I don’t think we’re going to see any more episodes next year due to that fact, I’m giving it a pass. I feel like the guy at the breakfast table who keeps dunking toast slices in his coffee. Everyone around me is grossed out, can’t understand how I’m okay with it, and suggest better ideas (like, hey! Knock it off!) But do you know why I keep dunking toast slices in my coffee? Because I like it.
Let’s hope it’s a strong finish in the final two episodes. The growing relationship between Ben and Leia is sweet, and I’m holding out hope that the slow rehabilitation of Kenobi’s Force powers is leading somewhere fun.
CRAIG: You make some great points there. And as a critic, I think it’s okay to enjoy something, but also pick it apart. Some of us just like to know how things tick. Some don’t, and that’s fine too. Sometimes it’s hard, but it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of a thing. Just like seeing a good moment in a terrible movie doesn’t make me love that movie. Like, there’s some great stuff in Attack of the Clones, but overall, there’s too much garbage in it for me to love it.
And as a side note, they are allegedly developing season 2 for old Ben Kenobi (I agree that they established his extreme age well in the first couple of episodes and they don’t need to keep banging that drum). We’ll see what happens, but I think it’s been successful enough for Disney+ that they want more. I would be thrilled to see more. One and done would make me as sad as a lonely old hermit sitting in a cave waiting for the universe’s new hope to grow up.
We’ll reconvene after the final two episodes!