Obi-Wan Kenobi: Episode 4 Review
In an attempt to not only become a certified Film and TV critic, but to also actually use the film and television degree that I got 4 years ago at University (You can check my credentials), I am going to be trying to regularly review Film, TV and Games when I can. I am hoping that this will not only open up new content for Court Case Podcast fans and listeners, but also open up the opportunity for myself and Sweet Tee to get invited to premieres and maybe enjoy some free swag, a man can dream.
But anyway, I can honestly say that I don't remember a summer with better TV than 2022. I am astonished at how many shows I am watching at the same time. We've got Stranger Things, Better Call Saul, The Boys, Obi-Wan Kenobi and more. Two of these shows are having mid season breaks to continue later on in the summer also, just dominating the sunny season. From what I've seen so far, Better Call Saul reigns supreme in terms of quality television, but these are all serious competition.
Moving onto Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first 3 episodes of this 6 part limited series got off to a great start, with last weeks episode being a particular highlight. It's this weeks episode however, where we see things start to falter. Obi-Wan visits an imperial stronghold to rescue Princess Leia with another character in disguise. Does this sound familiar? Well that's because it is a clear mirror to the original Star Wars, A New Hope. This doesn't serve in the episodes favour however, as it only draws comparisons (With Obi-Wan coming off worse).
The main theme of Obi-Wan Kenobi is our title character grappling with the force. He has shunned it for 10 years in hiding, only to have to come out of hiding and re-use these skills to rescue Princess Leia. He begins to use the force more this episode, but that's about it in terms of exploration. Ben Kenobi's relationship with Anakin/Darth Vader is the secondary theme of this series and that doesn't fare any better either.
Last week, Obi-Wan discovered that his apprentice Anakin is in fact still alive. It's a huge revelation for him, yet despite a few brief (But very well edited) shots of the previous fight while Ben is in his bacta tank, this isn't addressed at all this episode, or grappled with by Obi-Wan at all. Not only that, but Darth Vader's screen time is maybe a minute. With Hayden Christensen receiving top billing with Ewan McGregor and conducting the press tour with him, I was expecting Vader to be a secondary main character from episode 3 onwards. Episodes 5 and 6 better pull out all the stops when it comes to Darth Vader or audiences are going to feel cheated.
This brings me to the Inquisitors. To start off I don't understand how they are even a thing. I'm going to preface this by saying that I have only watched the movies, the live action series and played LEGO Star Wars, so I don't have any wider knowledge. In the Phantom Menace, Yoda states to Mace Windu, 'Only two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice,' when discussing the Sith. Currently in Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Emperor and Darth Vader are alive and kicking, which if my math is correct, makes two. So how are there force sensitive inquisitors knocking around using lightsabers and trying to force interrogate little girls? They should be dead if Darth Vader, the apprentice, is still alive.
It's getting to the point for me where I would have preferred much of Inquisitor Reva's screen time be given to Darth Vader. While Moses Ingram is a terrific actress, her character lacks depth and just isn't compelling enough to keep my attention. The audience wants Ben's conflict with himself and his conflict with Anakin. Stick to those core themes.
There were some positive's to be pulled from this episode however. Ewan McGregor is continuing to make this show worth watching alone. His performance is compelling and possibly the best we've seen him yet in all of Star Wars. I recently rewatched a New Hope, And the effort that Ewan is putting in to match Alec Guinness' performance is astounding. There are small things, particularly in this episode, such as the way Ben sneaks around the hallways, that matched Guiness in the same scenario perfectly.
The sequence in which Obi-Wan rescues Leia is visually beautiful. Solely lit by Obi-Wan's lightsaber and the red lights, it creates a great visual representation of Ben's loneliness amongst the dark powers at be. And I also think that having Leia's little droid Lola be turned into a tracking device is a development that could become some good dramatic explosion later on, even though it makes no sense. Obviously they are going back to Alderaan so why do they need to track them? Honestly Vader should have just strangled Reva for having 0 common sense.
Closing Statements: While off to an incredible start, Obi-Wan Kenobi falls flat with it's 4th and shortest episode (It's 32 minutes without credits, Disney+ that is terrible). Rehashing a plot from the original that didn't need repeating, this episode strays away from the shows core themes with no benefit in doing so. However, Ewan's performance continues to be compelling and there is some visual beauty here.
Verdict: 2/5 Stars
- James Court (Host of the Court Case Podcast)