Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm’s OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved
This week’s episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi proves that having a bit of patience can often be a virtue. “Part V” sees Obi-Wan Kenobi entering its endgame. Questions are answered, allegiances are tested, and a long-awaited reunion occurs. It’s yet another tightly-paced, action-packed episode. But it’s the most explicit instance of Obi-Wan Kenobi communicating its central thesis. It remains to be seen whether or not the show can ultimately stick the landing. But “Part V” provides a pretty damn good starting point, that’s for sure.
Trapped on Jabiim
As the episode begins, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor), Tala (Indira Varma), and the rest of the Path discover the Empire’s followed them to Jabiim. And to make matters worse, Leia’s (Vivien Lyra Blair) hijacked droid gets into the base’s computer system, jamming the doors and preventing their escape. The situation quickly becomes a race against time as Leia helps repair the jammed doors while Obi-Wan tries to keep the Empire from storming the base. “Part V” ratchets up the tension. While you know Obi-Wan and Leia aren’t necessarily in any real danger, the same can’t be said for almost anyone else. And that immediately creates this palpable tension that runs throughout the episode. A tension that easily boils over as Reva (Moses Ingram) and the stormtroopers eventually make their way into the base.
“Part V” is a perfect example of a base-under-siege episode, where all the main characters are trapped in one location, with a fearsome enemy slowly cornering them, forcing them to act upon their truest instincts. Who are these people when the bases are loaded and all hope seems lost? This question is at the center of “Part V,” and it’s easily the most engaging aspect of the episode. Tala is the kind of person willing to fight to the death, to try and make up for the damage she’s done in her past. Which is exactly what she does as she sacrifices her life so Obi-Wan and the rest of the Path can try to get to safety. And Obi-Wan finally steps up to the plate, unwilling to let her sacrifice be in vain, and tries to buy the Path time by “negotiating” with Reva.
As Obi-Wan and Reva talk, the show finally unveils Reva’s backstory. In some ways, it’s a shocking reveal. And in others, it should’ve been painfully obvious. As it turns out, Reva is one of the Younglings featured in episode 1’s opening flashback. She witnessed Order 66, where Anakin aided the Clone Troopers in massacring the younglings at the Jedi Temple. And, as she tells Obi-Wan, she only survived by pretending to be dead. It’s a horrific bit of backstory and one that perfectly explains her motivations throughout the show. But what makes this even more interesting is that Obi-Wan’s never been who she’s been after. Instead, she’s been after Darth Vader himself all along. In hindsight, this feels quite obvious. But that’s not a bad thing. It just means that the show did a great job of seeding the idea.
It’s not the kind of twist that comes out of left field, but one that builds on every piece of information we’ve been given so far. Even her animosity towards Obi-Wan makes sense – after all, as she tells him, Anakin was his apprentice. So, in a way, isn’t Obi-Wan somewhat to blame for the deaths of all of those Younglings and for all of Vader’s actions? You can tell it’s a question Obi-Wan has been asking himself ever since he learned of Anakin’s survival. If he hadn’t failed Anakin, as he believes he did, would any of this have happened? Ultimately, though, that’s not the biggest concern. As Tala said before she died, there are some things from your past you can’t forget. But you can try to make up for them. And that’s exactly Obi-Wan’s plan.
A Betrayal and an Escape
Obi-Wan, ever the tactician, uses Reva’s thirst for revenge to his advantage, convincing her to use him as bait. Obi-Wan’s betting on Vader’s impatience, his need to prove himself. Whether or not Reva truly cares what happens to Obi-Wan remains a mystery, but she does go along with Obi-Wan’s plan. And, naturally, it backfires spectacularly. At first, Vader does exactly what Obi-Wan predicts. He focuses solely on hunting Obi-Wan down, ignoring the revenge festering inside Reva. Vader’s relentless pursuit of Obi-Wan gives us yet another glimpse at just how ruthless this version of Vader is. There’s something so frightening about the way he just storms down a hallway, taking out anyone who stands in his way.
But alas, Vader’s too late. And the moment Obi-Wan escapes, the moment Reva moves to strike Vader down, he turns on her, having sensed her betrayal the entire time. And he quickly takes her out. Though, as we’ve learned with the Grand Inquisitor’s (Rupert Friend) reappearance here, never assume someone’s dead unless you see the dead body. And even then… Regardless, Vader and the Grand Inquisitor leave Reva for dead, stripping her of her title and her dignity. One betrayal after another. But left behind in the chaos of the Path’s escape is Obi-Wan’s communicator. And on that communicator is a message from Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits). A message that gives Reva an idea of where to go next. For there’s a boy on Tattooine – a boy Obi-Wan and Bail Organa have tried to keep hidden away from Darth Vader…
Much of “Part V” rests on the shoulders of its framing device – a flashback to one of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s training sessions. In the flashback, we catch glimpses of Anakin’s need to prove himself, to win a battle at any cost, and his total lack of patience. And, like always, these prove to be his downfall. For much of the fight, the pair seems pretty evenly matched. But Anakin, reckless as ever, turns his back on Obi-Wan the moment he thinks he’s gotten the upper hand. And, as always, Obi-Wan uses that moment of weakness to overpower Anakin. The whole sequence is absolutely enthralling from start to finish, even as it’s scattered throughout the episode’s runtime. And it’s an absolutely delight finally seeing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen reunited on screen after all of these years, as if no time at all has passed.
But writers Joby Harold & Andrew Stanton and director Deborah Chow don’t just use this sequence as fan service. Instead, it serves a purpose. Throughout the episode, both Vader and Obi-Wan reflect on this particular battle, using it as a way of predicting each other’s next move. And that’s endlessly fascinating. It’s such a simple, yet effective, way of communicating how intimately Vader and Obi-Wan know each other, and how evenly matched they are in almost every sense. Both of them know each other’s strengths, to be sure, but they also know each other’s weaknesses. And both of them try to use those weaknesses against each other. But, ultimately, history repeats itself as Obi-Wan makes great use of Vader’s impatience. Overall, the perfect use of a flashback and a perfect melding of fan service and good storytelling.
As a penultimate episode, “Part V” does exactly what it needed to do. It finally starts answering some of the show’s biggest questions while perfectly laying the groundwork for an explosive finale. It’s another action-packed episode, packed to the brim with great character beats, earned fan service, and even more thrilling action sequences. And best of all, it leaves off on the perfect cliffhanger, making me very eager for the finale to drop. With all roads leading back to Tattooine, it looks like we might be in for the rematch of the century on Vader’s home turf. But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how all of that turns out.
New episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.
"Part V" of "Obi-Wan Kenobi" starts answering some of the series' biggest questions while perfectly laying the groundwork for next week's finale. It's yet another action-packed thrill-ride of an episode - with a whole lot of wonderful character beats along for the ride.
Part-time writer, part-time theatre nerd, full-time dork.