With Hayden Christensen back on the Lucasfilm payroll for the first time in over 15 years, it makes sense that fans of the Star Wars prequel trilogy have been clamoring for the actor to get more face time on-screen in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Up until today’s installment of the limited series, his appearances have been limited to scarred scowling while submerged in a Bacta tank, a very brief Force vision, and (more significantly) time behind Darth Vader’s mask.
But “Part V” of Obi-Wan Kenobi immediately makes up for all that by opening with an extended Clone Wars-era flashback to Padawan Anakin Skywalker lightsaber training with his Jedi Master Obi-Wan that recurs throughout the length of the episode (another relatively short one at roughly 35 minutes without credits or recap).
But outside of the flashbacks, the meat of this episode is about Darth Vader and his newly promoted Grand Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram) arriving on Jabiim in an effort to snuff out the Path once and for all. Having escaped Fortress Inquisitorius last week, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) have joined their new friends for a mass exodus on this Underground Railroad for Force users. But little do they know that Reva has covertly planted a tracking device on Leia’s droid LO-LA59, and soon they are faced with a tense stand-off against Imperial forces. Reappearing in the underground bunker on Jabiim are con-artist-turned-freedom-fighter Haja Estree (Kumail Nanjiani), Imperial spy Tala Durith (Indira Varma) and her loyal loader droid Ned-B, and Path leaders Roken (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Sully (Maya Erskine).
As a legion of stormtroopers gathers outside the bunker’s entrance, our heroes scramble to get the hangar roof open after it’s been sealed by a corrupted Lola. In a head-scratching moment, Roken refuses to crawl into the vents to fix the problem, but Leia takes the initiative (a moment made more confusing by the fact that the access vent looks perfectly large enough to fit an adult human, but I guess they felt the need to give Leia something to do). Meanwhile, Ben receives a holo-message from a concerned Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), discovers Reva’s true purpose as an inquisitor, and makes a stand with the help of Tala and Ned. There are some terrific action setpieces interspersed with the quieter beats, but the real tension comes from the interplay between Vader and Reva, culminating in a showdown that pays off five episodes worth of buildup.
I thought “Part V” was a really solid outing with a couple of silly moments that didn’t quite work for me, like Haja absentmindedly dropping Obi-Wan’s holo-communicator during the escape. That moment sets up Reva’s discovery of Luke Skywalker, of course– and what is likely to be an exciting confrontation on Tatooine in the finale– so I suppose it was necessary, but I do think it could have been staged better. Otherwise, I really enjoyed most everything here, especially the reveal of Reva’s backstory and reasoning behind her vendetta against Obi-Wan (and Vader), the who-could-have-guessed-it twist of the previous Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) still being alive, and the confirmation that, yes, Vader usually has a pretty good idea of which of his underlings are planning to stab him in the back. Next week it seems the Lars homestead will be in danger even after Leia is reunited with her adopted father, so I’m eager to see more of Joel Edgerton as Uncle Owen and Bonnie Piesse as Aunt Beru. But how big a part will Luke play in this ongoing grudge match between Ben and Reva, and why does Darth Vader give up on his hunt for his old master? I look forward to finding out.
The final episode of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi will be released next Wednesday, June 22, exclusively on Disney+.