Gonna try not to get too excited about the FLASHBACK—there’s a flashback in here, whoops, sorry, I’m way more into that than I expected to be, this will be all I talk about for weeks, etc…
It is prior to the events of Episode II, and Obi-Wan and Anakin are having a practice duel, which Anakin insists he will win. In the present, Obi-Wan, Tala, NED-B, Leia, and Roken land back on Jabim, but there’s a Star Destroyer tracking them and they have to evacuate everyone immediately. Haja Estree is also on Jabim, having needed to escape after helping them. Leia’s droid Lola immediately sneaks into the wiring and ruins their ability to open the bay doors, messing with their escape plans. Obi-Wan comes across another Path wall carved with names and phrases, as well as a few boxes full of lightsabers and old Jedi robes. Reva tells Vader that they know where Kenobi is and he immediately promotes her to Grand Inquisitor on the bridge of the Devastator.
Obi-Wan gives a Clone War general-style speech explaining that they will barricade the entrances, fix the bay doors, and soon escape, so everyone sets about their tasks. Leia insists that she can crawl in and fix the bay door problem; Obi-Wan tells Roken to let her to do it and Haja to keep an eye on her. In a side room, Obi-Wan receives a message from Bail Organa—he’s concerned about their radio silence, and has decided that if he doesn’t hear back soon, he’s going to head to Tatooine to give Owen help in protecting Luke. Tala comes in and tells Obi-Wan about a time when the Empire told her that they were rounding up families who weren’t paying taxes, but it turned out that they were rounding up families with Force-sensitive people in them. She could do nothing while they were slaughtered and tells Obi-Wan that it’s her job to do something now.
The group have barricaded the main ground level entrance and are waiting with weapons ready. A platoon of stormtroopers arrive with a cannon to try and break down the door. Obi-Wan senses Reva and they pause the attack to talk on opposite sides of the barrier. He realizes that she was a Jedi youngling when Order 66 came down and that she’s not intending to aid Vader—she’s hunting him. He offers to help her, but Reva doesn’t believe that he is capable when he couldn’t stop Anakin the first time and didn’t perceive the danger in him. She cuts through the door reinforcements and sends the troops in. In the ensuing firefight, NED-B and Tala are both shot, with Ned moving to cover his human friend. Recognizing that they’re not going to make it, Tala sets off a thermal detonator to buy her friends time.
Obi-Wan realizes that he knows how to end this by recalling his former duel with Anakin. In that fight, Anakin believed he had won after disarming his master. But Obi-Wan is able to take Anakin’s lightsaber from him and win anyhow—because he knows that his Padawan’s need to prove himself is so overwhelming that it eclipses all rational thought. Obi-Wan makes the choice to give himself up to Reva to draw Vader in. She calls to let the Sith Lord know his quarry is waiting, and Obi-Wan tries to reach her once again, but she still intends to handle Vader herself. She sends Obi-Wan back into the complex while they wait for Vader; Obi-Wan escapes his guard as Leia fixes the bay doors (and Lola). Vader arrives right as the Jabim group’s ship is taking off and stops it with the Force. It turns out to be a decoy, and as the real ship takes off, Reva attacks Vader. They fight, and Vader reveals that he always knew she planned to betray him. He runs her through as the old Grand Inquisitor arrives, still alive and pleased to tell Reva that they will be leaving her in the gutter where she belongs.
Roken tells Obi-Wan that their ship’s hyperdrive is broken and the Star Destroyer is right behind them, but Obi-Wan is distracted—his old communicator, which Haja was holding onto for him but dropped in the escape, is on the ground close to where Reva fell. She can make out Bail’s message about Luke…
Seems like it’s about time for Force-users to reckon with the fact that the lightsaber isn’t a great murder weapon.
That sounds facetious, but really, they leave Reva there to die after Vader ran her through. You know, the same thing she did to the Grand Inquisitor, who is standing right there on account of the fact that running him through didn’t do the job. And that’s without getting into the fact that Darth Maul got sliced clean in half by Obi-Wan in Episode I and managed to keep going with various robotic bottom parts (new band name) for years and years before he finally died.
Okay, fine, Qui-Gon managed to die that way, but it’s all about aim with lightsabers. At least, I assume that’s what we’re supposed to infer: Lightsabers are meant to cauterize as they wound, which is why people don’t bleed out from their various punctures or limb removals. If you run someone through, but manage to miss or only nick their vital organs, they’re not dead. Vader knows this.
Sorry, I’m getting distracted because while this episode did some things better than the last, it also did a bunch of things much worse. Like, let’s skip over the fact that Roken suddenly tells Obi-Wan that everyone has to leave this planet now because they’ve been waiting for months (for some reason) to escape using a trade route they’ve been keeping open (somehow) that was too busy being used by Obi-Wan and Tala to rescue Leia (because those things seem remotely connected) and now the route is about to close and they’re out of time to evacuate (sure). Let’s just let that one go on account of the fact that it makes no sense, and at the very least should have been seeded in the previous episode so it didn’t seem completely arbitrary as a plot device.
Setting that aside, we get another heart to heart between Tala and Obi-Wan that is again probably supposed to serve as a moment reminding him of his responsibility to aid others. That doesn’t change the fact that they still fridge her, and while it’s the sort of thing you expect in a narrative like this, they don’t earn the moment. Was I still moved because the one thing Star Wars does well is bonds between droids and people, and watching her choose to die once her buddy shuts down is specifically calculated to make me feel things? Yes, because I am a simp for human-droid connection. But letting Tala die did nothing for this story apart from making Obi-Wan more sad. He’s plenty sad. I’d rather still have Tala around.
And even after getting into that, I’m brought to the other weird bit, which is… what exactly was the plan here? Obi-Wan gives himself up to Reva so that she’ll call Vader (which, why did he not tell her to bring Obi-Wan to him, but okay), so that will lead Vader away from paying attention to the escaping ship, and… look, first of all, there’s still an entire Star Destroyer waiting for that ship, and the person left in charge would have orders about it. So unless Vader explicitly told said officer to leave the ship alone, the escapees would’ve been captured or destroyed.
Okay, you know what, let’s say we let that go, too. Obi-Wan comes to Reva to suggest again that they should be working together to defeat Vader, an idea that she scuttles because she’s understandably got issues around the idea of accepting any form of help, particularly coming from Anakin’s former mentor. I can buy that as a character choice, but then she just sends him back inside with two whole stormtroopers because… what, she doesn’t wanna look at him? Initially, I assumed this was a plan between the two of them somehow—that maybe Obi-Wan was piloting the decoy ship to give people time to escape and would come to her aid as she fought Vader—but it turns out that she really did just let him go with minimal guard so that he had ample opportunity to flee. His surrender becomes effectively pointless as anything other than a means to get Vader down to the planet (which again, only barely makes sense). There’s a slight similarity to the final act of The Last Jedi here, but not enough to make anything of it.
There’s so much in Reva’s storyline that’s not getting the depth it deserves because it can’t in a series that’s ultimately about Obi-Wan and Anakin, and only gets six freaking episodes, and really, if they’re going to add characters then why don’t they make these shows longer so they can be fully realized and not just a means to an end? Yet again, the fight choreography was stunning, Moses Ingram is giving this gorgeous performance, but we don’t get any background aside from the formative moment in the temple. What has Reva done to get here? When did she come up with this plan? How long has it taken to get even this close? All of this could have been planted much earlier, but they just didn’t put any of it in these scripts.
Also, did Bail Organa lose all of his braincells, because I cannot account for a message that is essentially “I know you said not to contact you, but I’m starting to worry about said lack of contact and will maybe assume that you’re compromised, so how about I give away the location and relevant names to the other child we’re hiding on fear for his life because that seems like a responsible not-panic move in this moment.” SIR, YOU HAVE ONE JOB.
And then at the end, Roken is like “welp, our hyperdrive isn’t working and they’re right behind us” and Obi-Wan just zones out on the realization that Reva knows about Luke now, and Roken seems to realize that this guy is gonna be no help from now on: roll credits. I just wanna shake people, there are good pieces here that are being left out in the double-sun to wither and die, I need them to do better.
Like the flashback scene! Which, I am beside myself, it’s been twenty damn years since Episode II (close to when this takes place), and they shoved these boys back in their costumes and gave them some (excellent) fight choreography and don’t try to smooth them down with CGI, they just let them play the scene because look at them they are perfect. I… was unprepared. And sure, it’s a bit overwrought to suggest that this one fight informs everything we need to know about Vader for this episode, but the pressing reminder that Obi-Wan knows him inside and out, the chance to dwell on his affection
and exasperation for Anakin, is such a gift.
Also, getting the chance to let them act together in those roles again because George Lucas has never been an actor’s director, but Deborah Chow certainly is. Look at them! Quipping and razzing each other and standing back to back in a duel where they’re supposed to be fighting because they have a totally normal and healthy relationship, and we all know that. Anakin’s plain hurt when Obi-Wan tells him that he’s missed the point of the lesson again, Obi-Wan’s combined excitement and concern over how Anakin’s skill is growing. (The sheer number of times he makes a face like okay, but you almost actually killed me there, which you obviously wouldn’t have really done…right?) These two abject messes and their utterly borked bond that will not save anything, but is all they can possibly manage. Anakin’s need to prove himself against Obi-Wan’s need to be his bellwether. They have always been wrecks, and I love them, your honor.
We’ve got one episode to wrap this up. I hope we get more of this.
Sand and Jawa Junk:
- The warning at the front of the episode is one that also got added to the premiere, albeit after-the-fact, due to the Robb Elementary School shooting. This episode makes the parallels even more explicit when Reva describes hiding amongst her fellow students’ bodies to avoid detection—something that they now teach children to do in active shooter situations, which was used effectively in that last massacre. While I appreciate that they didn’t cut the line—because this is something that we have the power to prevent as a country, and we should be forced to confront that frequently until we do, even in circumstances as bizarre as these—that slap from reality is still devastating.
- There are Trandoshans among the group looking to escape Jabim, which may be the most favorable representation we’ve seen of them on screen to date.
- Gotta love how that tracker on Lola took the pinch of a child’s fingers to remove. Uh…
- There are Jedi names from the Legends canon carved into the walls at these Path stations (this week had Djinn Atlis and Corwin Shelvay), and one that I was admittedly shocked to see was Roganda Ismaren—who appeared in one of the wilder Legends novels, Children of the Jedi, and then later in one of the New Jedi Order books, Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. She escapes the Purge only to become a member of the Imperial Court and, uh, an Emperor’s concubine? Then she has a son by another guy and gets turned to the dark side, only to escape later and train her kid in the Force. She basically wants her son, Irek, to be the new Emperor, and when her first plan to that end goes awry, she does all sorts of terrifying augmentation to his body (he has wrist and knee lightsabers??) and he eventually kills her.
One more episode and it’s a wrap, folks. See you next week.