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Obi-Wan Kenobi

Part III (Obi-Wan Kenobi - S01E03) - Live Action Series

Series: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Title: Part III

Season: One

Episode: 3

Original Air Date: June 1st, 2022

Runtime: 44 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"What have you become? I am what you made me!" SPOILERS.

Another day in paradise

The wait for the next Obi-Wan Kenobi hasn't been long fortunately. All remaining episodes will be released on Wednesdays. So episode 3 dropped earlier today and continues the story. Obi-Wan and Leia have made their escape on a cargo ship which is on an automated route to the mining planet Mapuzo. Obi-Wan and Leia bond a little, he also repairs her LO-LA droid. Mapuzo turns out to be an Imperial mining system and thus has quite a few stormtroopers present. Obi-Wan and Leia manage to slip away from the ship unseen though and make their way to the coordinates of the contact the Fake Jedi from the previous episodes gave Obi-Wan.

Sauron is contacting his lawyers at this moment

Reva meanwhile contacts Darth Vader via holo and reports to him about Kenobi's whereabouts. Reva implies Kenobi killed the Grand Inquisitor but the fate of the Grand Inquisitor does not interest Vader at all, instead he promises Reva the title of Grand Inquisitor if she proves to be successful in the hunt for Kenobi, but Vader wouldn't be Vader if he didn't also threaten Reva with her demise should she fail him.

Vader promises Reva a great career, unless he has to kill her because she failed him

While walking a dusty path on Mapuzo Obi-Wan is haunted by a vision of Anakin Skywalker that quickly passes, but Obi-Wan is visibly upset and moved by Reva's revelation in episode 2 about Anakin's fate. Eventually Obi-Wan and Leia find no contact at the coordinates and Obi-Wan is convinced the Fake Jedi played him. So he decides it's best to walk to the space port to find a way to get off the planet. They find a truck driving through the arid landscape and even though Obi-Wan gives Leia strict instructions to let him do the talking she actually sweet talks the alien truck diver into letting them hop on the back, since he's on his way to the space port anyway.

The past keeps haunting Obi-Wan

Eventually a stormtrooper patrol joins them, they also need a ride and the jovial truck driver lets them hop on the back as well. An uneasy conversation develops and Obi-Wan barely manages to save the situation when he mistakingly refers to Leia by her real name, not the made up name he came up with to conceal their identitiy. He convinces the stormtroopers that Leia just looks so much like her mother who sadly passed away many years ago that sometimes he thinks of her mother's name instead. The stormtroopers then get off and shortly after Leia asks Obi-Wan if he is her real father, and it seems as if she would like that idea, but Obi-Wan tells her the truth about him, but does not tell her more about Padme or Anakin.

One happy conversation

Things turn south when the truck comes up to a roadblock. The truck driver, who is in support of the Empire, because he likes the order they bring, tells the posted troops to take a closer look at his two passengers. Things escalate quickly when an Imperial probe droid enters the scene, scans Obi-Wan's face and recognizes him immediately. Obi-Wan pulls his blaster and starts shooting, he takes out the droid and all stormtroopers relatively easy but then a troop transport with more stormtroopers arrives and things look pretty grim.

Not all Imperial officers are the same

But things take a surprising turn when the female Imperial officer shoots the troopers in the back and reveals herself as the contact Obi-Wan is looking for. As it turns out the Imperial officer is a member of an underground railroad that saves people from the Empire, including Jedi, and provides them with a new identity. The officer takes Obi-Wan and Leia to a small town next to the space port where they have to wait for a few hours before they can leave the planet.

When you see your worst nightmare...

Obi-Wan, Leia and the renegade officer hide in a workshop and Obi-Wan finds out that Quinlan Vos once took the same route and is probably still alive and in hiding somewhere and for the very first time we see Obi-Wan actually smiling, a little bit of his old personality shines through in this short moment of brightness. But things go really south when the Empire arrives on the scene. The probe droid had enough time to transmit the data so Darth Vader and so the inquisitors know where Obi-Wan is hiding.

Vader is not in the best of moods

Kenobi watches in horror as he sees Darth Vader for the first time. Vader walks down the street, casually force choking and killing first a family father and when his panicked son comes out to help Vader just casually snaps the young boy's neck with a swift hand gesture. Darth Vader is toying with Kenobi's feelings. Obi-Wan tells the Imperial officer to take Leia to the space port, he will stay behind and try his best to give them time.

Not cat and mouse, more like tiger and mouse

It doesn't take long for Darth Vader to find Obi-Wan at a quarry. What follows is more or less a variation of what Vader did to Luke on Bespin. He toys with Kenobi. Vader nonchalantly wields his saber with just one hand, whereas Obi-Wan holds on to dear life as he is clearly outmatched this time and in no shape to give Vader a true fight. Vader almost seems disappointed, because Obi-Wan is not able to put up much of a fight. Eventually Darth Vader just force chokes Obi-Wan and lifts him into the air like a ragdoll. But Vader won't let Obi-Wan die easily, he wants him to suffer, to suffer as much as he once had to on Mustafar a decade ago.

Obi-Wan is helpless and no match for Vader

So Darth Vader tosses some fuel on the ground, sets it on fire with his lightsaber and then drags Obi-Wan through the flames to make him suffer, really suffer. But not all things are lost, because the Imperial officer told Leia to go on ahead to the ship on her own, while she returns, trying to help Obi-Wan somehow. She arrives at the quarry just in time to save Obi-Wan's life. She shoots a few stormtroopers and then some of the fuel to create a huge wall of fire. She then drags Kenobi to safey with the help of one of the loading droids, while Vader watches them and does nothing. He lets Obi-Wan slip away.

Vader is not really about forgiveness

Leia meanwhile reaches the end of the tunnel that leads to the ship. But Reva is already there, she had found the hiding place earlier and knew where to wait for Obi-Wan, only that he's not there, but Leia. The pilot meant to fly Leia off world is dead at Reva's feet and Leia is now at the mercy of Reva. And this is where things end for now. The cliffhanger will be resolved next week.

All in all I think the third episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi was solid. It had some pretty great moments but also a few dumb things happened and we also need to talk about production values.

But let's talk about the good things first: Leia was much better in this episode. Her lines were shorter, she didn't have to carry entire scenes all on her own, being paired with Obi-Wan is a good idea and the two have a good dynamic. The writing for Leia is also good, you can see the idealistic, no nonsense adult we get to know in A New Hope in her already and it's quite funny and adorable how Obi-Wan gives her all these rules she has to follow only for Leia to ignore all of that when she takes the initiative and talks to the truck driver. The budding relationship between Leia and Obi-Wan is also well executed and you can see how Leia comes to trust Obi-Wan more and more to the point that she entertains the idea that Obi-Wan may even be her real father. It's touching and gives the episode some really good human elements.

The scenes with Darth Vader are also real highlights. You can tell how hate fills every fiber of his body and how miserable his existence must be. His confrontation with Obi-Wan clearly shows how strong Vader is and how weak or desolate Obi-Wan currently is (this will most likely change as we reach the finale of the series). Vader has no intention of killing Obi-Wan just like that. He could do so at various times in the episode. Instead he wants to make his quarry suffer and he plays with Obi-Wan like a cat would with a mouse, who then lets the mouse go so it can catch the mouse once again, to fight the boredom. The scenes with Vader on Mapuzo are surprisingly cruel. Vader kills a father and his young son like it's nothing, just to tease Obi-Wan. This is certainly one of the darkest moments so far for any Star Wars series on Disney+. As to why Vader does nothing when Obi-Wan is saved? It's evident Vader wants Kenobi to truly suffer and thus a quick death is out of the question. He knows he will find Kenobi again, he probably even hopes Kenobi will get his act together again so that crushing and punishing him will be all the more satisfying.

Indira Varma as the Imperial officer is also another good addition. It shows that not all people who signed up for the Empire are evil, some later regret their decision or see the Empire for what it really is, it adds some much needed depth to the Imperial ranks and it's also a good contrast to the somewhat cartoony inquisitors who are all about infighting, jealousy and egocentrism.

However, episode 3 also has some shortcomings. The most apparent shortcoming is a visible lack of production value. Especially the scenes on the mining planet just look... cheap, like a YouTube fan movie. I don't know if it's just the camera work or a lack of more cinematic color grading, but the scenes on Mapuzo look like some fanmade YouTube short. Then there's the fight choreography, sure, the duel, if you can even call it that, between Vader and Obi-Wan is rather one-sided but once more everything lacks a certain dynamic and in those scenes the episode tends to look like a fan production with talented cosplayers. Maybe it's the very, very bright LED lightsabers used on set that further exercebate this issue since none of the lightsaber duels in the Lucas era movies looked like that (they didn't have the technology back then).

The scene betwen Vader and Obi-Wan is not helped by the fact that it is set in a quarry, which makes it look like your average 1970s Doctor Who episode at times, a somewhat more interesting set could have helped here. What is it with SciFi and quarries anyway?

One more thing that becomes apparent are the limitations of the Volume when it comes to action. There is a scene where Kenobi is supposed to be running but once again it looks almost comical, without any urgency or speed. I think it would be best to have the action take place outside the volume and there should be no running scenes filmed inside the Volume.

Also once more the inquisitors are the most boring part of the episode. Fortunately the focus is very much on Obi-Wan and Leia, even the Imperial officer has more screentime than Reva. The scenes in the Inquisitor fortress come across a bit cartoony with snarling, jealous inquisitors who fight among themselves instead of focusing on their mission. No wonder the Empire failed with this kind of workplace environment.

Another thing I didn't like at all was Obi-Wan's slip of the tongue when he referred to Leia by her real name when the stormtroopers were riding with them on the truck. This is bad scriptwriting in my opinion and Obi-Wan should be more on top of things and not so stupid.

All in all Obi-Wan Kenobi is something you can definitely watch. It has quite a few good things in it, namely Obi-Wan & Leia and their dynamic, Darth Vader, the Imperial female officer and the overall story is also ok but sometimes the script becomes a bit stupid, the action choreography and cinematography, so far, is severely lacking here and there and some of the environments and set pieces look like something straight from a YouTube fan production. Another thing that I noticed is the length of the lightsaber blades. They sometimes look very, very short. Apparently the LED sabers used on set are rather short, so ILM enhances the blades with CGI in post, but it doesn't always work in my opinion, since in several scenes the sabers look awfully short. And maybe the glow of the sabers is a bit over the top.

I want to talk about one more thing: James Earl Jones is credited with Darth Vader's voice but the voice you hear sounds very different from what we got in Rogue One, in Rogue One James Earl Jones sounded his age and thus Vader sounded really old at times. But in Obi-Wan Kenobi Vader sounds like in A New Hope, much younger again. The answer to that mystery is actually quite simple, they used a special voice AI software called "Respeech", which was also used for Luke Skywalker's voice in Mandalorian season 2 and Book of Boba Fett. Respeech is a revolutionary software developed in the Ukraine and it has come to real prominence with its use in The Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett. So it seems we may enjoy James Earl Jones as Darth Vader's voice in perpetuity and he and/or his estate will receive royalties for the use of his synthesized voice. The synthesized voice (no human is involved here!) sounds really convincing, you couldn't tell there is an AI speech synthesis application at work here. To achieve the results the software analyzes several hours worth of old recordings (from movies, talkshows or even audiobooks) and based on that creates the voice model. I would also say that the sound team went to great lengths to make some of Vader's dialogue sound like Hayden Christensen in Revenge of the Sith, not the voice itself, which is the synthesized voice of James Earl Jones, but the tone and inflection at times reminded me a lot of Anakin's hateful outbursts in Revenge of the Sith and how Hayden Christensen would deliver his dialogue. It's a small detail but it's really well done and tells me that the team involved pays attention and puts a lot of thought into things.

So what can we say after we have seen half of the series? It has its moments, it's not bad, but it's still not great. It can still be great, but that depends on what follows next. Obi-Wan needs to get his act together soon, for three episodes now we have seen the weak, defeated and semi-depressed Obi-Wan, only interrupted by this very short moment of levity and brightness when he learns about the underground railroad and that Quinlan Vos is still out there and alive. Let's hope Obi-Wan can find his connection to the Force again so that the "rematch of the century" will actually be spectacular and mind-blowing. The scene we got between Obi-Wan and Vader in this episode was needed of course, we need to see Obi-Wan defeated and weak, or else his triumphant return to form would not have the same effect (i.e. everything Rey's arc in the sequels was not). Let's see what next week will bring us.

Despite some issues with production values this was the best episode so far. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 holocrons. Or 7/10 stars. Whichever you prefer.

If you want to know more about the software company that makes Respeecher, you can go to their website and learn read about what they are doing.

Added: June 1, 2022
Category: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Reviewer: Thomas
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