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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Andy Welch

Obi-Wan Kenobi: episode five recap – the Empire strikes back … again

Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Spoiler warning: this recap is for people who have been watching Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. Do not read unless you have seen episodes one to five.

A pattern emerges

As Obi-Wan Kenobi has gone on, it has become increasingly clear that each episode loosely follows the plot of the corresponding film in the Star Wars saga. So Part I shared many plot points with Episode I: The Phantom Menace (TPM). Both took place on Tatooine, and featured the great hope for the Force looking bored and wearing goggles while dreaming of podracing. Leia’s storyline in Obi-Wan’s first episode also mirrored her mother’s in TPM: taken away from her regal existence on a peaceful planet to a life of Jedi, Sith and resistance. Leia even used a decoy to escape her official duties, just as Padme did (although no Keira Knightley this time). Part II, meanwhile, followed Attack of the Clones by taking the action to a neon-lit planet. In that film, Padme and Anakin had to hide out in the Coruscant underworld, while this series saw Obi-Wan and Leia attempt the very same thing on Daiyu.

The similarities between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Obi-Wan’s Part III are the most obvious – a big old scrap between Anakin/Darth Vader and Obi-Wan, while I wrote last week about how Part IV rehashed A New Hope.

This week’s instalment subtly retrod The Empire Strikes Back, depicting a handful of plucky rebels with their backs to the wall taking on the arriving Empire against overwhelming odds and with only a small chance of escape. Substitute Jabiim for Hoth, plus Roken and Leia getting the power back online for Han and Chewie fixing the Millennium Falcon, and it’s a neat fit. Part V also finished on a particularly downbeat note, just like TESB, with a revelation. Only here it was Reva discovering Luke’s existence on Tatooine and that Vader is the Daddy rather than Luke discovering Vader is his dad.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd.

This pattern, of course, gets me thinking about how the series will conclude. It can’t be just like Return of the Jedi, because we know Obi-Wan survives, as do Vader, Luke and Leia, who mustn’t learn of one another’s existence. The Empire will strengthen its grip on the galaxy, too, but the Rebellion will gather momentum. So what then? My prediction is that Obi-Wan will arrive on Tatooine, drawing out Vader, where the former student and master will go at it once again. Just as Obi-Wan looks beaten, Reva will appear, sacrificing herself to save the Jedi, thus proving it’s possible to return from the dark side, and keeping safe the secret of Luke’s existence.


Talking of Reva … what a week she had, beginning the episode looking as if she had all the answers, only for it to be revealed that Vader and the Grand Inquisitor, alive all this time, had played her like a fiddle.

We did get to the truth of her past, though. She was indeed the youngling we saw in the temple on the night of Order 66, and witnessed Anakin murdering her classmates. “We thought he was there to help us,” she said, chillingly, before her rage calmed and she showed enough vulnerability for Obi-Wan to see her real goal – to avenge her Jedi family and kill Anakin. Poor Reva, used by Vader and the Grand Inquisitor to lure out Obi-Wan, only to be used by Obi-Wan to take down Vader. The way the scene of her on her knees, awaiting the final blow, was cut with the flashback from the Jedi temple was especially terrifying. It was also impossible not to think of recent events in Uvalde, Texas and wonder if Disney thought to either postpone the series or re-edit at the last moment.


Indira Varma was in danger of stealing the series with her steely performance as the Imperial officer turned agent for the Path. Let’s all pour out a shot of bantha milk for a real one. The way she explained what happened on Garel, rounding up Force-sensitive children for the Inquisitors, was so powerful. “Fourteen people died and six of them were children, and I couldn’t do anything to help them. So now I do this,” she said, showing the notches on her gun to symbolise … I’m not 100% sure. Most likely it was the number of people she had saved while working as a double agent, but given how coldly she took out the Imperial officer in her way in Part IV, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a kill tally.

I am sorry she didn’t survive to fight alongside Cassian Andor, but at least she ignited Obi-Wan, and took out a few stormtroopers with that thermal detonator. And why is it so sad when droids die in the line of duty?


More than a fleeting glimpse … Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Finally, we got more than a fleeting glimpse of Hayden Christensen as Anakin. It was most likely he would appear in flashback, but I couldn’t quite see what was going to be shown, leading me to think his return was nothing but PR. But I was wrong, and here he was – pleasingly not de-aged – in a flashback to a prescient training session with Obi-Wan.

All that time they spent fighting side by side had led Vader and Obi-Wan to believe they knew each other inside out, but no – Vader learned to play the long game, and Obi-Wan learned to do the opposite of what is expected. Expect more 4D dejarik in next week’s finale.

Notes and observations

  • Who do those lightsabers on Jabiim belong to? Jedi and Force users fallen during their time with the Path, yes, but which ones, specifically? And what do those cave markings say on the wall?

  • During Reva and Vader’s duel, Vader’s stance when he’s holding two lightsabers is very similar to that of Ahsoka, his former padawan.

  • I was pleased to see Kumail Nanjiani back as Haja Estree, until he left that intercom on the floor. At that moment, I wished he’d stayed on Daiyu.

  • Is a lightsaber through the thorax not enough to kill someone these days? Han Solo must feel cheated.

What did you think? Were you pleased to see Hayden Christensen back? Are you looking forward to Part VI? Have your say below …

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