With only six episodes (slightly less than six hours total) to tell a complete story, Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi is making every single moment of its Disney+ tenure count. Episode 3 is no exception.
Once again, series director Deborah Chow (who also directed several episodes of The Mandalorian) has proven her mastery over the art of visual storytelling. Star Wars has always been heavily visual — George Lucas himself believed the story should be able to tell itself even with minimal dialogue. Kenobi‘s third episode was powerful both in its words and its action, but its stretches of silence beneath Natalie Holt’s captivating score were by far the most brilliant moments.
The way this episode leans into the visuals is a brilliant representation of both Leia and Obi-Wan’s existence in the shadows. Both of them have spent the past 10 years in hiding, sometimes in plain sight with their true identities under wraps. Slowly, through quiet conversation, the two have connected on a personal level only one of them may ever fully understand. When the music swells, when whispers turn into screams, covers are blown. They’re on the run. No longer hiding, but instead desperate to escape into the shadows once again.
Vader is alive
This episode, like the others, relies heavily on the audience knowing what Obi-Wan knows and what Leia doesn’t. Which makes the moments Obi-Wan discovers the terrors of the past and present even more powerful. Obi-Wan realizing Quinlan Vos is alive, for example, yields the same reaction the audience has (surprise mixed with hope, perhaps a little skepticism too). The audience connects with Obi-Wan because we know what he’s been through, but because we learn right along with him what he does not want to learn. Vader is alive. He and the Inquisitors are hunting children. Leia is equal parts Padmé and Anakin, which is so good, but also so incredibly dangerous.
But let us return to the dialogue for a moment. Obi-Wan discussing Leia’s mother in vague, heartbreaking strokes; begging his former master to answer him; asking Vader who he has become, only to hear “I am what you made me” in a voice the wandering Jedi no longer recognizes — every word spoken in this chapter means something. There is no throwaway dialogue here. Everything has a purpose; often, a double or deeper meaning. Even short sentences say so much more.
Most evil version of Darth Vader we’ve seen?
Part III may very well be the most menacing version of Darth Vader audiences have ever seen (yes, even Rogue One Vader can’t quite compete). He walks slowly through the dark. You don’t know who he’s going to target next. And when he and Obi-Wan finally meet, it’s fire, not just a red blade, that stands between them. Combined, the visuals and dialogue here have created one of the most powerful scenes Star Wars has seen in a while.
Vader wants Obi-Wan to burn, to suffer as he did. We know why. Obi-Wan knows why. We know both will survive this encounter, but not how deeply it might leave each man broken and scarred.
Is this the last we’ll see these two meet face-to-face until A New Hope? It’s impossible to predict. But the weight of the past carries the confrontation spectacularly. All this time we thought Obi-Wan spent 20 years in the desert protecting Luke. It turns out he also risked his life to save the galaxy’s “other” hope — a young girl from Alderaan who doesn’t know of the legacies that made her.
Three to go
There are three episodes left in this series, and knowing this wasn’t the finale is a terrifying delight. Will Leia escape Reva? Will Obi-Wan finally hear from Qui-Gon? Is Luke still safe? Who else will Obi-Wan have to protect — and more importantly, who else will step up to protect him for a change?
This is really only the beginning. It’s hard to believe it could get better than this, but there’s nothing wrong with believing in the impossible.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.