‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ finale delivers the return of the Jedi

The thrilling conclusion to ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ is the best episode in the series and unequivocal proof that Disney knows how to get Darth Vader right. During last week’s ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’: episode 5 (opens in new tab), Ben and co narrowly escaped the Dark Lord’s wrath on Jabiim and Reva was bested by Vader in combat and left to die. But once again, the former Third Sister was underestimated. Not only did she brush off the wounds (sort of), but she happened upon Kenobi’s commlink and learned of Luke’s whereabouts on Tatooine.

We’re happy to report that Obi-Wan slowly jogging away from Darth Vader in episode three (opens in new tab) was merely the appetizer. If you’re tuning into Disney Plus (opens in new tab) this week, rest assured old Ben and Darth’s much-hyped meeting is for real. And boy, do Ewan and Hayden know how to put on a lightsaber show. The entirety of ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ could have been these two going at it and we’d have been happy as a bantha in muck.

If you’ve got some catching up to do, take a look at our Obi-Wan Kenobi streaming guide (opens in new tab) to find out more about the show and its release schedule. And, if you’re wondering when you’re going to get your next Star Wars fix, the 1st trailer for ‘Andor’ (opens in new tab) has dropped and ‘The Mandalorian’ season 3 (opens in new tab) is officially coming in 2023.

Watch Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus

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We’re back beneath the relentless glow of Tatooine’s twin suns. A brutish-looking man forces his way to the front of a queue for water, only to have his cup knocked from his hand by Reva (Moses Ingram). The former inquisitor steps up to the man dispensing the water, her usually perfectly braids are loose and tangled, and her eyes appear sunken and heavy. “I’m looking for a farmer named Owen,” she rasps, evidently still carrying the wound inflicted upon her during her duel with Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen/James Earl Jones).

We then cut to the transport Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and co escaped on at the end of ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’: episode 5 (opens in new tab), as it dodges the Devastator’s turbolasers. Even with the transport in their sights, the imperials still can’t get the job done, and for some reason, haven’t thought to dispatch a wing of TIE Fighters. It’s worth pointing out that the Millennium Falcon (opens in new tab) – you know, the ship that completed the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs – was forced to enter an asteroid field in order to evade the Imperial Navy in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. But hey ho… 

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Our first glimpse of the Dark Lord is when he strides down the Devastator’s bridge and tells the crew to: “increase firepower.” The situation is looking grave on the transport, when Kawlan Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr) announces: “Hyperdrive’s almost ready.” Obi-Wan quietly questions their odds of survival, and the renegade leader admits that the hyperdrive’s motivator is damaged and the ship’s shields will soon be breached. 

Back on Tatooine, Uncle Owen (Joel Edgerton) and his adopted son, Luke (Grant Feely), enter a junk shop in search of a speeder part. Owen tells the vender: “A certain somebody broke the last one,” which is a nice bit of character building that harks back (or forward) to Luke’s rebellious nature. The water dispenser from the beginning of the episode then appears to warn Owen that Reva is looking for him. 

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We then cut to a hysterical Leia protesting Obi-Wan’s plan to divert Vader’s attention by flying a shuttle away from the transport. She storms off and before Obi-Wan can follow, Haja Estree (Haja Estree) suggests he gives her some space. Old Ben makes the lovable con man promise he will deliver Leia to Alderaan in the his absence.

Haja has been a standout character throughout the series and we were grinning from ear to ear when he says: “a fake Jedi may not mean much to you.” And Kenobi replies: “It’s good enough for me.”

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Luke and his uncle have returned to the Lars homestead, where Owen quietly explains the Reva situation to Aunt Beru (Bonnie Piesse). His plan is to flee, but Beru is reluctant to head into the desert, so they decide to defend their child at home. It’s hard for original trilogy fans not to get a lump in their throat when Beru says: “We both knew this day might come.” The humble moisture farmers dutifully care for Luke until he’s ready to fulfil his destiny, only for them both to perish at the hands of the Empire in ‘A New Hope’.

Back aboard the transport, Obi-Wan attempts to console a less-than-impressed Leia who reminds him of his promise to bring her home. The old Jedi hands the girl a blaster holster that Roken retrieved from the fallen Tala (Indira Varma). Leia doesn’t have an affiliation with this item in the original trilogy, instead it’s an effective symbol of the warrior leader she will one day become. It also prompts a rather hilarious moment where, still clearly irked, Leia says: “It’s empty.” Obi-Wan retorts how he wasn’t going to give her a blaster.

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Consistently throughout the series, Obi-Wan’s interactions with Leia have been fantastic and Lyra Blair’s portrayal of the beloved character has been a highlight of the series. But we think their relationship goes deeper than just a fun adult-child duo, à la ‘The Mandalorian’ (opens in new tab). This is an Obi-Wan Kenobi who’s learned lessons from his relationship with Anakin, and as a result, is much warmer towards Leia.

Kenobi stares at his lightsaber hilt as he waits to board his shuttle before attempting to speak to Qui-Gon. “I have to face him, master,” he says. Roken then appears and asks if Obi-Wan’s ready. The rebel attempts to dissuade the Jedi from leaving, but soon realises he means to face Vader whether the hyperdrive is fixed or not. Before he leaves, Obi-Wan tells Roken: “People follow you. Don’t stop.”

Roken replies: “I’m just getting started.” This is most definitely a reference to the formation of the Rebellion and we’d be surprised if Roken didn’t show up in the upcoming Star Wars television series ‘Andor’ (opens in new tab) – due out on Disney Plus (opens in new tab) in August. 

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Obi-Wan’s shuttle launches from the transport. On the bridge of the Devastator Vader orders the imperials to pursue it, despite the Grand Inquisitor’s (Rupert Friend) advice to stay their course. 

With Obi-Wan’s shuttle headed for the nearest planet, Darth Vader orders for his shuttle to be readied so he can face his former master alone. Having landed, Obi-Wan removes his cloak, only to find that Leia stowed Lola in one of the pockets. The Jedi smiles at the warbling droid and places her on the craft’s dashboard. 

We then cut to Reva approaching the Lars homestead and motion sensor alarms notifying the Lars of her presence.

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We love the scene of Vader’s shuttle landing. The head-on shot of it carving through the mist looks like a shark, scything through water. Vader walking down the imperial shuttle’s gangway is a moment that’s dripping with atmosphere. The Dark Lord stops and the camera cuts to reveal Obi-Wan Kenobi waiting for him, lightsaber hilt at the ready.

Vader asks his old master if he means to destroy him and Obi-Wan replies with a line he famously says to Anakin just prior to their famous duel on Mustafar: “I will do what I must.” At this moment he ignites his brilliant blue lightsaber and twirls it into a ready stance that we see during his battle against General Grievous in ‘Revenge of the Sith’. This is a neat detail, because it’s the kind of swordplay we’d expect from Obi-Wan in his prime. It’s a visual message that he means to fight hard. 

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Interestingly, Vader provides a different reply to the one he uses in ‘Revenge of the Sith’. He simply says: “Then you will die.” He says exactly the same thing to his former padawan, Ahsoka Tano, in ‘Star Wars Rebels’, during a duel that’s become a fan-favourite moment in Star Wars canon. We’re always happy to see Disney bring the various forms of Star Wars media closer together, but this is particularly special. Ahsoka’s relationship with Anakin is arguably as important as his one with Obi-Wan and both duels are significant moments in the formation of the ruthless Darth Vader from the original trilogy. 

As soon as Vader ignites his lightsaber he swings at Kenobi and they begin the duel we’ve waited the entire series to witness. We’re pleased to report it’s as satisfying and brutal as we’d hoped. The action isn’t as fast-paced or showy as the duels from the prequel trilogy; instead it bridges the two trilogies’ fighting styles perfectly. It’s suitably quick, but gratifyingly weighty. Obi-Wan’s got his mojo back, but he’s definitely not the acrobat he once was and neither is Vader. The Dark Lord might be a volatile conduit for raw dark-side energy, but he’s also physically limited by his hulking suit and injuries. It’s a compelling dynamic.

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Things then start to kick off at the Lars homestead. As Reva gains entry, Owen steadies his blaster rifle and fires first. The farmer misses and the dark Jedi deflects a few shots, even as Beru rains down her own barrage of blaster bolts too.

We’re then whisked back to Obi-Wan and Vader hacking away at each other, their blades striking surrounding rocks in the process. Kenobi knocks Vader back and uses the force to bring down a tall rock formation upon him, but the Dark Lord steadies it. “Your strength has returned,” he says. “But the weakness still remains.” He hurls the rock formation away and launches a large rock at Obi-Wan, who just manages to cleaver it in half with his lightsaber. 

Vader brings his saber down upon Kenobi with renewed vigour before brutally punching him in the face with his hilt. As they lock swords, the Dark Lord knocks Obi-Wan’s feet from beneath him with another rock. With Vader’s weakened physique, it makes sense that he doesn’t just rely upon his saber skills and uses the force to manipulate his surroundings, something we see him do during his duel with Luke on Bespin in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

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As Obi-Wan backs away, Vader pummels his left hand into the ground, sending a shockwave reverberating through the earth beneath Kenobi’s feet and sending him into a giant sinkhole. Vader then proceeds to bury his former master in a tomb of rocks, before gloating: “Did you truly think that you could defeat me? You have failed, Master.” 

Referring to Kenobi as master is another satisfying little workaround for Vader’s infamous line of dialogue in ‘A New Hope’: “When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” 

Reva has Owen cornered on a gangway. When she mentions the farmer loves Luke as his own, Owen replies: “He is my own.” This is an important moment that surely has a bearing on Reva’s redemption later in the episode. Owen then uses a large pole to hit Reva’s wound and in a particularly violent moment grabs at it and squeezes. Ultimately, he’s no match, even for the wounded force user, and is thrown off the gangway.

As the former inquisitor walks into the room where Luke is hiding, Beru valiantly ambushes her, but is soon overpowered. Luke is already escaping though, and Reva can only watch as his legs disappear through a roof hatch. 

The boy runs for cover in a nearby canyon, with Reva in pursuit, before we’re back with the half-buried Obi-Wan. The Jedi struggles as he uses the force to keep the rocks from crushing him. All the while soundbites from both Anakin and Darth Vader can be heard. After we hear Vader saying: “I am what you made me,” there’s silence. A sequence of flashbacks of Leia and Luke then plays out, which Obi-Wan uses to channel his connection with the force before sending his rocky tomb skyward. He then jumps out of the sinkhole and pursues Vader. 

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The Dark Lord stops as he walks back to his ship and turns to meet Obi-Wan’s lightsaber, barely managing to block it. Obi-Wan doesn’t let up and in a moment that will have ardent Star Wars fans smiling, he spins 360 degrees, while twirling his lightsaber around his back – Anakin’s own signature move – before force pushing the Dark Lord into a rock formation. 

With Vader staggered, Obi-Wan raises his arms as tens of rocks float up into the air. He then proceeds to pummel his hapless former apprentice. This is Obi-Wan using the force like we’ve never seen before and we love it! Vader eventually finds a way through the barrage and pushes Obi-Wan back as they lock sabers once more. 

Obi-Wan continues to fight with vigour and in one swift movement, spins his saber around and smacks Vader with its hilt. He then repeatedly slashes and smacks the Dark Lord’s chest panel, with ferocity seldom seen in Star Wars. As a rock connects with Vader’s face for the umpteenth time and the mighty Sith falls to the ground following a panicked lunge, ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ does something rather remarkable: it makes you feel sorry for the broken and wheezing Darth Vader. 

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The duel is brought to an end when Obi-Wan propels himself off a rock and lands a blow to the side of the Dark Lord’s helmet. Vader slowly looks up at Obi-Wan, revealing the left side of his face through the damaged mask. This is an homage that will delight fans of ‘Star Wars Rebels’. In a similar showdown, Anakin’s former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, inflicts similar damage to the right side of Vader’s mask.

When a horrified Obi-Wan says: “Anakin.” Vader replies: “Anakin’s gone. I am what remains.” We love how this is a hodgepodge of James Earl Jones and Hayden Christensen’s voices to replicate the mask’s damaged vocoder. If we’re being really picky we would have preferred some sound edits to make Hayden’s voice a touch weaker, but that’s splitting hairs. Ewan really sells Obi-Wan’s grief as he fights through tears to apologise to his fallen apprentice. 

And props to Hayden, because despite knowing everything that happens thereafter, there was a split second when we couldn’t help but wonder if Vader would turn back to the light. “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker,” he says. But then his mouth curls into a chilling smile and he says: “I did.” 

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The cinematography in this scene is beautiful. When Anakin’s state of mind seems torn, both the glow of his red lightsaber and Obi-Wan’s blue blade dance across both Vader and Kenobi’s faces. But when the ambiguity is gone, Vader is shrouded only in red and Obi-Wan is illuminated entirely blue. This choice of lighting beautifully illustrates the dark and the light. 

Vader swears he will kill Kenobi, prompting the Jedi to realise there’s no saving him. As the wounded Sith struggles to hold aloft his lightsaber and stumbles forward, Obi-Wan says: “Goodbye. Darth.” This is another cool nod to the original trilogy, where old Ben curiously refers to Vader simply as Darth. As Kenobi walks away, Vader shouts for him before falling to his knees. He then screams his master’s name, but receives no answer. 

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Reva catches up with Luke, when the youngster trips off a ledge and falls unconscious. Obi-Wan senses Luke’s in trouble and heads immediately for Tatooine. As Reva stands over the helpless boy, lightsaber ignited, she is tortured by memories of Darth Vader killing her youngling peers. 

Obi-Wan arrives at the Lars homestead to find Luke’s aunt and uncle crying out for him. Suddenly Beru notices a figure in the distance, Reva returning Luke’s limp body, unconscious but safe.

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Previously, we said we were happy that Reva didn’t willingly join forces with Obi-Wan and became yet another darksider turned good at the last minute (looking at you Kylo Ren). However, this turning point does make sense. It’s inconceivable that attempting to murder young Luke wouldn’t evoke memories of Reva’s past trauma. 

If anything was going to bring her back to the light, this was it. Still, it’s hard not to avoid the fact that moral flip-flopping has become a tired Star Wars trope. And yet, with rumors’ of a Reva-centric series, we are looking forward to seeing more from Moses Ingram. We might have to put our hopes of a dark, Jedi-hunting prequel series to bed though… 

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Back within his fortress, Vader assures a hologram of none other than Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) that he is loyal only to his new master. We like how the whole series has been a learning experience for the Dark Lord, a transformation into the Darth Vader of the original trilogy, culminating with John Williams’ infamous The Imperial March.

We’re then transported to Alderaan, where Leia is getting ready, complete with her holster. She makes her way to the landing pad with her mother (Simone Kessell), where Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) is waiting for Obi-Wan’s shuttle to land. 

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Obi-Wan admits to Leia that he knew her parents and lists the qualities she shares with them, before explaining he can’t tell her anything more. All the while, John Williams’ Princess Leia’s Theme plays in the background, which never fails to hit us in the feels. Obi-Wan tells her to contact him if she ever needs “help from a tired old man,” but makes it very clear she cannot tell anybody she knows him. This helps mitigate the fact that Leia never once admits to knowing Obi-Wan in the original trilogy.

Back at the Lars homestead, we learn that Obi-Wan means to move further afield and leave Luke in the capable hands of his family. As the old Jedi leaves, Owen asks if he’d like to properly meet Luke. The beaming Jedi walks over to the boy, T-16 model in hand, and says the two words the entire fandom has been waiting to hear all series: “Hello there.” 

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There’s one big surprise left in store though. As Obi-Wan heads off in search of a new home, a familiar-looking spirit appears ahead of them, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). A baffled Obi-Wan greets his old master who says: “I was always here, Obi-Wan. You just were not ready to see.” It’s not the Neeson-heavy role some fans were hoping for, but it’s a neat resolution that ties together more Star Wars lore on screen and is a gratifyingly emotional end.

The best mini series boast tightly woven narratives and too often ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ has felt disjointed, seemingly opening as many plot holes as it’s closed. Beneath the solid overarching plot is an untidy narrative that doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. The Fifth Brother’s (Sung Kang) unresolved character arc is one such example. 

And while we didn’t always agree with everything the characters did, you simply cannot fault ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’s’ incredible cast. McGregor put in the performance of his career as the titular hero, Vivien Lyra Blair was a perfect little Leia and Moses Ingram’s Reva is a wonderful new addition to the Star Wars universe. Add to that Hayden Christensen’s triumphant return (and that Liam Neeson cameo) and the series delivered a plethora of memorable performances.

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The finale is the best episode by some margin and largely down to its handling of Darth Vader. We came to witness the fight of the century and when it finally arrived we weren’t disappointed. Darth Vader is at the epicenter of some of Star Wars’ greatest ever moments and you can add Obi-Wan besting him for a second time to that list. Vader’s vulnerability has hardly been explored on screen, and there was something truly haunting seeing him broken and screaming for his former master. ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’s’ greatest triumph is that it makes you feel sorry, not just for Anakin, but Darth Vader. We just wish the thrilling battle lasted longer.

The ending satisfies by setting up a landscape that’s more akin to the equilibrium at the beginning of ‘A New Hope.’ Getting around the fact that Leia doesn’t appear to know Obi-Wan in the original trilogy was a clever move and Obi-Wan’s decision to move further away from the Lars homestead makes sense. A bloodied Vader reaffirming his allegiance to the Emperor puts him much closer to the ruthless henchman of the original trilogy and that meeting with Qui-Gon Jinn was the canonical icing on the cake.

In hindsight ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ was tasked with delivering the insurmountable – expectations were arguably the highest they’ve been since ‘The Last Jedi’. ‘The Mandalorian’ (opens in new tab) has set the benchmark for Star Wars television shows and in a side-by-side comparison Mando wins outright. But ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ did deliver where it mattered. Just like ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and the original trilogy, we’ll be coming back to rewatch this final episode again and again. 


Watch Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus

Source: space.com

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