WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi Part IV.
Following the (somewhat anticlimactic) showdown between Ben and Vader in Part III, Part IV launches us into its direct consequences. Ben is battered and bruised, alive only due to the intervention of Tala. Leia has been taken by Reva, her smuggler dead at the aforementioned Inquisitor’s hands. She has been transported to the Fortress Inquisitorius (try saying that three times quickly) on the moon of Nur in the Mustafar system. We’ve seen this foreboding fortress before in the videogame Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order but this is the first time we see it on the silver screen.
Instantly, we’re treated to an episode format I must admit I didn’t think we’d get in the series: Part IV is a heist. As Obi-Wan recovers from his wounds, Reva interrogates Leia on the location of the jedi smuggling ring known as “The Path”. If that term sparked a memory in you, you’re not alone. In the 1st Century, early Christians were known colloquially as “Nazarenes”, “Ebionites” and most commonly “The Way”.
Christians weren’t actually called Christians until locals of the city of Antioch began to use the term to describe followers of Jesus. The first recorded use of the term Christian by a Christian was from Ignatius of Antioch around 100 AD. Beyond the words themselves, the inspiration of “The Path” takes much from early Christianity.The symbol the smugglers use to denote safehouses is a crude Jedi/Republic symbol. You may have seen a bumper sticker on the back of a car in the shape of a crude fish. Called the “ΙΧΘΥΣ” or “Icthus”, it was an acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior” and so happened to form the Greek word for “fish”. Beyond its original inception, it has become a universal symbol for Christianity. Apart from being a nice phrase, it was originally used as a covert symbol on houses and meeting places to convey the message: “this place is safe for Jesus followers”. As early followers of The Way lived in a world that was hostile to their faith (whether from the Roman Empire or from local rulers), it became less viable to openly practice their faith. When the consequences of meeting publically turned from ridicule, derision and skepticism to imprisonment, torture and death, Christians went underground. They worshipped in secret, invited others to join them covertly and continued caring for the poor and sick in secret.
The Path in the series (introduced in Part III but fleshed out more this episode) echoes this movement of Christians in the 1st century. It exists to preserve the jedi way and provide shelter for force-sensitive children who would otherwise be consumed by the Empire. Leia is now privy to information about this organisation and Reva desperately wants to know what she knows.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan awakens in a bacta tank. Equally desperate to find and rescue Leia (yet again), he convinces Tala and several of her fellow smugglers to make the dangerous journey to Nur and breach the fortress.
What follows is a fairly by-the-numbers heist plot. Tala infiltrates in disguise as an Imperial officer with Obi-Wan in tow. She’s briefly discovered but handily dispatches the bumbling Imperial officer in question. For Obi-Wan’s part, we get to see his confidence return as he struggles to use the Force in the landing ship but successfully use a jedi mind trick to lure several guards away from his position. We also see him assassinate several stormtroopers in the dark interrogation room Leia is being held in, which is a flashy moment and further solidifies Leia’s estimation of Obi-Wan and his prowess as a jedi. In some ways, it seems we as the viewer are invited to view Obi-Wan through Leia’s eyes. At the beginning of the series, Leia sees Obi-Wan as a weak old man. He even admits to those around him that “he isn’t who he used to be”. Gradually, this image shifts as Leia gains respect for him and we as the audience root for Obi-Wan as his confidence and competence grows.
On the whole, this episode wasn’t as disappointing for me as Part III, which says more about setups and payoffs than it does about the episode itself. As a fairly by-the-numbers heist episode, it achieves almost all that it sets out to. The clever infiltration, close calls, seemingly being caught at the 11th hour before being inexplicably rescued: it’s all here! There are also some great character moments for both Obi-Wan and Leia, as well as a foreboding cliffhanger to set up what will surely be an escalation of conflict as we near the end of the series arc. Reva is still the main antagonist of the series, as she’s the one who makes the plot move forward. Vader, though he continues to be an imposing presence wherever he goes, takes much more of a passive role. He’s certainly ready and willing to punish those who fail him, but unlike his active role in the original trilogy, he seems to exist in Obi-Wan Kenobi as an existential background threat.
As with our discussion of setups and payoffs, I just sincerely hope that the setup we’ve received between Vader and Obi-Wan is fulfilled in the final two installments of the series.
Jesse Herford is a pastor and associate editor for the Australian/New Zealand edition of Signs of the Times. He lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, Carina and their dog, Banjo.