Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episode 3 recap – “Part III”

June 1, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Disney+, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
4.5

Summary

“Part III” reintroduces an iconic villain in impressively frightening style, capping off a masterclass in tension-building.

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4.5

Summary

“Part III” reintroduces an iconic villain in impressively frightening style, capping off a masterclass in tension-building.

This recap of Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episode 3, “Part III”, contains spoilers.


Obi-Wan Kenobi makes a surprising pivot in this episode, beginning to resemble something like outright horror much more than a knockabout fun-for-all-the-family space adventure. And that’s just the right tone if you ask me. This is a show about a traumatized and disillusioned man trying to reckon with his responsibilities in a world that not only no longer has use of him but actively wants him dead. His past isn’t just trailing behind him, but actively stalking him, a looming figure, part man, part machine, fuelled by hatred.

The great achievement of “Part III” is in making Darth Vader terrifying rather than cool.

Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episode 3 recap

Vader was always a villain, of course, but with increasing ambiguity as the series has progressed. The Empire Strikes Back linked him more directly to the franchise’s hero and Return of the Jedi went some way towards redeeming him. The prequel trilogy humanized him as Anakin Skywalker, and various attendant canon materials, from The Clone Wars to Rebels and various comics and novels, make even his early days as Vader more internally conflicted than we could have imagined.

Obi-Wan Kenobi finds Vader still nursing an obsession and hatred for the titular Jedi but having also embraced his role as Sidious’s right hand and cultivated immense personal power within the Empire. His name alone has become a horror story, a way to coerce and frighten Imperial troops into staying in line. Even amongst the Inquisitorius, which is still reeling from the death of the Grand Inquisitor, with the various brothers and sisters vying for the newly vacant position, Vader is more a myth than a real, tangible presence.

Until he isn’t, obviously. This is the big moment that “Part III” is building towards; Vader putting boots on the ground in his search for Obi-Wan, who has taken Leia to a mining colony and found temporary refuge with an Imperial turncoat named Tala (Indira Varma), who’s running a kind of underground railroad for surviving Jedi. Among the names scrawled on the wall of a secret hideout is Quinlan Vos, a well-liked Jedi from various ancillary media whose namedrop will have sent a fair few fans into a bit of a tizzy.

Tala has recognized the Empire for what it is, but many others have not, whether that’s because they’re too frightened to entertain the prospect of dissent or because they relish the sense of order that’s being imposed (Obi-Wan and Leia link up with a local chaperone who falls into this camp.) But there are no attempts to create ambiguity here. When the Inquisitors and Vader show up to track down Obi-Wan, the Dark Lord of the Sith strolls the streets Force-choking civilians, snapping necks, and flinging bodies just to lure his former Master into the open. Even Obi-Wan himself, peering through a nearby window, seems horrified by what his former Padawan has become.

This is the point. Here, Vader doesn’t represent a badass force of galactic judgment, but the very embodiment of Obi-Wan’s failures, and of the Jedi in general; he’s his worst nightmare brought to terrifying life. In the ten years of Obi-Wan’s self-imposed isolation, he has become weak and fearful, whereas Vader has only consolidated power. When the two fight, it isn’t a stylish, pirouetting duel as their encounter was in Revenge of the Sith, but an old man being beaten down by his fears.

You can stream Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, episode 3, “Part III” exclusively on Disney+.

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