Spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi follow. For more on the series, check out our reviews of the Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere and Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 2.
We were promised the “rematch of the century” between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. While the third episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t quite deliver on that front just yet, Darth Vader’s presence elevates what could have otherwise been a slightly weaker follow-up to last week’s strong one-two combo. It helps, too, that the spectre of Vader looms large throughout the episode – there’s one scene on Mustafar, in which Reva dials in an attempt to further her career, and an apparition of Anakin appears on the mining colony of Mapuzo – before unleashing the iconic villain at full force.
Before the saber duel, Obi-Wan and Leia, now affectionally dubbed ‘Little Leia’ on social media, slowly make their way to the nearest spaceport on Mapuzo. After a cute back-and-forth between the pair, Leia flags down Freck (voiced by Zach Braff) to try and slip past the Empire’s legion of Stormtroopers stationed on the planet.
As a journey, it’s pretty rote and highlights the problems with prequels as a whole. The episode spends a significant amount of time trying to make Obi-Wan and Leia seem increasingly vulnerable, yet we know the two characters make it out the other side. At least Freck, the Empire’s bootlicker-in-chief, offers an intriguing window into those who would welcome the Empire, not resist it. Obi-Wan’s revelation that he may have had a brother also offers up some tantalizing lore implications that will surely be devoured in Reddit threads and forums for years to come. Expect the Obi-Two spin-off to drop on Disney Plus in 2026.
Away from Mapuzo, the Inquisitors reconvene. In the previous episode, the group seemed more like bickering children. Here, Moses Ingram’s Reva commands a slightly more complex scene. While internal politics of the Empire almost always boils down to who will be the first to stab someone in the back, it’s refreshing to see Sung Kang’s Fifth Brother bite back in venomous fashion as the fight to stand by Vader’s side rumbles on.
Later, after a Leia/Luma slip of the tongue, Freck sells his hitchhikers out to the Empire, and we get a snatch of action. Where the first two episodes floundered somewhat in that regard – hello there, Force backflips – here it’s far more snappier and Ewan McGregor is clearly far more comfortable in his choreography. Leia and Obi-Wan are saved by Imperial spy Tala (Indira Varma, continuing the series’ pattern of strong one-off performances) and quickly hurried into a secret tunnel system to help them flee the planet. Except Obi-Wan doesn’t go. He senses something and tells Tala to accompany Leia as he deals with an imminent threat.
If you weren’t already breathless during Anakin’s ‘cameo’ earlier in the episode, you will be by this point. The show gets everything right about Darth Vader. He’s both the classic Vader from the Original Trilogy, complete with James Earl Jones’ booming voice, and Rogue One’s horror slasher. He even chokes out innocents while on the hunt for Obi-Wan, offering up a threat as fearsome as any seen in Star Wars media.
For Obi-Wan, things only gets worse. As Vader stalks him in the arid plains, Obi-Wan chooses not to fight. Instead, he runs. At first, it’s a little deflating but absolutely makes sense for the character. The Jedi Master isn’t the force – pun not intended – that he once was. When the two finally do clash, it’s a complete mismatch. Instead of crossing lightsabers, the two exchange words. “What have you become?” yells Obi-Wan. Vader’s matter-of-fact reply causes more pain than any flesh wound would: “I am what you made me.”
When he attacks, Vader paws at Obi-Wan as if he were a cat playing with his prey. The lightsaber battle was never going to be on the Duel of the Fates level of expertise but, as a character beat, Vader violently slashing and slicing as Obi-Wan struggles to defend himself. It hits just as hard as any intricate battle would.
With Obi-Wan broken and battered, Vader has one final trick up his robotic sleeve. With a dash of irony that would make the Emperor proud, the Sith Lord attempts to burn Obi-Wan, just as he left Anakin for dead in the lava banks of Mustafar. He even drags Obi-Wan’s broken body across the fire in one particularly cutting moment. Their reunion is filled with flashes that are at once brutal and instantly iconic, yet also worth the 15-year-plus wait. If there was any worry that Obi-Wan and Anakin’s pre-A New Hope reunion would fall flat, this helps silence the doubters in stunning fashion.
Obi-Wan, of course, lives to fight another day. Tala swoops in and saves the Jedi, while Reva meets Leia at the end of the tunnel and scoops up her golden ticket to joining the upper ranks of the Empire. It’s not quite The Empire Strikes Back’s gut-punch of an ending, but it tracks along the same lines. The heroes have lost and the future is unknown. Our only hope is that Obi-Wan finds some guidance – from Qui-Gon Jinn or otherwise – to put him back on the right path. Rematch, anyone?
For more on Obi-Wan Kenobi, check out our interviews with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen on their favorite memories filming the show and how their characters’ relationship has changed, as well as Christensen on why he didn’t speak to George Lucas before returning as Darth Vader and Moses Ingram on playing the galaxy’s newest villain, Reva.
For everything else coming soon from the galaxy far, far away, see our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows.
4 out of 5
Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 3 review: “The show gets everything right about Darth Vader”
The best Darth Vader has ever been in Star Wars? Quite possibly. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s third episode lets the Sith Lord shine, anchoring Obi-Wan and Leia’s escape with a thrilling final act.