THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
Tala Durith makes good on her promise to get a scorched Obi-Wan Kenobi to Jabiim. Obi-Wan, fading in and out of a hazy consciousness, is placed in a bacta tank on arrival. Once Obi-Wan is submerged in the healing fluid, we get an alternating comparison of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s wounds. At the same time, Vader is also undergoing his own bacta treatment after their last encounter. The two wounded men seemed locked in a nightmarish mental battle, Force bond light-years apart. Both are reeling from the aftermath of facing each other after all these years.
Obi-Wan wakes before he is completely healed and surfaces in the bacta tank. Tala tries to calm him, saying he needs more time, explaining he’s on Jabiim. “Where’s Leia?!” The Princess is his only concern.
Little Princess Leia is holding her own in Fortress Inquisitorius. “I am a Princess of Alderaan!” Even at a young age, Leia understands name-dropping and indignantly asserting titles is important when trying to negotiate a bad political situation. Reva makes her entrance and reminds Leia that the Empire doesn’t take kindly to Jedi sympathizers. “He will come for me!” Leia is certain. “Obi-Wan is dead. Nobody is coming for you,” Reva whispers. Leia looks scared, but she seems to be searching inwardly for answers.
Not everyone is happy Tala brought Obi-Wan to the hidden base on Jabiim. Kawlan Roken, or just Roken, wants Obi-Wan gone. Obi-Wan’s presence poses a major security threat to the rest of ‘The Path’s’ operations. Roken refers to Obi-Wan as ‘General,’ indicating he holds a deep respect for the Jedi and the title he once held, but he’s not convinced the missing girl is his problem.
Leia is his problem. She knows enough information to bring the Empire to their doorstep if the Inquisitors can extract that information. They must start preparing for worst-case scenarios. Roken reminds Obi-Wan and Tala he can’t shut it down because everything runs out of this base. “Then help us to get her back. I can’t lose her. You have no idea what the Empire is capable of,” Obi-Wan pleads.
Roken knows exactly what the Empire can do. He explains he was married, and his wife was Force-sensitive. Even though she tried to be careful with her abilities, she was still found by the Inquisitors. Roken takes a deep breath and changes his mind about helping Obi-Wan rescue the Princess.
Roken leads a war room meeting for five people: Roken, Obi-Wan, Tala, and two pilots, Sully and Wade. The equipment in the base is old, which seems to keep to the recurring theme in the Rebellion years later of worn, reused equipment. “We got this off the grid while it was being built. It’s all we have,” Roken explains as they inspect a blueprint of the outside of Fortress Inquisitorius. The interior of the fortress is still a mystery. Fortress Inquisitorius is located in the Mustafar system. Vader is still on his ship.
Fortress Inquisitorius doesn’t have any shields. The presumptuousness of the Imperial architect holds true. No one would be crazy enough to try to infiltrate the base, let alone lead an attack on it. Obi-Wan starts formulating a plan. Tala volunteers to go with him because she may still have her clearance as an Imperial Officer, so she would be able to scout his path and access the information vital to the success of the rescue.
Obi-Wan practices moving an object with the Force on the way to the fortress. After all these years, he still seems unsure of his capabilities in the deafening silence of being disconnected from the Force. He knows he must rescue the Princess and is willing to risk everything despite his limitations. Tala is in tune with Obi-Wan’s struggle. “Your body is not the only thing that needs to heal, Ben. The past is a hard thing to forget. And you just need time, that’s all.” “Some things can’t be forgotten,” Obi-Wan says. Tala says he’s going to have to try to forget, for Leia’s sake.
Reva starts grilling Leia about ‘The Path’ and how two safehouses have now been found in different systems. Reva thinks Leia knows more about ‘The Path’ than she is letting on. If Leia tells what she knows, Reva offers to let her go home to her family. Fortifying her resolve, Leia straightens up in her chair, “I don’t know anything about a Path.” Reva’s ‘good cop’ facade drops, and she quickly changes to ‘bad cop’ with an air of frustration.
Tala, in full Imperial Officer garb, lands in Fortress Inquisitorius without a hitch and marches her way into its depths. She gets stopped by a security guard at a checkpoint. The security guard starts demanding clearance despite Tala holding the status of Officer Class C. Tala hands over her Imperial code cylinder for him to check. “This isn’t your sector. I can’t let you through,” he says.
Tala pulls rank, “And you are?” “I am the lead security on this level,” he explains. “Then I am your commanding officer, and you will address me as ‘Sir.’” Tala goes on to threaten to inform the Grand Inquisitor of his insolence. She claims to be there with classified intelligence. She does a great job making the usual veiled threats common to those of her station, abusing their power and authority on those beneath their ranks. She lets herself through the checkpoint and continues on her mission.
Let’s talk about the Empire. One of my biggest annoyances of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars is them retconning the hierarchy in the Empire. The Original Trilogy and all the novels, comic books, and video games surrounding this time made it very clear that those who held positions of rank and power in the Empire were white men. The lack of diversity was one of the major reasons the Empire was so evil. They were not inclusive. Aliens, women, and minorities were viewed as lesser in the Empire’s eyes. It was a stark contrast to the Rebellion, where all fought side by side, shoulder to shoulder as equals.
Caption: In the Original Trilogy, there was a stark contrast between the Empire and the Rebellion when it came to diversity.
Some women served in the Empire, but not many. Women serving in the Empire were frequently overlooked for promotions and rank advancement. If you ever came across one who held a superior rank, she earned it. A woman officer was not to be trifled with because she had to be doubly cunning and ruthless in her endeavors for advancement. The Empire is supposed to be the epitome of evil and injustice. Disney’s retconned Empire makes them seem lesser evil by their overall inclusion. This retcon was most likely done as a marketing ploy. You don’t want to make the Empire seem too evil. They have to sell more stormtrooper helmets and t-shirts with Darth Vader on them.
Let’s get back to Tala Durith, who holds the rank of Officer Class C. She finds a computer terminal to open an entry port for Obi-Wan, who is swimming deep under the surface of the water moon of Nur. Obi-Wan makes quick work of a Stormtrooper standing guard. “There’s always a bigger fish,” as Master Qui-Gon Jinn once said.
Reva attempts to withdraw the information Leia is holding back with the Force. “Is this a staring contest?” Leia innocently asks. For a little girl, Princess Leia has a strong constitution. The Force is on Leia’s side, and she is able to resist Reva’s attempt at a mind probe. Reva unknowingly is giving Leia practice in resistance, so later in Episode IV: A New Hope, she is able to resist Vader’s mind probe. He even admits it will take him some time to obtain any information from her.
Lola, Leia’s little flying droid, attempts to rush Reva. I’m not really sure what it was trying to achieve since they’re locked in a fortress, and there are guards everywhere. There are no trees here to help Leia escape as she did in the first chapter of this series.
Tala feeds Obi-Wan information as he makes his way to rescue Leia in this labyrinth of evil. He must watch out for seeker droids, which will sound the alarm if he crosses their path. Those droids are everywhere. “This isn’t your station. Let me see some identification. Come with me,” a voice says from behind Tala. She follows the officer and, once out of view of other Imperials, snaps his neck after a brief struggle. Obi-Wan is left hanging when Tala gets interrupted and almost gets spotted by a seeker droid.
Two stormtroopers are making their rounds and hear Tala over Obi-Wan’s comlink when she returns. Shouldn’t the audio be coming through an earpiece? Earpieces must exist in the universe where you can travel through hyperspace. Obi-Wan seems to have forgotten basic covert infiltration 101. What if Obi-Wan, a retired General of the Clone Wars, gets caught by the Empire because he forgot to turn down his comlink? Do better, writers.
The stormtroopers begin searching the hallway for Obi-Wan. In hiding, he reaches out to the Force and creates a sound further down the hall, drawing their attention there. Obi-Wan does something similar while he evades the stormtroopers on the Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope.
Reva plays ‘good cop’ again with her soft voice, “The only person who can save you now, Leia, is you. Tell me where they are. We’re all on the same side here. These people will leave you to die.” “I’ll tell you where they are. I’ll have to tell my father first. But that’s okay, right? You said we’re all on the same side,” Leia innocently says. Reva loses her patience, “Nice try, Princess.” She then yells, “I hope you like pain!” “I’ll never tell you where they are!” Leia yells back.
She’s a feisty one. Two stormtroopers carry Leia, kicking and screaming, into a chamber that has an interrogation chair. It’s not really a chair. It’s more like a torture table or information extraction apparatus if you want to get technical.
Obi-Wan enters a hallway, “I think I just found out what they’re hiding down here. This place isn’t a fortress. It’s a tomb.” The hallway is lined with bodies of Jedi and force sensitives encased in amber-like material. Obi-Wan stating it’s a tomb means these Jedi are presumably dead.
However, the method of their preservation leads to some questions. Are these Jedi preserved in a way that the Empire can extract samples from them on a need-be basis for further experimentation? Are these early contributors to the Emperor’s cloning experiments? Obi-Wan continues down the hallway. Will he recognize any of the Jedi on display? He stops at an entombed youngling from the Jedi Temple.
Reva initiates the protocols for torture, “You did this to yourself.” Obi-Wan hears Leia’s screams for help and tells Tala he needs a distraction. A female officer approaches Reva and interrupts, “I was told it cannot wait.”
Tala requests a meeting with the Grand Inquisitor, “I understand you are leading the hunt for the network they call The Path.” Tala goes on to tell Reva she discovered information about the network and thinks they should divert all resources to Florrum. She’s offering a diversion, but Reva seems to sense Tala is lying and calls her out. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a high-ranking officer to want to deliver information directly to their superior who is leading a mission. The information, if correct, would lead to a promotion. Reva’s ability to just know is one of the most overpowered uses of Force capabilities I’ve ever seen. It’s too convenient. Not even the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader, was able to just know all the vital facts to drive the plot.
Obi-Wan makes it to the interrogation chamber where Leia is being held. Two stormtroopers stand guard on either side of her. Obi-Wan turns off the lights, and the chamber falls into darkness. Obi-Wan ignites his lightsaber long enough to dispatch the first stormtrooper, then uses the cover of darkness to sneak up on the second. This scene is a great use of light from the lightsaber.
Obi-Wan frees Leia. “You’re alive. They told me you were dead. I didn’t tell them anything,” Leia explains, happy to see she was right about Obi-Wan rescuing her. “I know. I am going to get you home,” Obi-Wan had full confidence Leia would have the mental fortitude to hold out against her captors until he arrived.
“It makes sense the Path would have people among us. Eyes. What does not make sense is how an old man and a little girl escaped an Imperial checkpoint on your planet. Unless they had help,” Reva threatens Tala's integrity. *Sigh* Have you seen how bad a stormtrooper's aim is, Reva? Reva knows this old man is Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was once a mighty Jedi General in the Clone Wars. Why would it seem odd that this old man could escape? You had one tiny laser gate installed they could have off-roaded around. The line of reasoning is weak.
“Admit you’re a spy!” Reva demands. “Of course I am. I spent two years undercover trying to find out where they were hidden. When Kenobi came, they panicked, and I got inside,” Tala goes on to explain. According to my understanding of Imperial operations, this story doesn’t make sense. Those who are involved in covert operations or those in the role of double agents fall under the ISB or Imperial Security Bureau. Tala holds station as an Officer Class C, which is a part of the Imperial Military. It’s unlikely Tala would have served in both factions in her career. I’ll say it again: Do better, writers.
“I promise you, he’s on Florrum,” Tala continues to try to convince Reva. “I do like a good liar,” Reva is not fully convinced and is going to put Tala through a debriefing to verify her story. Deep within Fortress Inquisitorous, Obi-Wan leads Leia by the hand through the hallways. They get spotted by one of the seeker droids.
The alarm has been sounded. Reva turns and leaves while Tala is taken into custody by two stormtroopers. As they lead her away, Obi-Wan uses his comlink to contact her. Of course, the two troopers hear everything he says. Again, this could have been prevented if you were wearing an earpiece. Tala smacks one of the troopers in the earpiece on his helmet and is able to wrangle a blaster from them. She leaves their corpses in her wake.
Obi-Wan and Leia get pinned in a hallway between the seeker droid and two troopers. Obi-Wan eases into deflecting their blaster bolts back at them. He starts slowly and gains confidence in this maneuver he once performed as an afterthought. They encounter more troopers along their way. Obi-Wan accidentally deflects a blaster bolt into a pane of glass which starts cracking under pressure from the water outside the fortress. Why this glass isn’t blaster-proof defies reason other than to drive the plot and create more tension unnecessarily.
A larger group of troopers rush Obi-Wan, blasting away. Obi-Wan steps up his tempo in deflection, and his form brings to mind his battle flow from the Prequels. He deflects a blaster bolt at a blast door control, and it shuts out the group threat.
“Ben, the window!” Leia yells. Obi-Wan directs his attention to the growing cracks in the window. He holds the water at bay as Tala shows up and leads Leia around the corner. The troopers get the blast door open and rush Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan concentrates on the crack, and it grows down the hallway as the troopers close in on him. The window finally breaks, and the ocean comes rushing in to drown them all. Obi-Wan rushes in the opposite direction and barely clears the closing doors. He is reunited with Leia and Tala. Obi-Wan has got his groove back.
Tala hands Obi-Wan an oversized Imperial trench coat, “Here, put this on.” Tala and Obi-Wan, with Leia hiding beneath Obi-Wan’s newly acquired oversized trench coat, walk toward their exit past hundreds of Imperials. Everyone seems too busy to notice this trench coat has four legs. This scene is ridiculous in its simplicity. I want to laugh at the absurdity of it. With how preoccupied the Empire is with this invisible threat, it’s likely they would miss the obvious, which is right out in the open for all to see. Who would be dumb or bold enough to try to pull a stunt like that off?
“A traitor!” Reva yells, “A child and an old man. Was it worth it? Betraying everything you are.” Reva approaches them, red lightsaber lit, as they are so close to their escape. “This is never who I was,” Tala says. “Then you die. For nothing,” the troopers behind Reva brace and take aim.
Two T-47 airspeeders swoop in to save the day. They start blasting away at the Imps providing the much-needed cover for Obi-Wan, Tala, and Leia to make their escape. They board one of the T-47s as the other provides cover fire distracting Reva from pursuing the escapees any further. As the pilot offering cover fire attempts to escape, Reva Force lifts some explosive ammunition to catch the airspeeder before it gets away. The pilot, Wade, does not make it. Reva and the Fifth Brother stand, watching their prey escape.
Darth Vader has arrived. He storms Fortress Inquisitorous, “You were warned what defeat would bring!” He Force grasps Reva and raises her into the air, choking her, “I will tolerate your weakness no longer.” As she’s held aloof as an example of failure, she’s able to say, “I let them go.” She explains she put a tracker on the ship. The location of the network and Obi-Wan will be theirs. “It seems I have underestimated you. There can be no mistakes,” Vader asks if she is sure the tracker is with Obi-Wan. “Where he goes, it will follow,” she assures.
Roken picks up the T-47 with its survivors. “Where’s Wade?” Roken asks when he goes back to check on them. Sully doesn’t say anything and seems shocked at the sudden loss of her friend. “Guess you’re soldiers now after all,” Tala says. She goes and gets a drink for Sully and sits with her. Leia watches how everyone on board processes the sacrifice and loss. It’s a somber moment. Leia reaches out to hold Obi-Wan’s hand; a silent thank you for rescuing her. She’s beginning to understand what’s at stake in the galaxy at large.
Lola, Leia’s droid, has gone rogue. Her main optical light is now red instead of the tranquil blue. Reva wasn’t lying about her tracker. Will it be discovered before it leads the Empire straight to the Path’s safe haven? We’ll have to wait and see.