Episode four of Obi-Wan Kenobi fulfilled George Lucas’s vision and “rhymed” with Episode IV: A New Hope. The Jedi Master led a rescue mission of Princess Leia Organa from a seemingly impenetrable Imperial stronghold, just as he did in the franchise’s first movie. But the Disney+ series was more than just a tribute to the film that started the Skywalker Saga. Obi-Wan Kenobi celebrated two of Star Wars’ greatest and most enduring loves: daring rescues and poor security.
The Disney+ show’s fourth installment wasn’t just similar to the series’ original film. It also felt like a live-action installment of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The two animated shows, which combined for more than 200 episodes, frequently featured seemingly impossible missions. That often included Jedi and Rebels saving someone from the Separatists, Empire, or some other enemy. No ship or planet, no matter how big, armored, or protected, was ever too imposing to breach, either. Kidnappings were so common that every major character on both shows required saving at some point. And that usually happened to each of them many times. One episode of The Clone Wars even featured Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Count Dooku kidnapped by the same pirates.
The animated series aren’t unique to the franchise. Needing to free someone from danger is a recurring plot line throughout Star Wars films too. Anakin and Padmé tried to rescue Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones before the whole Jed Order rescued them. Obi-Wan and Anakin then had to get the Chancellor back from the Separatists in Revenge of the Sith. Finn also saved Poe from the First Order in The Force Awakens. And that trope is the most common story on The Mandalorian. Din Djarin even made his most difficult task harder by telling Moff Gideon he was coming to take back Grogu. In Star Wars, so long as someone is in trouble, someone will come looking for them. Even when they know the overwhelming odds against success.
(Note to C-3PO: That’s not an invitation to volunteer the odds to anyone. Especially not to Han.)
But all of those many successful missions would not be possible without another long-lasting element of Star Wars: terrible security systems. Just as much as hope and the Force, the Rebels owe their success to the Empire’s arrogance and lackadaisical attitude about security protocols.
Luke managed to blow up the first Death Star because the Empire didn’t think a small fighter plane posed any danger. Palpatine still didn’t account for that possibility when he built his second Death Star. Nor did the First Order when constructing Starkiller Base. A handful of X-Wings took out all three. Yet, despite that history, in The Last Jedi Imperial forces were still caught off guard by Poe Dameron’s singular attack on the Dreadnought. If at any point in history the Empire or First Order kept a squadron of Tie fighters in the air, Palpatine would still be alive and ruling over our own galaxy right now.
That continued oversight is far from the Empire’s only security issues, however. Droids like R2-D2 could easily hack entire systems. Every email comes with a password, but planet-destroying space stations lacked a built-in security clearance to prevent an unauthorized robot from overriding the entire system? Also, why give officer’s personal code cylinders (fancy keys) when anyone could steal them and open almost any door on an Imperial ship or base? And why can an old man turn off a tractor beam by pulling a couple of levers? Why didn’t it have two-factor authentication!
Who was in charge of the Empire’s security protocols, Jar-Jar? It’s one thing to have Galen Erso secretly sabotage your first Death Star with a single, nearly-impossible-to-reach thermal exhaust port. It’s another to go decades without ever improving a single security measure. Sheev should have used some stolen Beskar steel and hired someone to put in a closed-circuit camera system and assigned a stormtrooper to watch the monitors. Then you wouldn’t have strangers constantly running around your poorly protected halls. Thank goodness for the Rebels SimpliSafe and ADT didn’t advertise in the galaxy far, far away.
Obi-Wan successfully rescued people for years both because he was a great Jedi and because it was pretty easy! Palpatine was really smart about a lot of things. But his arrogance, as well as his followers, about both the power of the dark side and his own abilities resulted in him never learning from mistakes. He also kept overestimating his own strength while underestimating his enemies. However, as Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s fourth episode also highlighted, the Empire inherently created its own exploitable cracks.
Obi-Wan would never have reached little Leia without Tala’s help. But accessing Fortress Inquisitorius’s system required more than her Officer Class C clearance. She had to intimidate the head of security to make her way into the base. That was surprisingly easy to do, too. Despite the obvious questions about why she was there, she merely had to allude to super secret information and the wrath of the Inquisitors. Who wouldn’t take that threat seriously from a supervisor when the head of the operation uses space magic to choke people to death? The last thing any Imperial underling wants is for their superior to find their lack of “faith” disturbing. That can get you killed.
The Empire built itself on fear. But like a home built on a shaky foundation it was not immune to fear’s inherent weaknesses. Palpatine’s officers feared each other because they knew making a mistake could lead to death. Rather than fear making the Empire more secure, constant concern for their own safety made officers vulnerable to their own kind. Combined with their own arrogance and belief in the Empire’s power, that led to a critical safety issue. Sometimes those people in Imperial clothes turned out to be Rebels searching for a princess, or a Mandalorian looking for Grogu.
From the moment Darth Vader took Leia Organa in A New Hope, Star Wars has delivered brave rescues built on hope. But Obi-Wan Kenobi truly continued that legacy by also paying tribute to the franchise’s equally as important factor in saving people. The Empire was built on arrogance and fear, and both leave you vulnerable. If they didn’t, Palpatine might have remembered to buy better locks for his doors.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.