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Obi-Wan’s Overcoat Disguise Is Not ‘Lazy Writing,’ It’s Empire Commentary

Some criticize the disguise worn by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Part IV of the series, but the fact that it works says something sinister about the Empire.

The following contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part IV” streaming on Disney+.

When it comes to fans critiquing their favorite stories, Star Wars fans take it to a whole new level. Yet, where once they tried to figure out how a particular story detail could work, it’s now much more common to dismiss any perceived inconsistency as simply “bad writing.” For example, a scene in “Part IV” of Obi-Wan Kenobi, sees Ben and Leia “sneak” through an Imperial hangar doing the old “two people in an overcoat” gag. Where some might call this lazy, from a certain point-of-view it’s a commentary about how the Empire works.

In the scene, the characters are trying to escape from the terrifying Fortress Inquisitorius after rescuing young Leia. Indira Varma’s Tala is dressed in her Imperial uniform, but Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi is wearing very Jedi-style robes. They also have Vivien Lyra Blair’s Leia with them, and a kid definitely sticks out. Thus, Obi-Wan needs a disguise for himself, one that can hide a kid. What he went with was an oversized coat covering Leia at his side. As mentioned above, it looks downright silly.

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The disguise is so obviously out-of-place that critical fans may be right to call out the fact that the group makes it halfway through this massive space before being spotted. Yet, it wasn’t just some random trooper or Imperial who finally notices them. It’s Reva herself. When she points them out, all hell breaks loose, as all those who had been walking past the group are now gunning for them. There’s an argument to be made that nitpicking this detail is being mad at a TV show for being a TV show. Yet, there’s one way to look at this that serves as a commentary on what it might be like for Imperials working at this nightmare factory.

In fact, the storytellers lay the groundwork for this in an earlier scene. Two Stormtroopers on patrol are talking about how much they hate working in the fortress. Obi-Wan hides from them behind a pillar as they pass. Tala calls him on his communicator, and these Stormtroopers hear it and investigate. He ends up distracting them using the Force to make a sound in the distance. It’s just like what happens in A New Hope. Later, they meet the business end of their own blaster bolts, deflected back to them from Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. It’s unclear whether they were ordered to patrol the halls or just taking initiative, but the result is the same.

In the Empire, there are a lot of things that can kill you. It’s established throughout the franchise that Imperial commanders often care very little about the lives of their underlings. We’ve seen Darth Vader kill his own people with impunity. It’s safe to assume that the odd Imperial or Stormtrooper fatally ran afoul of the Inquisitors. Corruption exists in the Empire as well, and such criminals would kill to keep their secret. Simply put, there are few good reasons to take initiative in such an organization. The choices are limited for these low-level people.

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If a trooper is proactive, they will almost certainly die. If they somehow manage to succeed, someone else will take credit for their success, be it an Inquisitor or ambitious Imperial officer. One keen on surviving as long as possible would learn to keep their heads down and mind their own business. This would explain why Obi-Wan and Leia were able to get as far as they did in that ridiculous coat. Spotting them or trying to stop them would simply mean that person is the first to die in the coming battle.

That’s the thing about authoritarian dictatorships, they are not a meritocracy. Unless a character wants to claim power for themselves in the hierarchy, the best way to survive the Empire is to keep your head down.

See how much worse the Empire gets in new episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Wednesdays on Disney+.

Father, veteran, and storyteller. A cunning warrior and the best star-pilot in the galaxy. His book, TALES OF ADVENTURE & FANTASY, is available on Amazon.

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