Before Obi-Wan Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine, Yoda told his former Padawan he had further training for him. Qui-Gon Jinn had learned the path to immortality and had returned from the netherworld of the Force. Yoda also said he would teach Obi-Wan how to commune with his former master, and 19 years later Qui-Gon’s guidance ultimately helped save the galaxy far, far away. Yet, a decade after Revenge of the Sith on his own show, the famous Jedi has consistently failed to reach his old master. No matter how many times Obi-Wan calls for Qui-Gon he only receives silence in return. But episode three of the Disney+ series not only showed why he can’t hear his friend, it provided a path for them to reconnect. To walk it, Ben will need to follow another Jedi who once lost his way.
And in doing so Quinlan Vos will both return an old kindness and help save the galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars introduced one of its greatest and most important mysteries when a confused Darth Vader stomped on his former master’s empty robe in A New Hope. For decades, however, it was unclear how Obi-Wan knew he’d become more powerful the moment Vader struck him down. It wasn’t until the prequels that we learned more. In it’s closing moments we found out Qui-Gon Jinn had mastered death itself, all without Anakin or other Jedi knowing. That is save for one very old Master.
The process of exactly how immortality worked came via The Clone Wars. The animated series showed how the dead Qui-Gon spoke to Yoda and sent him on a mission to learn how to become one with the Force after death. That journey took Yoda to dangerous places, both real and in his mind. It also introduced the surreal Force Priestesses to the franchise. But despite mastering eternal life and retaining his own identity after death, Qui-Gon was unable to physically manifest as Force Ghost to Yoda. Darth Maul killed Jinn before he could complete his training. (When Obi-Wan had previously seen Qui-Gon as a Force Ghost on the powerful Force planet Mortis it was only a vision.) Qui-Gon could only appear to Yoda as swirling lights.
We previously covered how someone becomes a Force Ghost. It involves the two elements of the Force, both the Living Force and the Cosmic Force. All living things, whether creatures, people, or plants, give the former its energy. Meanwhile, the energy that exists between all things is the Cosmic Force. It’s the Cosmic Force that binds the universe. And because the Living Force both powers and flows into the Cosmic Force, with the right training someone can “live” after death by becoming one with the Cosmic Force. That’s what happened to Qui-Gon, who told Yoda he had become a “physical manifestation of the Force.”
It was Anakin’s demise that ultimately pushed Qui-Gon to complete his training even in death. And at some point, roughly ten years after the creation of the Empire (right around the time period of Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series), the immortal Jedi appeared before Obi-Wan as a Force Ghost. That canonical moment appeared in The Empire Strikes Back short story collection From A Certain Point of View. Why then has Obi-Wan failed to reach Qui-Gon during this time of need? It could be simply that Qui-Gon is busy at this exact moment in time finishing his Force Ghost training. But that wouldn’t be very Jedi-like. Which is why the more likely answer comes from what we know about the Cosmic Force and what has happened on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
A Force Ghost is one with the Cosmic Force, but not everyone can consciously connect with the Force. That ability is what makes the Jedi who they are. Only, at this period in his life, Obi-Wan Kenobi is as far from the Force as he’s ever been. “Ben” isn’t even a Jedi in name anymore. He’s really only a Jedi in memory. The heroic, selfless Knight who risked his life countless times to save others has all but cut himself off from the Force.
That has led him away from the Light Side. He let another Jedi die in the show’s first episode and initially refused Bail Organa’s plea to save his daughter. He even sat by while Reva threatened to kill Owen Lars. Then Obi-Wan was only barely able to save a falling Leia from death. Ten years ago the princess never would have come so close to the ground. Nor would the former Obi-Wan have strained so much to use the Force. The desperation of the moment saved her as much as Obi-Wan.
The battered and broken Ben of Tattooine is a shell of a Jedi. He can’t call out to Qui-Gon Jinn because he has barely retained a connection with the Cosmic Force. It’s why his mind is plagued by the kind of images and voices that drove Anakin to the Dark Side. Obi-Wan has lost his way in much the same way Luke Skywalker will one day.
But the show’s third episode offered a way forward out of the darkness for the lapsed Jedi by bringing him to The Path. In the safe house on Mapuzo, Obi-Wan discovered the Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos survived Order 66. He has also been shepherding Force-sensitive children to safety, keeping them out of Palpatine’s clutches. While Yoda and Obi-Wan have hid, Vos has risked everything for a decade to remain a true Jedi. But that was not always the case.
Quinlan Vos once lost his way, too. He briefly succumbed to the Dark Side during the Clone Wars. He never would have even returned to the Jedi if not for Obi-Wan. It was Master Kenobi who spoke up on Vos’s behalf when the other Jedi wanted to cast Quinlan Vos out. That’s why it is only fitting Vos might help old Ben remember who he really is, with both words and deeds.
Quinlan Vos, an outspoken Jedi who never cared much for following the rules, engraved a message inside that secret room. It’s an idea that has resonated throughout Star Wars since the beginning, when Obi-Wan began teaching Luke. “Only when the eyes are closed can you truly see,” wrote Vos. Obi-Wan knew what that meant. Quinlan was talking about “the way” of the Jedi.
A Jedi gets their power from the Force, which you can neither see nor touch. It’s an energy you must feel. And in their greatest moments of need, Jedi have closed their eyes to do just that. They let go of the physical world and rely on this mystical power that is in everything and is everywhere.
Obi-Wan closed his before letting Vader kill him. His voice then instructed Luke to turn off his guidance computer during his Death Star run, akin to when he made Luke wear a mask while training. Yoda did the same when he lifted the X-Wing from Dagobah’s swamp. Just like Grogu when he lifted the Mudhorn, Rey when she fought Kylo Ren, Leia when she saved herself from the vacuum of space, and Luke when he projected himself to Crait. Many of Star Wars greatest moments happen when a Jedi lets go and becomes one with the Force.
For Obi-Wan to reach Qui-Gon he must remember how to reach the Force. He must close his eyes that have seen so much failure, death, and destruction, and remember what it takes to truly see that which binds us all. When he does he will not only learn how to become a Force Ghost, he will once again be a great Jedi. And in that moment he will remind us all that the Force connects all of us forever.
Long ago he saved a fellow Jedi from darkness. He did not give up on the good in his friend when others did. When Quinlan Vos returns the favor he will save Obi-Wan from giving up on himself. And by doing so they will save the galaxy far, far away.
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.