Television

The Casual Star Wars Fan’s Guide to “Quinlan”

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s third episode makes a reference to the lesser-known Jedi. Who is he?

Ewan McGregor, goateed and berobed as Obi-Wan Kenobi, peers around a corner, looking confused. Photoshopped over him, a giant question mark.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Lucasfilm/Disney.

This article contains spoilers for Episode 3 of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

In the latest episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when our heroes are hiding out in a secret back room for Jedi and other Force-sensitive fugitives, Obi-Wan reads some writing on the bunker wall, then remarks that “Quinlan was here.” Below, a guide to “Quinlan.”

Who is “Quinlan”?

“Quinlan” is Quinlan Vos, a Jedi who Obi-Wan knew before the Jedi Order was destroyed and the Empire began.

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Why don’t I remember him in the prequel movies then?

He was just a very minor background character then, but like many very minor Star Wars background characters—especially the intriguing-looking ones—he was developed as a character in what was once known as the Expanded Universe and is now known as Legends, the label given to all non-canon material from before Disney purchased Lucasfilm.

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So Quinlan Vos was an official Star Wars character, and then he wasn’t, and now he is again?

Pretty much! But he was already brought back into the canon before this episode, including in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in the 2015 novel Dark Disciple. In The Clone Wars, he looks like this:

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A very buff human-looking computer-animated figure raises his fists, his brow furrowed at the viewer. He wears what look like the Star Wars equivalent of football pads, with his hair maybe in braids or locks. Across his face, there's a line of what looks like yellow paint.
Lucasfilm

What’s that line on his face?

He’s a Kiffar, which means he is one of the many near-humans from the planet Kiffu who share humans’ love of face tattoos.

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What is his relationship to Obi-Wan?

It’s a complicated one! On The Clone Wars, he teams up with Obi-Wan Kenobi in a buddy-cop episode called “Hunt for Ziro.” Whereas Obi-Wan is by-the-book, Quinlan is more of a loose canon, but they find a way to work together.

So Obi-Wan is the Danny Glover character, and Quinlan is the Mel Gibson?

It’s not a perfect analogy, but sure.

What about in the book?

In Dark Disciple, Quinlan succumbs to his worst instincts and becomes the apprentice of Count Dooku (the former Jedi and Sith Lord played by Christopher Lee in the prequel movies), but then he turns back to the light side.

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Wait, so Quinlan was on the dark side?

Who among us … ? Obi-Wan defends him and argues for him to be allowed to rejoin the Jedi Order. In turn, according to the book, “Vos knew he could never repay Kenobi for that, but he had the rest of his life to try.”

With Leia and Obi-Wan on the run, sure seems like a good time for some repayment.

Right?

So “Quinlan” might appear on the show? Do we know who’s playing him?

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We do not! O’Shea Jackson Jr. (the actor best known for playing his father, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton), is already rumored to be playing Quinlan, but while we know Jackson Jr. has an upcoming role in Obi-Wan Kenobi, we don’t know yet who he’s playing.

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The writing on the wall says “Only when the eyes are closed can you truly see.” What does that mean in this context?

Remember in the original Star Wars when Obi-Wan puts a helmet on Luke during lightsaber training so he can’t see? Quinlan could just be reciting common Jedi wisdom that your eyes can deceive you and that trusting the Force is the path to enlightenment. Or it could be a reference to Quinlan’s psychometric powers.

“Psychometric powers”?

Basically, Quinlan can sense the memories associated with an object by interacting with it.

Since when can Jedis do that?

While it’s not a very common Force ability, Quinlan isn’t the only one who has it. For example, in the 2019 video game Jedi: Fallen Order, you play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi from the same period who also has this power.

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When Leia asks what it is you are supposed to see when your eyes are closed, Obi-Wan replies “the way.” What’s up with that?

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Technically, he replies “The Way,” capitalized, at least according to the subtitles.

Is that like on The Mandalorian when they say “This is the way?” Will there be a Mandalorian crossover with Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Your guess is as good as mine. Obi-Wan does have a long history with the Mandalorians. In The Clone Wars, we learn that, as a young Jedi, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn were charged with protecting Satine Kryze, a Mandalorian duchess, and Obi-Wan and Satine reconnected later in life and admitted they were in love, though they never acted on it. (Also some fans think they had a secret love child, Satine’s “nephew,” Korkie.) Satine was then killed by Maul as revenge on Obi-Wan for cutting his legs off in The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan has since worked with Satine’s sister, Bo-Katan, who appeared on The Mandalorian, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the two shows could intersect.

I’m sorry, back up, please. Did you say Korkie?

Korkie.

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