In Obi-Wan Kenobi Part 3, we learn that there is an underground network of people helping the Jedi find their way to freedom under the Empire’s reign, and that path runs through Mapuzo.
While there, Kenobi is pleased to learn that Quinlan Vos had been through there before, and Tala – who works as an Imperial officer so she can secretly help Jedi to safety – responds “Yeah, he helps now and again. Smuggling younglings.”
It’s a cool easter egg for Star Wars fans, one that likely won’t have much of an impact on where this series goes but that is exciting nonetheless, because it’s an indication that Vos is still around and active during this period.
Who is Quinlan Vos?
But who is Quinlan Vos? He was a Jedi Master during the Clone Wars who had rather unorthodox and unconventional methods. This kept him as a bit of an outsider at times, but it also was something the Jedi put to good use, often assigning him missions and tasks relating to investigations, the criminal underworld, and tracking. He was the Master to Jedi Aayla Secura, and he fought in the Clone Wars.
Years before that, however, he was undercover on a mission on Tatooine when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi made an emergency stop there in their attempt to protect Queen Amidala of Naboo, leading to their fateful meeting with Anakin Skywalker. Vos can be glimpsed in a very brief background shot in The Phantom Menace, and in true Star Wars form, that simply set the stage for the future stories to be told.
That happened in The Clone Wars. in an arc centering around the hunt for Ziro the Hutt. The Jedi Council assigned Kenobi and Vos to work togther to track down Ziro, who was broken out of the Republic prison on Coruscant by the bounty hunter Cad Bane. They began tracking down the missing Hutt (giving us a chance to see Vos’s tracking skills on display), and that led them to Teth – where they found Ziro dead. A confrontation ensued between the two Jedi Masters and Bane, with the bounty hunter managing to escape.
An even more pivotal story about Vos was intended to be told in another arc of The Clone Wars, but the show was cancelled before it could be made. Instead it was turned into the novel Dark Disciple, and as such is still fully canon. Having finally been pushed over the edge by Count Dooku’s atrocities, the Jedi Council entertained the notion of a covert assassination operation to eliminate Dooku and bring a quicker end to the war. Kenobi was against the controversial proposal, but once he realized it was going to move forward he suggested Vos be the one to undertake it. The Council assigned Vos to the task, instructing him to work alongside Asajj Ventress, Dooku’s former apprentice. Undercover, Vos befriended Ventress and quickly gained her trust – and all the while the two struck up a romantic relationship. Ventress also began training Vos in the dark side.
They carried out an attempted assassination and confronted Dooku, but he bested them and took Vos captive. Vos turned to the dark side and became an agent of Dooku, carrying out evil across the galaxy. But he went undercover and returned to the Jedi Order, working to sabotage them from within, until the Jedi caught on and were able to discern the truth. They tasked him with one more assignment, one final test, to once again attempt to assassinate Dooku. He agreed, secretly taking Ventress along with him. The Council sent Kenobi to lead a team of Jedi and clones to secretly follow-up on Vos, not trusting him. In the battle that ensued, Vos bested Dooku, and then the Jedi took both of them captive. Vos broke free and a battle ensued between Republic and Separatist forces, and in the chaos Dooku prepared to kill Vos with Force lightning – but Ventress jumped in the way, absorbing the killing blow instead of her lover. Vos gave into anger and defeated Dooku, but decided to let him live. With her dying words, Ventress said that he wasn’t too far gone from redemption.
Vos was imprisoned for his crimes, but Kenobi – who had been in touch with Vos at various points throughout the operations and who had witnessed these final moments – vouched for him before the Jedi Council. The Council decided to allow Vos back into their Order on a probationary basis. He spent the remaining days of the Clone Wars fighting on various fronts as a Jedi General, and is mentioned by Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith as having moved his troops to Boz Pity. By the time of Order 66, Vos was participating in the Battle of Kashyyyk, which was being overseen by Grand Master Yoda. Vos survived Order 66 and became a known target of the Inquisitors in the early days of the Empire.
Why his mention in Obi-Wan Kenobi matters
And now, we know that Vos was apparently still around as of ten years later, helping to get younglings to safety through this Jedi underground railroad of sorts. It’s a perfect and poetic development for the character, who was an expert tracker and skilled at covert operations, able to put those abilities to good use as he seeks redemption for his crimes during his fall to the dark side. In-universe, this seems like a really logical next step for him to take, and I hope we’ll get to see some further stories about this down the road.
But he’s also the perfect one to introduce in this series for Obi-Wan’s character. When Kenobi sees Quinlan’s name on the wall, there’s a brief moment of happiness, a glimpse of a smile, unlike what we see from him much else in the series. By this point Obi-Wan has mostly given up hope, having been overcome by his own failures and Anakin’s fall. Obi-Wan has ceased to see the good in people and is skeptical, suspicious, and distrusting of everyone he comes in contact with. Yet in the Clone Wars, it was Obi-Wan Kenobi who was the strongest advocate for Quinlan Vos, a friend who trusted him and stood up for him even in difficult moments. Quinlan failed and turned to the dark side. He carried out atrocities for the Sith. He betrayed the Jedi. Yet Obi-Wan was the one who vouched for him, that he wasn’t too far gone, that he should be admitted back into the Jedi Order despite this past. Might it be that Anakin isn’t too far gone, either? Might it be that a person’s failures and faults aren’t the end of the story?
Because now Quinlan is helping to save younglings who are strong in the Force from the grasp of the Empire. It’s Quinlan who is stepping up to help those in need, even at risk of his life, because that’s what Jedi do. He didn’t let his failures define his future. And that’s the message Obi-Wan desperately needs; that just because he failed in the past with Anakin doesn’t mean that he’ll fail again in the future. There are still Jedi out there, there are still people willing to help, and Kenobi can be one of them. He can move beyond his failure and find a measure of peace and redemption.
And this is all a reminder that there are still Jedi out there in the galaxy. After a decade in isolation on Tatooine, Kenobi not only learned that Darth Vader was still alive – he learned that Jedi are too. Quinlan Vos, a friend of his, is still active and helping people. There are others out there too, like Tala, who are risking their own safety in order to protect others.
So beyond just being a cool easter egg, this fits perfectly with Quinlan’s character and with Obi-Wan’s character at this point in the timeline. The two of them were friends during the Clone Wars, and Obi-Wan helped Quinlan in a time of need. Now, perhaps, the mere mention of Quinlan will provide a small measure of help to Obi-Wan in a time of need by giving him the most valuable gift of all: hope.