Obi-Wan Kenobi’s third episode premiered on Disney Plus today, and just like its first, it left us with some questions. The episode features an odd cameo, a mysteriously produced voice, and a deep-cut Clone Wars reference, so let’s unpack everything that’s going on here.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 3.]
Was that Zach Braff???
Yep! You heard correctly. The Scrubs actor and Garden State director makes his debut in a cameo as this star-nosed mole man, Freck, who offers Obi-Wan and Leia a ride to the nearest spaceport. Unfortunately for star-nosed mole representation, Freck turns out to be an Imperial sympathizer, sporting the Star Wars equivalent of a Confederate flag on his space-truck.
In the inevitable fight, Obi-Wan appears to have just knocked him out rather than killed him, so Freck and Braff could potentially come back in future episodes.
Was that also James Earl Jones?
Yes... sort of. Jones’ voice is used to give life to his most famous character, Darth Vader, but whether Jones was directly involved remains to be seen. Jones recorded his own voice as Darth Vader most recently in Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One (and also a very small part in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). But it hasn’t always been so smooth.
The 91-year-old actor went uncredited in the first two Star Wars movies, and though his voice seemed to be used at the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, the line was accomplished either through an imitation or use of previous recording material. Jones himself said at the time he was unaware of whether the voice was his and had not been directly involved with the production.
He gets his due in the credits of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but again his voice may have been manufactured rather than recorded anew. Among the effects companies listed at the end of the episode’s credits is Respeecher, for providing “voice conversion services.” The same company worked on The Book of Boba Fett to produce that thing that’s a big spoiler for The Book of Boba Fett.
Who is Quinlan?
During the episode, Obi-Wan expresses happy surprise that someone named Quinlan is alive and connected with a secret network of Jedi supporters calling themselves the Path. Quinlan Vos is a character largely introduced through the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, a Jedi with the unique ability to see the memories of other beings by touching objects they had once touched, making him an expert tracker.
However, being known as the Jedi best suited to infiltrate criminal underworlds in search of hard-to-find people also put him in a position to be exploited by Jedi hubris. The Jedi council gave Vos a mission to locate and kill Count Dooku by befriending the Sith Lord’s former disciple, the assassin Asajj Ventress.
Vos got very close to Ventress; the two fell in love, and he accepted her tutelage in the ways of the Dark Side. Together the two mounted a failed assassination attempt on Dooku in which Vos was captured and tortured until he pledged fealty to the Sith. He became a double agent, reentering the Jedi order until his changed allegiance was discovered and the Jedi council again ordered him to kill Dooku, but this time to redeem himself.
Vos’ second assassination attempt also went poorly, with Ventress sacrificing her life to keep Dooku from slaying him. Her death drove Vos to full contrition and a desire to truly rejoin the Jedi. Obi-Wan personally advocated for Vos to the Jedi Council, saying that the blame for his fall to the Dark Side lay with the Council itself for ordering a Jedi knight to commit an act as un-Jedi-like as assassination and asking him to get close to the Dark Side while doing it — which would explain why Obi-Wan would be so happy to see that his old friend survived the Clone Wars and remains on the side of the light.
Vos would go on to become a general of clone forces, and he was confirmed to have survived the slaughter of the Jedi by clone troopers in — checks notes — Star Wars: Card Trader, the digital collectible card app.
It’s possible that this one sentence reference is all we get for Vos in Obi-Wan Kenobi. But it’s also possible that this is just the beginning of his role. There are a few actors we know have been cast in Obi-Wan Kenobi whose characters have not yet been revealed, including O’Shea Jackson Jr., who doesn’t not look like how Vos has been portrayed in Clone Wars and other Star Wars art.
With Leia in the hands of Inquisitor Reva Sevander, Vos’ tracking ability could be of good use to our hero. And his experience with the Dark Side could certainly be grist for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s examination of Jedi who turn bad, both with Anakin’s turn to Darth Vader and, as the show seems to be implying, Reva’s turn from a youngling running for her life in the show’s first episode to the ambitious Sith Inquisitor she is today.