‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 1 teases the resurrection of a beloved Jedi
The opening of Episode 1 of the six-part series was an emotional blast of nostalgia, with a touching montage that recapped the prequel trilogy and summed up the relationship between Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and, unbeknownst to him, Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
The recap also gave a quick glimpse at how Anakin Skywalker was first discovered by Obi-Wan and his Master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Just when Obi-Wan could have really used Qui-Gon’s guidance in steering Anakin, Qui-Gon is stabbed by Lord Sidious’ (Ian McDiarmid) apprentice, Darth Maul (Ray Park), in the third act of The Phantom Menace.
However, Qui-Gon canonically lives on (kind of) as a Force Ghost (also known as a Force Spirit). We know this because Yoda reveals to Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon can communicate from the dead in Revenge of the Sith: “… on your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you. An old friend has learned the path to immortality. One who has returned from the Netherworld of the Force. Your old master. How to commune with him I’ll teach you.”
Order 66, which slaughtered Jedi young and old, and the subsequent duel between Master (Obi-Wan) and Apprentice (Anakin) on the magmatic planet Mustafar, sends the Jedi Knight fleeing into obscurity on Tatooine to stay alive and to keep a close eye on Luke Skywalker from under the hood of his iconic brown cloak.
Qui-Gon’s Force Ghost
Though Qui-Gon is a legendary and beloved Star Wars character for his unique capacity to straddle the duties of being a Jedi while also retaining his individualism, rebelliousness, and adherence to the Living Force, the Knight is only featured in one movie — the first prequel.
However, on top of all of the additional lore written about Qui-Gon in official Star Wars literature and on merchandise, his character made cameos in the animated prequel spin-off series The Clone Wars, as none other than a Force Ghost.
Unlike the ghosts we typically see in Hollywood, which are often ghoulish, Force Ghosts are the souls and the essences of those Force-sensitive persons who consciously submitted themselves to the will of the Living Force upon (or even before) passing. Such a transition from life to the afterlife was typically one that is selfless, an act of martyrdom for the sake of the Light Side.
Qui-Gon is said to have met a monastic, Force-worshipping shaman of The Guardians of the Whills prior to his murder on Naboo. This ancient order’s shaman told Qui-Gon that he could use the Force to speak with the living once dead, and in a sense, be immortal. The Shaman taught him some of the steps needed to master the ability, but his lessons were derailed until he reached the Netherworld of the Force, where he continued his training.
For some time, Qui-Gon’s Force Ghost could only get in touch with those in the physical realm if they were in a deeply meditative state, which is likely how Yoda was able to maintain a relationship with him long after his passing. It was also probably how Qui-Gon was able to pass down this valuable skill to Yoda as a disembodied voice.
Qui-Gon’s Force Ghost manifestation is most traditionally “ghost-like” in appearance in Clone Wars, during the Mortis arc in Season 3, when Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka Tano visit the Force Nexus— a location in which the Force is unusually strong. Yoda, Obi-Wan (Sir Alec Guinness), and Anakin Skywalker likely were able to present themselves more feasibly as Force Ghosts to Luke in the original trilogy because they had already learned all of the steps to “immortality” from Qui-Gon.
Will Qui-Gon appear in Obi-Wan Kenobi?
As such, it is highly plausible that Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi will at least feature Liam Neeson’s Force Ghost voice — and we’re crossing our fingers we get a full-bodied cameo — given that the series takes place 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and decades after Qui-Gon’s mortal altercation with Darth Maul. By then, Qui-Gon was surely able to confer with his Padawan.
Obi-Wan may have had a difficult time getting in touch with Qui-Gon at the start of his isolation in Tatooine given how immense his grief and guilt were. (In his mind, he could have saved Anakin from himself.) In the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a depressed Obi-Wan struggles to tap into the Force, but the reveal at the end of the season may invigorate Obi-Wan and renew his faith in the Force once again — and, in doing so, bring him closer to Qui-Gon.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Episodes 1 & 2 are now streaming on Disney+.