Darth Maul, he’s dead right?? He was cut in half by Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, I saw it!!! Nope, he lives on in a seasons-spanning and amazing arc of The Clone Wars I like to call….
#4 // Revenge of the (Fallen) Sith
Season 4, episode 21 — Brothers
Season 4, episode 22 — Revenge
Season 5, episode 1 — Revival
Season 5, episode 14 — Eminence
Season 5, episode 15 — Shades of Reason
Season 5, episode 16 — The Lawless
Why it’s essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- Darth Maul lives – well, technically formerly Darth, but we don’t need to dwell on semantics, right? Turns out Maul did in fact survive being cleaved by Kenobi on Naboo and has been living on the garbage dump world of Lotho Minor, having somehow reconstructed his bottom half using metals and waste, but he is clearly deranged and off his rocker when we meet him. However, this doesn’t last long, as his brother Savage Opress (who tracked him down with guidance from the Dathomirian Mother Talzin) takes him back to Dathomir and Talzin uses her Nightsister magicks to heal his mind and give him new legs (the first of two sets of legs he receives during this arc). I love this (re)incarnation of Maul and his character, as we certainly didn’t get enough of him in TPM. At Lucas’ own request, the TCW team brought Maul back to life in glorious fashion, and at a time when the series was taking a more adult turn. Maul’s return really upped the stakes on this, and the series as a whole, as his relentless hate towards Obi-Wan is great to see as the storyline unfolds. It was also refreshing to see a cerebral side of Maul, a side that was intentionally missing from the film. Again, credit to the story team and voice actor Sam Witwer for this incarnation of the titular villain.
- Stellar voice work – The Clone Wars has always had amazing voice talent, but this particular arc really showcases that. The likes of Jon Favreau, Sam Witwer, Katie Sackhoff, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Clancy Brown all lend their voice talents to the existing cast, with marvelous results.
- A Lucas family affair – George Lucas’ daughter Katie wrote quite a few of the very best episodes of The Clone Wars, including some in this arc. Talk about growing up with Star Wars!
- A more grown up story – throughout this arc (and the later seasons of TCW in general) the story really grew up with it’s audience – and beyond in some ways…. There are a lot of adult themes in this arc and well as a TON of carnage – innocent deaths, Obi-Wan being beaten to a pulp, the straight-up slaughter of innocent villagers, lost limbs, a beheading, teeth flying out of mouths, etc., as the stakes are raised higher and higher in the middle of a galaxy wide war. There is a huge moment in The Lawless dealing with Maul, Satine, and Obi-Wan that’s a huge payoff in terms of just how mature and grown up the show has become, and how the creators are willing to make sure adult moments remain just that, adult.
- Obi-Wan – pretty huge arc for our earnest Jedi Master here. He is hunted and baited tirelessly by Maul and Opress, and has quite a few duels with them – epic ones, in fact. He is with Jedi Master Adi Gallia when she’s killed, and has to travel to Mandalore to try and save his long lost love, Duchess Satine, from the clutches of Maul. That ends about how you can expect, but one thing is for sure – even Obi-Wan had room for growth and character expansion late in The Clone Wars, and this arc really highlights that. You certainly feel for him and the choices he’s had to make (and will have to continue to make).
- Return of Death Watch and the soap opera of Mandalore – Maul and Savage are found and rescued (and both given replacement limbs) by Pre Vizsla and Death Watch. This begins a chain of events that will bring a return of the story to Mandalore and Obi-Wan’s (almost) love interest Duchess Satine, and furthers the story of Vizsla and Death Watch – with satisfying results.
- The continuing evolution of Asajj Ventress – aside from Ahsoka, Asajj Ventress’ character arc in The Clone Wars probably travels more distance than anyone. She’s gone from bloodthirsty Sith assassin to a character on the run, who is questioning her prior life’s choices and where she wants to be. During this arc she’s still a bounty hunter for hire when a bounty on Savage pops up, which of course she accepts. Low and behold she ends up finding him – and Kenobi and Maul – and subsequently throws her lot in to help Obi-Wan fight and escape from Opress and Maul. Quite frankly, without her the writers left little doubt that Obi-Wan would’ve perished, as even he admits they were outmatched by the pair of Zabrak’s. And as always, her flirting with Obi-Wan is funny, as are his retorts.
- Hondo is back – who doesn’t love lovable Weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka? He’s back in this arc during the early stages of Maul’s plan to form an army of his own to challenge the Jedi and eventually the Sith. Maul’s rather quickly assembled plan calls for him to essentially recruit and steal Hondo’s crew, making our favorite pirate pretty darn unhappy. What ensues is a nice battle on Hondo’s homeworld of Florrum during which his pirates take sides and Jedi Master’s Obi-Wan Kenobi & Adi Gallia duel Maul & Opress – in spectacular fashion I might add. Hondo is great, as always, and you continue to see while selfish and more-or-less always out for Hondo, he does have a heart and a genuine sense of right and wrong. At least I get that…
- The stakes keep getting higher for the Jedi – during the early stages of this arc, Jedi Master Adi Gallia meets her fate at the end of Savage Opress’ double-bladed lightsaber. Another member of the Jedi High Council is dead during the events of The Clone Wars, as things keep getting more and more serious and bleak for the Jedi.
- Crime and the underworld in Star Wars – we get our first (real) appearance of Black Sun. Having been a part the Legends/EU since like forever, we finally get an ‘official’ glimpse into the Black Sun crime syndicate of the Falleen. If you ever read Shadows of the Empire, the most 90’s Star Wars story of all time, then you’re familiar with the Falleen. And their pheromones…. I’ll leave that there…. Also rad? The way Savage ‘encourages’ Black Sun to join Maul’s newly formed Shadow Collective with his lightsaber. Yes, awesome. Also formally introduced is the Pyke Syndicate. More-or-less the hippy criminals of Star Wars, the Pykes are also recruited into Maul’s Shadow Collective. I’ve always loved the design work done on the Pyke’s by the animation and design team for TCW, it just strikes a chord with me. Lastly, if the Pykes sound familiar and you’ve been following along my essential arcs the past couple of weeks, you first read about them here. Oh, and thanks for reading! Speaking of criminals…
- Back to Jabba’s Palace – Maul, Opress, the Mandalorians and the rest of Shadow Collective take a trip to Tatooine (after a failed attempt to recruit the Hutt’s cooperation on Nal Hutta) and visit Jabba at his illustrious Palace. Always cool to go back there, and yes, they joined the Shadow Collective if you’re keeping score.
- Brillaint lightsaber duels – Maul & Opress vs Obi-Wan & Ventress; Maul & Opress vs Obi-Wan & Adi Gallia; Maul vs Pre Vizsla; and the best — Maul & Opress vs Darth Sidious!!!! Yes, Sidious is at his best here, and it’s not to be missed!
- The Sith Grand Plan – Darth Sidious certainly isn’t going to let Maul and Opress disrupt his machinations up to this point, as he’s so close to finally executing the end stages of his Grand Plan. He decides to handle things personally in The Lawless, and dayummm, he’s so BAD!! Like so, so bad. Like unstoppable bad, and utterly insane.
- Rad canon connections – the appearance of bounty hunters Sugi, Embo, and Dengar in the Hutt palace on Nal Hutta is cool. The surviving members of this trio just popped up in the (amazing) end of the Aftermath trilogy, Empire’s End, along with Sugi’s niece Jas Emari; the legendary Darksaber makes quite a few appearances in this arc as well, ultimately changing hands near the end….; Obi-Wan pilots the G9 Freighter, the Twilight, to Mandalore from Coruscant. The ship first appeared in The Clone Wars feature film, piloted by Anakin and Ahsoka, and it’s as rickety as we remember it being; Maul uses his lightsaber from The Phantom Menace through most of this arc, as he clutched it the whole time he fell down the shaft after being defeated on Naboo; on Mandalore when Sidious shows up to face Maul and Opress, Maul repeats Vader’s immortal line from A New Hope – ‘I sense a presence, a presence I haven’t felt since….’; the art on the wall behind Maul and Sidious as they duel most likely depicts the Mandalorian War with the Jedi.
So yeah, this is a huge arc, and it’s pretty much required viewing for any fan as it’s storylines continue to be built upon and woven into the Star Wars stories we are getting today. I’ll be back tomorrow with number three in my essential countdown, an arc that deals with one very old Jedi Master’s personal spiritual journey as acceptance of the Jedi’s destiny and the outcome of the war comes to a head… In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of images from the episodes in this arc from the official SW site!