“Every choice you have made… has led you to this moment.”Darth Maul
In retrospect, it’s hard to believe that Maul’s journey almost ended with a flick of Kenobi’s blade and a tumble down a deep black hole. Suddenly we were robbed of one of the most interesting Star Wars villains after one brief appearance! …until we weren’t. Enter Lucas, Filoni, and company who have capitalized over the years on the mysterious and complex nature of the character in spectacular ways. This week’s episode is no exception.
Fans of the series were left hanging last week after Ahsoka and Maul appeared to be heading towards an epic confrontation in the gutters of Mandalore. This week’s episode picks up right where we left off. Ahsoka is surrounded by several of Maul’s Mandalorian henchmen while he tries to extract information on Kenobi’s whereabouts.
As the clones rush to Ahsoka’s aid, Maul begins to divulge what he knows about the mysterious Darth Sidious. Before he can share more of his suspicions, the clones arrive and kill off his Mandalorian guard forcing Maul to flee deeper into the sewers. Ahsoka then returns to the surface to conference with Bo-Katan, Kenobi, and Rex. There she shares Maul’s revelations, prompting Kenobi to divulge the Jedi Councils’ suspicions about this shadowy character. Ahsoka requests that Kenobi send reinforcements to pin Maul down inside the city. He declines the request telling her that he needs to take the clones with him to Utapau to track down General Grievous while Anakin embarks on a secret mission to spy on the Chancellor. Kenobi asks Ahsoka to speak with Anakin hoping that she can be a calming influence as his inner turmoil begins to bubble to the surface. We see the spirit of Qui-Gon shining through as Kenobi shares his doubts about the council’s wisdom in giving Anakin this task. Ahsoka declines to speak with Anakin out of anger but gives one last unsaid message with her eyes.
Meanwhile, below the surface, Maul interrogates clone trooper Jesse and promptly sends Gar Saxon (with his Maul-inspired armor) to assassinate Prime Minister Almec. Saxon succeeds and escapes back to the sewers to find Maul ordering his lieutenants into hiding. If Maul’s premonitions about the fall of the Republic are correct, his criminal empire needs to lay low for a bit. (Solo fans will be excited to catch a brief glimpse of a younger Dryden Vos taking his orders from Maul.) After a rousing speech, the Mandalorians return to the surface to continue the battle.
Back above, Ahsoka and Bo-Katan are shocked to find Maul waiting for them in the throne room alongside the kidnapped clone trooper Jesse. Bo-Katan and Jesse leave to rejoin the outside conflict leaving Ahsoka and Maul to face one another alone. After Ahsoka asks some probing questions, Maul reveals more of Sidious’ grand plan to topple the Republic. In a Kylo-esque gesture, Maul extends his hand to Ahsoka imploring her to join him in the fight against the shadowy Sith. This almost pays off for Maul until he reveals that Anakin Skywalker is the prized gem of Sidious’ scheme. Ahsoka recoils and ignites her sabers as the anticipated duel begins.
Maul and Ahsoka clash above the streets of Mandalore as Maul attempts to flee the planet. The ensuing battle gives us one of the best lightsabers duels we’ve seen in years (Ray Park reprises his role as Darth Maul by way of motion capture). The end result is a glorious blur of lightsaber fueled action as the momentum of the battle swings back and forth. Ahsoka is finally able to overpower Maul, sending him tumbling towards the streets of Mandalore, only to catch him with the Force. With Maul captured and Ahsoka far away from Anakin, we are left to wonder what happens next?
If you thought it couldn’t get better than last week’s episode, you aren’t alone. Miraculously, this week’s episode manages to live up to the hype giving us more and more details surrounding the fall of Anakin Skywalker. The siege of Mandalore continues to play out like a feature length cinematic experience giving us epic battles, tender moments, and plenty of intrigue. The unsung hero of this final arc is Kevin Kiner’s superb score. Thumping and echoing like a heartbeat it subtly raises the tension and drama of every scene without drawing our attention away from the action.
Star Wars’ biggest loser, Darth Maul, keeps his streak of failures alive and well. The great irony of his character is that, for a man of grand plans and designs, he continues to be relegated to a pawn in the greater story. Star Wars voice actor Freddie Prinz once likened Maul to the Greek tragedy of Sisyphus, and It’s hard to think of a more apt analogy. Bound forever to push the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down on him.
After the episode’s abrupt end, we are left to ponder the “what-if’s”. What if Ahsoka had made the call to Anakin? What if she was able to be by his side on Coruscant as he confronted the Chancellor? Would Star Wars history have been changed forever or was the fall of the chosen one inevitable? Tune in next week to find out what path we take to witnessing the greatest tragedy in a galaxy far, far away…