It seems like an incredibly long time since the reveal of Darth Maul still being alive. An entire season and a half in fact. I’d wonder if I’d have been chomping at the bit for this plot element to return had I watched this series as it was coming out. Truthfully, while writing about these episodes, I kind of forgot all about Maul and his brother Savage Opress.
It’s cool to see them back though, in no small part due to how much the series itself throws onto this event. They treat it like it’s a big deal.
Season 4, Episode 21: Brothers
We begin the episode with a red title card as opposed to the usual yellow one. Which sets up how much of a big deal the series is making out of the events of this episode and the return of Darth Maul into the canon Star Wars universe. And a big deal it is, Maul surviving the events of the Phanom Menace was something detailed in the events of the old, Legends lore before now.
Disney has been very picky and chosey about which of these details it chooses to bring up and implement into their new canon. And admittedly, it’s not been a lot. But along with the recent revelation that Boba Fett survived the Sarlacc in The Mandalorian (Because let’s be real, who else is that guy going to be). Reintroducing Maul into the canon series is actually one of the best moves they could have made from both a marketing standpoint and storytelling potential.
This episode begins with Dooku making a monologue about how dangerous Savage Opress is becoming, and how he’ll eventually become a big enough danger that he’ll become a threat to the Sith and the Jedi both. Ominously saying something is rising, something… sinister…
And then we just cut to Opress just choking a waitress in a diner. How has this guy flown under the radar for so long again?
Following an artefact given to him by Mother Talzin so many episodes ago. Who is apparently still alive by the way and still playing multiple sides against one another at once. Savage tracks his brother to the junk world of Lotho Minor. It’s a cool, miserable-looking world filled with junk droids, metal as hell looking giant droids with mouths full of lava and acid rain to top it all off. It’s a hellhole by all accounts.
And some talking snake leads Opress around to find the person who looks like him. Opress is very much a rage monster, losing his cool at the slightest provocation. Which makes him a powerful dark side force user by any account. Powerful enough to fight off the junk droids that attack him with ease, but it also makes him dull. Dull enough to fall into the super obvious trap laid by the literal talking snake.
bring dumped into the underground tunnels of the planet, Opress comes to blows with a giant mechanical spider. Although it doesn’t take long for him to realise this spider has the body of a man. No less the body of this brother.
The buildup to the reveal of Maul is very well done. We’ve got Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress and Anakin Skywalker all sensing something dark and sinister in the force. Meaning the reappearance of Maul is going to be a big deal to all of the other force users out in the galaxy. Leading up to him actually showing up before Savage.
The reveal of Maul is actually really great. The once deadly Sith Lord has been reduced to little more than a babbling madman, living underground and feeding off the scraps of whatever the snake dumps into his den. I say reduced, but anyone other than Opress getting dumped into this pit would be unlikely to survive an encounter with this cyborg Zabrack.
But Maul is still far from the criminal mastermind we see he has become during the events of Solo, This Maul is almost Golum-like in his incoherent ramblings and obviously tortured existence. Laughing one minute before crying the next, babbling the Sith Creed and obvious words from his former teacher Darth Sidious, all while having occasional bouts of clarity.
It’s a very cool scene and makes Maul seem more monster than man, although there’s an argument that Maul was never anything more than Darth Sidious’s personal monster, a stepping stone on his way to eternal life. Although knowing that, both Maul and Opress being out wanting revenge from both the Jedi and the Sith makes things even more interesting than they were when we just had Ventress on the scene.
This episode was dark and moody as hell. An incredibly effective reintroduction of Darth Maul back into the franchise.
Season 4, Episode 22: Revenge
Maul is broken, but Opress is returning him to Dathomir and to Mother Talzin. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything this witch can’t do, as she conducts a ritual that literally pulls the demons from Maul’s mind, while also somehow reforming his old spider body into a more sleek, bipedal form. And one that pulls the design directly from the old Legends look.
Once awakened, Maul looks more like his previous self rather than the emaciated form Opress found in the junkyards. And right away he proceeds to be threatening, terrifying and very focused. While Opress is a creature powered and driven by rage, Maul has a much more potent connection to the dark side of the force: Hate.
Between the Sith that betrayed him and the Jedi that took his legs, Maul is a dangerous foe to worry about. And he seemingly wasted no time in beginning a campaign of “slaughter of the innocent, mercilessly and without compromise”. Oh, well then…
His first target of priority is Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi who cut him in half and left him for dead on Naboo. Wasting no time in making a show and revealing himself to the Jedi, calling Kenobi out by name. To which Kenobi decides to go out and face Maul again alone, which is a terribly stupid plan if you ask me. There’s literally no reason for a strike force of Jedi Masters to desent upon Maul and Opress and take them out before they can slaughter another village.
It’s okay though because Yoda claims that Obi-Wan will have an “unexpected ally” show up to help him… Yeah, thanks Yoda. And although on cue, we cut to a canteen on Tatooine and see Savage Opress’s bounty pop up. To which Asajj Ventress accepts. Seeing as she has some unfinished business with the Zabrack. I’d say it’s because she feels responsible for unleashing a monster into the galaxy, but I don’t think she’s that far along yet.
Between both Maul and Opress, Obi-Wan is pretty hopelessly outmatched. You may forget, but both brothers are incredibly powerful dark side combatants, specialising in combat. So it doesn’t take long for their ambush to knock Obi-Wan unconscious. Again, thanks Yoda. I guess it’s the big downside to a motivator like hate, Maul seems insistent on making Obi-Wan suffer before he dies. Giving Ventress plenty of time to sneak aboard their ship and rescue Kenobi.
What follows is a big old four-way battle in which all of the combatants are using red lightsabers, while Kenobi may be no Sith, it feels like the closest thing we’re going to get to Old Republic era Sith infighting. Although the real focus of this battle is the one between Obi-Wan and Maul. The later of which constantly taunts and belittle’s Obi-Wan. Which hits close enough to home to throw even the calm and collected Jedi Master off balance.
So much so that Kenobi admits that even with Ventress’s help, they’re outmatched. And the pair manage to escape, leaving Savage and Maul stranded in space. Rather than seeth and rage though, Maul is calm and focused. Saying that he’s waited this long for his revenge, he’s prepared to wait a little longer.
I could have easily seen the return of Darth Maul as a cash grab move, one that didn’t really feel natural. But that’s nowhere near the case. The episode that reintroduced him may have overegged the pudding a little bit with all the various characters getting the force equivalent of goosebumps, but when he actually shows up, it’s a very dark and moody sequence.
And again, while Talzin seems like a Deux ex Machnia device to get Maul back to where heed to be without a lengthy rehabilitation, his fearsome presence and power make the ending state of the episode worth it all. As I said in the previous part, having all of these force users out in the galaxy that are neither aligned with the Jedi nor the Sith brings some great depth to the story and many more facets to the story that’s about to be told.
Next time I’m delving into the first parts of season 5. In the process, it looks like I’m going to be making use out of my continuity list again as the series returns to the out of order format of the earlier seasons.
- Season 5, Episode 02: A War on Two Fronts
- Season 5, Episode 03: Front Runners