Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited – Part 41: Unholy Alliances

I took a bit of a break from my blog last week. Having problems with my internet was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of me just wanting to curl up into a ball and cut out the rest of the world for a while. Whilst in said ball, I had a lot of time to play Yakuza 7 and Hades. Which, if I’m honest I kind of wish I was doing right now. But I need to get back on the wagon, or else I’ll never get around to writing again. To let’s ease back into things by writing another Clone Wars Review.

Season 5, Episode 01: Revival

In the time since we last saw them, it seems like Maul and Savage Opress have been going around and making a right nuisance of themselves in the outer rim, raiding outposts and building themselves a small fortune. While they might be carving through Republic forces like warm, melty butter, it seems that there might be trouble in paradise. While Savage might be pretty devoted to his Onii-chan and the pair continue to work on equal footing, Maul has other ideas.

He pretty quickly bins that sentiment and repeats one of the Sith ethos’s at his younger brother; “There are always two: a Master and an Apprentice”. In my head, I’d always thought that Maul had come back hating the Jedi and the Sith both. The Jedi because that’s what Obi-Wan Kenobi was. And the Sith for how quickly and how readily his old master had discarded him with his defeat on Naboo.

But here we have him identifying himself as a Sith Master and taking his brother as his apprentice. A position he immediately solidifies by putting his brother to the ground when he takes exception to being called lesser than. Although Savage quickly relents when he realises how much more powerful than him his brother has become.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

It’s like I said the last time this pair showed up and started wrecking the place: Hate is much more powerful than rage. I mean, for one, it gives you the benefit of long term planning, which is exactly what Maul is becoming the master of. Despite very nearly murdering Kenobi the last time they met, he now realises that there are too many Jedi for him to compete. And if they were to decide to bring their full collective might down upon him, he would stand no chance. And so now his yellowed eyes begin looking towards building an army of his own.

This episode details his first attempts at raising his new army. His first choice: less than a smart one. He goes for Pirates. We’ve been seeing a lot of Hondo lately. Not that I’m complaining, his unique charisma and quirky character make him very entertaining to watch. To the point where he seems more impressed than upset that several of his lieutenants who decided to throw in with the Zabrak brothers.

It seems like paradise in trouble for the Maul twins and their new army, that is until Hondo’s status as the luckiest lowlife in the galaxy comes to once again bear fruit. Because no sooner than his men betraying him occurs, Obi-Wan Kenobi accompanied by Jedi Master Adi Gallia show up in pursuit of Maul, and to a lesser extent his yellow hued brother. As an aside, I want to reiterate how bothered I am by how the pirates to still loyal to Hondo all seem to have blue blaster bolts firing from their weapons now. Do all blasters in the galaxy have a setting to identify them as “the good guy” now?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

There is literally no reason for all of the pirates on one side of this fight to somehow change the colour of their blaster bolts. I know it’s a non-issue, but makes no bloody sense. And it bothers me. Blaster bolts should be red, unless they’re Ion bolts… that’s in, I’m done complaining.

Just in time for Savage Opress to kill Adi Gallia too. Huh. I didn’t see that coming. It’s pretty rare to see a character introduced in one of the live action movies meet their end in a series like the Clone Wars. And I found it even more surprising how little the episode gives this event. Back when the series killed off Evan Piell, the show made a pretty big scene out of it. Giving him a little funeral despite the characters all being on the run. This death is rather abrupt, and then really doesn’t get touched upon again.

I mean, it’s certainly a very real and raw way to portray the events, without all the ceremony that such an event would normally warrant in a fantasy story such as this. In desperation, Obi-Wan grabs Master Gallia’s Lightsaber and makes a last stand against the two brothers on his own. And despite the overwhelming odds against him, he manages to fend them both off, cutting off Savage’s arm in the process. Which leads Maul to decide to cut his losses and make his escape with his wounded brother.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

During their escape, they go on to learn what might have been their biggest blunder this entire episode: Never trust a pirate. Those that joined their cause very quickly betrayed them when led into an ambush by their former and now current again leader. Suddenly alone again, Maul get’s his leg shot off and the pair stumble to their ship, green witch magic leaking from their wounds like smoke.

In the end, they leave behind all of their plunder and slip away in an escape pod, wounded and very much worse off than when they started. Although it’s entirely their own faults. I mean they should know that you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest, and these Weequay pirates are well and truly living that pirate life.

The episode ends with something of a summation of the current state of affairs. In a meeting with the Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine says that Obi-Wan’s “personal affair” is getting in the way of the war and that he should simply let Maul be as long as he is off on the outer rim and not interfering with Republic affairs. Y’know, like plundering Republic stations for all their worth for example…

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

The comment of note here comes from Obi-Wan though, who states that with the Jedi busy fighting the Clone War, the criminal element in the galaxy has gone unopposed. Which I take to mean we’re going to see a whole bunch more crime lords and piracy going on in the near future, what with the Jedi to preoccupied to do anything about it.

Honestly though, Palpatine’s urging to literally leave Maul alone and “let him build an army of criminals if he wants to” seems incredibly stupid. I know he’s supposed to be the master manipulator, but the fact that he so clearly wants this to happen is hilarious that nobody questions him on it.

 

Season 5, Episode 14: Eminence

From the ashes rises a new phoenix. The Jedi decision to actually listen to Palpatine and allow Maul to just do whatever the hell he wants off in the Outer Rim proves to be far more dangerous than even I thought it could be. From the brink of death, Maul and Savage are rescued from their escape pod by Pre Vizla and his Mandalorian splinter group of Death Watch. Fairly quickly Maul and Pre discover their shared hatred for the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi specifically.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

So they make an accord to join forces, working together to overthrow the Mandalore government and return it to the battle driven society they once were. Both Maul and Savage get some redesigns out of it too. Savage gets a new, mechanical arm and Maul gets a shirt. Oh, he also gets some normal looking legs to replace the big dinosaur looking ones has had before.

It seems like part of the loop of Star Wars is it being doomed to see its own history repeat itself over and over. In this instance, we see the Mandalorians once again being used and abused by the Sith, like they were time and time again in the days of the Old Republic. Both Pre and Maul plan on betraying the other once the attack on Mandalore has taken place, although I don’t need the superpower of knowing what happens after this to know which way this is going to go.

This entire episode then plays out as an extended recruitment montage, where the Sith brothers and the Mandalorians both roam around the galaxy, using brute force to recruit the criminal underworld over to their cause. First the Black Suns, then the Pkye Syndicate. during which, Pre finds himself increasingly playing second banana to Maul. But he just grits his teeth and seems content to endure it while be believes he’s going to kill both of the Sith once they have served their purpose.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

The one group that seem might be a little too much for the Sith and Death Watch to strongarm over to their side are the Hutt Cartels, quickly finding themselves on the wrong side of an ambush by a group of bounty hunters after getting laughed at by the Hutt Council. It doesn’t take long for them to turn the tables and even make the mighty Jabba the Hutt commit his resources to the cause though.

It’s an action packed episode, one showing Maul going from rock bottom to being the biggest player in the criminal underworld in extremely short order. All while manipulating the Death Watch and taking advantage of their honour as Mandalorians. As much as Pre himself seems to lack any.

Most interesting for me, this entire episode feels like the very beginnings of the events that we eventually witness in the second season of the Mandalorian. With Bo-Katan being a prominent figure in this episode along with the Darksaber featuring. All the elements that make act as major plot points of that series really start here.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

I also got a lot out of this episode from a visual standpoint. There was an effort to keep the Sith brothers in darkness a lot of the time, with their yellow eyes being the brightest points on the screen. When Clone Wars wants to go dark and moody, it benefits the style a lot. And I liked the visuals in this one a lot. Now Maul has calmed down and started playing the long game, he seems like an exceptionally more intimidating force.

Even more so than he was when he was a 12 foot tall cyborg with dinosaur bird legs. Having him look much more normal, with his hulking brother to his side makes him seem much more dangerous somehow, it makes him seem much more like a cerebral villain than he was when he was Sidious’s mindless assassin.

 

Verdict:

The whole re-emergence of Maul has been one of the highlights of the Clone Wars series. What was essentially a nothing character in the Phantom Menace has become a really intriguing new villain in the franchise, one that operates outside of the Clone War itself, which has become admittedly a little stale to me. Dooku is a fine villain, but he’s just doing the same things over and over again at this point in the series.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - Part 41: Unholy Alliances

Maul is out there doing something different and seems like much more of a threat because of it. The first episode felt nesseserily to drag him back down to rock bottom, which made his rise to eminence in the second episode feel all the more impressive. While it’s been fun seeing something different in the previous two story arcs, this new arc has me gripped right from the beginning.

It feels large scale and important, while the other stories felt low key enough that four episodes felt like a little too much time to dedicate to them. This is an arc I could easily watch for another four episodes now, and knowing this results in a major shakeup in the state of the galaxy and the Clone War’s changes to the Mandalorian people, I’m very interested to see where Maul’s story goes from here.

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