Killing Darth Maul off at the end of The Phantom Menace was a very controversial choice for George Lucas, who had created one of the scariest and most ruthless villains Star Wars has seen since Darth Vader’s first appearance in A New Hope. Even more controversial was Lucas’s choice to bring back the bisected Sith Lord, over 10 years later in the animated series The Clone Wars. For many, The Clone Wars was a children series, until the show became increasingly violent after season 2. The first tease we got of Darth Maul’s possible return was his image inside of a crystal ball… weird, I know.
Like many fans, I was on edge with the way Maul would be portrayed in this cartoon that, although would show some pretty violent fights, never really showed much other than off-screen brutality. The Darth Maul I wanted to see had to show his Sith side on camera in all his viscous glory, and when he finally appeared, he didn’t really disappoint. Although his first victims were killed semi-off camera, we still see their bodies drop as he beheaded five innocent victims with one deadly swipe of his light saber. When you finally see Maul facing Obi Wan explaining how his hatred for the Jedi master kept him alive, an amazing roaring fire burned behind him, fully improving how much animosity he held for Kenobi.
Later Maul and Savage would torture Obi Wan until an unlikely hero came to the Jedi’s rescue: Asajj Ventress. The Sith brothers, Maul and Savage, proved to be too powerful for the undynamic duo, ironically being forced to flee, as many villains do when being bested by Obi Wan himself.
Later in season 5, Maul put together a plot, with the help of the Mandolorian faction Deathwatch, that helped him take over neutral systems in the war and form his own empire. All of this was just so Darth Maul could exact revenge, not only on Obi Wan, but on his master Darth Sidious, who abandoned him and replaced him with the “Sith pretender” Dooku. All had gone as Maul had planned: Deathwatch took over Mandolore, Maul took over Deathwatch, and Maul gained his revenge against Obi Wan by forcing him to watch as he murdered the Jedi’s love interest Dutchess Satine.
Feeling a great disturbance in the Force, Sidious decided Maul had enough fun, and it was time to put him in time-out. In one of the coolest lightsaber duels, not only for The Clone Wars, but all of Star Wars, Sidious schooled Maul in what it meant to be a Sith Lord, mercilessly killing Savage Oppress and forcing Maul to beg for his life. Sidious didn’t plan on killing his former apprentice (we will find out why by the end of the four part mini series Darth Maul: Son of Darthimir, which is based on unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars).
There was a huge risk in bringing back Darth Maul, partially because The Clone Wars did play on a kids TV network. However, George Lucas, Dave Filoni, and the rest of the Clone Wars crew knew what they were doing and didn’t disappoint when reintroducing the formally dead Darth Maul ten years later. It gives me high hopes for Star Wars Rebels and what surprises the show may hold!