Last week, the opening salvo of the Siege of Mandalore ended with Ahsoka surrounded by Maul and his forces. This week…well, let’s just say that even my cynical self wasn’t ready for how crazy things were about to get.
Also, because this episode often ties into previously established canon (and does it wonderfully), I’ll be making note of a few of the most important examples. I know all the cool kids say not to be concerned with franchise mythology anymore, but this episode proves that a truly great story can be told using Star Wars’ rich history to its advantage (unless you’re a fan of the Ahsoka novel…sorry).
Once again, the episode opens very differently than what we’re used to from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There’s no bombastic opening theme or narration. Instead, we see a blood red title card underscored with ominous music before cutting to the the exact point where “Old Friends Not Forgotten” ended.
After a brief stand off, Maul reveals that he knows who Ahsoka is, but is not familiar with her. Ahsoka replies that she definitely knows who he is, causing Maul to bemusedly remark that they do have several mutual “friends.”
*Continuity Note: This moment helps explain how Ahsoka knew who Maul was when she saw his holomessage back in Episode 8…although I never understood why it was a stretch to think she would’ve heard about him already in the first place, but there ya go.
Maul continues to pace around her, lamenting the fact that Kenobi and Skywalker did not come to confront him while wondering aloud if “the moment” is finally upon them. Ahsoka deftly sends a signal to Rex for he and his troops to move in before demanding that Maul surrender. Maul scoffs at her request, explaining that his capture would be meaningless since Darth Sidious is about to make his move to attain power throughout the galaxy.
Before Ahsoka can process what the hell he’s talking about, Rex and a squad from the 332 Company swoop in and and begin firing. Maul cryptically snarls “not yet” before fighting them off and escaping into the sewers with his troops.
Back in the Mandalorian throne room, Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, and Rex join Obi-Wan on a holocall to discuss their next movie. Bo-Katan is impressed by how well the clone troopers have performed against Maul’s soldiers, but it will all be for nothing if they don’t capture the rogue Sith lord himself.
Ahsoka brings up Maul’s mention of Darth Sidious, which immediately puts Obi-Wan on edge. He tells the group that the Jedi Council believes Sidious is the Sith Lord who has pitted both sides of the Clone Wars against each other. Unfortunately, the only source he had on Sidious was Count Dooku, who recently had his head chopped off by Anakin while they were rescuing Chancellor Palpatine.
*Continuity Note: Obi-Wan missed this scene because he was knocked unconscious, but we can still watch what happened in all its glory.
The news clearly shocks Ahsoka, both because Dooku is gone and because her master killed him.
Obi-Wan goes on to say that capturing Maul might give them another chance at learning more about Sidious. Ahsoka replies by asking for more support on Mandalore, but Obi-Wan declines, explaining that he is being sent to Utapau to find General Grievous.
When Ahsoka asks if Anakin is available to reinforce her troops, Obi-Wan requests Rex and Bo-Katan to leave so he can speak with her alone. After they leave, he explains that the Jedi Council has put Anakin on a secret assignment to spy on Chancellor Palpatine.
*Continuity Note: Which happens in this scene during Episode III
Just like her master, Ahsoka is not pleased about this (and for many of the same reasons). Obi-Wan attempts to justify the decision the same way he did to Anakin, but admits that the council doesn’t always make the right call on things, which could very well be the case here. He also has the gall to ask Ahsoka if she can speak with Anakin and help convince him that this is the right thing to do–or at least calm him down.
Before their conversation can get any more awkward, Rex bursts back into the throne room and announces that Maul has attacked a squad of clone troopers somewhere in the city.
Ahsoka finds the decimated squad and goes to comfort one of the wounded clones. The soldier tells her that after Maul beat the crap out of them, he somehow sensed that Jesse was older/more knowledgable than the others (he is an ARC trooper after all) and took him alive.
Meanwhile, in the bowels of Sundari, Maul taunts Jesse while Saxon and Rook Kast stand guard. Maul rants a bit about how Sidious’ grand plan is about to come together and he was discarded before he could be part of it. He then sends Saxon to make sure Prime Minister Almec doesn’t give up any information to their opposition before turning his attention back to Jesse. Maul draws on the dark side of the force, peering into Jesse’s mind to find out all he can about Ahsoka Tano.
Back above the surface of Sundari, Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, and Rex pay the prime minister a visit in his cell. Almec reveals that in the weeks leading up to the siege, Maul had been consumed by a sense of impending dread. He also wanted someone there as much as he desired Kenobi’s presence. When pressed for who it was, Almec becomes coy, refusing to answer until Ahsoka tells Bo-Katan to make him talk.
Before Almec can stammer out an answer, however, he’s shot twice in the chest by Saxon. Bo-Katan and her troops give chase while Ahsoka sends Rex to get a medic. With his final breaths, Almec reveals that Maul had a dream/premonition that made him become obsessed with yet another Jedi: Skywalker.
Saxon attempts to escape down an elevator shaft, but Bo-Katan catches up to him, providing us with one heck of a close quarters combat sequence.
Saxon finally manages to escape thanks to some nifty flame thrower work and a timely elevator, which nearly crushes Bo-Katan. Thankfully, she’s able to use her jet back to stop its descent and make it out alive.
Saxon returns underground to find Maul on a holocall with leaders of the Shadow Collective (including Dryden Vos of Crimson Dawn/Solo: A Star Wars Story), who he tells to go into hiding. After rambling again about how everything in the galaxy is about to get turned on its head, he rallies his troops for one final battle.
End Game Deferred
Back in the city proper, the Mandalorian people have started getting grumpy about the Republic forces occupying their planet. Bo-Katan says she agrees with their concerns…which seems kind of ridiculous considering that she asked for their help. When Rex points this out, Ahsoka follows up by saying that once they capture Maul, the Republic forces will leave and Bo-Katan can be in charge of things.
As the trio enters the throne room, they’re surprised to find Maul waiting for them with a captive Jesse at his side. Bo-Katan charges him, but is easily subdued. Maul then does something completely unexpected and releases Jesse as a show of good faith. Before anyone can make sense of the Sith lord’s graciousness, the city outside erupts as his forces make their final assault, forcing Rex and Bo-Katan to charge into battle.
Now alone with Ahsoka, Maul finally explains what his endgame is.
He begins by attempting to find common ground with her, explaining his belief that they were both tools used in a game played by the callous/hypocritical forces above them. He goes on to say that Sidious’ plan, which will change everything around them, is about to come to fruition.
Continuity Note: For anyone who finds it hard to believe Maul got all this from dreams and/or force premonitions, he didn’t. If you remember back when he first regained his sanity (and legs) in Season 4, Savage Opress told his newly cognizant brother about the ongoing Galactic Civil War. Maul’s response was “Ah yes, so it began…without me.” He may not have known everything, but he was definitely privy to at least some of the major components of Sidious’ master plan.
When Ahsoka asks Maul to help the Jedi save the Republic from Sidious, he responds that the Republic (and the Jedi) have already fallen without realizing it. He then makes her an offer: Join him, and together they can take down Sidious.
Ahsoka agrees, but only if he tells her what he wants with Anakin Skywalker. Maul responds that Skywalker is the key to everything. He has been groomed by Sidious from the beginning to become his apprentice. The main reason he even started this battle on Mandalore in the first place was to lure Skywalker there so he could kill him, thus depriving his former master of his prized student (and killing Kenobi as a bonus).
As you might imagine, Ahsoka doesn’t believe Maul’s vision about her beloved master. Instead of joining Maul, she draws her lightsabers on him, igniting what might arguably be the best fight we have ever seen on this series.
Outside, the battle between Maul’s forces and the combined Clones/Nite Owls rages. After sustaining heavy losses, Rex is able to lead his troops in a final push that forces Saxon and his soldiers to fall back.
At about the same time, Ahsoka manages to kick Maul out a window and put him on the run. As she’s pursuing him, Saxon calls Maul to ask for support. In one of the biggest dick moves of all time, Maul casually tells him that he’ll be escaping on an incoming ship and to enjoy his glorious death.
Ahsoka catches up to Maul on the rafters above the city and yet another incredible fight ensues. This time, Maul manages to knock both of her lightsabers from her hands, but Ahsoka has no plans of giving up. Just when it looks like Maul has her on the ropes, she manages to flip over him, grab his light saber, and shove him down toward the city below, using the force to stop his fall.
As Republic gunships surround him, Maul begs Ahsoka to let him die before screaming at everyone that they have no idea what type of hell awaits them. Rex stuns Maul and takes him into custody, leaving an exhausted-yet-victorious Ahsoka to wonder if anything the rogue Sith lord said might be true.
As great as this series has been, this episode might be the best one ever.
I know I’ve talked about how incredible the animation has looked all season, but what we saw here was somehow even better–and not just the mind blowing battle scenes. Ahsoka’s myriad of emotions were so well done that it would be hard to top with live action.
And that lightsaber battle…good lord! Ray Park and Lauren May Kim did the motion capture for Maul and Ahsoka Tano and absolutely killed it. The fight was elegantly furious, especially with the way it juxtaposed with the brutal engagement outside between Maul’s Mandalorians and the Nite Owls/Republic forces. Ashley Eckstein and Sam Witwer also deserve major praise, especially for their characters’ pre-fight dialogue in the throne room. That scene gave me chills, as did Maul’s final desperate plea to be put out of his misery before Sidious could rise to power. When a being who survived for over a decade after being cut in half starts begging to be killed, you know things are about to get rough.
As far as the music is concerned, Kevin Kiner’s score for this episode is by far my favorite of the series. It was perfectly restrained/haunting, which made its bombastic moments that much more effective when they happened.
And even if you don’t care about canon, this was a wonderful story to watch unfold. I was skeptical of the emotional weight that a fight between Maul and Ahsoka would have, but the script did a great job portraying the similar struggles both of them had with their pasts.
If you do like canon, however, then there was all sorts of great connective tissue to behold. Yes, the dialogue from the Ahsoka novel pretty much got chucked out the window, but everything connected to the movies and the series (and most of the Son of Dathomir comic) clicked beautifully into place. Even the most casual Star Wars fan will likely recognize many of the events referenced from Revenge of the Sith…and I think we all know what major plot element from that movie is going to take place next episode.
Considering how good this one was, I’m not sure how they’ll top it…but it’s going to be all types of fun see to if they can.