**You’ve been warned! Do not read further if you don’t want to spoil a major revelation of the canonical Star Wars saga, prior to having seen tonight’s episode, “Witches of the Mist”. Having that out of the way, let’s begin, shall we? And just in case you haven’t already, go here immediately to check out the first two episodes of The Nightsisters Trilogy:
This ought to gain the Clone Wars series a whole host of new followers: hot on the news that was exclusively reported by EW.com yesterday about Liam Neeson returning to the Star Wars fold to once again imbue Qui-Gon Jinn’s with life (as a Force ghost), comes the shocking conclusion tonight of the Nightsisters Trilogy, whereupon we learn that Darth Maul himself survived and is living in exile. It seems that many people’s biggest gripes about The Phantom Menace a dozen years ago, namely those two incredibly unique characters having been promptly cut down, and leaving us to wonder how things may’ve been different with the further unfolding of the Skywalker saga, have now been settled as we begin to see the method behind Lucas’ blueprint all these years later.
Certainly Qui-Gon’s maverick ways with the Force, focused upon the “Living” variation of the belief system, a sort of heretically Protestant, physically-tied take, that not only clashed with the more Orthodox Jedi Council, but also with many audience members’ own imaginations, would’ve led to a most interesting journey as he shepherded The Chosen One along his Jedi path. And had Maul lived? Would he, as Sidious’ pitbull, have struck down the snoozing Chosen One at a given juncture? Or would Sidious have continued to toy with our heroes during his inevitably-unfolding, unending war on the galaxy itself?
“But wait!” cries a chorus of fans: “Only two there are…a Master and an Apprentice”, referring to the Jedi maxim when it comes to Sith relationships. “How could Dooku have taken his place as Sidious’ apprentice if Maul still lived?” Such questions, like most supposed continuity-errors people think they’ve found in the saga, are a simple case of being too literal, a notion that would be decried from the same camps in referring to many other works of art. Whether Dooku or Sidious know of Maul’s survival is irrelevant; he was nothing more to Sidious than a trained-enforcer who followed his Master’s instructions to the letter. Sidious knew that with Maul out of the picture that Dooku could step in and take his place, for not only did he have the chops and prowess (even besting Master Yoda!), but the great wealth, wisdom, and political adeptness to effect far more change in the long-run. By the time the tide has effectively turned to allow the full-scale fall of the Republic, Sidious no longer needs a suave negotiator; he now needs a ruthless enforcer – enter the tyrannical Lord Vader. And within a generation even that apprentice has gotten old and unnecessary; Sidious now looks to the young skills of the son of Skywalker for maintaining the Empire’s status quo.
The Sith always turn on each other; we’ve already seen how even an apprentice can turn on their own acolyte not more than two episodes back when Dooku leaves his up-and-coming student Asajj to die. Under his Master’s instruction, Dooku knows he can find someone better for their purposes through-and-through. So it is that when Maul’s tribal brother, (“Sah-vajj”), arrives on scene, secretly manipulated by Asajj, seeking her own apprentice for revenge against her former master Dooku, we are led to the inevitable showdown on all sides that provides the most captivating lightsaber duel yet revealed on The Clone Wars. This duel between three very sympathetic villains – Dooku, Asajj, and Savage, in the confines of a shuttle, provides quite a bit of wonder for the action and interplay as they each struggle for dominance in the case of Asajj and Dooku, and simply to be left alone to a life of freedom in the case of the allusive Frankenstein’s creation, Savage Opress, having been betrayed by his former masters.
What do you think? Is this shocking revelation to Savage via Mother Talzin at the story arc’s end that Maul is indeed alive and hiding in the exile of the Outer Rim territories the game-changer that the most casual of Star Wars fans will need in order to see the dramatic possibilities within this series? It’s already the highest-watched series in Cartoon Network history, with a very sizable repeat audience of adults and children alike; and IGN even included it in their list of 100 Greatest Animated Series of All Time back when it was only a half season old. But one can imagine that as the show dusts off its beginning framework and steps up the game by changing the way we perceive all six of the live-action films, by expanding and filling in the gaps, this series becomes so much more indispensable, and exciting, the further it goes. After all, you probably laughed upon first hearing that Anakin had a Padawan during the offscreen Clone Wars; but by now most people see the natural fit of it so well complementing the later Anakin we know, that it makes his actions, reactions, and downfall all the more tragic.
Be sure to tune in to Cartoon Network at The Clone Wars’ new time slot of 8:30 PM Eastern/Central/Pacific time, or catch the episodes soon after, streaming for a limited time on starwars.com, cartoonnetwork.com, or for individual purchase on iTunes. And if you’re doing what I’m doing, buy all three parts of the trilogy and edit them together, minus end credits on the first two episodes, and minus the opening newsreel on last two, and you’ll be able to recreate the feature-length trilogy as seen in limited theatrical screenings last December; burn it and show it to as many of your most-jaded friends as possible – you’ll make a believer out of them with this set!