The Life and Death and Life and Death of Darth Maul

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The most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels concludes the story of Darth Maul and gives closure to a conflict that was begun almost 18 years ago in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Darth Maul’s tattooed face and double bladed lightsaber were among the first striking images we saw in the lead up to The Phantom Menace.  Many fans were disappointed to see how quickly and easily the new Sith Lord was dispatched in the film, myself included.  For years, I joked that he was less of a character and more of a living weapon.  In fact, the Star Wars databank at one time listed Maul as Darth Sidious’ weapon.  While he was visually striking and perfect for marketing of the film, he didn’t really leave much of an impact, quickly replaced by Count Dooku’s Darth Tyranus.

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It wasn’t until the Clone Wars animated show brought him back that we really got to see more of Darth Maul’s character fleshed out.  Bringing him back from the dead was a controversial move, but I think it paid off.  Finally, we got to see this character be more than a cool look and flashy martial arts, we saw him as an intelligent and cunning warrior, one worthy of being a Sith Lord.  Truth be told, he became one of my favorite characters on the show.  It probably didn’t hurt that Obi-wan Kenobi is one of my favorite characters.  Bringing Darth Maul back put Kenobi into the spotlight of the show and gave us some of the best moments on the show.

When Clone Wars brought Maul back, I was very skeptical.  George Lucas supposedly showed Maul split in two in The Phantom Menace to prove that he was dead and not coming back.  I know there were characters in the Legends era that did come back from being cut in half, but it really stretched my suspension of disbelief.  But Clone Wars did one thing very, very well when they brought Maul back.  They cast a fantastic actor to voice him.

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Sam Witwer brought such a fantastic voice to this character and did so much for him.  Ray Park was simply incredible as Maul in The Phantom Menace.  He brought such a unique energy to the action of the film, but when Maul returned, his animated incarnation took what was done and spun it in a unique new direction.  Sam Witwer’s vocal performance took the character in such a new direction that he was almost a brand new character.

Clone Wars didn’t kill Maul, but it did put an end to his story for a time.  He returned in the epic Star Wars Rebels season two finale “Twilight of the Apprentice” putting another new spin on the character.  Maul’s role on Rebels is a smaller man, a broken man, knowing only pain and loss.  Much like the pain and loss he has pushed on to others like Obi-wan Kenobi.  His plans are no longer to take over the galaxy, but just to find a way to hurt those who have hurt him: Kenobi, the Empire, the Emperor.  In the original outline of “Twilight of the Apprentice” Vader was going to kill him.  I’m glad that they decided against this because the final showdown is much more powerful dealing with Vader and Ahsoka than anything that would’ve come from Vader and Maul.

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To be honest, Maul hasn’t really done much on Rebels.  His connection to Ezra sparked a few stories, but on the whole, the galaxy had moved on and left the poor zabrak behind.  He has lost everything, and now in this most recent episode, he was finally put out of his misery by the man who robbed him of his place in the galaxy, Obi-wan Kenobi.  Their final moments were simply beautiful as Obi-wan showed Maul a compassion that he has not been given for a very long time.

Darth Maul’s story has finally ended, but the galaxy far, far away isn’t done with this Sith Lord yet.  Marvel comics is giving us a look into his life before everything changed for him on Naboo.  But we now know where Maul’s tragic story ultimately ends, back where it began dueling with a Jedi in the sands of Tatooine.

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