“Far above, far above,
We don’t know where we’ll fall.
Far above, far above,
What once was great is rendered small.”
Unless you have been living under a rock you know that Darth Maul will be returning to The Clone Wars for the final story arc of Season Four. This may leave you scratching your head as to how the bisected Sith Lord could have survived his unkind cut at the hands of Obi-Wan and his even less kind fall down the reactor shaft.
Thankfully, Ryder Windham gave us a little sneak peak behind the story of Darth Maul in the new young reader book by Scholastic, Star Wars: The Wrath of Darth Maul.
What follows will be spoilers revealed as to Darth Maul’s fate as well as my speculation about how it will play out on the small screen.
While it is a “kids” book, Ryder Windham’s work covers previously explored territory in Darth Maul’s back story as well as adding new material to what we know about the Sith Lord. This of course includes The Phantom Menace film, but also the TPM novelization by Terry Brooks, the Darth Maul Journal by Jude Watson, the Darth Plagueis novel and short story “Restraint” by James Luceno, and notably for our purposes in this article, story elements from the Clone Wars episode “Brothers” which, like last season’s “Nightsisters” arc, was written by Katie Lucas.
We all know how we thought Darth Maul’s story ended, but it turns out Darth Maul borrowed a few tricks from the Skywalkers. In Empire Strikes Back, after losing his duel with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker allowed himself to fall down and managed to find a shaft to slide into ending up hanging underneath Cloud City where he was rescued by Princess Leia, Lando and Chewie. Well it turns out that Darth Maul managed to find an air vent while he was falling down the reactor core. But how did he manage to do this? Well it turns out the Dark Side has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. Think back to Episode III as Darth Vader is laying maimed on the shore of a Mustafar river of fire, as his skin catches fire and he begins to burn, it is only his strength of will and his hatred in that moment of Obi-Wan Kenobi that keeps him alive. It turns out that Darth Maul used his hatred and the Dark Side to clear is clouded and failing mind as shock and a head wound threatened to banish him to the perpetual darkness of death.
Darth Maul decided he must live for one singular purpose, to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi. Revenge.
In this book we learn that Maul, or at least what used to be Maul is alive on the planet Lotho Minor. We also learn that Maul or someone else fashioned for him out of scraps a mechanical carriage that began just below his rib cage and was attached to six metal legs each of which ended in a point. These legs were constructed out of ruined droids. Will Maul’s legs look like one of the BT-16 droids that were used by the B’omarr monks ?
Maul has been living in this subterranian area of Lotho Minor in this bestial state for approximately a decade, whether from the trauma of his ordeal or a brain injury he has no memories and is eeking out a miserable existence on what scraps of food he can find or catch.
It was in this hole on Lotho Minor that Savage Opress will ultimately discover his brother. In the Season Three episode “Witches of the Mist” Mother Talzin reveals to Savage Opress the existence of his brother Darth Maul and gives him a Talisman with which to track him down. How this talisman works is revealed by Windham. Readers of the two most recent EU series, Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi will be familiar with a new Force technique that was introduced and has since been re-used. The Dathomiri Blood Trail. Wookieepedia has a description of the technique which reads in part:
A blood trail was a Force technique developed by the Nightsisters of Dathomir. With this technique, the Nightsister would use her own blood to mark her target (often a slave) and track them through the blood mark using the Force in case they escaped. The shed blood used for a blood trail could not be removed once the trail was set. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Blood_trail
In the The Wrath of Darth Maul, Maul has an encounter with Mother Talzin in which she has the talisman and brushes it against a wound of his in passing. When she did so she annointed the talisman with some of Maul’s blood. What was the purpose of her doing so? She had just learned that Maul was claimed by Sidious and had deferred to Sidious’ superior power. Presumably she wanted a way to keep tabs on this would be Nightbrother (in Maul) that got away, in case Sidious cast aside his apprentice. What is clear is that while this isn’t exactly the same technique as the Blood Trail there is clearly a related technique involved here.
The book closes with some interesting events, after winning Maul’s tentative trust Opress gives Maul the talisman which magically restored some of his memories, just how many memories and how much damage was repaired to Maul’s fractured psyche remains to be seen. What happens next is that Opress and Maul head back to Dathomir to seek Mother Talzin’s aid and the use of her magics to help restore Maul to some semblence of health. In the Epilogue we see Maul musing about how nice it would be to have a new set of legs, which seems like it may be possible given how strong the magic of the Nightsisters is, they were able to fashion an enchanted Vibro-ax out of the ground for Opress, after all. The book closes with a rather dramatic final pair of sentences, which sets up Maul as a rather loose cannon;
He hoped Opress was indeed his friend. Everyone else could burn.
It is here that the book ends and the remainder of Maul’s story is set to unfurl this Spring in the animated series.
There is one major plot point that is left blank in this story. How did he get to Lotho Minor and who partially rebuilt him?
He had no recolloection of how he’d lost his lower body or who had grafted his torso to the droid carraige…How had he arrived at this place? How long had he been living like a wild animal? (pg.2-3)
This is where we enter the realm of speculation. There are four main possibilities. The first is the least likely, that in his amnesiatic state, Maul managed to scrounge and build his new spider half himself and somehow get aboard a ship that traveled from Naboo to Lotho Minor, where upon he stumbled his way in the tunnels and could not find his way out. This is far fetched for a number of reasons that seem self evident. The second possibility is that some as yet unknown character or group rescued Maul and then abandoned him to his fate on Lotho Minor. This seems like a weird and pointless possibility. The third possibility is that Mother Talzin used the talisman to keep track of Maul and sensed that something happened, she traveled in secret to Naboo and spirited away the half of Maul that remained, fashioned him a crude mechanism to move about and left him marooned on Lotho Minor for some unknown reason.
The fourth possibility seems the most likely. Just as Darth Sidious sensed Anakin was in trouble on Mustafar and rushed to his aid, it seems likely that Sidious sensed what occured to Maul on Naboo. James Luceno’s novel “Darth Plagueis” doesn’t seem to fit in with this theory, but to me it is the one that makes the most sense. Sidious was dissappointed in the weakness of Maul for his failure and allowing himself to be defeated by Obi-Wan and no longer felt Maul was a worthy apprentice. Sidious, however, is hardly one to waste a resource or to take any chances, so without restoring Maul’s mind, he simply fashioned him a crude spider body and left him on Lotho Minor. A sort of in case of emergency break glass, Sith agent. This would fit in with the way that Sidious remade General Greivous as well as Darth Vader into creatures that were, to quote Obi-Wan, “more machine then man.” We also know that Sidious in the guise of Palpatine may have already been on Naboo, because he was present in Theed for the funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn in the closing scenes of TPM.
All that being said it leaves the question of how The Clone Wars is going to incorporate Maul’s backstory into the series. The only episode that Windham specifically mentioned was the episode entitled “Brothers,” this is the third episode in the Maul arc, the entire arc consisting of Massacre(4.19), Bounty (4.20), Brothers (4.21), and Revenge (4.22). So it seems likely that Opress will not actually find Maul until Brothers, but the question is will we see dual story telling going on in the first two episodes of the arc, or will the backstory of Maul’s survival be told much like Asajj Ventress’ backstory was told in the Nightsisters Trilogy? If I was betting money, seeing as how it is the same writer (Katie Lucas), I would say that we get Maul’s survival shown as flashbacks while Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters are working their magics on Maul.
How do you think TCW will handle Maul’s ressurection? Are you as excited as I am to see him? Let us know in the comment section below.