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Darth Plagueis Commentary: Chapters 8-11

Darth Plagueis Commentary: Chapters 8-11

Who is still talking about the Darth Plagueis novel? We are!

Here is our discussion of chapters 8-11.  For this part of the discussion Mark Hurliman of the Star Wars Report and Star Wars Beyond the Films podcasts joins me.  We also have a special guest, Mark’s father (Mark E) who himself is an avid reader of the Star Wars novels.

If you missed the first two parts of our discussion here are the links.

Prologue - Chapter 3
Chapter 4 – Chapter 7

 

Mark: So we’re on Chapter 8, Victims of Their Own Demise

Aaron: Plagueis decides to track down some “Forceful” beings that Venamis had his eye on.  “Forceful”, still can’t get used to that word.  So the first one he tracks down is a gambler.  I guess it’s not really gambling when you are using the Force.

Mark: Breaking Muun tradition no less by being seen in places no Muun would go.  The fact that the first one was a shape-shifter of all things blew me away.  I love the idea of a Sith shape-shifter.

Mark E: A shape shifting gambler who was giving his winnings to Kerred Santhe of Santhe/Seinar.

Mark: Yeah the tie in to Santhe was cool.  Plagueis himself assassinated Kerred Santhe’s father which made a nice twist and kept things going with more details that linked the Sith to older works.

Aaron: I’ve never actually liked the idea of shape-shifters in Star Wars.  I’ve always thought it was more of a Star Trek thing.

Mark E: But shape-shifters are way cool, and pretty hard to hunt.

Aaron: Exactly why I don’t like them. Too easy of a plot device.  Now was he the same species as Zam Wesell from Attack of the Clones?

Mark: No, at first Plagueis thinks so, but turned out it was a Shi’ido like Uncle Hoole in Galaxy of Fear ;)

Aaron: Galaxy of Fear. Oh, everyone read those books…

Mark: I’m only missing #9 and #10.  I was surprised though that Plagueis left the Shi’ido alive.

Aaron: Yes, if you can call the way he left him alive

Mark E: He let him go but basically told him to get his winnings and get out, he was done!

Mark: 11-4D blasts him in the brain, but do we think this was a permanent disabling of his shifting?  Or would he heal up?

Aaron: “You can’t leave me like this” the Shi’ido begged.

Mark: It was left kind of vague there.  But still I loved it. I found myself falling to the dark side in this book.

Aaron: Let me quote the book here.  I think it implies he was permanently disfigured…

“You have one last chance to use your Force talents to win big before your horrid image becomes the centerpiece of the cheaters database on every gambling world.”

Mark E: I didn’t get permanently disfigured as Plagueis was going to allow him to continue fleecing casinos.

Mark: I guess when I was reading it I was figuring Plagueis thought Shi’idos were ugly/ hidious in general.  But it does make sense that the Shi’ido would have one shot in the form it’s in now and that would be the same as any person who can’t shift having one shot, or as many shots as they took before getting caught.

Aaron: So Plagueis moves on to Saleucami to meet somewhat of a cult leader.  It was kind of a gathering of hippies.

Mark E: Really spacey hippies!  Selected hippies.

Mark: And hasn’t The Clone Wars gone there a couple times?  Or mentioned it?

Aaron: This was the planet where Rex got shot and meets the clone deserter Cut Lawquane.  It is also one of the planets in the Order 66 montage in Revenge of the Sith.

Mark: The planet Saleucami has shown up a few times in the EU correct?  Republic comics for one.

Aaron: You can’t spell Saleucami without “eu”.  It is a very important planet in this era.  The Iktochi woman seemed like she knew what she was talking about with her professions.  “On the horizon looms a galaxy spanning war.”

Mark: Yeah she all but calls the future and Plagueis can’t have that.  You had this sense of something very bad was about to happen

Aaron: And once she realizes what he is she basically begs him to take her as an apprentice. “Let me do your bidding.”

Mark: It was a cool throw back to Vader’s “what is thy bidding my master” line.  When he touches her and fries her I thought of a well-executed assassination.

Aaron: The hand holding of death.

Mark E: He did nothing… “she fainted”.

Aaron: And then Plagueis moves on to the third unwitting victim.

Mark E: Naat Lare had broken out of the Bedlam Institution for the Criminally Insane.  Sounds like a fun place!

Mark: I couldn’t help but think of Arkham Asylum.

Aaron: And Venamis helped him escape. He must have had a lot of interest in this guy.

Mark: Plus if Naat had survived he would have made a darn good Apprentice. Venamis picked potentials well, you gotta hand him that.
Venamis might have been a very real threat- he being a Bith after all. We never saw the depths of HIS genius. And from the small bit we got in the Tenebrous Way; I fear Bith Sith!
By this point, I was starting to feel the chapter was more a filler chapter, but it did have a certain EU real feel to it. With every Sith potential even having potentials. As with the EU you can never get rid of the Sith, or Sith wannabe’s.

Aaron: Yes I agree, it did seem like filler but it was cool.  I always like to see Force users who are not affiliated with the Jedi or Sith.

Mark E: What did you think of how quickly Plagueis snapped back when he heard “Jedi”?

Aaron: I think he was excited that the Jedi were involved. Like he was hoping for a confrontation.

Mark E: I liked the fact they tracked him to Barab.

Mark: Barab- I loved it’s use- we know the Barbel have a deep respect for Jedi, and how would they even know a Sith from a Jedi at this point in time?

Aaron: This was happening on Abraxin right, not Barab?

Mark: Hmmm this bears closer inspection… Oh it looks as though it was a Barabel settlement. Which makes more sense come to think of it.

Aaron: I personally got very excited to see Jedi at this point.  I was hoping they would be more involved in the story.

Mark: I agree Aaron- I had hoped they would play a bigger part, but the part they played was diabolically clever.

Mark E: I liked how he had 11-4D watch the Jedi for reaction when he called on the Force.

Mark: Shadow Games give us some minor insight into what it must have been like to be Naat or even Kit Fisto, a Force sensitive Nautolan.

Aaron: I loved the end of this chapter. Plagueis meets Naat and tells him to prove himself by defeating the Jedi.

Mark E: But then Plagueis has the Jedi Ni-Cada do the dirty work for him.

Mark: Yeah, suckering the Jedi to do his dirty work was perfect- had Naat proved worthy, well, things would have been different to say the least.

Aaron: I feel like Naat would have been more of an enforcer and not fit well with Plagueis.  Like Maul was to Palpatine.

Mark: Maul…. Oh poor poor Maul (But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Mark E: Naat was truly criminally insane.  Plagueis had no use for him, whether he was Forceful or not.

Mark: I got the distinct impression that it was the Padawan who did the killing though.  With his Master screaming “Don’t Don’t.”

Aaron: When he said “Stand aside Padawan” I figured the Master handled it from there.

Mark E: Padawan questions “Master?”  Someone else presumeably Master, says “its done, he’s dead.”

Mark: I like how some authors assign nothing to dialog. Karen Traviss would do this and I could get so confused at times.  To me it was more the Padawan excited by the battle “Master!” The Master tries to intervene “Stand aside Padawan.”

Aaron: Based on the last two lines of the chapter it seems clear that the Master did the killing.

Mark: It’s all about point of view.  I’m not saying I’m right- just how I read it was different.

Aaron: Moving on…

Mark: Going back to Hego Damask, and more of the public side of his Sithy self.

Aaron: Chapter 9. Our intro to Palpatine in this book!

Aaron: What did you guys think about the fact that they still kept his first name a mystery?

Mark E: I thought it was explained that he was just rebelling against the norm and he chose to go only by his last name.

Mark: I found the lack of his first name interesting to be sure. I’ve seen some say his name was the same as his fathers but I felt it was way too wide open to lock down. It was some rebelling- I mean the fact that the Palpatine name is a ROYAL line on Naboo. That took me back.

Mark E: The untapped plasma of Naboo, one of the more memorable aspects of The Phantom Menace.

Mark: Oh man the plasma- that totally changed how I looked at the purple beams flowing up in The Phantom Menace during the Duel of Fates!

Aaron: And the value of the plasma made you realize just how important Naboo is in the overall plan of the Sith.

Mark: Yes- the plasma made Naboo more relevant then it was in the films IMO. Or at least it made it have more of an allure.  I liked how the Naboo and Gungans would recall Plagueis’ trip as Damask as the coldest winter they ever had.  We also learn where the Royal Fleet comes from- Hint Hint R2!

Aaron: I liked this line…
“In human hands…rested the profane future of the galaxy.”
He didn’t like humans but knew their importance.

Mark: As if Plagueis knew this and worked all his Sithly plans in that fashion.  He was ready to set Naboo up for life to get his hands on the plasma… or better- to USE the plasma to further the Sith Grand Plan.  Everything seemed to factor into this plan.

Aaron: And he uses Palpatine to help determine who will be the next king.  The Sith don’t leave anything to chance.

Mark E: The meeting between Plagueis and Palpatine was kind of drawn out, but Plagueis did a pretty thorough job of interviewing for an apprentice.  What about Palpatine being a speeder racer?

Mark: Learning Palpatine; like Anakin has a need for speed was great! I never would have taken Palpatine for a thrill junkie!

Aaron: I actually thought that bit of information was out of place.  It never really factored into the rest of the story.  Did we really need to know Palpatine had a sweet ride?

Mark: And yet it too fits with his ole EU self- the playboy.

Mark E: Need for speed plays to the rich kid persona.
And then Hedo hires palpatine as a spy for Damask holdings at the end of the interview! Then Palpatine says he will only work for Hego if he can report directly to him.

Mark: You have to wonder if the amulet Plagueis gives Palpatine was under any spells.

Aaron: Or a tracking device?

Aaron: Moving onto Chapter 10: The Cycle of Violence.  Palpatine gives Plagueis the tour of Theed and they are fast friends.

Mark E: Fast friends, but Plageis “knows he can own him”

Mark: I liked how Palpatine knew the speeder was a bribe from his father, but took it anyway.  Already showing a Sith-like way of thinking.  I’ll use you using me to my own advantage.

Aaron: We learn Palpatine has blood on his hands at an early age, being responsible for the deaths of 2 pedestrians.  He doesn’t seem to care that much about it.

Mark: He has his own moral code.  That seemed to be of great interest to Plagueis.

Mark E: He learned his lesson, wear down pops and you can drive the speeder again.  No accountability for the rich kid.

Mark: Palpatine also has his own opinions of the Jedi and the state of galactic affairs

Aaron: Palpatine is so political minded but tries to act like he isn’t interested in politics. Plagueis could see right through him.

Mark: Like he was a closet politician.

Mark E: Palpatine is certainly racist against the Gungans, “I don’t mind them as long as they keep to their submerged cities and waterways.”

Aaron: Fits with the mostly human Empire when he is in charge.

Mark: Yes I kept expecting to see Plagueis do something SO TERRIBLE that Palpatine would hate all aliens from then on out- but it would appear his prejudices were already in place.

Aaron: I kept forgetting how young he was here. He was only like 17, right?

Mark: I believe so.

Mark: You knew Palpatine didn’t have a chance in the 9 Hells when Plagueis thinks to himself, “Before long, I will own this human.” And then proceeds to manipulate the holy Sith out of him.

Mark E: He’d respect the Jedi more if they’d only impose their will on the entire galaxy.  Sounds like the future!

Aaron: The funny thing is, at this point, Plagueis still can’t tell if he has the Force.

Mark: I loved this- the way it was explained made so many other EU works make sense- like Zekk- how he wasn’t noticed at first, and other Jedi who were missed at a young age.  The fact that it was a defense mechanism in Force strong beings also makes sense why Anakin didn’t just JUMP OUT WITH A NEON SIGN.  It took his blood sample to floor Qui-gon, not his mere presence.  And the way Luceno explained it made so many things work!  I love it when a book does this!

Aaron: It seems the will of the midi-chlorians can be used to explain anything about the power or lack of power of a Force user at any given moment.  Like, Obi wan couldn’t run faster at the end of Ep 1 because the midi-chlorians didn’t let him.

Mark: Which is EPIC! Because the midi-chlorians follow the Will of the Force- so in a sense the mystery is still there while they made it quantifiable at the same time.

Mark: So in this chapter the miners who were marooned in chapter 2- we discover their fate, that of being murdered and left on their employers front door.  Also the book once more jumps ahead a few months.  That’s something I really enjoy about the Sith books- they cover lifetimes, not just events.

Aaron: And then we get Palpatine’s dad basically telling Plagueis “stay away from my son”.

Mark: Yeah that was exactly what Plagueis was waiting for- grooming the moment as it were to set father against son.

Aaron: This was a war of wills that Cosigna had no chance of winning.  Moving on to Chapter 11.

Mark: Avatar of Morality

Aaron: Plagueis meets with Palpatine and tells him a story about how he orchestrated the deaths of his siblings after his father’s death so he could inherit the fortune.

Mark: Plagueis sets the bait that will later ensnare Palpatine and leave him little choice but to join Plagueis.

Aaron: And we are led to believe the story may not be completely true.

Mark: This too plays into the moment that arrived last chapter- now he paints Palpatine the picture of betrayal, and gaining the uperhand over an oppressive family.

Aaron: So Palpatine’s father makes the big mistake of trying to assert his will on Palpatine right after his head has been filled with Plagueis’s ideas

Mark: Bad timing pops.

Mark E: big mistake…

Mark: Plus he gets the whole family onto the ship together.  I mean it IS the perfect opportunity

Aaron: This was almost a little too convenient. We also learn that Palpatine’s dad always had a bad feeling about him. Knew he was trouble.
“You’re an animal at heart”
“King of the Beasts, father”

Mark: Plus…
“if the Force birthed you then I curse it”
“As I do” says Palpatine.

Aaron: He says all the wrong things and Palpatine in all his teenage, untrained Force rage brutally kills his father.

Mark E: Mom, dad and siblings too!

Aaron: I have to say although I saw the death of his dad coming, I was surprised he killed everyone else on the ship.

Mark: Very much Anakin and the Tusken Raider village all over again.  And Palpatine reaches out to his new mentor- and Plagueis goes to efforts to cover up the murders. “Congratulations on becoming an emancipated being.”  Great set up- and you could say that in a sense Palpatine starts to really share the limelight.  One other thing I loved about this book is that it could just as easily be a prequel for a Darth Sidious book to come later.

Aaron: In a way this was a Darth Sidious book.

Mark: Very much so.  This is also when Plagueis himself discovers just how POWERFUL Palpatine is in the Force.  The murders have broken down the barriers protecting him.

Aaron: So now Plagueis knows he picked the right guy, reveals himself as a Sith and tells Palpatine he has a new name.  A lot for Palpatine to take in but he goes right along with it.

Mark: This was the money chapter. The moment when things shift into a higher gear.

Aaron: Once Palpatine was introduced the book really picked up for me.

Mark E: “From this day forward, the truth of you, now and forever more, will be Sidious.”

Aaron: Seeing exactly how he became Sidious was a thing of fanboy dreams.

Mark E: I thought the book really took off from here.  I finished the rest in like a day and a half.

Mark: I loved when Palpatine mentions that he could have joined the Jedi Order and Plagueis comes back “and of what possible use do you think a person of your nature would be to the Jedi Order? You’re heartless, ambitious, arrogant, insidious, and without shame or empathy. More you’re a murderer.” (cue Gollem talking to Smeagol)
You totally had the sense that Palpatine was about to make his deal with the devil. The classic Sith christening. I had the same feeling when Anakin dons the title in the Episode 3 novelization. I love how Plagueis tells him there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“In time you will come to understand that you are one with the dark side of the Force, and that your power is beyond contradiction. But just now, and until I tell you differently, abiding submission is your only road to salvation.”

Boy these were some great chapters.  This was when the book got hard to put down.

 

That is all for our discussion of chapters 8-11.  Check back for chapters 12-15 next time.

- Aaron Goins

 

Darth Maul: Underworld Crime Lord?

 

The return of Darth Maul to the land of the living has opened  up a tremendous number of storytelling possibilities for The Clone Wars series.  In Maul, George Lucas and Dave Filoni have reintroduced a character that brings with him the cache of being not only a film character, but also a character unlike most in the films in that he has an unknown fate.  The possibilities for Maul run the gamut from being killed early next season to surviving the Clone Wars and becoming a Yoda-like Sith hermit somewhere in the galaxy.

Our friends at Knights Archive posted an article about a new Scholastic book that may shed some light on Darth Maul’s plan and the direction the character is going to go.   Targeted at kids age 8 to 12, Scholastic’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy is a 160 page book due out this September.  The summary (at Edelweiss) for the book reads as follows:

For the first time ever, Scholastic is publishing Star Wars Clone Wars… based off the hit Cartoon Network TV show, viewed by over 2.4 million every week!
Our story will follow the highly anticipated return of Darth Maul–the infamous villain of Episode I: The Phantom Menace–whose popularity rivals that of Boba Fett. When Darth Maul reunites with his brother, Savage Opress, can even Obi-Wan Kenobi stop him before he rallies the criminal underworld to his cause?

What is this talk about the criminal underworld?  For further clarification we  headed over to Amazon.com to see if they had the same or a different description;

For the first time ever, Scholastic is publishing Star Wars Clone Wars… based off the hit Cartoon Network TV show, viewed by over 2.4 million every week!
Waiting on details from LucasFilms regarding Season 5, but the novel will feature the highly anticipated return of Darth Maul, the villain of Episode I’s Phantom Menace, whose popularity rivals that of Boba Fett.

If you take Amazon’s description specifically mentioning “Season 5″ and Edelweiss’s description hinting at events we have yet to see, and combine that with the fact that the book will be released in the same month that the Season Premiere of Season Five will air, it is pretty clear that Scholastic may have dropped a major plot point from Season Five.

Before we get in to my wild speculation about where this story could go, I think it is useful to take a little bit of perspective on the history of Darth Maul and the history of George Lucas’s interest and involvement in the Expanded Universe, The Clone Wars, and the Live-Action Series.  Based on anecdotes about Mr. Lucas, we know that he is focused on the stories that he personally crafts and tells in the Star Wars universe.  While his company licenses and produces a plethora of EU works under the Star Wars brand, it is not like he is reading and approving every book written.  It is also true that we have heard on multiple occasions that he enjoys the comics and from time to time will borrow an idea or look for something from the comics.

There are two significant stories that I believe Mr. Lucas had a larger hand in crafting than the standard EU fare.  Those would be 1996′s multimedia campaign around Shadows of the Empire and 2008′s The Force Unleashed.  Shadows of the Empire was significant for a number of reasons. The story itself was set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi so it had to fit in with Lucas’ vision of those stories.  Shadows was also a bit of a trial balloon to gauge fan interest in Star Wars before the 1997 release of the Special Editions of the original trilogy and the 1999 release of the Phantom Menace beginning the prequel trilogy.  It makes sense that Lucas had a strong hand in the project, but it was author Steve Perry (among others) who crafted the specifics of the story.  As Steve Perry explained in an interview with EUCantina.net;

EUC: Let’s move on to specific projects: Mr. Perry, what can you tell us about being involved in the Shadows of the Empire Media Event? Mr. Reaves, what can you tell us about working on Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, as Darth Maul is such a mysterious character ?

SP: SOTE was a test-run by Lucasfilm, designed to see how such a multimedia project would work, during the time before the second set of movies. A very collaborative effort, which was laid out during a meeting at Skywalker Ranch, wherein a bunch of us sat down and hammered out a storyline, then parsed it out — I took notes, then went home and wrote an outline upon which the novel, comics, games, toys, etc. were based. It was a lot of fun, and I got to play with the original cast, plus come up with some interesting EU characters.

Lucas also had a large role in The Force Unleashed and that story and game’s development.  The video below goes in depth on Lucas’s role in the story of the secret apprentice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66vVBcKas3A&feature

Then of course there is the currently on hold Live-Action Series which already has a full season of scripts written.  With the working title of Star Wars: Underworld, the Live-Action Series is suppose to focus on the seedier side of the galaxy during the rise of the Empire.  Notice the connection between Shadows of the Empire and the Live-Action Series.  It seems like criminals and scoundrels have a fairly large part to play in Star Wars, but we will get back to that in a minute. In terms of The Clone Wars, we know that George Lucas has a very strong hand in the show, and while Dave Filoni is the supervising director and the show runner, Lucas is present at story conferences where stories are “broken” and many ideas are developed.  This can be seen in behind the scenes clips released as well as numerous comments by Filoni and other TCW staff members.

Lucas has set up a story in TCW where we know have Sidious in control of the Republic, his apprentice Count Dooku leading the Separatists in this charade.  We also have Sidious’ eye on a potential new apprentice in Anakin, two former apprentice’s of Dooku in Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress and a former apprentice of Sidious in Darth Maul.  This is a lot of Sith or would be Sith for the Rule of Two to attempt to contain. At this point there is no reason to believe that Sidious knew that Maul survived, but that is possible. Operating on the assumption that Maul is now a wild sabacc card that doesn’t fit in with Sidious’ plans, then it would make sense that there isn’t a place for Maul at Sidious’ side.  Count Dooku certainly wouldn’t react well to his Master’s previous student returning and seeking to usurp his position.  Sidious may also be reluctant to accept Maul back into the fold.

Actor Sam Witwer has been making the media rounds giving interviews to promote Darth Maul’s return.  Christian Blauvelt of Entertainment Weekly got some interesting quotes from Witwer regarding Maul’s future.

You won’t necessarily see all the layers of the character right away, it takes time to unravel. I don’t think I’m spoiling too much when I say that he’s going to be around for a little bit. You will see a lot more of him going forward than you would have expected.

There are major consequences for Darth Maul being reintroduced to the Star Wars galaxy. This guy doesn’t just show up, wave his lightsaber around, have a few mean lines here and there, then pass into obscurity. He makes a major splash in the Clone Wars, and it’s entirely consequential the things that he’s up to and tries to accomplish.

That goal of revenge is not something that goes away, but what does change is how he’s going to go about it. And some of that involves Asajj Ventress. You’ve seen her become a bounty hunter. But Darth Maul would never become a bounty hunter. He’s way too ambitious for that. He was trained as a Sith Lord and that’s what he wants to be… But the revenge that Maul wants starts out very straightforward — I’ll lock lightsabers with Obi-Wan Kenobi! — but then it becomes a lot more complicated. Simple revenge isn’t good enough. It’s gotta be grand revenge, on a huge scale, and the galaxy’s going to know about it.

Some of Darth Maul’s past may point to what he may do in Season Five. At the end of Season Three when they telegraphed the return of Darth Maul, my initial thought was that Maul and Opress would combine with Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters to form another base of power in the galaxy to throw a wrench in Sidious’ plans.  In Season Four we saw the Nightsisters (except for Mother Talzin) wiped out by General Grievous and his droid army, so this potential power base has been removed from Maul.  There is another possibility that Scholastic may be hinting at in their book description however.

In 2000 Dark Horse Comics published Star Wars: Darth Maul, a comic series about Maul’s mission to decapitate the Black Sun criminal organization’s leadership.  Black Sun was the entity created by Steve Perry for Shadows of the Empire with Prince Xizor at its head.  Maul: “Do you wish Black Sun destroyed utterly?”Sidious: “No. One day it might prove useful to me, For now it must be thrown into disarray so it cannot threaten our designs.” In Black Sun we have an as yet unexplored base of power, thrown into disarray by Maul’s slaughter of the Vigos, Black Sun may be ripe for Maul to assert control over the organization.  While we have seen criminals, smugglers and bounty hunters explored in TCW series we have yet to see Black Sun appear on the show in any form.  If Maul is going to be rallying the “criminal underworld to his cause,” what better place to start then Black Sun?  By uniting Black Sun and other criminal operations under his control, Maul has the opportunity make a much bigger impact in the galaxy. It may be that Black Sun and the criminal underworld was a backup plan for Sidious, an external threat he could use to justify centralizing more power or more military buildup if the Separatist plan didn’t work correctly or was cut short by the premature death or capture of Dooku and Grievous.

In Revenge we see that Maul knew about the Grand Plan and the planned Clone Wars when he sighs and says “Oh yes, so it began without me.”  If Maul knew about the backup plan then perhaps he knew about other back up plans or could at least extrapolate based on Sidious comments what his intentions might be.  In a very in depth interview on The ForceCast, Sam Witwer discusses just how smart Maul is and how much  he would have learned as the apprentice of Sidious.  There is a nice symmetry to the idea that Maul who was found in the trash on Lotho Minor, could rise to power again atop a heap of criminal trash and villainy.  King of the Underworld may not be as good as Galactic Emperor, but it’s better than nothing.

As Darth Plagueis said, “You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another, then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species… finally, the galaxy itself.”  In Revenge we saw Maul gain power over himself through his healing, in Season Five we could see him gain power over another in Savage and possibly over a group in the attracting the criminal underworld to his banner.

~ Peter Morrison

Momma Ain’t Happy, Nobody Happy: Mother Talzin and The Clone Wars

In the past year we have been introduced to a major new player on the Dark Side stage, Nightsister Clan Mother and Shaman Mother Talzin.  First introduced in last season’s three-part The Clone Wars story arc, dubbed “The Nightsisters Trilogy,” Talzin has gone on to appear in some recent Expanded Universe works, most recently in Dan Wallace’s Book of Sith.  As we get ready for Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters of Dathomir to return to The Clone Wars, lets take a look at what we have learned about Mother Talzin, her clan, and how they are connected with the rest of continuity.

In The Clone Wars we are introduced to Mother Talzin in episodes 3.12-3.14: “Nightsisters,” “Monster,” and “Witches of the Mist.”  Along with all the continuity changes that take place with Dathomir and the back story for Asajj Ventress and Darth Maul, we are introduced to a clan of dark Magick using witches referred to as the Nightsisters.  The Nightsisters were first introduced by Dave Wolverton in his Bantam era novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia.  Lucas and his Clone Wars team combined the concept of the Nightsisters and some Sith Witch concept art from the prequel films to create the look of the Nightsisters for the show and their leader Mother Talzin.

The clear attempts by the book licensee Del Rey to weave TCW into the novels has resulted in Mother Talzin has received passing reference in James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis novel, a larger role in Scholastic’s The Wrath of Darth Maul, as well as an entire section in becker&mayer!’s Book of Sith.

While Talzin’s reference in Darth Plagueis is more of the passing variety, her appearance in The Wrath of Darth Maul (Wrath) and her “writing” in the Book of Sith have direct impact on the story that will be featured in the concluding story arc of Season Four.  In Wrath, Talzin went to Orsis where Maul was being trained in combat to claim him as a Nightbrother and return him to Dathomir.  Talzin was prevented in this by the appearance of Sidious and she submitted to Sidious’ superior claim to Maul, but she did take a parting gift home with her.  On her way back to her vessel to leave, Talzin brushed an open wound of Maul’s with a talisman capturing his blood upon the magical object.  This talisman will become very important later on.

Also in Wrath we learn that somehow Maul survived his maiming on Naboo and fall down the reactor shaft only to awaken in a dank hole on Lotho Minor were he spent the next decade.  As of that book it was unrevealed if Maul had some mysterious benefactor that saved his life and got him from Naboo to Lotho Minor.  The Book of Sith may provide some answers in a few abilities of the Nightsisters that it described.

What if Maul actually died briefly on Naboo?  In the Book of Sith it lists the talismans that the Nightsisters possessed, one of these was the “Talisman of Resurrection” that allows them to return a spirit back to it’s body, the sooner this is done though the better shape the physical body will be in.  What if Mother Talzin arrived on Naboo just in time to use this talisman on Maul?  This poses the further question of how would she have known where and when to be to save Maul?  Well we know she already had the talisman with Maul’s blood on it that she could use to track him, but she also had the ability through divination and scrying to “view events occurring anywhere in the galaxy.”  This is the arability that she used when meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to locate Savage Opress for them in “Witches of the Mist.”

So we now have an explanation of how Maul could have been returned from the dead as well as rescued by Mother Talzin.  But if Mother Talzin saved Maul, why not keep him on Dathomir?  Well the ability of divination allowed her to see multiple possible futures, perhaps she foresaw the return of Ventress and creation of Savage Opress and is playing out events according to her visions.  Leaving Maul in a safe and secluded place was the best option for her.  Leaving his mind broken also kept him from making any trouble.

We also learn that Mother Talzin is a bit of a charismatic leader, not only did she defeat Mother Zalem, but she unified warring Nightsister tribes into one coven and assumed the dual roles of Clan Mother and Shaman.

In Season Three we saw Mother Talzin exhibit a number of abilities, such as the ability to conjure a weapon from thin air for Savage Opress, to use the waters of life to heal Ventress’ body and mind, and to mesmerize Savage Opress.  Based on the waters of life ritual we know Talzin could have healed Maul’s mind and injuries following the events on Naboo, but she did not.

The biggest revelation regarding Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters is that they and she know about Mortis.  The Nightsisters spirituality is centered on two beings, the Winged Goddess and the Fanged God, who are depicted and described just like the Daughter and Son from Season Three’s Mortis Trilogy.  Mother Talzin believes that there is a spiritual realm and a physical realm, this Winged Goddess and Fanged God exist on the spiritual realm, but through their magicks the Nightsisters are able to bridge the gap between the two realms and tap into the power granted by the Goddess and the God. In fact she claims that she experienced a near death experience that brought about her connection to the spirit realm, and it is this through this connection that “the spirits pull upon the folds of my robe as I walk and echo beneath my voice when I speak.” (Book of Sith pg. 100)

The Book of Sith goes into great detail listing other abilities and aspects of the Nightsisters’ culture that will undoubtedly show up in The Clone Wars at a future point, but it is clear from our examination that Mother Talzin has some very strong powers and some very curious connections with the Force wielders of Mortis.  In appearance they are rather similar to the Son in particular.

The question becomes, what is Mother Talzin’s role in the saga and what are her real goals during the Clone Wars?  If I may speculate, I believe she is trying to cultivate a trio of instruments by which she can rule the galaxy.  Perhaps her goal is to position Maul, Opress and Ventress so that all three are under her influence and control.  One of the interesting features of the Book of Sith is that Ventress commented in the margins of Mother Talzin’s writing, the tone of her comments makes me think she at some point grew disillusioned with Talzin and ends up either trying to usurp Talzin’s position or leaving the Nightsisters all together.

The future is always in motion, but one thing is for sure, Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters are playing a much more central role in the Clone Wars era then we ever thought they would be.

~ Peter

Darth Plagueis: The Dark has Risen – SWBTF #7

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Greetings all, and welcome to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

This is the last of three episodes discussing the Star Wars novel, Darth Plagueis. Joining your hosts, Nathan and Mark, once again is guest host Peter Morrison!

All three hosts on this episode really enjoyed Part 3 of Darth Plagueis, and the “plots within subplots” that came to a head. The Sith Grand Plan, how does it unravel? Power corrupts; but absolute power corrupts absolutely….

They also discuss the birth/creation of Anakin Skywalker…

This book has fascinating implications on the Star Wars universe, have you read it? Do you like it? Let the hosts know, and enjoy this episode of Star Wars Beyond the Films!

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Darth Plagueis: At Last We Will Have Revenge – SWBTF #6

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Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

This is the second of three episodes discussing the Star Wars novel, Darth Plagueis. Joining your hosts, Nathan and Mark, once again is guest host Peter Morrison!

Darth Plagueis provokes many interesting theories and thoughts about the Force and it’s usage. Is the Force more like a sentient being than we first thought? What are these interesting ways of creating, and destroying, life using the Force? Are there limits to the power of the Force and what you can do with it? Force-healing with the light and dark side, what are the differences?

More discussion about the history and background of the Sith followed, with a focus on Darth Maul’s training and background, and the involvement of the Nightsisters in this aspect of the plot.

Also, there were a few comparisons of Sith to vampires….

Darth Plagueis is a fascinating novel, one of the reasons why being the multiple “plot breadcrumbs” that wind their way throughout the book. You’re always making new discoveries as you read.

Enjoy this episode of Star Wars Beyond the Films!

Email:         beyondthefilms@starwarsfanworks.com

Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Star-Wars-Beyond-the-                                                 Films/240685645994390

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