Tag Archives: Darth Sidious

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

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

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!

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Darth Plagueis: At Last We Will Reveal Ourselves – SWBTF #5

Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

On this episode your hosts Nathan and Mark are joined by Peter Morrison, founder of LightSaber Rattling, and they discuss the Star Wars novel Darth Plagueis.

This episode is full of spoilers; you have been warned!

Right away your hosts start off by talking about the fifth, Bith Sith full of pith, Darth Tenebrous!

Also, they disagree a bit on the topic of the “Lucenopedia-ness” of the book, though they all like different aspects of the incorporation of references to other expanded universe works in Darth Plagueis.

Was Darth Plagueis truly wise? How did Palpatine grow into his role as a Sith Lord? What do your hosts think of the first part of the book? All this and more coming up!

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