In this ongoing series, Ian Blackout revisits Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, in a (roughly) chronological order of events and grouped (roughly) into story-arcs.
Season 5, Episode 1. Written by Chris Collins, directed by Steward Lee.
“Strength in character can defeat strength in numbers.”
Darth Maul and Savage Opress plunder the Outer Rim in search of credits to fuel their crusade against the Jedi. When the pair sack a remote space station, Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates…
Ever since Mother Talzin’s crystal ball showed the shattered visage of the bisected Zabrak Sith Lord, this was our destination. Maul and Opress begin this arc on the rampage, mowing down droids with crimson blades before moving onto any living being foolish enough to cross their path. It’s notable that Maul is still determined to follow the path of the Sith at this point, declaring himself a master and formally taking on his brother as apprentice.
The fifth season is approaching its endgame and begins laying down some long overdue consequence to the events that unfold. Savage loses an arm, Maul loses a leg (although as a cyborg that’s more easily replaceable), and the audience now knows why Jedi Stass Allie appears in Episode III but Adi Gallia doesn’t.
Naturally, Darth Sidious has opinions on all this, too…
Season 5, Episode 14. Written by Chris Collins, directed by Kyle Dunlevy.
“One vision can have many interpretations.”
Fleeing with their tails between their legs after an ill-prepared encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Maul and Savage find themselves adrift in open space aboard a lifepod with rapidly dwindling power. When a Mandalorian Death Watch patrol stumbles across the pair, all concerned see opportunity before danger…
This planet-hopping episode sees Maul embracing his new calling as a galactic crime lord. Having lost the allegiance of Hondo Ohnaka’s pirates as quickly as he’d gained it, the Sith bags his third set of legs in two seasons and goes about securing uneasy alliances with Death Watch, Black Sun (from 1996’s Shadows Of The Empire), the Pyke Syndicate (from Solo) and the Hutt families.
As fantastic as it is to see all of these criminal entities together, the frantic pacing almost does them a disservice, making each confrontation (and inevitable strengthening for Maul) seem like an aside rather than the building of the most significant underground network the galaxy has seen in living memory.
But there’s no victory without confrontation and those red sabers are back out on several occasions, joined by Pre Vizsla’s antique darksaber in one magnificent sequence.
‘Eminence’ should ideally have been two episodes, although there’s a lot more to pack in here yet…
READ MORE: Star Wars Adventures #22 – Review
Shades Of Reason (2013)
Season 5, Episode 15. Written by Chris Collins, directed by Bosco Ng.
“Alliances can stall true intentions.”
Having amassed an impressively amoral army, Maul stands ready to make some serious power-gains in a galaxy at war. Meanwhile, co-conspirator Pre Vizsla uses their combined force to topple the pacifist Mandalorian government of Duchess Satine on Sundari…
After two episodes of brute strength, it’s great to see our antagonist finally employing some political nous in the taking of Mandalore, using his gangsters to terrorise the citizens so that Death Watch can step in as saviours and overthrow the current regime from the bottom-up.
That said, the ploy is somewhat undercut by the heavy-handed pacifism exacted by Satine faced with a crisis, not to mention that a group literally calling itself “Death Watch” conveniently turns up just in time to save the day and no one seems to realise they’re being had.
No, ‘the people’ of Mandalore are vocal in support of what they see as righteous vigilantism and plain speaking, spur-of-the-moment politics. It’s arguably another Clone Wars homily which was ahead of its time in 2013, but can act as something of an unpleasant jolt to viewers who are now watching as a welcome diversion from the world outside.
But Vizsla finally betrays Maul openly, leading to the second-greatest saber duel of the entire series, which makes for a cathartic finale…
The Lawless (2013)
Season 5, Episode 16. Written by Chris Collins, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell.
“Morality separates heroes from villains.”
Duchess Satine is in prison as her few remaining loyal subjects plot a rescue, factions within Death Watch fight one another and Obi-Wan comes to settle old business…
‘The Lawless’ is dedicated to the memory of Ian Abercrombie – voice of Palpatine / Darth Sidious in The Clone Wars – who passed away in 2012. And what a bow-out. With ground melees, air battles and the first-greatest saber duel of the entire series, this episode really has it all.
If the series was leading to this arc, the arc has been leading to ‘The Lawless’. Sidious has had enough of being out of the loop and dons his best ‘fine, I’ll do it myself then’ expression to make an example of his unruly former pupil. Of course with Dooku currently in-post and Anakin being eyed up as the next apprentice, there’s no longer any room for Maul at the table.
The air of finality continues and we say goodbye to some major players here (although viewers who’ve seen Rebels and Solo know that Maul isn’t among them), as well as having a last rendezvous with Anakin’s junker-ship The Twilight, introduced back at the very beginning.
Sidious’ closing line is one of the most chilling and intriguing in The Clone Wars, and what a season finale this would have made.
But we’re not done yet, as Season Five still has another central character sorely in need of attention before the final curtain…