In case anyone missed the hype building up around Saturday’s episode of Star Wars: Rebels, this episode featured what everyone assumed would be the final epic showdown between now wizened Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the former Sith Lord, Darth Maul.
It was the final showdown, but it was anything but epic.
After talking himself up for a little bit, Maul charged Kenobi and Old Ben promptly dispatched him in three quick slashes.
WHAT? We were promised a final showdown! Good versus evil! Right versus wrong! Stalwart defender of the Chosen One versus disparaged ex-Sith Lord! Why would the writers ruin this perfectly good opportunity?
After thinking about it for a while after the episode, the way Kenobi took care of business makes perfect sense. Here’s why:
Maul gives us the first hint at the beginning of the episode. Voicing over a backdrop of Tatooine’s famous Dune Sea, Maul gives a Shakespearean monologue, wondering aloud to us if he is doomed to die in this never ending desert.
“Will it end here?” He cries to no one in particular. Yes Maul. Yes it will. But not in the way you think it will.
His monologue is pretty outside the norm for the Rebels writing team, seeing fit to place rather obvious exposition into dialogue between the Ghost crew. (It is intended for children, after all.) So why did Maul soliloquy?
Maybe it was delusion. Maybe it was heat exhaustion. Who knows how a Zabrak’s body would react to the hot, desert climate of Tatooine? Pablo Hidalgo probably does, but that’s neither here nor there.
The real point of this scene is that there is nobody there to listen to Maul. Absolutely no one. Even the Force has abandoned him to a certain extent.
Why? Because he’s a nobody.
Maul no longer matters. In the grand scheme of things, with Jedi fighting Sith and Rebels fighting Imperials on a galactic scale, Maul has no place. He’s a washed out old Zabrak fueled by vengeance alone, pursuing his quarry across the galaxy – a quarry who knows that Maul is coming for him and flatly does not care.
Another thing about Kenobi’s swift victory. He never dispatched enemies that quickly in any other iteration of the Star Wars brand that we’ve seen – simply because he was never fighting for the right cause.
In the Clone Wars, Kenobi was fighting for a corrupt Republic and essentially in the name of a Sith Lord. Of course the Force wouldn’t be fully on his side during that time – or any of the Jedi, for that matter – they were all fighting for evil. The closest he’s ever come to fighting completely “One with the Force” (Thanks Chirrut) is when he was fighting Vader for the first time. Of course then, he was so emotionally distraught that he couldn’t call upon the Force for jack shit. It’s a wonder he even survived Mustafar.
But now, on Tatooine, defending the actual Chosen One, the one who will restore the balance to the Force and to the galaxy, he is truly “One with the Force.” The mystical energy field surrounded him and penetrated him so fully that he was able to quickly penetrate Maul … okay Ben, the next time you’re describing the Force to a teenager, find a better word than “penetrate.” C’mon man. You used to do this for a living. I can just see Jake Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker snickering behind Kenobi’s back with his little Jedi friends, “Guys, my master told me the Force ‘penetrates’ us.”
I apologize for trying to make a joke like that.
Bad word choice aside, Kenobi was completely with the Force during that duel and Maul was not. It may be the one time in the Star Wars universe where we see the Force completely choosing one side or another. But even Maul seemed to come to terms with it in the end, asking Kenobi if the boy he was protecting truly was the chosen one.
There’s another somewhat interesting thing in this episode. Right before Maul dies, he utters his final words concerning Luke, “He will avenge us.”
Avenge us? What does he mean by that?
Well, think about what Maul has lost and who took it from him.
- His legs – taken by Kenobi
- His brother – taken by the Sith
- His planet – ravaged by the Sith
- His criminal empire – taken by the Sith
- Himself – used by the Sith for over 30 years
See where I’m going with this?
Maul lost everything (with the exception of his legs) to the Sith. So did Kenobi. So what Maul meant by “He will avenge us” is simply that. Maul foresees that Luke will go on to destroy the Sith and while vengeance is not something that Kenobi would ever seek, Maul is right. Luke does avenge them.
So in the end, Kenobi and Maul’s confrontation amounts to little more than Maul realizing what the greater good is. And I think that’s exactly what it should be. Not an extravagant battle – the two of them have done that before. This is what it needed to be. Well done, writers.