"The truth is often what we make of it."
Spoiler Warning: The following review contains BIG spoilers for “Twin Suns” and for previous episodes of “Star Wars Rebels” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
Ever since his return to the “Star Wars” universe, Darth Maul has captivated fans with his cold and menacing persona. It was a bold move to bring him back from the dead in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and some fans may have disagreed, but most quickly changed their minds once they saw what the crew at Lucasfilm did with the tragic character. The first time we saw him in “The Clone Wars,” he was like an insane monster with only the memory of his hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi. We very much get that vibe here again as Sam Witwer gives an excellent performance as Maul, who is slowly driven mad in the dunes of Tatooine searching for the Jedi who robbed him of his once bright future.
The episode begins with Ezra leaving for Tatooine in order to warn Master Kenobi of Maul’s hunt, despite the warning given to him by Hera, Rex, and Kanan. He and Chopper wander the vast void of sand after an encounter with some Tusken Raiders, hoping to find the old Jedi Master with only the guidance of a shard of their holocron. Eventually Chopper is forced to power down and Ezra passes out after being haunted with visions of Maul after a violent sandstorm, only to be found by Obi-Wan himself. Once Ezra is awake, Obi-Wan explains to him how he himself isn’t the key to destroying the Sith and that Maul was using him in order to find the location of Kenobi. Soon Maul arrives and Kenobi sends Ezra off, leaving fans with the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
The big fight that everyone was hyped about only lasts about six seconds, and there is good reason for that. Rather than give us another lengthy duel that we have seen a number of times now between the two in Episode I and “The Clone Wars,” Dave Filoni and company give a duel that is intentionally reminiscent of the film “Seven Samurai,” which was the source for some “Clone Wars” episodes as well. The two standoff for what feels like hours before Maul initiates his first and final attack. Those with a keen eye will spot that Maul goes for the same hilt bash that ends up killing Kenobi’s former master Qui-Gon Jinn in “The Phantom Menace,” only Obi-Wan anticipates the move and slices through Maul’s saber and Maul himself. I did not realize what happened due to the angle of the shot at first, but Maul is cut through his chest and collapses to the ground, only to be caught by Obi-Wan. Part of this is probably because of the age rating yet it still works well, you even see the smoke rising from his chest as Maul gives his last words to Obi-Wan. Before the fight he remarked to Obi-Wan that the old Jedi wouldn’t just hide for no reason, he had to be protecting something, or someone. This pushes Obi-Wan to know that he has to kill Maul in order to protect Luke, which Maul asks about as he lays in his adversary’s arms. Obi-Wan confirms to him that the someone is believed to be the chosen one, which Maul replies “He, will avenge us.”
Those final lines of dialogue carry a lot of weight, the fact that he mentions the chosen one draws parallels to when Qui-Gon speaks on the chosen one as he dies in Obi-Wan’s arms as well. It’s amazing that even after Maul caused so much pain in Obi-Wan’s life by killing his former master and the woman he loved, Kenobi still has sympathy for the former Sith. Maul’s final line on vengeance can mean a multitude of people including himself, Kenobi and his brother Savage Opress. There has always been a focus on Maul’s eyes in the animated shows for expression, and a powerful moment came as you briefly see his lifeless eyes rolled slightly to the back of his head until Obi-Wan shuts them for good.
There are a lot of nods to the other films and a great one came as Ezra and Chopper try to decide which direction to head in, mimicking Artoo and Threepio’s argument early on in “A New Hope.” This is also the first time we see Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan take the defensive pose he uses in the Prequels and “The Clone Wars,” which he switches soon after to something more like Qui-Gon Jinn’s or what he uses in “A New Hope.” The episode ends on Obi-Wan riding his dewback, staring at the twin suns setting over the Lars Homestead. You hear Aunt Beru call out Luke’s name, which I believe is taken directly from Episode IV, and see a silhouette of Luke running into his home as the Binary Sunset (Force Theme) plays into the credits.
Darth Maul has become an even bigger favorite to fans thanks to “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” as well as the terrific performance Sam Witwer gives to the character who was nearly silent in his first appearance in the saga. It was great to hear James Arnold Taylor’s young Obi-Wan on the Jedi holocron early in the episode and then get to hear Stephen Stanton do a spot-on performance of Alec Guinness’s Old Ben Kenobi. This episode was a perfect wrap to an arc encompassing two shows and a movie, I thought it would be hard to top Ahsoka versus Vader from last season, but this episode stands strongly along side it. The title is perfect as the twin sons of the force whose lives are so intertwined are also the most tragic characters in all of the “Star Wars” universe. Ezra also learned and matured a great deal this episode, going on a short hero’s journey into the desert and returning home with his newly found wisdom. There’s one more episode left in the season and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next. You can catch the season finale of “Star Wars Rebels” for yourself when it airs next Saturday at 8:30 pm on Disney XD.