***For the spoiler sensitive among you, this is probably the time to stop reading as I will be talking about the return of Maul and this episode in detail***
The season finale begins with a bit of a hop forward from the closing of the previous episode. Savage Opress is taking insane Darth Maul back to Dathomir to pay a visit to Mother Talzin and Maul seems even more closed off to the outside world, blocking himself off behind some crates in the cargo hold while repeating “Kenobi” over and over. Meeting up with Mother Talzin, the magical green mists start swirling and the creepy witch starts ripping the confusion and darkness out of Maul’s mind, replenishing his strength and reforming him a couple of new robot legs in a scene that is so intense (as Maul’s legs forge into shape while Maul screams in pain), it’s quite an attack on the senses (yet this episode is rated PG once again, I swear Lucasfilm get away with murder with this show).
Anyway, with Maul restored and back to his bright red tattoo faced glory, he’s immediately ready to get his revenge on but not before a little nugget of information is slipped in that could very well give Clone Wars a whole new season of intrigue. While being updated about what’s happened since Maul’s ‘absence’, Savage mentions the Clone Wars has the galaxy in conflict. Maul’s response is simple yet enough to spark a fair few questions “Ahh yes, so it began. Without me”. This is great stuff for a Star Wars fan. Maul knew about the plans for a clone war in Phantom Menace? Sidious let his apprentice in on his long term goals? Giving any sort of insider information about the plans leading to the creation of the clone army is a hot topic in the Star Wars Saga. Lucas gave the bare minimum of information surrounding who exactly got the clone creation in process and even that doesn’t make total sense. This one line is enough to make season 5 of Clone Wars exciting and suddenly I’m more interested in Maul meeting up with his former master than I am about how this finale pans out. That thought process didn’t last long though because what Maul does next brings the audience right back to the here and now.
Flying to a planet on the outer edges of the galaxy, Maul informs his brother that the best way to get the Jedi to come to them is through slaughter. What that involves is Maul killing innocents (namely women and children). This comes with the ignition of a lightsaber in a shot that mirror’s Anakin’s kid killing spree in Revenge of the Sith and it’s not all left up to imagination either, a holo-message to the Jedi temple literally showing Maul beheading a bunch of his captors (how does this show get its PG rating again exactly?) So Maul is in full on evil mode and challenges Obi-Wan to come alone for a rematch and the finale is fully up and running.
So this is it. The rematch the Star Wars galaxy didn’t even know it had in it. Maul vs. Obi Wan Episode II (with a side order of Savage Opress vs. Asajj Ventress). This battle feels 100% Star Wars, probably more so than any battle that’s come before in Clone Wars. The animators are working on all cylinders, with subtle movements within Obi-wan and Maul’s moves that reflect the live action battles from the movie’s duels wonderfully and Obi-wan’s newly animated floppy fringe this season is used to full effect to add to looks of desperation as he gets beaten on by two red sabered bad guys. There’s also some great dialogue with Maul bringing up Qui-Gonn and how he hates Obi-Wan. Maul also attempts to turn Obi-Wan to the dark side a little bit and with all four fighters swinging red lightsabers at one stage, this is every Sith feeling episode (even though not one character in the scene is a fully fledged Sith).
All in all this episode had everything. Action, darkness, humour (the stuff between Obi-Wan and Asajj was very good), intrigue, stunning animation and a genuine sense of this being an event, like Star Wars does so well. Oh and of course it had Maul and despite early doubts, the Clone Wars creators have managed to pull off his return from the dead with real class. This works, Robo-Maul works, his anger towards Obi-Wan works and where this could very well go next season works even more. I doubt my ultimate fanboy dream will come true and Maul will kill everyone, forcing Lucas to remake alternative episodes III – VI with Maul and Boba Fett flying around in Slave 1 and the Millennium Falcon killing everyone in the original trilogy, only to end the last episode with them setting fire to Ewoks and shooting them off into the air to create their own fireworks display (not set to panpipes) – yeah I’m pretty sure that won’t happen . However where Maul’s return could go in regards to effecting Sidious, Dooku and of course Obi-Wan Kenobi has me exciting about the prospects for Season 5 of Clone Wars and beyond (even if we know Maul can’t really effect anything too heavily). Maul’s back and I’m one happy Star Wars fan.