Jay’s Galactic Espressions
With the reintroduction of Maul (the Sith formerly known as Darth) in Solo: A Star Wars Story, my appreciation for this many-layered character has once again been rekindled. It is for this reason I decided to compile some of my favorite “Maul Moments,” and look at the man under the cloak of darkness in a bit more detail (did that sound creepy? Well, you know what I meant). So, read on for a trip down memory lane, and a bit of a psychoanalytic journey of Maul.
Like many of us, I was introduced to Maul in 1999, with his cinematic appearance in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. From the moment I saw his hooded visage speaking to Darth Sidious, I knew this character would be a viciously interesting addition to Star Wars lore.
Some great things about this include the opening of the elevator doors on Naboo (I still can’t watch metal elevator doors open and NOT think of this scene), Maul’s eyes popping up to lock the Jedi in his sights, the way he pulled down his hood over his horned head, and the subsequent fight between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Maul has ingrained itself as one of my all-time favorite scenes – fight, or otherwise – in the saga. It’s the first time we behold a double-bladed lightsaber (whaaaaat?!), and get to see a full-scale, no-holds bared lightsaber duel, complete with acrobatics and Force-wielding powers. It showed us exactly what the Jedi and Sith were capable of in their prime, and it did it in an amazing fashion.
There are other visual cues and undertones I adore and admire about this scene, as well: Watching Maul’s robes of darkness flow in contrast to the calming, neutral brown tones of the two Jedi, especially with the setting.
Seeing Qui-Gon drop to his knees in peaceful meditation, as opposed to watching Maul pace like a lion with seething hatred and anticipation of the kill. I love witnessing the two focus their energies so differently. It succinctly puts both the Jedi and Sith teachings into one nutshell apiece.
Witnessing the bisection of Maul was both surprising and satisfying. I didn’t anticipate him being sliced completely in half, so when that happened, I was shocked! The physics of the fall down the shaft of the two halves of his body made me both cringe and internally cheer with victory. The look on Maul’s face as he fell was one of utter shock that he had just been bested.
From an auditory perspective, John Williams’s “Duel of the Fates” is a theme that never fails to bring chills to my being and rocks me to the core. It pairs perfectly with the choreography and feel of the fight, and lends a mystical energy to the scene.
With the end of that bout, we had thought Maul gone forever, then he made his grand comeback in comics, The Clone Wars, Legends novels and Star Wars Rebels. Some were upset that the Dark Lord didn’t just stay dead, for Sith’s sake. Others, like me, were happy to take in whatever we could, and grateful that this character would be explored more deeply.
“Why do I like Maul so much? Why am I captivated by this character?” I have often asked myself. Then, I heard Freddie Prinze Jr. talking about Maul on a podcast a while back, and I think I figured it out – in part, anyway. Freddie is an incredibly insightful and intelligent guy, and he keyed in on both the psychological motivations and sordid history of Maul with one simple comparison – Sisyphus.
*Cue light bulb in head.*
Sisyphus – in short order – was a figure in Greek mythology who was condemned for eternity to roll an enormous boulder up a mountain and reach the top – eventually victoriously – only to have it roll back down to the bottom, and have to start the process all over again. For eternity – did I mention that?
Yep, that’s our buddy Maul. Thanks, Freddie. You are amazing.
So, with that revelation, here is a short list of just a few of my other favorite Maul Moments, in no particular order. (WARNING – some may contain spoilers if you have not been exposed to the material discussed here).
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #2 (Dark Horse Comics, written by Jeremy Barlow and penciled by Juan Frigeri)
In this comic, we are given some insight as to why Maul has been fueled by so much hatred for the Jedi. Darth Sidious takes Maul to Malachor, where an ancient battle had been fought between Jedi and Sith. Maul absorbs the energy of the pain, suffering and deaths experienced by a thousand Sith during the battle. He becomes the incarnation of that which had come before. It’s a pretty trippy story, and you empathize with why Maul developed such hatred and want for revenge against the Jedi. It also explains why Maul was so anxious to kill in that fight on Naboo. The line in The Phantom Menace makes so much more sense now, too: “At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.”
Maul: Lockdown, by Joe Shreiber
Although now part of Legends lore, this book was a major thrill ride from start to finish. Maul proves himself to be wicked-smart, in addition to being his usual brutal self. The book is deliciously gory, with just about every page being filled with blood and/or treachery, but with an underlying theme of strategic victory.
Schreiber knows how to write carnage. If you are familiar with his work in Death Troopers and Red Harvest, you know exactly what I mean. I am currently revisiting the story in audio book form, narrated by Johnathan Davis, who does Sith very well. He also did the audio for the Darth Bane series, which remains my favorite Star Wars book series of all-time.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4, Episodes 21 and 22: “Brothers”/”Revenge”
“Brothers” is our first in-action experience with Maul since the events of The Phantom Menace. I remember being so excited for this episode. Savage Opress was tasked with the mission of finding Maul on the trash world of Lotho Minor, aided by Mother Talzin’s “Brother Beacon” – as I like to call it – and the slithery Morley. After a decade of solitude and living on a junk heap world (literally), seeing Maul appear with his horrific trash-constructed spider legs, and hearing his crazed rantings was both unnerving and glorious. Sam Witwer did an astounding job breathing new life into the manic Maul. It was also awesome to watch Mother Talzin work her dark magic to strip the delirium from Maul and give him some new legs.
Next thing you know…the boys are off to wreak havoc on the galaxy…aww…Mother Talzin probably felt like it was sending her kiddos to kindergarten on their first day of school together.
This takes us to “Revenge,” in which Maul meets up with Obi-Wan for the first time since the fateful battle on Naboo. The scene on Raydonia, when Maul is featured standing among the flames of the gutted and ruined settlement, is one of my favorite Maul images.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5, Episodes 15 and 16: “Shades of Reason”/ “The Lawless”
In “Shades of Reason,” Maul challenges Pre Vizsla – head of the organization Death Watch and newly self-proclaimed prime minister of Mandalore – to a duel. This duel was in response to Maul basically being cast aside by Vizsla after joining together to reestablish warrior control over Mandalore. No one puts Maul in a corner. Mandalorian tradition mandates that Vizla agree, and he is succinctly beheaded in front of his soldiers. Maul becomes the leader of Mandalore, falls heir to The Dark Saber, and takes his throne. This scene is not only brutal, but it’s got everything a great battle scene could want – blasters, lightsabers, The Dark Saber, jet packs, harpoon cables, hand-to-hand combat and even tooth loss –while ironically the portraits of the pacifist leader Satine hung on the walls around them.
“The Lawless” is among my very favorite Clone Wars episodes in existence for many reasons. Maul is able to get some revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi in a way that cuts him more deeply than any lightsaber could –- killing Satine – the love of Obi-Wan’s life — in front of him and being forced to watch helplessly. “I never planned on killing you, but I will make you share my pain, Kenobi…”
This scene cuts me to the core in so many ways. The range of emotions I feel is intense. Being able to experience such a deep response to an animated television series is a tribute to everyone involved in the making of The Clone Wars in every facet of creativity, and just one of the multitudes of reasons why I miss this series so much.
Star Wars Rebels Season 3, Episode 3 “Holocrons of Fate”
Maul has stolen the Jedi holocron from Kanan’s room on the Ghost, after having used the Force to extract the location from Hera’s mind. He holds the crew of the Ghost hostage in return for his artifacts – and a Sith Holocron. Kanan and Ezra successfully retrieve the Sith holcron from the caverns of Atollon, after leaving it for safe keeping with The Bendu.
Maul needed Ezra to unlock the holocrons because he couldn’t do it himself. Why? What was he hoping to gain?
We all know this to be a theme in Star Wars, and especially of our light-side characters, but when Maul utters the word as the reason why he wants to join – and open – the holocrons with Ezra, I was floored. A dark-side follower, banking on hope?! Hope for what? Redemption in some way? Triumph? Revenge?
What really struck me about this scene is not only the fact that Maul was preaching the value of hope, but that for the most part, he remained serene and calm in his dealings with Ezra. He seemed to be a patient “master,” speaking to Ezra in soft and reassuring tones. One would expect Maul to be cruel, demanding and malevolent toward any apprentice he chose – such as he was treated – but he was just the opposite. It reminded me of what a hypnotist would do to get someone under his/her spell. His tone gave me the macabre feeling of a silky darkness covering me. It’s probably exactly what he was going for with Ezra – like my mom always said “honey attracts more flies than vinegar.”
Star Wars Rebels Season 3, Episode 11 “Visions and Voices”
There is a reoccurring theme of desperation here on Maul’s part. Sisyphus’s boulder is at the bottom again, and he’s working to roll it back up.
We see Maul showing Ezra his man cave on Dathomir (Mother Talzin would disapprove, I think). Ezra calls it “junk,” but Maul explains that everything is an artifact that represents a way – a secret – that will help them to restore their memories. He tells Ezra that these things come from a time in Maul’s past when his power was “almost absolute.”
There are many scraps with sketches, markings on the walls, and of course, The Dark Saber, mounted on a stand in a prominent place in the cave. This “prominent place” is directly in front of the same portrait of Satine we see from Mandalore, but with the eyes and neck erratically scratched over.
That’s why I love it.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
I was absolutely shocked to see the reveal of Maul as the leader of Crimson Dawn. It took me a second to grasp what I was seeing, because I didn’t believe my eyes.
I had to grab the arms of my movie seat to keep myself from leaping into the air. I can’t wait to find out more about how this all unfolded from start to finish. As Forrest Gump would say: “That’s all I got to say about that!”
Star Wars Rebels Season 3, Episode 20: “Twin Suns”
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this episode. After all, it is here we get to witness the final demise of Maul.
I will admit, the first time I saw the final battle between Maul and Obi-Wan, I was filled with extreme disappointment. It was over so quickly! But I have come to appreciate the smaller nuances of this scene, after having gone back to it several times, and getting the opinions and analysis of other fans.
The encounter between the two is a long-awaited reunion of fate. They meet up once again on Tatooine, where they first became aware of each other. Maul senses the reason for Obi-Wan’s hermitage, and they subsequently take their battle stances. Maul attacks first, but not before we get to see Obi-Wan in his famous pre-fight pose. Ironically, Maul tries to use the same move that helped him take down Qui-Gon, but Obi-Wan successfully defends, slashing maul in the process.
The most captivating part of this whole scene is when Maul dies in Obi-Wan’s arms, after uttering “he will avenge us,” then Obi-Wan respectfully closes Maul’s now empty eyes, and gently holds him in death. There is something beautiful and poetic about this image, and for me, one that embodies the idea of the balance of the Force.
Of course, there are many other Maul Moments I could include, but I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite moments and why? What did you think of my compilation? I would love to hear from you!
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