WARNING: MAJOR Spoilers For Star Wars Rebels Season 1 & Clone Wars animated series!
Star Wars Rebels wrapped up season 1 this past week, tying a big seasonal reveal into some unexpected reunions with beloved characters from the saga’s past. Now that our favorite Lothal rebels know they are part of a larger rebellion – and that Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan, Ahsoka Tano, is organizing that movement along with Senator Bale Organa – it seems that Rebels will be slowly moving on from its semi-isolated team origin story, in order to form bigger and tighter connections with the larger Star Wars shared universe.
However, as hardcore fans attempt to map out how all the pieces of the canonical Star Wars universe now fit together, there are some mysteries that Rebels left unsolved in season 1 – mysteries that could possibly have great importance to the upcoming new movie installment, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Of those dangling mysteries, one of the biggest is undoubtedly: Who is (or was) the evil Inquisitor, and what’s the story behind both his sect of the Empire, and his knowledge of the Darkside of The Force?
The Old Origin
In the Star Wars Expanded Universe (unofficial novels and other media created independent of George Lucas), The Inquisitors are part of an order known as The Inquisitorius, which was formed by Emperor Palpatine the same year he seized power of the Republic, and converted Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. The Inquisitors’ job was simple: hunt down and kill any surviving Jedi after “Order 66” and The Great Jedi Purge, while also converting any independent Force-users to the Dark Side under Palpatine’s service.
In the line of Expanded Universe novels, The Inquisitors were “Force-sensitive agents” or “truth agents.” They were NOT Sith Lords, but were trained in the use of the Dark Side and lightsabers, as well as methods of manipulation and interrogation. Most dangerous of all: The Inquisitors were well-studied on the history, methods, and teachings of the Jedi Order, allowing them to have strategic advantage over their opponents. They were originally based on Coruscant in the old Jedi Temple; later on the planet Prakith. In one EU story, Inquisitors nearly uncover a young Princess Leia’s true identity, due to her Force sensitivity.
A New Introduction
Due to the rules of the new Star Wars Shared Universe, the entire history and mythology of The Inquisitors (as described above) no longer counts as official part of the Star Wars saga. Only the events of the Star Wars movie Episodes and spinoffs; the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series; and any new books released from here on out (one so far and counting…) will be branded as official parts of the Star Wars story.
With that understanding: the Star Wars Rebels cartoon series has provided a new introduction to The Inquisitors: From what we know so far, The Inquisitors (thus far represented by a single agent) are much the same as the version presented in the Expanded Universe (not Sith, use Dark Side, lightsabers, interrogation, and knowledge of Jedi studies).
In a special edition of the Rebels pilot, “Spark of Rebellion”, we witness the following exchange between The Inquisitor and Darth Vader, hinting that, in the official canon, the formation of The Inquisitors is still something Emperor Palpatine masterminds after “Order 66”:
“The Emperor has foreseen a new threat rising against him: the children of the Force. They must not become Jedi.”
“Yes, Lord Vader.”
“Hunt down this new enemy, and if they will not serve the Empire, eliminate them along with any surviving Jedi who would train them. This is my master’s command.”
As of the Rebels season 1 finale, The Inquisitor is presumed dead, having fallen into an exploding engine core. The animated series has yet to reveal a larger organization like The Inquisitorius, but since the one Inquisitor we met is presumably dead, Darth Vader has come on the scene to investigate the enigma that is lone Jedi Kanan and his new Padawan, Ezra.
But with one agent down, that doesn’t mean The Inquisitors are out of the picture completely – and if we’re right, the next Inquisitor who comes after the Star Wars Rebels could be a ghost from the past…
The Rebels Inquisitor Origin Theory
Fans would do well to remember that Disney Lucasfilm is now building a larger Star Wars universe – one with a shared mythology, envisioned by a collaborative creative brain trust. That means there will nowlikely be a lot of synergized storytelling, where nothing is wasted, and no threads are left dangling.
We’ve talked extensively on the #SRUnderground podcast about why the two Star Wars animated series (Clone Wars and Rebels) are crucial viewing – but in case you’re unfamiliar with the events of the Clone Wars series (set in the wartime era between Episode II and Episode III), then you need to be brought up to speed on something that could factor into how Star Wars Rebels presents The Inquisitor order.
FINAL WARNING – MAJOR CLONE WARS SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!!
In the latter half of the Clone Wars series (particularly season 5) we learn that Episode I: The Phantom Menace villain Darth Maul is still alive. After Maul’s apparent death, his master, Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) took on a new apprentice, Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – who himself took on a new apprentice in the form of Asajj Ventress. When Ventress became too powerful for Sidious’ liking, Dooku was forced to betray and kill her; however, Ventress survived that assassination attempt and returned with an enforcer of her own: Darth Maul’s long-lost brother, Savage Opress.
Savage and Ventress failed to take down Dooku; Dooku failed to use Savage against Ventress; and in the end, the brutal Savage fled out on his own, seeking council from the witches of his home planet, who pointed him towards a still-living Darth Maul. Granted, Maul with missing half a body (surviving on cybernetic spider legs and rat dinners) and was severally mentally damaged. However, with a bit of technology, and sorcery provided by the witches, Darth Maul was made whole again.
With Darth Maul and Savage Opress united in mayhem, they ran rampant across the Outer Rim Territories, creating a galactic crime cabal. The plan was working, until Maul and Savage conquered the planet Mandalore, drawing the attention of both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul’s former master, Darth Sidious.
In a final battle, both Maul and Savage Opress were defeated by Darth Sidious. Savage Opress was killed, but Darth Sidious had another fate in mind for Darth Maul…
Darth Maul… The Grand Inquisitor?
If you ask any Clone Wars viewers who really paid attention, two of the biggest dangling threads left hanging after the show are what became of Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and what became of the resurrected Darth Maul. Rebels has answered the question as to Ahsoka’s whereabouts and role in The Rebellion – but we have no idea where Darth Maul is. Or do we?
At the end of the Clone Wars episode, “Lawless” (Season 5, episode 16), we watch Darth Sidious defeat Darth Maul and Savage Opress, killing Savage in the process. HOWEVER, as Maul begs for mercy, Darth Sidious tortures his former apprentice with Force lighting blasts, promising that he will not kill him – because he has something else in mind for him.
[UPDATE: [Correction] In the canonized Star Wars comic book “Son of Dathomir” Darth Maul escapes Palpatine and tries to move his “Shadow Collective” crime cabal against the Republic and Sidious. Long story short: Maul’s plan is defeated by Sidious and Dooku, the Witch who helped resurrect him is killed, and Maul is left fleeing into hiding. That makes Maul showing up as an Inquisitor a longer shot, but not impossible.]
Here’s why I personally think that Darth Maul (in this new Star Wars shared universe canon) could be the original or “Grand” Inquisitor:
- It makes sense that Palpatine would use Darth Maul’s Force skills for his own gain, without having to worry about him becoming a Sith Lord rival. With enough “reprogramming,” Maul could be conditioned into serving as The Grand Inquisitor.
- Darth Maul was basically a Jedi-hunter when we met him – so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
- In the Rebels season 1 finale, The Inquisitor promises Kanan that he is unleashing forces he can’t imagine by revealing himself as a Jedi – and that ‘there are some things worse than death.’ This latter statement could be a direct reference to what Darth Maul has gone through (and become) since becoming Palpatine’s apprentice.
- Since Darth Maul’s survival was already a secret not revealed during Episodes II – VI, it would be easier to accept that his presence (and The Inquisitor order) weren’t revealed during the Original Trilogy.
- Using Darth Maul as the Grand Inquisitor further ties the events and characters of Rebels to those of Clone Wars, the prequel trilogy, and the larger Star Wars universe, in general.
- The dual-sided spinning lightsaber The Inquisitor used… just a coincidence, or specialized training from Grand Inquisitor Maul himself?
Of course there is no solid proof behind any of this – it’s just a theory – but one that could be interesting for Star Wars fans, if it pans out true.
How about you: Would you like to see Darth Maul return as part of The Inquisitors? Were you even aware he still existed in the Star Wars universe? Or should the new Episodes and animated shows avoid bringing back too many ghosts of the past?
Star Wars Rebels will return for season 2 at an unconfirmed date; Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be in theaters on December 18, 2015.
Sources: Wookpedia (for references and quotes)