[WARNING - This review contains SPOILERS for Star Wars Rebels season 3, episode 20.]
Part of the appeal of Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars before it, is how they can weave in characters and events from the Star Wars films, allowing for a deeper understanding of things given only a few minutes of attention on the big screen. And Rebels may be primarily about the Rebel Alliance's humble beginnings, but season 3 has been spending a lot of time further developing a fan favorite character who was most certainly given little attention in the movies -- Darth Maul.
No longer calling himself Darth, just Maul, the former Sith Lord enjoyed a resurgence during The Clone Wars. That has continued on Rebels, with Maul now hoping to fulfill his greatest desire -- destroying Kenobi. The two have held a long grudge, but all that history will come to a head in tonight's episode, 'Twin Suns', written by Dave Filoni and Henry Gilroy, and directed by Filoni as well.
As has been the case for much of season 3, Ezra is again hearing voices -- Maul's and Obi-Wan's specifically, leading him to disobey Hera and Kanan, steal some holocrons and travel to Tatooine in the hope of finding Kenobi. However, the desert planet is an unforgiving environment and it quickly becomes clear that coming there was a mistake, or worse, a trap.
"You're In The Wrong Place, Ezra Bridger"
It can be tricky fitting a new story within a narrative first established 40 years ago, but for the most part, those responsible for overseeing the Star Wars saga do their best to ensure everything connects as well as it can. It's interesting how 'Twin Suns' chooses to handle Ezra's excursion to Tatooine, making him the propellant of what is to come but little else. Unlike Star Wars Rebels as a whole, this isn't Ezra's story, and his coming to Tatooine was merely more of Maul's manipulation, with him using Ezra's desire to do good as a means to track down Obi-Wan Kenobi.
That doesn't make Ezra's short visit with Obi-Wan any less significant, and for fans it's a giddy moment to witness Obi-Wan (or Zen Kenobi, as we like to call him because he's very chill these days) sharing with the young Jedi some of that patented wisdom. But there are more questions now, like why doesn't Ezra tell anyone he found Kenobi? And what does Kenobi think of this Jedi he's never heard of tracking him down? Does he even realize Ezra is a Jedi? It's all a little messier now, but it's still exciting to think of just how close Ezra came to another young, soon-to-be Jedi.
Maul V Kenobi
The big draw of this episode is, of course, seeing Maul and Kenobi duel for one final time. And it is almost certainly the final time (barring any last minute resurrections). Their duel is very quick and to the point, which is perhaps a bit of a letdown for those anticipating a showstopper. But it is a powerful ending to their adversarial relationship, culminating in a surprisingly respectful send off for Maul.
Lasting all of three strikes, the duel wonderfully illustrates the points at which these characters are in their lives. Maul has been wracked with revenge, obsessed with finding Kenobi and ending him. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, has spent his days meditating, becoming closer with The Force, transforming into the wise hermit first introduced in A New Hope. The vocal performances from both Sam Witwer and Stephen Stanton are fantastic, too, bringing out both Maul's madness and Kenobi's weary resilience. But it's the fight itself that sells this, demonstrating that Maul is no longer any match for Kenobi.
Seeing Kenobi dispatch with Maul so quickly is a great through line, connecting that initial fight on Naboo where Maul kills Qui-Gon to the later fight between Obi-Wan and Vader. In that original "duel of the fates", Maul gets the upper hand on Qui-Gon when he bashes him in the head with his duel saber's hilt. Maul tries a similar move here, and it is that maneuver which Kenobi was expecting, blocking it with what is then the killing blow.
That kind of skill, the measured way in which Kenobi approaches this duel is then later seen in his fight with Vader. And sure, the slow and steady pace of their duel in A New Hope was actually the result of filming restraints (Sir Alec Guinness and David Prowse were never going to jump and flip around), but after witnessing this fight, that later confrontation makes a little more sense. Vader and Obi-Wan are so proficient it's like a chess match -- one in which Vader only wins because of Kenobi's sacrifice.
Yet, for as exciting as it was to see Maul and Kenobi clash blades again, no matter how briefly, it's what is said between them that is the bigger story.
The Chosen One
Just before their duel commences, Maul questions Kenobi over why he chose to exile himself on Tatooine, eventually putting it together that he's there to protect someone. As Maul lies dying in Kenobi's arms he asks, "Is it the Chosen One?" To which Kenobi replies, "He is."
And, wow, what a huge moment. Kenobi outright states that he now believes Luke to be the Chosen One, the one prophesied to bring balance to The Force, and not Anakin. This, obviously, flies in the face of practically everything that has come before, with even George Lucas himself stating that Anakin, even after becoming Darth Vader, remained the one the prophecy spoke of. So, is Kenobi wrong or is Luke actually the Chosen One?
This is a question that will be debated from now until forever, and chances are, neither Rebels nor The Last Jedi will reveal a definitive answer. But it does open up some new possibilities, ones that could very well have huge implications for where Star Wars goes in the future.
'Twin Suns' was a heavily promoted episode that may not have lived up to the expectations every fan had for it, but it was still a hugely important installment. For Star Wars Rebels, it put an end to any concern Ezra would turn to the dark side, ending on him reuniting with his family. For Maul, it was a sad and poignant end, but it was also a far more satisfying death than falling down some air shaft on Naboo. And for the whole of Star Wars? 'Twin Suns' included a big revelation, but one that only raises more questions than answers.
Star Wars Rebels season 3 concludes next week with its finale 'Zero Hour' @8:30 on Disney XD.