The big headline going into Star Wars Rebels’ third season was the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn, bringing back one of the old Expanded Universe’s most beloved characters after Disney pushed reset on that bloated canon. But just a few episodes in, The Empire’s tactical genius has barely shown his blue face and another storyline relegated to the “Legends” label looks to be on a coarse to be legitimized like never before.
Even when the EU was ostensibly canon, the Dark Horse Comics story Visionaries: Old Wounds was seen as a non-canon sideshow, part of a compendium of stories from Lucasfilm concept artists who worked on Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. Old Wounds has Darth Maul, seemingly killed when chopped in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I, returning, equipped with artificial legs, to track down the Jedi Master in his exile in twin-sunned Tatooine and seek final vengeance.
Years later, the canonical animated Clone Wars TV series would bring Maul back, also with cyborg legs. And now Rebels has re-reintroduced the former Sith apprentice as a dark influence on the show’s troubled young hero, Ezra Bridger, beginning with last season’s finale. In this season’s second episode, the two had to work together to pair Jedi and Sith holocron devices that would unlock untold secrets of the Force; Maul seeks some undefined “hope” in their shared illumination, while Ezra quite openly seeks a way to destroy the Sith. Before their visions are interrupted, Ezra sees something involving “twin suns” while Maul learns that “He lives” and, shaken, quickly flees to obsess over this revelation.
Has Maul learned, then, that Kenobi survived the Emperor’s extermination of the Jedi? If so, we could soon be seeing a showdown for the ages in the sands of the secret Skywalker scion’s sanctum.
It’s not really a stretch: Rebels’ producers, and indeed the Lucasfilm Story Group as a whole, have shown they will selectively mine the former EU when its suits their plans to do so. Maul’s return from the dead in Clone Wars, and recent reappearance as a wildcard in Rebels, present an opportunity that may be too tempting for the showrunners to pass up. Indeed, this may have been their endgame all along. Obi-Wan already made a brief appearance, in recorded holographic form, in the Rebels series premiere, delivering his warning (referenced but off screen in Revenge of the Sith) that any surviving Jedi should stay away from Coruscant and go underground until a “new hope” arises. So, the character has already been rendered in Rebels’ distinct style …
We may have a little while to wait, though; Maul and Ezra divined their secrets in the season’s second episode, “The Holocrons of Fate.” The next episode, this past weekend, was “The Antilles Extraction,” which introduced fan-favorite Original Trilogy X-wing pilot Wedge as one of several Imperial cadets seeking to defect to the Alliance.
As for the next couple of episodes, “Hera’s Heroes” will see a return to the Twi’lek homeworld Ryloth and “The Last Battle” features Anakin Skywalker’s former wartime sidekick, clone Captain Rex, captured by Federation battle droids in a Clone Wars rematch.
Speculation here: It may even be that the long-awaited rematch is planned as the series finale, if rumblings of Rebels ending after as few as four or so seasons pan out. (After all, the new characters we’ve come to love don’t seem to be a part of any Alliance operation following the events of Episode IV, on film or — at least as of yet — in any other medium.)
What about it? Maul versus Kenobi, one last time. … Are you looking forward to possibly seeing this dream matchup becoming reality sometime in the show’s future?