And yet, despite its inevitability, Obi-Wan’s reaction to the love of his life dying before his eyes is absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s a credit to his love for her that, rather than give into the hatred that Maul would love to see from him, he holds himself back. Just as Anakin–in order to honor the memory and philosophy of his master–refrained from killing the bounty hunter he thought had killed Obi-Wan, so does Obi-Wan refuse to strike out against Maul, knowing what a strong pacifist Satine was.
The tragedy of her death is further underlined by how the episode repeats quite a few motifs from Luke and Han’s rescue of Leia in A New Hope, most prominent among them being when Obi-Wan enters Satine’s cell dressed as a member of Death Watch, reminiscent of Luke in the stormtrooper uniform when he first meets Leia. Because that escape was so famously successful–along with the scene in this episode’s gentle sense of self-referential humor–it sets up the expectation that this one will be as well, and yet instead, the scenario is cruelly twisted.
Interestingly, however, this sets up yet another A New Hope echo, when a former master and apprentice battle one another, this time Palpatine/Sidious vs. Maul. Whereas Darth Vader eventually bests his former master in that sequence, Maul, however, proves himself incapable of beating Sidious. In a deliberate echo of the Yoda vs. Dooku battle from Attack of the Clones, the elderly, hunched Sidious enters the room, seeming small and fragile, but then–a dark mirror to Yoda–uses his immense powers to fight the formidable Savage and Maul, at once, killing Savage and capturing Maul, after zapping him over and over with Force lightning.
This sequence is something that Star Wars fans have waited forever to see: Darth Sidious in action. We’ve seen him torture with Force lightning before, and we’ve seen Palpatine’s ingenious political maneuvering, but we had never seen him at the peak of his powers, dueling with lightsabers against the two strongest Dark Side users we had ever seen fight up to this point, and it is a stunning sequence that truly shows just how immensely strong he is, dwarfing the achievements of other villains we’ve seen over the course of the show, from Dooku to Ventress to Grievous and more. It’s really quite something to behold. And while I don’t expect that we’ll learn any more about what happens next to Maul, I’m actually fine leaving his story here for now (I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s picked up in the upcoming series, Star Wars: Rebels, which takes place shortly after Episode III), leaving it up to our imagination for now just what Palpatine will inflict on Maul next.
Another beautiful layer is added when we learn that Bo-Katan, the prominent female Death Watch member who we see throughout these four episodes, is actually Satine’s sister. Although there isn’t time to truly delve into their relationship, the writers are able to hint at just enough through their reactions to one another. There is clearly a great deal of baggage between them, and it says something about Bo-Katan’s belief in Death Watch’s original goals that she would join an organization that wanted to overthrow her own sister. From her reactions to her (and willingness to help rescue her in the end), this doesn’t seem to come from petulant anger at her sister but a true ideological difference over how Mandalore should be run, and while The Clone Wars has always painted Death Watch and their particular methods in a negative light, it hasn’t ever said definitively that Satine was 100% right to rule this system through complete pacifism. There was certainly dissatisfaction amongst her people regarding her methods, and so this revelation about her sister allows us to see the situation from a different angle–not to side with Death Watch but to realize that there is some validity to their resistance to her. Bo-Katan’s overall good nature is proven by her quiet scene with Obi-Wan at the end, when they each quietly process Satine’s death, neither rushing to each other’s arms or anything so melodramatic, but in a way that respects each of the characters and who they are as people.
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