(SPOILER ALERT) Hello everyone and welcome to the Sarlacc Pit! Over the last month I have been discussing the newest addition to the Star Wars cinematic collection: “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” I’ve been discussing this movie with a lot of people over the past month and have generally heard positive remarks, however one scene in particular had many fans a little confused. At the end of “Solo” it is revealed that the true leader of Crimson Dawn, the crime organization that Qi’ra and Dryden Vos worked for, had been led by Darth Maul the whole time. Many fans of the movies who had little to no knowledge of the “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” animated series were a bit confused…didn’t Darth Maul get cut in half at the end of “The Phantom Menace?” This week, I’m going to catch everyone up on how Darth Maul survived his bisection at the end of “Episode I” and became the crime lord we see at the end of “Solo.” For the next post, I will discuss what we know about Maul’s life after “Solo.” There will be spoilers for the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the comic mini-series Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, as well as minor spoilers for the novel Star Wars: Ahsoka, so read at your own risk.
During “The Clone Wars,” Count Dooku needed a replacement for his former apprentice, Asajj Ventress. Nightmother Talzin, leader of the Dathomirian Zabrak Night Sisters, supplied Dooku with a Nightbrother named Savage Oppress. Unbeknownst to Dooku, Savage was Talzin’s own son, and was sent to Dooku to help Asajj take vengeance on the Count. This plan ended in failure, and Savage returned to Mother Talzin, who gave him a new mission: find his brother, Maul, and return him to his former home on Dathomir.
Maul, who had been taken by Palpatine/Darth Sidious as a young boy and raised to be the Sith’s apprentice, had supposedly been killed (cut in half and tossed down a bottomless power shaft) by Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi during the failed Invasion of Naboo. However, Maul’s hatred and sheer will to live gave him the strength and presence of mind, the Zabrak was able to grab onto an air shaft and climb into a trash transport, which eventually dumped him on Lotho Minor. During this time he lost his mind and was consumed by his rage. He used the Force to assemble a spider-like set of legs, and had a deal with a strange serpentine creature who would bring him food in the form of unwitting creatures. Maul lived like this for years.
It was here that Savage found his brother. Savage brought Maul back to Mother Talzin, who repaired his mind and gave him a more normal looking lower body.
Maul and Savage Rampage Across the Galaxy
One thought had consumed Maul during his years of insanity: his hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi. His first act of business once he returned was to lure the now Jedi Master into combat, where the two brothers faced Kenobi. Obi-Wan was briefly overwhelmed during this fight, and was rescued by his former enemy, Asajj Ventress.
Savage and Maul then went on a rampage across the galaxy, robbing space stations and attempting to establish themselves as new forces in the galactic underground. During this time, Maul established his role as the Sith Master, with his brother as his apprentice. Their travels eventually led them to Florrum, where they bribed several members of the Hondo Ohnaka pirate gang into joining them. It was here the Obi-Wan tracked them, and once Hondo Ohnaka convinced the pirates who had joined Maul and Savage to betray the brothers, Kenobi was able to force the two Sith to retreat. During their retreat, their ship was destroyed by some of Hondo’s pirates, implying the two brothers were dead.
Spoiler Alert: They Weren’t Dead
The two brothers barely survived, and were eventually found and taken in by the anti-Jedi Mandalorian terrorist group: Death Watch. Pre Vizsla, the leader of Death Watch, believed the group could use the Sith brothers, as they also had major beef with Obi-Wan Kenobi (after the Jedi had prevented their take over of the pacifist Mandalorian government). Maul allowed Vizsla to believe he was in control, and advised the group to ally with other crime organizations, such as Black Dawn, the Pyke Syndicate, and the Hutts. After Maul and Savage made an alliance with these groups (calling themselves the Shadow Collective), Maul had them attack the capital city of Mandalore, allowing Death Watch to swoop in and act as heroes of the city. This gave Death Watch the popular opinion they needed to make Duchess Satine Kryze look weak, allowing them to depose her. She was thrown in prison as a political prisoner. However, Pre Vizsla also turned on Maul and Savage, throwing them in prison as well….all part of Maul’s plans.
Maul fought his way out of the Mandalorian prison, and challenged Pre Vizsla to a lightsaber duel (as leader of Death Watch, Vizsla was in possession of the Dark Saber, see this earlier post) for the position of leader of Death Watch. Maul won, firmly cementing his role as leader of Death Watch and the Shadow Collective. Maul then placed formerly disgraced Mandalorian politician Almec as a puppet prime minister of Mandalore. However, half of Death Watch splintered from the group, not wanting to follow the Sith.
Maul never took his eyes off his true goal: vengeance upon Obi-Wan Kenobi. Mandalore was a neutral system in the Clone Wars, and as such, the Jedi Order could never send an official sanctioned mission to rescue Duchess Satine Kryze, despite her history with the Order. However, Satine and Obi-Wan had an old friendship (and possible romance), ensuring that the Jedi would come to save the Duchess.
Kenobi fell for the bait, and infiltrated Mandalore’s capital city to save Satine. However, Maul was able to capture both Kenobi and Kryze. Kenobi and Maul confronted each other, and Maul determined that the best way to make the Jedi truly suffer, was to hit him where it hurt. The Sith killed Satine, and she died in Obi-Wan’s arms. Kenobi was then imprisoned by Maul’s Death Watch, but he was eventually able to escape, though not without mourning the loss of the closes thing he ever had to a romantic relationship.
Defeat and Capture
During this time, the group of Mandalorians that splintered off of Death Watch after Maul took over (going under the name of the Nite Owls), declared war on Maul’s Death Watch, bringing Mandalore in civil war. Also during this time, Darth Sidious heard that his former apprentice was still alive, and attempting to claim the role of Sith Lord in the galaxy. This was not going to fly with Sidious, so he infiltrated Mandalore under cover of the ongoing civil war. Sidious lured Maul and his brother to him. Sidious reminded Maul that according to the Rule of Two there can only be two Sith Lords at one time, and Maul and his brother were not strong enough to claim the title as theirs. Sidious killed Savage Oppress and disarmed and tortured Maul as he pleaded for mercy. Sidious then took Maul prisoner.
The Fall of the Shadow Collective
Maul was captured and his imprisonment, torture, and interrogation was monitored by Count Dooku. Maul was eventually freed by Death Watch, and he was able to regroup with the Shadow Collective. This began a series of battles between the Shadow Collective and forces led by Count Dooku and General Grievous. Despite reinforcements of Shadowbrothers sent by Mother Talzin, and Talzin herself fighting alongside Maul by possessing Count Dooku’s body, Maul’s forces eventually lost to the superior forces led by the Separatists. While Maul was able to escape further imprisonment by the Sith, the destruction of the Shadow Collective was enough to ensure Sidious that Maul was no longer a rival for the position of Sith Lord.
The Loss of Mandalore and Maul’s Future
Maul escaped to Mandalore, where it is assumed that he continued to rule from the shadows. However, Ahsoka Tano, with a contingent of clone troopers led by Captain Rex, eventually arrived on Mandalore with the intent to free the world from Maul’s control. Ahsoka and the clones were able to corner Maul, but just as they were about to defeat the former Sith, Darth Sidious executed Order 66, forcing all clones (except for Rex, who had removed the insidious microchip from his head) to turn on Ahsoka, allowing Maul to escape.
It is during this time that we can assume that Maul built up his new empire in the form of Crimson Dawn, which became a very successful, and very feared criminal empire during the early days of the Galactic Empire. It is here that we see Maul giving commands from the shadows during the final events of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
We still don’t know much about how Maul built up Crimson Dawn, or how it was all taken from him. We do, however, know what happened after, and what his final end was. Next time, I will do a follow-up post describing Maul’s final days as seen from the events of “Star Wars: Rebels.” Until then, thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!