With just two episodes left, The Clone Wars’ “Phantom Apprentice” delivered one of the strongest punches of the season so far. From the action-packed chaos of the Seige of Mandalore to Maul’s chilling vision, culminating in one of the strongest on-screen lightsaber duels ever, episode 10 was damn near perfect.
The episode opens up unlike the majority of Clone Wars episodes, there’s no epigraph or even a recap. We’re right back in the sewers where Ahsoka and Maul meet for the first time. Surrounded by Saxon’s men, Ahsoka deftly alerts Rex of her location as Maul monologues. Even though Maul’s grip on his sanity is much firmer at this point, we start to see him unravel in this episode as he realizes that Sidious will succeed.
He reveals that he was hoping to lure Obi-Wan to Mandalore and that Anakin would come with him, though Ahsoka assumes this is because Maul is Kenobi’s nemesis. Instead, when Maul hears Obi-Wan is elsewhere, he realizes that “the moment may be upon us.”
He tells Ahsoka that the Jedi and the Republic are on the brink of collapse and Sidious is coming. From Ahsoka’s point of view, this means nothing. She assumes he wants revenge, but the mention of Sidious is new. Rex and the troopers get a hold on her location and interrupt the meeting, saving her as Maul runs off.
Back in the throne room, Bo, Rex, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan meet to talk about what Maul spoke of. The mention of Sidious has Obi-Wan concerned. He reveals the machinations of Sidious, his involvement in the creation of the clones, and the fact that he’s been playing both sides. We’ll remember that Sidious’ name didn’t even appear until Dooku mentioned it, but before he could reveal the Sith lord’s identity, Anakin killed him. Capturing Maul could reveal Sidious’ true identity.
However, with the events of Revenge of the Sith fastly approaching, it feels like a doomed mission. Ahsoka is unable to get more troopers as back up as Obi-Wan mentions going to hunt down Grievous on Utapau. Meanwhile, Ahsoka is troubled to hear that the Jedi Council has asked Anakin to spy on Palpatine, knowing that this would seem unsavory to Anakin, who trusts Palpatine and looks up to him as a mentor.
The Jedi are a little too late in attempting to spot treachery, and they’ve used the wrong soldier. Ahsoka is quickly able to deduce that Anakin would not be happy with this special assignment. And although Obi-Wan wants Ahsoka to try and speak with Anakin, she is cautious. Speaking up for the council would go directly against her reasonings for leaving the order.
“The council isn’t always right, that’s why I’m asking for your help,” Obi-Wan pleads, but we know that master and padawan never reunite. As other troopers are ambushed in the Undercity, Ahsoka is rushed to the side of a group of defeated troopers. One of them, Sterling, tells Ahsoka that Maul attacked them and took Jesse after he sensed that the clone was older than the others so that he could interrogate him.
Heading to Almec’s cell, the group speaks to the Prime Minister, questioning him about Maul. We learn that Maul has been consumed by a strange sense of dread for the last few weeks and came to Mandalore to try and lure someone to the planet. Before he can say more, Saxon (under Maul’s orders) assassinates him. He dies in Ahsoka’s arms but not before saying that Maul had a vision and learned a name: Skywalker.
Bo Katan chases after Gar Saxon and the two engage in a fantastically animated fight in an elevator shaft before Saxon manages to escape. He returns to the sewers where he sees Maul telling the syndicate leaders to go into hiding — we linger for a few extra seconds on a holo Dryden Vos.
After his meeting, Maul speaks to Saxon, Rook, and the other Mandalorians. He says that they liberated him from Sidious’s imprisonment and that he once thought Dooku was just a fool. But now, he realizes that they were both in the same boat. He rallies the warriors, spouting a message that will surely spell the doom for them as tells them to seize the power and fight, and if they die, they’ll die like warriors.
Up in the city, the clones are helping people into the shelters, but the people don’t seem to enjoy being corralled by Republic forces. Remember, Mandalore is a neutral world. Bo is also uneased by it and is eager for the forces to leave once Maul is captured.
Bo, Ahsoka, and Rex come to the throne room to see Maul sitting on the throne with a captured Jesse by his side. He returns Jesse to Rex, who is ashamed that he wasn’t able to hold up against Maul’s interrogations. Just then, Saxon’s troops rally and attack the city with redoubled strength, forcing Rex and Bo to go out and meet him.
Alone now, Maul offers Ahsoka a glimpse into the future. “The time of the Jedi has passed. They can not defeat Sidious.” He tells her the Republic has already fallen, she just can’t see it, and then asks her to ally with him to fight Sidious. Hand outreached, offering a shaky alliance, the glass in the throne room bursts from the force of the attack outside in a dazzling moment.
Instead of outright rejecting him, Ahsoka asks him about his intentions with Anakin. “He is the key to everything,” Maul says. “To bring balance to the force?” she asks. “To destroy. He has long been groomed for his role as my master’s new apprentice.”
Dismayed, Ahsoka can only say, “You lie.”
But Maul is quite sure of his vision. He tells her that he orchestrated this war as a way to kill two birds with one stone. He could kill Kenobi, his nemesis, and also kill Anakin, another Sidious apprentice.
Angered by his words and unable to see the truth behind the malice, Ahsoka replies, “I know Anakin. Your vision is flawed.”
The ironic thing is that Maul’s vision is actually very accurate. But in a characteristic turn, Ahsoka has allowed her emotions and her loyalty to Anakin keeps her from seeing the truth. She has not been around, she doesn’t know how much Anakin has changed. She has the truth in front of her, but her distrust of Maul and the love of Anakin are blinding her.
The two launch into an epic lightsaber battle, one that ranks near the top of the list of lightsaber battles. Here the production team called in Ray Park and Lauren May Kim to motion capture the fight. Park who was the original performer behind Maul’s action sequences in The Phantom Menace brought the kind of raw physicality and energy that’s always been behind Maul’s fighting style. Kim was able to match him, having previously worked as the stunt performer for The Armorer on The Mandalorian.
The fight doesn’t just serve as fantastic eye candy but as looks into the character’s personalities. Maul is driven by fury, desperation, and the dark side. His moves are aggressive, reckless, and chaotic. Ahsoka’s a strong match for him, and as they spar she remarks cockily, “You’re lucky Anakin didn’t show up. The way you’re fighting, you wouldn’t have lasted long.”
Interestingly, Maul views this as a mark of Obi-Wan’s arrogance and not Anakin’s. I’ve always been fascinated by how different Ahsoka’s Jedi line of influence is from other characters. Although she was found and brought to the order by Plo Koon, the majority of her knowledge and influence is gained from Obi-Wan and Anakin during wartime. And Obi-Wan has gained his knowledge from Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi who actually leaned into feeling and using your instincts instead of a thoughtful, calculated approach. One might say that this impulsiveness feeds into their prowess as fighters, but it also draws them closer to danger.
As the fight escalates, Maul escapes out the window of the throne room just as Saxon’s forces are being overwhelmed by the clones and Bo. He begs Maul for support, but Maul wishes him luck and says his farewell as he prepares to leave. Before he can jump up to the ship arriving to pick him up, Ahsoka catches up with him.
Their fight continues on precarious steel beams far up above the city. Maul disarms Ahsoka of both of her lightsabers and gains the upper hand. He implores her again to ally with him, but Ahsoka is turned against him and when they fight again, this time Maul goes falling from the beams. Using the force, Ahsoka saves his life even as he begs her to let him die.
Maul’s pleading is chilling as the clones fly up to capture him. Knowing the doom that will come and unable to convince anyone, Ahsoka is left with a sense of unease as the episode closes out. The final chapters of this season are sure to be even more heartbreaking as Order 66 looms on the horizon.
Episode 11 will be airing Friday, May 1st, and then after the weekend, on Monday, May 4th (Star Wars Day), the series finale will air.
The Clone Wars streams on Disney+!