Spoiler Warning: If you haven't seen the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels or don't want to know what happened, turn away now. Or, y'know, go watch and come back so we can talk about it.
"He will avenge us."
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, two warriors met and faced off in a battle that cost each of them dearly. It would forever mark their future with scars both visible and unseen. From the moment their blades crossed, they've been locked in battle. That battle ended in the episode "Twin Suns."
For longtime fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a battle between Maul and Kenobi seemed inevitable, but many worried they'd never see it happen when The Clone Wars ended. When Maul returned in the season 2 finale of Star Wars Rebels, hoped returned that there would be a reckoning. However, the battle between Ahsoka Tano and her former master Darth Vader took center stage but Maul's departure left no doubt we'd be seeing him again.
The tricky part in a story like this is already knowing some part of the future. We know Obi-Wan Kenobi lives because we know when and how he dies (and it's not to Maul's wicked dual-bladed saber). The question then becomes what happened to Maul? Would there be a battle? Would Maul survive? Would he die?
We knew they'd meet face to face, but the rest was unknown and fans have had years to speculate on any number of outcomes.
In the end, while I don't think their meeting went as many people would have imagined, I do think it ended in one of the most interesting ways possible –– with a reconciliation, a realization, and a release of hate and anger.
I thought about Maul's last words a lot and it took me a while to figure out what he meant...or, at least, what I think he meant.
Just like Rex and General Kalani, Maul and Kenobi were set up to fight each other by Sheev Palpatine as part of a much larger game. As he dies, Maul refers back to the prophecy of the Chosen One and finds peace in hearing Obi-Wan say he's found him. I can't say if his realization of just how he was manipulated was brewing before this meeting, but his final words do have some degree of hope. After all, didn't he say he was looking for hope when he was joining the holocrons with Ezra?
Was it hope that he'd find Kenobi and finally kill his nemesis? Or was it hope that the Chosen One had been found and would go on to kill the Emperor, thus avenging Maul and, by proxy, his brothers Savage and Feral? Maybe it's a mix of the two. I'm still pondering that one.
All of that emotion, anger, confusion, hate, and indecision are what ultimately killed Maul, just like it almost cost him his life the first time he and Kenobi fought. The main difference is the change in Obi-Wan Kenobi. The young padawan who was itching for a fight has become a Jedi Master who knows fighting is the last resort.
Instead of a fight full of flips, twirling blades, and wide-ranging action, their blades meet only twice before one well-placed attack cuts Maul's lightsaber in half and kills him. There's something poetic about the entire thing. These two men who have lost so much; brothers, friends, Masters, apprentices, in the end, they're two sides of the same coin finally able to let go of everything that came before.
Now take all of that and apply it to Ezra. Just like Maul went all out to find Kenobi, there's Ezra flying off to a distant planet in search of Master Kenobi (okay, maybe he's got a bit of Luke there, too) without realizing that he's been manipulated by Maul. Kanan and Hera both try and warn him, but Ezra has always been guided by emotions and instincts. It served him well growing up and it's his default setting. Not that he can't stop and think, but if there's one thing Ezra needs to learn above all else as a padawan, it's how not to be led around by his emotions to the detriment of himself and others.
Lucky for Ezra, he finds Kenobi who may well be the only person who can truly teach Ezra what he needs to know in this regard.
"What you need, you already have."
If there's one thru-line in the Star Wars universe, it's this –– everything comes down to family, whether it's the family you're born into or the one you choose. The Skywalkers, the Syndullas, the Organas, the Jedi, the Sith, the Nightsisters, even the Rebellion and the Empire. It's all family in one form or another and it all comes back to that.
Who do you fight with and who do you fight for?
It's taken Ezra Bridger three seasons to learn where he truly belongs and he had to go to a desert planet in the Outer Rim to figure it out. But he knows now and Obi-Wan Kenobi set him back on the path home to fight for his family and for Lothal.
Of course, no matter who you fight for and with, there's always a cost. We're going to learn exactly what that cost is during next week's season three finale.
Are you ready?
Until then, may the Force be with you. See you next week for the two-part season finale!
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD.