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Darth Maul: Origins Explained

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Briana Lawrence
Darth Maul's origin is as detailed as it is mysterious. From his first, mostly silent appearance in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace to his more recent appearances in Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, this elusive and hard to kill dark force wielder has his own agenda. He is often split on his motivations and Darth Mauls actions often pull him in two directions, so we made a video to fill you in on everything this former Sith has been up to since his first encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi. How is Darth Maul still alive? Watch and find out! Written by Briana Lawrence

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A long time ago, in a prequel movie series we’d like to bury far, far away, there was a Sith Lord who didn’t get the screen time he deserved. Introduced in Episode One, Darth Maul quickly became a fan favorite because let’s be honest, he wielded a kickass lightsaber during one particularly epic battle, complete with the spectacular Duel of the Fates playing in the background. Taking on two Jedi at once -- which led to the death of Qui-Gon Jinn -- Maul was eventually bested by Obi-Wan Kenobi, sliced in half and left to fall to his death.

Enter Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 2008 animated series that takes place between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.” Offering a more fleshed out tale, we not only learn the origins of the dissected Sith... we learn that he’s actually still alive.

Maul is the son of Mother Talzin, the leader of the magick-wielding Nightsisters of Dathomir, a planet with a strong, dark Force presence. Talzin used to work alongside Darth Sidious, who would later betray her and take Maul as his apprentice. Cue the events of The Phantom Menace, which led to Maul ending up on the planet Lotho Minor with no legs, a healthy dose of amnesia, and a burning hatred for the Jedi. Talzin, sensing that her son is alive, sends his brother, Savage Opress, off to find him. Yep, Maul has a brother. Two actually, but Opress had to kill the other sibling in a show of loyalty... but more on that later.

At this point, Maul is a bit... unhinged, which is to be expected after his body was basically tossed into the trash and repaired with such an... interesting... set of legs. Left to dwell in his rage, the brothers eventually reunite, and Opress brings Maul back home to Dathomir. Maul’s home planet is a bit worse for wear as it’s been completely decimated by Count Dooku and General Grievous, leaving only a handful of Nightsisters behind. That’s neither here nor there, at the moment, because after Talzin restores Maul’s memories -- and gets him better legs -- he has only one target in mind: Obi-Wan.

The two brothers go on a galactic killing spree to draw Obi-Wan out, and once they do, he’s overpowered by the combined might of Maul and Savage. The brothers capture him, but he’s rescued by Asajj Ventress. We should rewind back to that whole “killing your sibling to prove your loyalty” bit because this is the woman that Opress did that for in the first place. Oops. Maul and Obi-Wan reignite their Duel of the Fates, but this time, Maul definitely has the upper hand. Obi-Wan manages to escape, but the seeds of Maul’s vengeance have been planted. Soon, Obi-Wan would end up pursuing him, which is exactly what Maul wanted, after all, why settle on killing him when he could torment him, oh, and taunt him about the death of Qui-Gon. With that sinister thought in mind, Maul and Opress go back to causing chaos throughout the galaxy, and Opress becomes Maul’s apprentice.

The two travel to the planet Florrum and manage to get a couple of followers, though that may be because they killed anyone who went against them. Soon, Obi-Wan and Maul cross lightsabers again, but the fight doesn’t go the way Maul planned. Not only does he lose a leg, but his new crew betrays him, forcing him and Opress to flee. Their ship is shot down and they’re both believed to be dead, but Maul’s already proven to be a difficult Sith to kill. The two brothers are found by Pre Vizsla, leader of the Death Watch Mandalorian and the wielder of the Darksaber, and the two decide to join forces. Maul helps Vizsla rise to power, Vizsla attempts to betray him, Vizsla ends up dead, and Maul becomes the new wielder of the Darksaber and Mandalore’s shadow ruler. Now with a considerable following, Maul works to get the revenge he’s been craving. He kills a close friend of Obi-Wan’s right in front of him -- the Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze... who just so happened to be in love with Obi-Wan. Ouch. Maul does get his comeuppance, though, but not from the Jedi: from his old master, Darth Sidious. Sidious engages both Maul and Opress in combat, torturing Maul and killing Opress.

The short comic series Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir shows what happens to Maul after the battle, which includes fun things like torture, his mother’s sacrifice, and being abandoned by many of his followers. We wouldn’t see Maul again until the 2014 series Star Wars Rebels. Series protagonist, Ezra Bridger, finds an older, and somewhat wiser Maul on Malachor. His grand desire for revenge has shifted from Obi-Wan to Sidious, so much so that he’s denounced his Sith title. He even helps Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka Tano in a battle against the Inquisitors, and convinces them to help him unlock the secrets of the Sith in order to defeat Vader. But it’s all just for show; his true plan is to make Ezra his apprentice. He’s confronted by Ahsoka and Kanan, but Kanan is permanently blinded by Maul’s lightsaber before the fight can even begin. Ahsoka and Maul duel, but Kanan eventually rejoins the fight, using the Force to hear Maul’s movements, defeating him by throwing him off the side of the Sith temple. But, as you can probably guess by now, that was not the last of Maul’s quest for vengeance.

Months after the battle on Malachor, Maul takes the Ghost crew hostage, threatening to kill everyone unless Ezra and Kanan bring the Sith and Jedi holocrons to him. Maul claims that bringing the holocrons together will reveal how to finally defeat the Sith. When the two holocrons are combined, Ezra and Maul both have visions, but before everything can be revealed, Kanan tells Ezra to break the connection. This doesn’t deter Maul, of course, it just means coming up with a Plan B. Later on, Maul strikes a deal with Ezra and Kanan, and by “deal” we mean “threat.” Maul brings Ezra to his home planet to cast a spell that melds their minds together. This ultimately reveals that they’re both looking for, drumroll please: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Time passes, and Ezra receives a message that Obi-Wan needs to be saved from Maul. The rest of the Ghost crew feel that it’s a trap -- no Admiral Ackbar required -- but Ezra sneaks off to Tatooine anyway. Once he finds Obi-Wan, he tries to warn him about Maul, but it’s already too late: Maul is there, and we get another frickin’ duel. This one, however, would be Maul’s last, as he dies in Obi-Wan’s arms. His last words? A declaration that “the chosen one” will avenge them, as Obi-Wan has obviously been protecting a certain someone on Tatooine.

Like Boba Fett before him, Darth Maul is a character with relatively little screen time who captivated fans from the moment they laid eyes on him. While we’ve seen the end of his arc in “Rebels” there remains a lot of story to explore, and we hope to see that story play out in the not-too-distant future.

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