Star Wars: The Clone Wars gave us some amazing Star Wars stories for years, something that I have only recently been acquainted with. I watched a good deal of episodes to prepare for Season 7, the final season to air. And with it came one of the best episodes The Clone Wars has graced us with: Phantom Apprentice.
We’re going into spoilers ladies and gentlemen, so buckle up!
The second episode of four to conclude The Clone Wars series did more than just bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The Phantom Apprentice starts with the same grim beginning, dark red logo, and right into the action with Maul’s presence on Mandalore. Ahsoka’s confrontation with Maul is cut short when he runs, but not before revealing that he was looking for Kenobi and Skywalker, and that the Jedi are soon to be a thing of the past.
Ahsoka, Bo, and Rex meet up with Obi-Wan and tells us both the group and the audience a huge piece of information: Count Dooku has been killed by Anakin. This is big news for a few reasons. The first, in the story of The Clone Wars, we’ll never see Dooku again. He was a constant villain in the series and a huge threat for the Republic. Second, even though we did not see it in The Clone Wars, surely the memory of Dooku’s beheading between the blue and red lightsabers flashed in the minds of fans everywhere. Just another step on the path for Anakin’s inevitable transformation into Vader. Third, and most importantly, is that this is confirmation that we have surpassed the gap between the two films and are now on a timeline that runs concurrently with Revenge of the Sith. I had to pause this moment and go back to make sure that I was not mishearing anything. Obi-Wan then tells Ahsoka about his mission to hunt down General Grievious, and Anakin’s mission to spy on The Supreme Chancellor. Armed with this information, we already know what to expect with our two Jedi, but Ahsoka’s story is still escalating with the threat of Maul on Mandalore and no backup to assist her mission.
Going back to Maul and Ahsoka’s confrontation at the beginning of the episode, we assume that this is just Maul being Maul, causing havoc and making Obi-Wan’s life more difficult. However, Ahsoka learns that all the chaos Maul created was to lure Anakin to Mandalore, to kill him, and to deprive Darth Sidious of his soon-to-be apprentice.
Maul reveals the same theory that Obi-Wan proposed privately to Ahsoka; that The Chancellor has manipulated the Republic and the Separatists, initiated The Clone Wars, and set in motion a plan to eradicate the Jedi from existence. Furthermore, Maul strongly believes that he has played his part, and that Anakin will become Sidious’ apprentice.
Maul also makes an offer to Ahsoka, an opportunity to join forces and take down Darth Sidious before he assumes power as the Emperor. Ahsoka initially accepts his offer, but then declines when he says that Anakin is being groomed to become Sidious’ apprentice.
Not only was this episode strong in story and dialogue, but also with action. The entire throne room scene is laced with suspense, as terror breaks out just outside the windows. Maul and Ahsoka’s conversation is gripping, exploring a world that we know will end in failure, but still we are still captivated to see the conversation enfold between the two. The lighting cloaks the two in light and darkness, going a step further to explain the unease in the air, the horror of what’s to come. The writing, especially here, is fantastic. One of the best lines from this episode is delivered by Sam Witer’s Darth Maul, who is crushing it by the way.
“Too late for what? The Republic to fall? It already has, and you just can’t see it! There is no justice, no law, no order, except for the one that will replace it! The time of the Jedi has passed. They cannot defeat Sidious. But together, you and I can.”
“Every choice you have made has led you to this moment.”
Again, the lighting, the music, the dialogue, is thrilling, eerie, captivating. It is Star Wars at its absolute best.
Speaking of absolute best, we are treated with a tactful and beautiful duel between the two as war breaks out just outside the throne room. They crafted this scene so perfectly, grabbing the original Darth Maul in a motion capture suit to fight against stunt performer Lauren Mary Kim. We are treated to one of, if not the best, lightsaber duel in Star Wars history. Even though we know the stakes and the conclusion to this story, it does not take away from the tension of the scene, the turmoil in Ahsoka’s heart, the pain and agony from Maul’s force visions. Bone-chilling, start to finish.
If you don’t want to watch all of The Clone Wars, I get it. It can be tough to watch at times, especially when they decide it’s time for another Jar Jar episode. I had a sinking feeling when Ahsoka was cast alongside the Martez sisters for four very long and very non-entertaining episodes. But those episodes set up Ahsoka to take the reigns of the series finale in an incredible bout. Season 7 is not perfect, but this episode is.
Thanks for reading!