“I had no intention of fighting him, though that seems inevitable now”
-Obi Wan Kenobi
With The Rise of Skywalker promising us the end of a saga, the conversation naturally falls on people’s favourite Star Wars moment. For many, one the Lightsaber Duels of Star Wars will be their highlight; but one always seems to get missed out. The final dramatic confrontation between Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul in the animated show Star Wars: Rebels is a perfectly executed bout, which many fans not familiar with the stories will have next to no knowledge of.
Though to truly understand the confrontation of Twin Suns we need to briefly look back. To a long time ago – well, 2008 to be exact. Star Wars: Clone Wars was a CGI animated show created by Lucasarts and overseen by Dave Filoni, who at the time had worked on the cult classic animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender. It told the story of the Clone Wars, a conflict that for cinema audiences happened off-screen, between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Clone Wars was a thrilling war story that examined more closely Anakin Skywaker and Obi Wan Kenobi.
The show also brought back to the forefront Maul (formally Darth) who we had last seen completing the “half swan” dive in The Phantom Menace. Clone Wars gives us a Maul who survived by pure force of will. Voiced by Sam Witwer, Maul is fuelled by an all-consuming rage directed both at the Jedi who did this to him, and the Sith that discarded him. In Clone Wars, Maul sets about dismantling Kenobi’s life, trying to lead him to the depths of despair he himself has suffered. Although when the Purge happens Obi-Wan goes into hiding and Maul never gets his chance for revenge, the hatred that burns in Maul means he will never let go of that need for vengeance.
Maul then returns in the sequel series Star Wars: Rebels, a shell of a man and still motivated by this overwhelming need for vengeance. Convinced that Obi-Wan Kenobi has survived the Jedi purge, he eventually tracks him down to the desert planet of Tatoonie. Where he looks to finally get the revenge he craves so much.
Disney XD uploaded the scene here, so if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch first!
Most duellists will tell you a fight is first decided in the mind, and this is no different, with both duelists contemplating the battle ahead and who will move first. Obi-Wan starts off in his traditional lightsaber stance, though as the music swells he switches to the stance of his master Qui-Gon Jinn, who Maul murdered in The Phantom Menace. The two continue judging each other as their feet shift in the sand – though for Maul his anger will always prove to be too much.
In the end, Obi Wan bests Maul again, in a battle as thrilling as their first. But whilst Maul is consumed with hatred, Obi Wan continues to epitomise everything good about the Jedi. Even as he lies dying, Obi Wan cannot help but show mercy to Maul. Catching him before he hits the floor and cradling him in his arms during his final moments, watching the life flow from him.
“Tell me? Is he the chosen one?” Maul croaks. Obi Wan assures him so.
“He will avenge us.”
Even in his dying breath Maul could not forgive his enemies, or let go of his anger as it kept him alive. But in the end not even the power of the Dark Side was enough. Obi Wan closes the now deceased Maul’s eyes and holds him for a moment longer. The soft and moving music reinforces the impact of this scene. This is the transformation of Obi Wan from the Jedi Knight of the prequels into the man he will be in A New Hope.
The power of this moment works on multiple levels. You can watch this scene on its own without any context and appreciate it as an excellent lightsaber fight – something you could argue comes across far better in animation than on film.
Those who have been following the two character’s rivalry will see it as its natural conclusion. It could only end this way. Obi-Wan is now simply following the will of the Force, looking to make up with his failings as Anakin’s teacher to protect Luke whom he sees as the true Chosen One. This is a master of the art in full control of his destiny; to become the motivation Luke needs to become a true hero. There was no way anyone could stop that. Not Maul and as we find out in a New Hope not even Vader.
The Duel in Twin Suns is the culmination of everything that makes Star Wars great. It breaks down two iconic characters to their respective cores while giving them closure. With a sombre score that lives in the background of this scene to reinforce but never detract from the moment. It’s emotional, intense, action packed and most of all memorable.