The rivalry between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul is one that dates all the way back to both men’s days before the fall of the Republic. Obi-Wan was forced to watch helplessly as his master was struck down by Maul, while Maul is out to avenge his own almost-death at the hands of Kenobi.
Decades have passed in the Star Wars universe since their first showdown in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and finally, the Star Wars Rebels animated series brought their conflict to a satisfying conclusion.
1. We see a wiser, older Obi-Wan than the one in the prequels
The last time we saw Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, he was resigned to his fate in exile on Tatooine. Now that he’s aged considerably though, he’s come to accept his role in what’s to come. As Maul taunts him about how far he’s fallen, the former Jedi Master isn’t phased, citing how defining yourself by your power gives you nothing to truly live for.
It’s an exciting nod toward Alec Guinness’ portrayal of the character in Star Wars: A New Hope, and shows just how far he’s come since the fall of the Republic.
2. Maul discover’s Obi-Wan’s true purpose on Tatooine
The Force affords its users all sorts of special powers, including the ability to peer into the minds of others. Using that ability, Maul is able to glean the reason behind Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine. “You have a purpose here,” he discovers, “perhaps you are protecting something … or … no … protecting someone.”
It’s at that exact moment that Obi-Wan unsheathes his lightsaber, indicating that he’s willing to die to keep Luke safe from anyone who would seek to do the young Skywalker harm.
3. The fight begins
All the back-and-forth of course, is meant to culminate in Obi-Wan and Maul clashing sabers one last time. As both men unfurl their respective weapons, they do so up against a gorgeous nighttime sky. It’s made clear that we’re in for an epic battle between two former masters, making the ensuing fight that much more of a shock.
4. Obi-Wan starts off using his classic fighting style
The Star Wars canon makes references to a variety of lightsaber fighting forms. Each Jedi typically picks a single form to utilize throughout their training, and each one has a distinct list of advantages and disadvantages.
Obi-Wan’s chosen style is easy to recognize, highlighted by pointing his two front fingers outward, while holding his lightsaber behind his head, parallel to the ground. As Obi-Wan gears up to clash with Maul in Rebels, we see him strike a nearly identical pose.
5. Obi-Wan makes a notable switch to another fighting style …
After initially striking a pose using his classic lightsaber form from the prequels, Obi-Wan quickly switches, holding his weapon out in front of his body with two hands. It’s a style that echoes the one used by his former master, Qui-Gon Jinn. More than that, it shows that Kenobi hasn’t forgotten Qui-Gon’s death at the hands of Maul, and represents a determination to honor him even decades after his death.
6. A climactic battle ends shockingly fast
Given the amount of hype that was building to this showdown, it was a massive surprise to have it end in a matter of seconds. As io9 pointed out though, it was very much a conscious decision, with showrunner Dave Filoni pointing out how “the inspiration for the fight was Kyuzo, the master swordsman in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and his duel which he doesn’t want to fight because he knows it will be over quickly.”
7. Maul tries and fails to utilize an old trick
If you were watching that three-second duel closely, you may have noticed something interesting: Maul tried the same move he used to kill Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. The move in question involved using the handle of his two-bladed lightsaber to hit his opponent, knocking them back and leaving their stomach exposed. When he tried it on Obi-Wan though, the old Jedi was prepared, cutting the saber in half, and slicing straight through Maul in the process.
8. A sympathetic moment between two old enemies
Despite the fact that Obi-Wan and Maul have been at odds for decades, the two share a close moment together when it’s all over. They seem to hold no grudges against each other as their rivalry winds to a close. Kenobi holds his former enemy in his arms, comforting him as he crosses over to the other side. And what comes next is the most intriguing part of it all …
9. The real ‘Chosen One’
The prequels often point toward Anakin Skywalker as the “Chosen One,” a title said by an ancient prophecy to bring balance to the Force. Many thought that Darth Vader killing Palpatine in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi fulfilled his role in that prophecy, but in Maul’s final moments, we get a different story.
Referring to Luke, Maul asks, “Is he the Chosen One?” Obi-Wan answers, “He is,” pointing toward the younger Skywalker, rather than Anakin, as the true fulfiller of the prophecy.
10. A brief glimpse at the Lars homestead
After laying Maul to rest, Obi-Wan journeys somewhere familiar, as he overlooks the Lars homestead from afar. We hear Aunt Beru calling to Luke (using audio from the original trilogy), and then Luke crosses the frame, running through the moisture farm to answer her call.
It’s the first we’ve ever seen of Luke Skywalker in Rebels (and likely the last), but it’s cool nonetheless to see the animated series continuing to lay the groundwork for A New Hope.
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