The Clone Wars, Season 5, Episode 16: The Lawless
This is the third part in a three-part arc. To start at the beginning, go here.
Ugh, everything about this episode. Do I have to? All right: in this episode, Obi-Wan rescues the Duchess from the evil Darth Maul, intercepts Sidious en route back to Coruscant, calls up Anakin to tell him he’s found the Sith Lord they were looking for, the two of them take him out before he can ruin the universe, and then…
…what? That is what happens, right?!
OK. Fine. If you insist. Here we go. Settle in because I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS ONE so it’s gonna get WORDY.
We arrive at the end of Season 5’s Mandalore arc, a terrible and wonderful installment. When we last left our Mandalorian friends, things were…going badly for most of them. The Duchess is in jail, Pre Vizsla and his head have permanently parted ways, and the government is being run by their former, crooked Prime Minister as a false front for Undead Partially Robotic Darth Maul, who’s really steering the ship. Well. Surely things can’t get any worse, right?! LOL JK LET’S GET KENOBI OVER HERE.
Recurring Theme: Secret History Reveal
Satine is in her cell when she’s sprung by a small contingent of people still loyal to her, including her terribly-named nephew Korkie (WHY), whom she’s very happy to see. With them is the mysterious redheaded terrorist from before, Bo-Katan, who has decided to join them rather than ally herself with Maul.
She and Satine have a brief, terse exchange. Naturally, because this is Star Wars and we hadn’t had a Secret History Reveal in a few hours, we are told that they used to be allies in the past, and now here they are again via the “enemy of my enemy” trope. It’s not an especially warm or fuzzy reunion, but Satine somewhat warily accepts her help. Are there any two people in this universe who don’t have a tragic backstory with each other?
They get tailed by the Mauldalorians on their way to freedom, and a whole slew of Satine’s allies get taken out. Just before being apprehended again she places a holo-Skype call to the Jedi Temple, letting them know that she’s lost control of the planet and asking specifically for Obi-Wan’s help because that is a thing that happens a lot around this galaxy.
Recurring Theme: Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; You’re The Only Guy I Know Who’ll Willingly Involve Himself in This Nonsense
In this case, this message was received (and is now being played for Obi-Wan) by Yoda and Ki-Adi-Mundi. Obi-Wan looks pretty rattled by what’s in it, especially given that it ends with Satine getting surrounded by terrorists before cutting out.
Yoda asks Obi-Wan what he thinks they should do. I assume that Yoda’s even bothering to ask because he wants Obi-Wan to have to reach the depressing conclusion on his own, which is: Mandalore was neutral before this, the terrorists are acting on their own now and not in league with the Separatists, and thus the Jedi are under no obligation or authority to intervene. Even if they did ask the Senate to help, they’re not going to go for it because you can’t count on those guys for jack.
Recurring Theme: “None of the Details Matter; We Just Want Obi-Wan’s Life to Suck Some More – Sincerely, The Writers”
Obi-Wan objects, because he knows this means they’re just going to leave Mandalore, and Satine, to their fate. Yoda is sympathetic, without explicitly coming out and acknowledging Obi-Wan’s complicated situation as regards this subject. He then confirms that the Jedi will do nothing. Thanks for the pep talk, Grandpa!
I could look at this as one of those “ooh it’s just like a real-life conundrum about interventionism!” political moments, but let’s be real here: it doesn’t really matter why any of this is happening, because the intended end game is that for the six-hundred-billionth time, Obi-Wan is going to have to face an evil foe – in this case, Darth Effing Maul, AGAIN — alone. AGAIN.
My Boyfriend’s Back
Maul is informed that Satine totally called her personal Jedi, just like they expected her to, and he’s delighted: if Obi-Wan’s going to show up to try and save her, Maul knows he’s going to have to come alone (and who doesn’t want to get that guy alone, amirite? WINK!) (…sorry. I mean, sort of.)
Anyways, of course, Obi-Wan does show up by himself, in a run-down ship he stole or borrowed from Anakin. He makes sure to take a moment to complain about Anakin despite the fact that Anakin is not there, and Obi-Wan is ALONE, so no one is even around to HEAR this complaint.
I’ve gotta say, I get why Obi-Wan had to come here outside of an Official Jedi Capacity, but do we really buy that he couldn’t have gotten at least Anakin to come with him, or that Anakin wouldn’t have somehow found out what was going on and insisted upon it? Let us briefly review some things we know about Anakin:
- loves Obi-Wan
- is a crazypants hothead who is massively powerful
- loves going against explicit orders especially in the name of helping his friends
- often enjoys killing people
Given all this, I’m sure if Obi-Wan had told him where he was going and why, he’d have pretty much insisted on coming too, because it would have sounded like his idea of the perfect day. It is more or less impossible for me to imagine Obi-Wan heading into an apocalyptic melee/mission of love alone, while Anakin’s hanging back, eating ramen noodles and watching The Price is Right at Padme’s apartment in his boxer shorts, or waiting for his laundry to dry at the Jedi Temple while playing Candy Crush on his phone. Wherever he is right now, let’s hope he’s at least doing something constructive.
Doing Anything Fun with Your Time Off?
I always wonder about the off-the-books missions these guys do, or even the times we see Anakin just hanging out at Padme’s apartment, for one thing. Where are they getting the freedom for all this unaccounted-for time? If you’re not actively on a Jedi mission, is your time basically yours to fritter away? Do they go for weeks just wandering the temple hallways and playing for Jedi intramural sports teams (OMG please tell me there is dodgeball and please tell me Anakin takes it REALLY DAMN SERIOUSLY)?
Wouldn’t anyone back at the temple have wondered where Obi-Wan went after enough time, or are we supposed to presume that they gave him PTO to go by himself on an unofficial mission that might kill him? (“Sure, Kenobi, go get yourself killed, just don’t bill the Republic for these hours.”)
My overthinking of a cartoon about space wizards aside, Obi-Wan arrives, feigns problems on the landing pad as a ruse to take out a guard and switch uniforms with him, and he hauls it out of there to go find Satine. Bo and company take note of his arrival from the shadows.
Hold Me Like You Never Will Again
Satine is back in her cell again, meditating sadly with her back to the doorway, looking a little rough for the wear with her fancy hairdo all trashed. Obi-Wan arrives, still in disguise. He reveals that it’s him in one of the dorkiest “That’s right baby, I answer to no one”-style lines of his life, and she is just absolutely overjoyed that he’s there, jumping to her feet to embrace him warmly. It’s less a simple hug than a truly relieved and genuine you-are-my-hero full-body cling.
This clearly and adorably catches him off guard, and he starts to lead her out and she grabs on to his hand and it’s sweet and touching and for fuck’s sake everything is just the worst I don’t wanna recap this anymore. Can we just pretend that the episode ends now? Or that they at least hang out for a consecutive 20 minutes without one of them getting shot at or taken hostage before everything else that’s going to happen? Can we give these two a single pleasant memory that isn’t set against a backdrop of death and chaos? Why do you hate the very idea of even brief happiness for one of the only reliably good people in this universe, Star Wars? WHY?!
…ugh. She asks if he’s had to come here alone, and he confirms that he has, because no one from the Republic is going to save her pacifist butt now in any official capacity, which is really such a heartwarming message for the kids about the dangers of not going to war when everyone else is pressuring you to.
Twilight of the Republic
They make their way out of the building and get back to Anakin’s crappy ship, the definitely not at all ironically-named Twilight.
Ten seconds after finally taking off, the ship gets shot down, and then just after Obi-Wan and Satine bail out it’s blown to smithereens. So basically everything that happens after this is kinda sorta Anakin’s fault because if his ship had taken off sooner, they could have gotten away. GOOD JOB.
As he’s trying to stay conscious and regain his bearings while force-lifting a giant chunk of flaming wreckage off of Satine, Obi-Wan sees Maul coming towards him through the smoke.
He somehow avoids the urge to break the fourth wall and yell “Oh COME THE FUCK ON; FUCKING MAUL?! AGAIN?! FUCK THIS BULLSHIT, FILONI, I AM NOT FUCKING DOING THIS AGAIN”, even though that is what I and any other rational person who hasn’t had Obi-Wan’s weird repressive Jedi upbringing would have said about this. He’s too weak — he just jumped out of a spaceship and landed on concrete, for one thing — to do much of anything to stop Maul. He gets disarmed and put into an almost instant force-choke (you’re surprised, aren’t you, since there’s hardly been any force-choking in this one,) he and Satine are taken prisoner, and then the shit well and truly hits the fan.
Ready For the Trials
We head back to the throne room/First Unitarian Church of Mandalore for our latest showdown scene. We get this delivered to us in the form of a very heavy-handed but still effective and terribly sad Fork in the Road/Fire Sign-Water Sign/Sliding Doors/Your Destiny Lies Along a Different Path from Mine sequence of events.
Darth Maul, pulling the classic “villain lounging evilly on someone else’s throne” pose, has himself a grand old time trash-talking Kenobi and force-choking Satine. He throws in some oh-how-I’ve-waited-for-this-moment-ing for good measure, and some minor Mind Molestation leads him to uncover that he’s kinda starting to piss Obi-Wan off. Maul responds to this by tossing out this old reliable Star Wars chestnut: hey, Jedi wuss — you seem a little…angry! Got a little rage in there, eh buddy? Say, have you ever considered a career with the Dark Side? We’re hiring! Maybe then you’d be powerful enough to kick my ass and save your friend…
I Am a Jedi: Obi-Wan Kenobi Edition
Recurring Theme: Make Your Choice
And so here it is, again: when faced with almost the exact same set of circumstances that his counterpart(s) will face, Obi-Wan is a True Blue Jedi to the bitter and emotionally devastating end, and good grief, being a Jedi sucks a lot of the time.
Satine, still in a force-chokehold, pleads with Obi-Wan to stay strong in his resolve, while Maul continues to taunt him. Obi-Wan stands his ground and tells him he can’t be turned, and if that means Maul kills him, then so be it: he’ll die with the power of goodness on his side — and if this is all starting to sound super familiar, it’s because we’ve already done this before (or after, I guess,) in Return of the Jedi, wherein Luke is also taunted and goaded by a Sith, and also chooses death over darkness.
Unfortunately for Obi-Wan, unlike when this happens to Luke, there’s no Darth Vader around to reactivate his Jedi membership at the last second and throw Maul to his death (er, “death”, I guess, as it turns out) for him. SEE? I knew Anakin should have come with him!
Things do, however, go better for Obi-Wan than they will for Anakin when he gets his chance to do this scene in Revenge of the Sith.
Granted, that isn’t saying much, because pretty much anyone’s Make Your Choice scene would have had happier results than Anakin’s does, what with him immediately committing mass murder afterwards and then getting dismembered and set on fire.
Maul and Obi-Wan go back and forth for a little longer about the nature of good and evil and who’s stronger/better – until eventually Obi-Wan throws back at Maul that he’s been to Dathomir, and he knows that Maul never even signed up to be a Sith in the first place – he was taken against his will and forced to fight by the Nightsisters, Hunger Games-style.
Goodbye Old Friend
Recurring Theme: Someone Gets Mauled
This sets Maul off, and he’s pissed now. He puts an end to the conversation, then pulls out the Black Blade of Amazing Hilarious Star War Goodness and violently impales Satine (Qui-Gon-Style for extra pathos), holding her up in front of Obi-Wan and forcing him to watch while she suffers. I’m not trying to be foul-mouthed here, but seriously: fuck this guy. It’s awful.
It’s got that same oh-shit-that-just-happened element that Menace’s Maul sequence had, in that the swiftness with which he actually kills her is pretty jarring. Plus, making Obi-Wan watch helplessly as this happens again – AGAIN! — is just so punishing. I would like to point out that EVEN OBI-WAN kind of looks like “OH COME THE FUCK ON SERIOUSLY FFS AAGGGHH.”
Obi-Wan breaks away, and rushes to Satine’s side. He kneels down, heartbroken, and cradles her in his arms in time for her to tell him she loves him again before she dies.
It is sad, and frankly, I’ve had just about enough of this guy’s Tragic Backstory for one lifetime, especially if they’re just going to keep making him do the same tear-jerking scenes over and over. I didn’t even realize until I went to pull the screengrabs that Qui-Gon even touches Obi-Wan’s cheek as he’s imparting his last words, as does Satine. I’m sure Obi-Wan appreciates the attention to callbacks, guys! HIS PAIN RHYMES WITH HIS OTHER PAIN.
Well, at least Satine didn’t use her last breath to saddle Obi-Wan with the burden of training the Son of Evil, so this does go slightly better than his last Tearful Post-Mauling- Farewell…right? I’m just…trying to find a silver lining here. Ugh.
After this, Maul moves to have him sent away to a cell, ostensibly to “drown in his misery” as part of Maul’s plan to torture him, but I prefer to presume it’s so Obi-Wan can spend some time thinking about how he’s going to get back at the writers and George Lucas for devising this incredibly cruel plotline for him on top of all the other bullshit they already were making him deal with.
Poor Handsome Ginger Jedi: no, honey, I don’t know what you ever did to deserve this, either. Your hair still looks really nice though!
Sith Family Reunion
Recurring Theme: We Are Officially Out of New Dialogue
Thankfully, not everything is going to go as well for Maul as it has been, because OH SHIT: back on Coruscant, Sidious had sensed what’s up, and is now en route to Mandalore and The Imperial Fucking March is playing, so you know something’s about to go down.
We get another Episode 4 Dialogue Rehash – this time it is as close to a verbatim quote as it gets, no less – as Sidious shows up on Sundari to pay Maul a visit.
Understatement of the Century Part 1
Sidious arrives to the Throne Room and he makes HIS entrance with not one, but TWO force-chokes of the guards at the door. Maul genuflects in front of him and Sidious says this and I laugh for 1200 years:
Understatement of the Century Part 2
Bo and company spring Obi-Wan from his Misery Sentence, and they’re making their escape amidst total chaos:
I could take a moment to reflect on how Obi-Wan must be feeling at this exact moment what with Satine’s planet engulfed in violent flames after she’s been murdered in front of his face and all but instead, let’s focus on how Bo throws out there that, damn: Maul must REALLY want him dead…
Go and Tell Them Our Confusing Story
As Obi-Wan reaches a ship he can fly to safety back on Coruscant (where, I can only assume, he’ll sit in a bathtub while drinking a full bottle of gin, lamenting all of his life’s decisions), he has a brief discussion with Bo-Katan, where she tells him to let the Republic know what’s happened here.
This is where I originally got very confused, because he says that if he does this, the Republic will invade and take over the planet. Isn’t the whole premise that brought him here by himself in the first damn place that the Republic CAN’T intervene even though the planet was taken over by terrorists because they were neutral? Or is he saying that now that they know Maul’s involved it becomes a Jedi Problem because he’s a Sith? (This is the best explanation I’ve been given thus far.) What is happening and why couldn’t anyone come help them before now?!
Regardless, Bo, unlike me, understands what will happen if he tells them, but says at least this will mean that someone will come kill Maul for them (since evidently Obi-Wan is terrible at that,) and then they can rebuild from there once he’s gone.
Recurring Theme: You’re My Sister
BONUS Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi is Sad For You On The Actual Worst Day of His Life
In the last moment before he leaves, Obi-Wan pauses and does a half-turn back to ask Bo to confirm that she is in fact Satine’s sister, which she affirms by solemnly saying nothing. This gives us yet another dialogue callback in the form of a nearly-verbatim question and response from Episode 3:
Both times Obi-Wan says this, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be his selflessness on display, or if the implication is that he’s avoiding confronting his own crushing sorrow by focusing on other people’s sadness instead. Either way.
By the way, Obi-Wan, it’s one thing to apologize to pregnant Padme, whom you’ve been friends with for something like 15 years, as you’re heading out to murder her husband (whom you’ve just had to reveal is a child-killing murderous maniac) — but I don’t really think you necessarily need to be consoling one of the assholes who helped bring Maul to Mandalore, and who apparently hated and conspired against your just-murdered forbidden love interest until like the last 5 hours of her life, but whatever; OK. You’re a better person than literally anyone else ever, we get it. At least the writers will give you that — even if they will continue to kill everyone you care for in remarkably unpleasant ways and make you live in solitude for decades before dying, you’re going to be totally and utterly unbreakable, and eternally decent and good. I guess there are worse consolation prizes.
It’s a Total Sithshow
Sidious, Savage, and Maul’s little Sith family reunion is not going well, and Sidious is 10,000% not buying Maul’s contrite attitude about having, y’know, taken on an apprentice and opened up his own branch of SithCo. The three of them now proceed to throw down in a hilariously over the top, amazing battle (that involves one person with two red lightsabers, one person with a double-sided red lightsaber, and a third person who uses a red lightsaber and a black one.)
It culminates in Savage getting impaled and killed, to Maul’s great dismay. Sidious then throws Maul around a bit, and caps it off with some force lightning torture for good measure.
Recurring Theme: Nobody Ever Really Dies, But Especially Maul
Finally, instead of killing him outright, Sidious decides he’s got other plans for Maul, which we will never see on screen because this show got canceled before they could show it, and then by the time it was un-canceled they’d already burned off the Sidious-Maul-Nightsisters plotline they had planned out in a comic book instead.
Not to worry, though — this series isn’t quite done with Maul, or Mandalore, or with shattering my heart into tiny pieces yet: Maul will return for one last glorious TCW Showdown against Former Chosen One Apprentice Ms. Ahsoka Tano herself. What’s that, you say? How is it possible that Obi-Wan isn’t the one who’s going to have to throw down against Maul, again? Could it be that the writers are actually giving our guy Obes a break for once? No, not to worry: Obi-Wan will be unable to assist this time, you see, because he and Anakin will have to high-tail it out of there to start the events of Revenge of the Sith, so rest assured that despite not being there to fight Maul on his dead girlfriend’s homeworld, he will still be having an extraordinarily shitty week.
And that still won’t be the last we see of Maul: in fact, when I first wrote this recap back in 2016, Maul STILL had no definitive end. He was out there, in the near-Original-Trilogy-Era, mixing it up with the cast of Rebels, surviving a fall into a chasm AGAIN, and piloting a stolen TIE fighter out of a Sith temple planet en route to Dathomir, where we found him in a hovel where he’d not only literally written “Kenobi” in blood, in Mando’a, on the walls, but where he had also stashed a stolen portrait of Duchess Satine and the Darksaber, because of course his storyline needed more insanity. Oh and then later he showed up in the actual live action Han Solo movie, as the head of a shadowy crime syndicate. To say I expected literally any of this from a dude who, let’s be real, definitely died in The Phantom Menace would be a lie, but damn if it hasn’t been one hell of a ride. I look forward to his next inevitable resurrection.
…and with that, that’s gonna wrap it up for this arc! We had some laughs…well, OK, not really, we didn’t. We mostly just swung by to dump a big ol’ bucket of Sad onto Obi-Wan again, which really, considering what this guy already went through in canon so far at this point in the timeline, and more importantly what he still has yet to go through, just seemed super unnecessary. I hope that dude got a chance to get well and truly drunk once he got his hut all picked out in the desert. And I hope Anakin’s Force Ghost bought him a round after Return of the Jedi wrapped up (and again after Anakin’s own damn grandkid blew it again.)