Heeee’s baaaack! Darth Maul, the horned, tattooed Sith Lord who Obi-Wan Kenobi cut in half at the end of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace returns to that galaxy far, far away in “Brothers,” the first part of The Clone Wars‘ season 4 finale airing tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network. But starting a whole half-hour earlier, at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT, Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni will take your questions about resurrecting Maul, talk about what lies ahead for season 5, and add his running commentary to the episode as it airs live.
Turns out, being cut in half doesn’t have to be a fatal injury if you have the dark side of the Force on your side (see also: Darth Vader’s swan dive into a river of lava). Or if you’re George Lucas and realize with hindsight that killing off the prequel trilogy’s coolest villain at the end of Episode I was a big mistake. (Insert your “That’s no moon, that’s the size of your missed storytelling opportunity!” jokes here.) Filoni even tells EW that “We created Savage Opress in season 3 because of the lack of Darth Maul.”
Unlike talky, thick-accented villains like Nute Gunray, or talky, King’s English-accented villains like Count Dooku, or talky, coughing villains like General Grievous, Maul had only three lines onscreen. This is a Sith Lord who does rather than drones. So when voice actor Sam Witwer (Being Human, the tank zombie in The Walking Dead) got in the recording booth to bring Maul back to life, he didn’t have a ton of benchmarks from Maul’s original vocal artist, Peter Serafinowicz. Plus, he had to imagine what Maul had been through in the 10-plus years that he’d been a dismembered outcast, forgotten by his former master Darth Sidious, and left out of Sidious’ master plan for ultimate galactic domination: the Clone War.
“What I find interesting is that, with Chewbacca and Ackbar, we took characters we’ve seen later in their lives and portrayed them in their youth,” says Filoni. “Here, we’re moving forward with Maul. He’s more than 10 years older than he was in The Phantom Menace. That’s immensely satisfying because now, nobody knows what’s going to happen here. I know, but nobody else does.”
It’s a pretty daunting task for Filoni, and one that he never thought he’d be saddled with. “I told George that I found it pretty funny in The Phantom Menace when Darth Maul got cut in half,” Filoni says. “Because I thought George was definitely saying to the fans, ‘There’s no way this character is coming back.’ This is not a Boba Fett/Sarlacc Pit situation where, on account of fan love, Boba Fett gets out of that thing any number of ways. I remember watching Phantom Menace, sitting in the theater, and thinking, ‘Aha, that character is not coming back.’ Flash-forward 10 years, and I’m the one to bring him back.” To find out why, ask Filoni yourself tonight at 7:30. See you there!