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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Phantom Apprentice (The Clone Wars - S07E10) - Animated Series

Series: The Clone Wars

Title: The Phantom Apprentice

Season: Seven

Episode: 10

Original Air Date: April 24, 2020

Runtime: 25 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

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"The Phantom Apprentice" may be the best season 7 The Clone Wars episode yet. The final arc of the season has very much in common with "Revenge of the Sith", not only do the events in both the Clone Wars arc and the movie happen concurrently, both also radiate this sense of impending doom. Once again the viewers know a lot more than the characters. Which can be a problem. However, in this case it's interesting to see how characters like Ahsoka react even if they have the full information - but choose not to believe it. "What if?" is a question you may ask yourself a lot. What if Maul's scheme to lure Skywalker to Mandalore had succeeded? What if Ahsoka had actually joined Darth Maul to fight an even bigger evil?

Obi-Wan reveals what he knows about Darth Sidious

Darth Maul is at the center of this week's episode, and rightfully so. Woefully underused in the movies, he became a multi-faceted and interesting character in The Clone Wars. And in "The Phantom Apprentice" he is shown to be scheming left and right. He talks his Mandalorian allies into a pointless attack on the Republic, but Maul is surprisingly forthright towards Ahsoka various times in the episode.

Last week's episode ended in the sewers. Maul meets Ahsoka for the very first time, he knows of her, but has not met her yet. And in the brief chat they have, before the Clones manage to scatter the Mandalorian troops, Maul reveals that his plan was for Kenobi to come to Mandalore with his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. Maul doesn't know why they sent Ahsoka instead, she reveals that Obi-Wan had "more important" things to do. Which is when Maul suspects that the moment may be upon them. He knows that Darth Sidious has been planning something and that the Jedi and the Republic will soon be history. But before Maul and Ahsoka can talk more the Clones arrive and Maul escapes for now.

In a holochat with Obi-Wan he finally reveals what the Jedi Order knows about Sidious, which is pretty much nothing. But he's the man behind it all, playing both sides. And then Ahsoka learns that Anakin was ordered to spy on the Chancellor, his greatest mentor, something Anakin will not like. Obi-Wan wants Ahsoka to talk to him, who is sceptical if she's the right person. But Obi-Wan tells her the council is not always right, which is why he wants her help. Ahsoka also learns that Dooku has been killed. So Maul is the only person left who can tell them more about Sidious. Ahsoka is ordered to capture him.

Darth Maul has a brief chat with his underworld buddies, one of them is Dryden Vos

Maul meanwhile captured a clone trooper, Jesse, off-screen and Maul reveals to Jesse that the clones are part of a grand plan, a plan that even Maul doesn't really know. But Maul wants to know and probes Jesse's mind to learn more about Darth Sidious plan for the clones. Saxon then gets a special order, he's to assassinate Prime Minister Almec, who was captured in the previous episode, before he can divulge any important information.

Ahsoka and Bo-Katan visit Almec in his prison cell, but before he can reveal anything substantial he gets shot by Saxon. However, Almec manages to reveal with his dying breath that Maul was after someone named "Skywalker".

Maul contacts his underworld subordinates and instructs them to go into hiding. One of them is Dryden Vos, in a brief cameo, With his subordinates taken care off Maul then adresses the Mandalorians and inspires them to go into battle against the Clones. It seems Maul needs a diversion.

Darth Maul drops several truth bombs. Ahsoka chooses not to believe him.

Ahsoka, Rex and Bo-Katan find Darth Maul in the throne room. Bo-Katan shoots her blaster, but Maul deflects the blasts and then chokes her. Maul then releases Jesse to Rex, as a show of good faith. But before Rex or Bo-Katan can do more, the attack of the Mandalorians begins and both Rex and Bo-Katan leave to help their troops. Maul is finally alone with Ahsoka.

Maul reveals to Ahsoka that the Jedi will end soon, that they cannot defeat Sidious. Maul also tells Ahsoka that the two of them were tools used by a greater power, tut that the two of them together can destroy Sidious. He asks Ahsoka to join him. Ahsoka muses for a while and then agrees to help. But under one condition, she wants to know what Maul wanted with Skywalker. Maul then reveals to Ahsoka the true intent behind his scheme to lure Kenobi and Skywalker to Mandalore. He wanted to kill Skywalker to rob Sidious of his most prized posession. Maul tells a stunned Ashoka that Skywalker has been groomed by Sidious for a long time, that he's not the Chosen One to bring balance to the Force, but that his role is to destroy.

Bring it on

Ahsoka simply cannot believe what Maul just told her. She cannot imagine that Anakin would be a tool of destruction. She knows him! So she simply tells Maul that he lies. Which is the most ironic moment in the episode, because Maul has been nothing but truthful. But even so, he was still scheming, still looking for revenge on Kenobi and Sidious. But with Ahsoka disbelieving Maul his plan to win her over fails and the two begin a spectacular duel.

Can Maul win a duel for once? Spoiler: not really.

A rather well choreographed and spectacular duel begins. Ahsoka and Maul eventually end up on a roof structure, stepping on rather narrow beams. And here Maul eventually gains the upper hand when he pushes Ahsoka who has to hold on to a beam for her dear life.

Is it an offer Ahsoka cannot refuse?

When Maul asks Ahsoka once more to join him she retorts that Maul only wants to replace Sidious. It is then that a ship arrives and Maul is told that they must leave immediately. So Maul leaves Ahsoka behind. But she chases after Maul. They duel again and while Maul manages to knock both lightsabers out of Ahsoka's hands, pushing her towards the end of a beam, she manages to quickly turn around Maul, using his own saber to cut the beam. Maul is about to fall to his death, but Ahsoka stops him with the Force. Maul want Ahsoka to let him go, he wants to die. But a very desperate Maul is captured by the Clones, who secure him with ropes. Maul screaming that they are all going to die and that they don't know what they are doing, then he's stunned by a blaster and silenced. And that ends the episode.

"The Phantom Apprentice" was certainly the best episode of the season so far, it's also one of the best of the entire show. The Clone Wars never looked better, choreography, camerawork, everything was very cinematic and one can't help but think that this would have made for a great live action movie as well. It's interesting to see that Maul is forever scheming, he tries to use everything to his advantage. He even uses the truth, when convenient. But Maul didn't know how much Ahsoka respects and loves Anakin Skywalker. So it was almost inevitable that Ahsoka would not believe that all this time Anakin Skywalker was Darth Sidious' "Phantom Apprentice", groomed to do horrible deeds. And since we viewers know so much more than the characters, the sense of impending doom is always upon us. The episode takes place after the first act of "Revenge of the Sith", Obi-Wan is just about to leave for Utapau. In a few short hours Order 66 will wipe out the Jedi. Maul is the character with the most information here, he wasn't told the details of the grand plan, but he surely knows after mind probing Jesse. He is certainly aware what the clones will do once they receive Sidious's order.

In many ways the current Clone Wars arc is is what "Rogue One" was to "A New Hope". It enriches "Revenge of the Sith" with a second, parallel story and things will only get more intense once Order 66 is carried out in the next episode. This week's episode, while mostly set-up for what's to come soon, was still exciting. It had the perfect mix of exposition and high octane action. Many may have wondered what Maul actually knew all this time. He was aware of Sidious' overall plan, but he didn't know the exact details. He only knew the endgoal, to destroy the Jedi and the Republic. And with the attack on Coruscant that prevented Kenobi and Skywalker to take his bait, he knows that the end of times is upon them. It's very telling that in light of this Maul is still scheming and trying to get his revenge.

But most interesting is the fact that this episode brings together two tragic characters. And Maul is right, both he and Ahsoka were used as tools and then discarded. But Maul is full of hate, he wants revenge, whereas Ahsoka is about to find her way, her own way, apart from the Jedi, but still in the light. Still, Ahsoka is certainly in many ways as tragic a character as Maul. On the one hand we have Maul, highly ambitious, forever scheming, ultimately failing all the time, then we have Ahsoka, good-natured, believing in the Jedi and Anakin, and she is not only betrayed by the Jedi Order who are quick to judge her, she also learns that the Republic itself is corrupt and rotten at its core, but it doesn't end here, because very soon the person she believed in the most will become a tool of death and destruction. So basically, everything Ahsoka believed in was or will be taken from her, not unlike Maul who also had everything taken from him. But this is where the similarities end, because while Maul's sole reason for existence is hate and revenge, Ahsoka will find her own path into the light. In many ways they are two sides of a coin, light and dark. Both go through similar harrowing events, have taken everything away from them, but Maul and Ahsoka choose two very different paths.

The voice acting also has to be mentioned. Sam Witwer was fantastic as Maul, his emotions, his terror, were palpable. Eckstein is also in top form, of course, but seeing and hearing Maul scheme his way through the episode, only to completely lose everything again, full of despair, wishing to die, was brilliant.

So that was "The Phantom Apprentice", an appropriate name for Anakin. A real gem and highlight of the series. And the most tragic moments are yet to come when Order 66 will destroy the Jedi. "The Phantom Apprentice" gets 5 stars from me.

Added: April 27, 2020
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Thomas
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