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Disney XD is the one place on the small screen for classic Star Wars action. Star Wars Rebels bridges the span of time between the prequel era and the original trilogy, and it has managed to re-introduce some very familiar faces to Star Wars fans. The Season 2 finale brought back none other than the former Darth Maul to tempt Ezra to the dark side, blind Kanan, and basically mess everything up. He survived the finale, but his fate was once very different. Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni shared this about Maul's original fate:
Originally Maul perished in the season two finale where he returned. It was a one-off appearance. So originally in that episode you were gonna get Vader fighting Maul, Vader would have killed Maul, and then fought Ahsoka. It just became unwieldy. There were too many storylines, and there isn't enough emotional material between Vader and Maul. It's more of a fan fiction fun thought that they fought. The emotional drama was really between Vader and Ahsoka. So we decided to let Maul live.
The appearance of Maul in the Season 2 finale, "Twilight of the Apprentice," undoubtedly came as a shock to any Star Wars fans who hadn't watched The Clone Wars animated series. Maul was last seen in live action literally falling to pieces after being sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in an epic lightsaber battle. He seemed like he was gone for good after the prequel era...until Ezra stumbled upon him outside of a Sith temple on Malachor. According to Dave Filoni in his chat with io9, Maul very nearly died for good in "Twilight of the Apprentice."
All things considered, there was quite enough going on in "Twilight of the Apprentice" without killing Maul, and I'd argue that the big twists wouldn't have packed quite as much emotional punch if the episode had taken the time to pit Maul against Vader. Maul was able to focus on turning Ezra, and he still got a huge moment when he blinded Kanan. The Vader conflict belonged to Ahsoka, and the duel between former master and apprentice goes down as one of the most incredible battles of Rebels to date. As somebody who hadn't seen The Clone Wars, Maul's appearance in the Season 2 finale was a big "WTF?!" for me, but it made for a pretty awesome episode.
Maul's survival in the Season 2 finale also looks like it will allow for a truly unforgettable penultimate episode of Season 3. The next episode will pit Maul against his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is currently hanging out in the Tatooine desert and waiting for the events of A New Hope. We obviously know that Obi-Wan isn't going to be killed on Star Wars Rebels, but we can't say the same for Maul. It's entirely possible that he'll finally be totally, completely, 100% really dead after his next encounter with Obi-Wan. Personally, I've been ready for Maul to bite the dust ever since he whacked Kanan in the eyes with a lightsaber, so my fingers are crossed that he'll finally meet his end.
Tune in to Disney XD on Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET to catch new episodes of Star Wars Rebels. The show was just renewed for Season 4, so it's definitely worth catching up. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule for a look at all your other viewing options, and don't forget to take a look at our summer TV premiere schedule to see what will be going on in the not-too-distant future.