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Darth Maul's story is finally over. Introduced in George Lucas's The Phantom Menace back in 1999, the character became more popular than could Lucas ever have imagined. It didn't take too long for him to be resurrected in the animated Clone Wars series, and Maul's story has continued in the animated shows ever since. Now, finally, Star Wars: Rebels has brought that story to an end. It's given us a final, epic duel between Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi, one that ends with a single brutal swordstroke. But why did Lucasfilm choose to end Maul's story this way?
Dave Filoni Explains Darth Maul's Death
Rebels producer Dave Filoni was the man who brought Maul back in the Clone Wars, and this always felt like something of a loose end to him. The character was reintroduced at the end of Rebels Season 2, and even then Filoni knew that Maul's days were numbered. The original plan was for Maul to die in a duel with Vader, but that felt like a distraction from the emotional centerpiece of the story — the battle between Ahsoka and her former Master.
Maul has been a recurring threat through Season 3, but everything has really been building up to this. Rebels carefully dropped hints and clues in front of the former Sith, guiding him step-by-step towards Obi-Wan Kenobi. The plan all along has been for Maul to die. As Filoni explained:
“If there’s a character like Maul running around during one of the old films, he’s such a big-time player you think there would have been an echo of that somewhere. So it was just the right time to tell the story and bring that thread to an end.”
You can see his logic; Maul is a major figure in Star Wars lore; a man with intimate knowledge of the Sith and the kind of grudge against Sidious that would make him a major player in the years of the Rebellion. There's simply no way the Original Trilogy era would have played out the way it did, had Maul survived.
But What About Kanan and Ezra?
Here's the catch, though — this is worrying logic. Star Wars: Rebels may have been renewed for a fourth season, but the show is now set within two years of A New Hope. We're gearing up for the events of Rogue One, with the Rebel Alliance launching a desperate attack on Scarif. It won't be long before a certain Tatooine farmboy gets the first clue to his heritage, and proves his potential when he takes down the Death Star.
There are two other major characters in Rebels whose presence would change all that: Kanan and Ezra.The entire #StarWars story hinges on the fact that Luke Skywalker can find nobody to train him until the events of The Empire Strikes Back; by Return of the Jedi he is told by Yoda that he is the last of the Jedi. There's simply no way Kanan and Ezra can still be part of the Rebellion by the events of the Original Trilogy.
So we have two years, and potentially two more seasons of Rebels. But Dave Filoni's logic extends beyond Maul, and on to Kanan and Ezra; their story, too, must end by the time of the Original Trilogy. It's most likely that we'll see at least one of them die, but there's another possibility; with the Star Wars story becoming ever more focused on the Unknown Regions, it's possible that their journey will end with them heading out of known space.
Whatever the truth may be, Lucasfilm may have signed off on Rebels Season 4 — but the show's days are numbered. Dave Filoni's logic was right for Maul, but it extends beyond the former Sith Apprentice, and on to the stars of Rebels. The end is in sight for this much-loved series, and it's likely to close on a tragic note.