If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably acknowledge the Sith in Star Wars haven’t been scary for quite some time. While Andor was hugely successful in transforming the Galactic Empire into a tangibly evil, intimidating threat, the same can’t be said of the Sith.
In recent memory, The Rise of Skywalker and the Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars series have both had a side-focus Sith. Most obviously, the Disney Plus show conjured up Darth Vader to confront his old master.
Was he impressive? Yes. Powerful? Definitely. Watching the cybernetic Sith duel Kenobi once again and use his immense skill with the Force to stop a ship from taking off was, admittedly, very cool. But ‘cool’ is the best word to describe Darth Vader in the TV series: not scary. Let’s not even start on the Inquisitors. The Grand Inquisitor’s nasally British accent just made me laugh.
Meanwhile, in the final Skywalker Saga Star Wars movie the ultimate Sith villain made an unexpected comeback. While the art direction for the re-animated Emperor Palpatine was creepy – his burnt fingers and purely white eyes were excellent touches – the manner of his return was so silly, (“Somehow Palpatine returned,”) that it was impossible to really take the Sith legend seriously.
Thankfully, Star Wars Visions Volume 2 is here to rectify things. As we point out in our Star Wars Visions Volume 2 review, the new instalment of the anthology series has endless reserves of creativity, bringing something fresh and exciting to Star Wars with each new episode.
In some of these, the Star Wars villains are Imperial generals or faceless stormtroopers. In others, there are no real villains at all. But in a small handful of episodes, Star Wars Visions Volume 2 chooses to give the spotlight to the Sith and: boy, does it make them terrifying again.
It’s so hard to choose your favourite episode of Star Wars Visions Volume 2. Each instalment offers something completely different, with sights to delight fans old and new. However, Screecher’s Reach and Journey to the Dark Head are both among the very best, both starring chilling, nightmare-worthy Sith.
Screecher’s Reach, from Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, sees a group of young children – possibly enslaved to work in some factory of the Empire – journey to a legendary cave far away. Deep within the roots of the cave lies a ghost-like, screaming creature haunting the darkest recesses of the pit.
As our young hero confronts the monster, it’s revealed to be wielding a blood-red lightsaber. It’s an ancient, decaying Sith: terrifying, yes, but also pitiable. It’s formless and vulnerable, only surviving through some mysterious use of the Force, possibly by leeching off the life that surrounds it.
Part of what’s so terrifying is that this abstract monster is exactly that: abstract and unexplained. That, coupled with the character design, resulted in instant chills. Perfection.
Then there’s Journey to the Dark Head. The episode is more action-focused, following a young Jedi as he joins a journey to destroy an impossibly old statue. He comes face to face with a bloodthirsty and vicious Sith warrior from his past named Bichan.
Bichan had killed the young Jedi’s master and his fellow Padawans, leaving him as the lone survivor as he felt their fates were connected. The duos’ battles are frenetic and intense, with Bichan displaying a Dooku-esque blend of calm and menace. The Sith is exactly the kind of dark warrior you imagined would occupy Star Wars’ deep past, and like in Screechers’ Reach, a significant part of the terror he instils comes from the ambiguity that surrounds him.
Whether they’re decaying and weak, or brutal and energised, Star Wars Visions Volume 2 embraces the dark side of the Sith, shrouding them in mystery and gloom. They’re more terrifying than they’ve ever been, and all the better because of it.
If the new Star Wars movies can recapture this image of the Sith even half as well as Star Wars Visions Volume 2, fans will be in for a devilish treat.
For more on Star Wars, check out our interview with I Am Your Mother director Magdalena Osinska. Or, take a look at our guides to the Andor season 2 release date and the Ahsoka release date. Or, find out why we think The Mandalorian season 3 stuck the landing.