Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - 3.14 Witches of the Mist
Eleven years ago, George Lucas and Dave Filoni introduced the world to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series that filled in the gap between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The story takes place during the Clone Wars, with the Jedi-led clone army facing off against the droid armies of the Separatist Alliance. With the announcement of a surprise seventh season by Disney, The Digital Fix will be revisiting the animated series, looking back at the most important episodes and story arcs of the show’s five seasons, highlighting the elements that made this show so beloved by Star Wars fans.
We return with the episode Witches of the Mist, which originally aired back in 2011...
Witches of the Mist concludes the arc begun in Nightsisters and sees the plans of Asajj Ventress and Mother Talzin come to nothing. While the episode is divided among several plot threads (including Obi-wan and Anakin's search for Savage Opress after the latter killed two Jedi) the most important part of this episode focuses on Savage's training with Count Dooku.
This episode provides the best example of what Sith training looks like and unlike Jedi training, it is brutal and cruel. While a Padawan would be gently encouraged after making a mistake in training, a Sith apprentice would be put down and possibly tortured with Force lightning until the lesson was learned.
This is how Dooku treats Savage Opress. After the initial success of killing two Jedi, the count begins to train his new apprentice in the Dark Side of the Force but his methods are so cruel that it's obvious almost from the start that Savage resents this treatment. Given that Dooku spent many years as a Jedi, it almost seems out of character for him to be this hard on a new apprentice. It is possible however, that because he is relatively new to the Dark Side of the Force, Dooku is overcompensating by being much harsher on Savage, to help create a stronger impression.
It's safe to say this plan backfires because Savage's next mission (bringing the King of Toydaria to Dooku alive) ends in catastrophe. Unlike Darth Maul or even Dooku, Savage has no real concept of finesse or subtlety when it comes to fulfilling a mission (think of a bull in a china shop). Thus, when he captures the King, he unwittingly snaps the monarch's neck in the process of escaping with his captive.
Ventress picks this moment to reappear and manipulate Savage into helping her kill Dooku once and for all but it doesn't work out. After everything he's been put through, Savage is through taking orders from anyone. Instead of helping Ventress or Dooku he turns on them both before fleeing back to Dathomir. It wasn't a surprising outcome: both Dooku and Ventress are used to manipulating others, they never consider what might happen if they manipulate someone who possesses a strong will of their own, like Savage.
The ending of the episode opens the door for the return of Darth Maul, which surprised many at the time this episode aired. Mother Talzin informs Savage that Maul is his brother and he must go find him and bring him back to Dathomir. Maul won't appear until season four, but the stage is set for his return. This came about partially because George Lucas had long since expressed regret for killing Maul off at the end of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. By playing off the trope "if you don't see the body, they aren't really dead" Lucas rewrote the story to make it so that Maul actually survived the duel on Naboo (albeit barely).
Witches of the Mist is a memorable episode mostly because it sets up Maul's eventual return to the story. It was obvious from the start that the plan to defeat Dooku would fail, which inevitably hampers any episode that contains this kind of plot.