Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - 5.14 Eminence
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 a look at Eminence, which originally aired back in 2013...
Late in season five of The Clone Wars, the story returned to the ongoing saga of Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress. After their first attempt at recruiting an army fails miserably in the season five premiere, the brother's escape pod is retrieved by, of all people, Death Watch! What makes Eminence such an interesting and important episode is how it joins together two very important storylines: Maul's quest for vengeance and Death Watch's ongoing vendetta against Duchess Satine. The one thing both parties have in common is their undying hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi. And as the saying goes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Part of what makes Eminence so much fun to watch is the subtle power struggle between Maul and Pre Viszla, the head of Death Watch. At the start of the episode, Viszla presents himself as being in complete control of the situation, but he doesn't stay that way for long. Maul asserts his dominance in the group's plans for Mandalore almost immediately, much to the chagrin of Viszla's second-in-command, but strangely, not Viszla himself. For all the ground he gives to the Sith when it comes to organizing an underworld army, it feels like Viszla believes he is still in complete control of the situation. Maul, as I said before, is a master manipulator, and it's obvious that he is the one in charge, no matter what Viszla may believe.
This episode also hints that Death Watch is not as unified as they were previously shown to be. While Viszla is enthusiastic about working with the Sith brothers, his lieutenant, Bo-Katan, is visibly unsettled by the criminal elements the group are now dealing with. Eminence provides a rare look into the depth of the galaxy's criminal underworld. While we've met the Hutts before now, this is the first time we've seen multiple crime syndicates in a single episode
Speaking of the criminal underworld, another notable detail in this episode is the debut appearance in canon of Black Sun, a criminal organization originally introduced in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, a series of stories and a video game set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi since relegated to the Legends continuity. In a rare example of censorship for the series, a scene involving Savage Opress and the Black Sun was censored due to its graphic content (the footage is restored on the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the series). That the scene had to be censored at all shows just how dark The Clone Wars had become.
By the end of the episode, the fragile alliance between Death Watch and Maul is already threatening to come apart, with Viszla swearing to kill Maul and his brother the first chance he gets. The threat feels empty however; we know how powerful Maul is, and there's no way a former Sith apprentice is going to fall before a member of Death Watch, even one as powerful as Pre Viszla. That's the one weakness of an otherwise excellent episode. Maul is so powerful, so capable, it's difficult to believe that anyone can threaten him.