Warning: this article contains major spoilers from tonight’s episode of Star Wars Rebels.
Tonight’s episode of Star Wars Rebels was landmark episode for the series as it saw Maul die at the hands of Ben Kenobi in a rematch for the ages.
The rematch itself was rather short, lasting just seconds before Maul attempted to use his the hilt of his lightsaber to hit Kenobi in the head like he did his Master Qui-Gon Jinn before killing him. But Kenobi having seen Maul use this move before, struck through Mauls hilt and down his chest with his blade, putting an end to Maul for good.
In a recent interview with io9, executive producer Dave Filoni talked about the symbolism behind Kenobi slicing Mauls hilt in half and how the move itself was meant to show that Kenobi had grown over the years but sadly Maul hadn’t:
“Maul tries to get Obi-Wan with a very similar move as he gets Qui-Gon. Which is he blocks and uses the blunt of his hilt to smack Qui-Gon in the face. So I had Maul try to do the same thing to Obi-Wan but again, to show growth, Obi-Wan is ready for that and slices it right in half. That slicing of the lightsaber hilt is to represent Maul being sliced. But we all joked that maybe Obi-Wan should dice him up and bring him to other parts of the planet because he tends to come back, that crafty Maul. But not this time.
Filoni also explained why it was important to him that the duel itself end quickly. The rematch between Maul and Kenobi was a duel that fans had wanted to see since Maul was brought back in The Clone Wars animated series but Filoni found it to be a more effective to end the battle quickly that drag it out:
“It was a much-discussed thing on how that was gonna go down. The instinct would be, and probably, I admit, the expectation, is for some kind of prolonged lightsaber battle. But I’ve done a lot of prolonged lightsaber battles over the years and I think what’s most important about any kind of confrontation is what’s riding on it. What’s the tension going into it? It starts to matter less and less how you swing a sword or how creatively you do it if there’s not a lot riding on it.”
The end of the episode was a major treat for longtime fans of the franchise as it featured a fantastic callback to Star Wars: A New Hope, offering a glimpse of the hero Luke Skywalker running back to his homestead as his Aunt Beru called out for him. While most fans knew exactly who they were seeing, Filoni said he made sure to include hints to the Skywalker earlier in the episode so that young fans who haven’t seen the original trilogy wouldn’t have been completely lost when they saw the last scene:
“We have to look at every episode of Rebels as if you’ve never seen Star Wars before. So if you think of it that way whenever Maul and Obi-Wan are talking about ‘The Chosen One’ or ‘Who are you protecting?’ if you never see or we don’t give the context of that, there are a lot of people who won’t know whats going on there. The Star Wars fan will but the average person will not. So at the very least the scene establishes, in its simplest form, there’s Obi-Wan, he was protecting someone, and there’s a woman yelling ‘Luke,’ and we see what we think of as a young boy running. ‘Oh, so Obi-Wan is protecting a boy named Luke.’ It’s designed to give you that specific bit of information that you need in the story.
Now, if you’re a fan and you go ‘OH MY GOD that’s Luke Skywalker, that’s even better. Now you’re getting the whole thing… But from a sensible story point you have to have that scene at the end to give some idea of what this old man is doing in the desert. You can’t rely on the Star Wars films as if they’ve been universally watched even though we know they’re pretty popular.”
Season three of Star Wars Rebels concludes next Saturday with the special one hour season finale event at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.