'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 7 Episode 10 Review: Hands down the best chapter in franchise's history
Sam Witwer's performance as Darth Maul and his battle with Ahsoka Tano was absolutely worth the long, long wait
Spoilers for 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 7 Episode 10 'The Phantom Apprentice'
Every once in a while, the extensive history of the 'Star Wars' franchise comes together and gets it right. The backstory, the side stories, the large connected universe, all of it comes together to remind its audience why they fell in love with the franchise to begin with. 'The Clone Wars' has consistently done that for the franchise, shoring up weaker moments from the infamous prequel series and giving them the weight they deserve. But with 'The Phantom Apprentice', the show has outdone itself, giving the world one of the most mythic confrontations in the history of the franchise.
Having been teased for most of the season, Darth Maul (Sam Witwer) makes the most of his appearance with masterful voice acting. The show takes full advantage of what the audience knows is coming — the eradication of the Jedi at the hands of their own trusted clones — and reveals that Maul knows what's coming too. His words, his actions, even the animation of his expressions paint the inevitable doom in darkly poetic streaks. There is beauty in Maul's dread, in his rage and in his last, desperate hopes. It's rare to go into a show knowing that the darkness is going to win but that's what the entire prequel era is about, after all. Where the movies fell short of the mark, 'The Clone Wars' is a masterclass of setting up its heroes' downfall.
Aside from Maul's appearance on 'The Phantom Menance,' neither character has had a significant part to play in the 'Star Wars' movies, which anchor the franchise. However, their confrontation this episode is pivotal to the rise of the Empire — it offers a glimpse at how close Maul and Ahsoka almost came to taking down the Empire before its reign began. Ahsoka's trust in her former Master, Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), is unshaken and the tragedy of that is even more powerful than Darth Vader's first historic reveal. The episode gives us a lightsaber battle for the ages as Ahsoka and Darth fight it out against a backdrop of a much bigger war. The cinematography for this episode is breathtaking and deserves to be ranked right up there with some of the better scenes from any of the movies.
'The Phantom Apprentice' isn't just the best episode of the entire 'Clone Wars' series, it stands out as perhaps some of the best 'Star Wars' storytelling ever produced and has absolutely been worth the wait. 'The Clone Wars' still has two more episodes to go and between 'The Revenge of the Sith' and the Siege of Mandalore, they could not have asked for a better setup.
The next episode of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' airs May 1, on Disney+.