In the last two episodes, we've watched as Asajj Ventress was betrayed by Count Dooku and she has toiled her hardest to lay a trap for his treachery. In doing so, she returned home to Dathomir and sought out the help of the Nightsisters who provided her Savage Opress as an instrument of her revenge. He was placed with Dooku as his new apprentice and assassin and that's where things were left in the second episode of this three episode arc.
This third episode, "Witches of the Mist," largely follows Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (who have been unusually absent for the most part this season) as they hunt down the mysterious Sith assassin who has been tasked by Dooku to abduct the King of Toydaria.
Basically, the first two acts of this episode are putting all of the players in place so we can see some of the most intense, emotional lightsaber battles with high stakes we've seen in this entire series. And there are some pretty fascinating Sith training scenes that have very obvious echoes to the training scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. It was an excellent touch.
If you haven't seen this episode, stop reading right now, watch it and come back.
You're back? Good.
So, Obi-Wan and Anakin disrupt Savage's abduction of King Katuunko and he is killed in the process. It's a spectacular battle and it's impressive to watch Savage fight. He is the polar opposite of Dooku. There is no grace or fluidity to his fighting, it is all anger, hatred, and tree-chopping. It is brutal and he relies on the brutality of his emotion to make up for his technical deficiencies.
It's a different sort of lightsaber style than we've seen and watching two competent and graceful fighters (Anakin and Obi-wan) try to compete with him is something to be seen. They struggle. It doesn't make sense. The best way I think I can describe it is by playing poker and trying to read the hand of someone who is betting, but hasn't even looked at their cards. It's just so completely unpredictable with nothing to rely on.
When Savage inadvertantly kills Katuunko during the fight and after his escape he presents the corpse to Dooku, Dooku is as forgiving as you'd expect a Sith lord to be and is ready to execute Savage.
And that's when things get incredible.
Asajj shows up, reawakens the brainwashing in Savage and the two of them work to kill him. The fight is breathtaking.
But it gets more complicated because Obi-Wan and Anakin have caught up to them and the fight splits up between the Jedi vs. Savage and then Dooku and Asajj. It's... quite a thing to see.
But sure, the episode was great, the animation was stellar, the fight and action choreography was second to none and the writing was beyond compare. Katie Lucas has seemed to have taken all the right cues from her father because she did a masterful job in putting all of the players into place for this third act of the arc. It built into an excellent and emotionally satisfying crescendo. There was reason and motive behind every action and it was all laid together excellently.
But that's not what anyone is going to really talk about this episode.
Everyone is going to talk about the revelation at the end of the episode. I am pretty damned impressed that no one broke the news of this to me, since it's been out there in the ether since the screenings last month.
Darth Maul is back?
According to Mother Talzin, he survived. There is no proof that Talzin is telling Savage the truth about his brother, but the implication is stunning enough to get us speculating from now until doomsday. Could you imagine what it would be like to see Darth Maul back (bionic legs or however) teamed up with Savage Opress, back to slaughter Jedi? It would be incredible. But who knows. Perhaps Talzin was just sending Savage somewhere where he couldn't do any damage until the time was right for him to come back.
Overall, this was an intensely satisfying episode and it might have overtaken 'Assassin' as my favorite episode of the series. If it doesn't, it's only because the arc didn't have enough Ahsoka.