This episode starts with one of the coolest Aliens references I've seen. Just like the opening salvage team in James Cameron's alien, the Death Watch, led by Pre Vizsla, cut open a hole in the ship Obi-Wan and Asajj Ventress left them in and find them in a form of hyper-sleep. It's long been known that the Force can allow Force-users to enter a hibernation sleep to preserve their life signs. Based on the glittery dust (perfectly recreated from the opening of Aliens), they must have been drifting in space for quite a while.
Both Death Watch and the Sith brothers see this as a fortuitous opportunity to consolidate forces to take back the Galaxy, with Mandalore as a first step. I loved the scene between Vizsla and Maul drinking tea. I love moments like that, when villains show a more quiet side, discussing things. Though Vizsla did give a rousing speech about Mandalore:
But since neither Pre Vizsla nor Darth Maul have honor, they're both plotting to betray each other, exactly as you'd think the situation would turn out. But who is going to get the upper-hand here?
This episode is action and set-up heavy, but for a setup episode it really knocked my socks off. Sure, it had long scenes of Vizsla and Maul talking, but it also had decapitations, face-offs between Sith and the Bounty Hunters (including Embo and his James Bond-Odd Job hat), showdowns with Black Sun and Jabba's army, Mandos flying through the sky and blowing things up... It had everything you could have wanted as far as action goes for an episode, save a lightsaber on lightsaber showdown between a Jedi and a Sith.
More than anything, though, this episode is Maul assembling his chess pieces for the epic match of grandmasters to come. On one side you have Palpatine, Yoda, and the Jedi Council, on the other side you have Sidious, Dooku, and the Separatists, and then a new force in Maul, Death Watch, and the entire underworld.
It's sad when you think about who it is who has the advantage here and pieces on two sides of the board.
Death Watch will be but a blip to be swept up under the conflict, and Maul will be pinched out from the Republic and the Separatists. And based on that trailer for the rest of Season 5, Sidious is going to be the one personally mopping the floor with Maul.
Things are finally kicking in to high gear with the Clone Wars. This was a solid episode with high-octane action and excellently scripted exposition. Hopefully we'll see the pieces move deeper into play next week and into the weeks beyond.