Obi-Wan Kenobi is coming May 25 to Disney+, the return of a beloved hero and the return of Ewan McGregor to the iconic role.
The series will also feature the return of Darth Vader, setting up for a climactic rematch between the two former friends. But in the days since the series officially got a release date and the first teaser poster was released, there have been a number of fans hoping we see a different Sith Lord in the series as well: Maul. This desire is nothing new, as fans have been discussing that possibility for years, but here’s the thing: it’s not going to happen in Obi-Wan Kenobi, because we’ve already seen the rematch between Kenobi and Maul. It happened in Star Wars Rebels.
In the season three episode of Rebels entitled “Twin Suns,” set two years before the events of A New Hope, Maul uses Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger as bait to lure him to Kenobi. Maul confronts the Jedi Master in the desert at night, taunting Kenobi about his new way of life: “look what has become of you. A rat in the desert.” To that, Kenobi responds, “Look what I have risen above.” Maul is intent on killing Kenobi but can’t figure out why he came to this place – until he realizes that Kenobi has a purpose there and he is protecting someone. It is only then that Kenobi ignites his lightsaber and tricks Maul into attacking, making quick work of his overzealous foe and slicing him through the chest. Maul collapses into Kenobi’s arms and asks if the one he is protecting is the chosen one. Kenobi tells Maul that he is, and Maul’s final words are that the chosen one will avenge them, and the former Sith dies in his rival Jedi’s arms. The story story “Time of Death” in From a Certain Point of View further adds that Kenobi built a funeral pyre for Maul in the desert.
This is a perfect final encounter between the two of them. It highlights how Maul was still motivated by his hatred for Kenobi as a singular driving force, even all these years later, and he hadn’t really changed (as evidenced by him falling pray to the same move he used to kill Qui-Gon Jinn). On the flip side, Obi-Wan Kenobi refused to hold on to his hatred, even against the man who had taken so much from him, killing his master (Qui-Gon) and his love (Satine). But Kenobi has risen above the hatred that has destroyed Maul. He only readies to fight in defense of Luke, and he even holds Maul in his arms as he dies, giving him a respectful death and burial. To his final words, Maul is motivated by revenge, but Kenobi has let go of it and has the hope of a better future. It’s an extremely fitting, poetic, and beautifully touching scene, and it’s the perfect ending for their journey together.
But you might be wondering why they couldn’t also have met before this moment, so I’ll explain with a brief history. Kenobi and Maul fought during the Invasion of Naboo, and then they fought twice more during the Clone Wars after Maul re-emerged on the galactic scale (and that doesn’t include another run-in in which Maul killed Satine in front of Kenobi, but the two didn’t actually fight). Maul hoped to lure Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to Mandalore in the final days of the War, but the Battle of Coruscant pulled them away and Ahsoka Tano faced off against him instead. Maul went into hiding and wound up leading the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate from the shadows of Dathomir. At some point he wound up trapped on Malachor for years until he was found by Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, and Ahsoka Tano. Not long after that, he and Bridger would reunite and seek knowledge by combining a Jedi and Sith holocron; Bridger saw the key to destroying the Sith was somewhere with twin suns, while Maul saw “him.” The process was interrupted by Kanan Jarrus, but Maul ran away maniacally laughing and exclaiming, “He lives!” Having discovered that Obi-Wan Kenobi was still alive, Maul lures Bridger to Dathomir to complete a ritual that will give them both the knowledge they seek: Maul wants to know where “he” is, while Bridger wants to know how to destroy the Sith. Both answers converge on Kenobi, as Bridger says “I know him” and Maul exclaims “Of course. It ends where it began!” In the aftermath of that moment, Bridger tells Jarrus that the key to destroying the Sith is Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jarrus says they need to find him before Maul does.
And that all leads to the episode “Twin Suns,” where Maul and Bridger locate Kenobi on Tatooine. The reason I share all of this is because it’s only in season three of Rebels – set two years prior to A New Hope – that Maul learns Kenobi is still alive, learns Kenobi is on Tatooine, and tracks him down. In other words, he didn’t know any of that previously! And even if he did, he was trapped on Malachor for years (though we don’t know how long).
So the Obi-Wan Kenobi series won’t feature Kenobi and Maul meeting again, because that story’s already been told (and told well) in Rebels. Besides, the narrative focus of Kenobi is on a rematch with Vader, which is far more meaningful and significant than a rematch with Maul anyway.