The Clone Wars: season 4 episode 21: Brothers
The penultimate episode of this series of The Clone Wars, Brothers welcomes back an old friend. Read Cameron's review here…
This review contains spoilers.
When Count Dooku opens an episode with, "Something is rising. Something sinister," then you know that bad times are ahead. And by "bad", of course, I mean flippin' awesome.
From the off, Brothers is a very different kind of story (though it's a continuation of the previous two episodes) - the normal yellow of The Clone Wars logo is abandoned in favour of a Sith red. The return of Darth Maul couldn't be more trumpeted, teased or sign-posted.
Of course, us fans knew back in series three that the horned-one was still out there when his "brother" Savage Opress saw a vision of him. The circle is truly almost complete.
But, as you may have guessed, the reveal of The Phantom Menace monster isn't blown early on. Brothers, for the most part, follows the aforementioned warrior Opress on his journey to find his "sibling" (with some help from Nightsister, Mother Talzin).
It spans some miles (or parsecs even) and his savagery, if you pardon the pun, is never more evident from beating innocents up in a diner to throwing a poor blighter off the ship they're flying to his doom. The Dathomirian Zabrak Nightbrother (yup, that's a mouthful) is a nasty piece of work, but there's more nastiness to come.
When Opress does finally meet Maul, he finds a "man" who is but a shadow of himself. Driven mad by years of solitude and hatred, the Jedi-killer skitters around his dank pit like a scorpion with a truly disquieting and nerve-jangling howl. Here is a creature, not only born of hatred, but actively living through hate.
Maul's insanity may deeply unsettle some, and lord knows what the children will be feeling (I guess no one's thinking about them anymore) but his familiar evil tones return once more, suggesting that his current mental state may well be held at bay for at least one more death.
It's not a perfect episode, it should be noted. Opress befriends a snake on his very Biblical descent into hell who comes off as a cross between Jar Jar Binks and Chang from the NBC sitcom, Community. But the over-riding sensation of doom and evil takes your mind off the very slight flaws.
Katie Lucas delivers a story that has no Clones, no Battle Droids and is purely pertains to The Force. The writer cleverly bookends Brothers with the dark and light side with the beginning seeing a pensive Dooku and the denouement witnessing an incredulous Obi Wan questioning Yoda, "Darth Maul, alive?" The penultimate season four episode sees both factions not quite afraid, but deeply concerned and feeling the disruptions in The Force - pure Star Wars.