This Star Wars: The Clone Wars article contains spoilers.
Now that The Clone Wars is over, there are a lot of questions fans probably still have about the end of the show. What happened to all the clones who were still loyal to Sidious? What did Vader do with Ahsoka’s lightsaber? Where did Maul go? And as fun as those questions are, on some level, we know the answers will be tame when compared to The Clone Wars‘ much cooler question: What if Ahsoka and Maul had teamed-up against Anakin after the Siege of Mandalore?
It’s a question that suggests an alternate version of Revenge of the Sith, and in turn, an entire bizarro dimension of Star Wars canon. Obviously, throughout the four-part finale, we know Ahsoka won’t team-up with Maul to betray Anakin, but both episodes 10 and 11, “The Phantom Apprentice” and “Shattered,” we’re shown moments where it really seems like she could ally herself with Maul to prevent the utter destruction of the galaxy. When Maul reveals his dark vision of Anakin turning to the dark side, it seems very possible to imagine a scenario where Ahsoka agrees to help Maul stop Darth Sidious from corrupting her former master.
Like Marvel’s What If?, DC’s Elseworlds, and the short-lived Dark Horse Comics 2002-2004 series Star Wars Infinities, parts 3 and 4 of The Clone Wars finale present one of the coolest hyperspace lanes not taken in the galaxy far, far away. If Ahsoka and Maul stop Anakin from becoming Darth Vader, everything changes. Even if Order 66 still happens. Let’s break down how:
There’s Still Enough Time to Stop Anakin
In “The Phantom Apprentice,” when Maul suggests he and Ahsoka team up to stop Palpatine and Anakin, he’s actually operating on advanced information. In a sense, Maul is about 20 pages ahead in the Revenge of the Sith script. When he makes this proposal to Ahsoka, we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on with Anakin and Obi-Wan. Count Dooku has been killed and Anakin has been assigned to spy on Palpatine. Obi-Wan is on his way to find General Grievous on Utapau, and realistically, Anakin is either at the opera with Palpatine or telling Padme how much he loves her while she’s brushing her hair.
The point is: If Ahsoka had more time to consider Anakin’s darker tendencies, and maybe if she even remembered what happened on Mortis in The Clone Wars season 3 (a stretch, but go with it), she could say, “Sure, I agree with Maul.” Or, at the very least: “This is worth a shot.”
Ahsoka joining Maul on a mission to Coruscant to stop Palpatine and Anakin would be a gamble on her part, but does she have to lose if she knows that what Maul is telling her is the truth? You could say: Well, the Jedi could disown her, but that’s already happened. Ahsoka is actually sufficiently motivated to accept this proposal. If her actions in season 5 (leaving the Jedi Order) and her time with the Martez sisters in season 7 have taught her anything, it’s that the Jedi can be wrong about things. They can be blind to things going on around them.
So, if Ahsoka had accepted Maul’s offer right away, they maybe could have reached Coruscant in time. In this scenario, they don’t have a huge duel, and they don’t go back to Coruscant with an entire battalion of clones. They just get on a ship and leave.
Ahsoka and Maul Are Like Time Travelers Trying to Stop Order 66
Because Maul has advanced information about Anakin’s role in changing the entire galaxy, it’s effectively as though he and Ahsoka are from the future. Granted, because “Shattered” demonstrates that Anakin’s turn happens while Maul is being transported to Coruscant, you could argue that even if Ahsoka decided to work with Maul that they’d still be too late. But maybe not. If Maul and Ahsoka get to Coruscant around the same time Anakin is figuring out Palpatine is a Sith Lord, they could perhaps at least prevent some of the damage caused by Order 66.
Picture it like this: Ahsoka knows she can’t just waltz into the Jedi Temple with Maul and ask where Anakin is, so, she uses some of her underworld connections (Trace and Raffa!) to get her and Maul a few airspeeders. Ahsoka then uses the Force to guide her and Maul to wherever Anakin is.
In her head, Ahsoka is planning on turning on Maul once she finds Anakin because she’s holding out hope that all of this is bullshit and that Anakin is good. This is a solid plan, and somewhat in character for Ahsoka. But, when Maul and Ahsoka roll up to Palpatine’s office, right after Palpatine went killed Mace Windu, they’d suddenly be in the right place at the right time.
Anakin Would Not Be Expecting Maul and Ahsoka
For the sake of this scenario, let’s say Ahsoka and Maul arrive on the scene like the second after Anakin cuts off Mace Windu’s hand and Palpatine kills him. Let’s say they actually didn’t see this happen, they just see Anakin saying, “What have I done…” And before Palpatine can say a word, in rush Ahsoka and Maul like the Spanish Inquisition in Monty Python. Nobody expects a Maul and Ahsoka to show up. Their chief weapons are lightsabers, surprise, and advanced knowledge of the future, thanks to some wonky Force visions and Sith intel.
Palpatine has not foreseen this. Like at all. Anakin is confused. Palpatine almost certainly tells Anakin to kill Ahsoka and Maul, but he hesitates. Keep in mind, in the regular timeline, Anakin only goes through with Order 66 after Palpatine gives him a pep talk and convinces him that together they can save Padme. It was pretty tough for Anakin to kill Mace, and if Ahsoka shows up right after he did it, there’s a chance he might hesitate to truly join the Sith. (You could argue that literally anyone Anakin was actually friends with at this point would have been helpful. One of the problems with Mace Windu is that Anakin hated his guts because Mace treated him like a punk kid who ruined everything. Mace was right, but he was always cold towards Anakin.)
Anyway, in the original timeline, because Mace was aggressively anti-Anakin and pro-the Jedi removing Palpatine from office, Anakin could mix in some half-baked political ideology that allowed him to justify killing Mace. Killing all the other Jedi falls under this same warped “logic,” but again, what if Anakin was confronted by Ahsoka (his best friend?) and Maul (somebody he totally hates) at the same time? I’m not saying he’s going to join them and turn on Palpatine, but he is going to pause and try to figure out his feelings.
Can Maul and Ahsoka Take on Anakin and Palpatine?
On a good day, I would argue that Anakin and Palpatine could, in fact, take Maul and Ahsoka, perhaps fairly easily. But, if Anakin is a little off his game and confused, and not yet totally consumed by the dark side, even if he decides to do what Palpatine says (“Kill them Anakin! Just as my apprentice betrayed me, now yours has come to kill you!”), he’s still not going to be able to kill them both. Keep in mind, Maul and Ahsoka both survived Order 66 and all this other nonsense in The Clone Wars for a reason. They’re two of the most powerful warriors in the galaxy, and, unlike Kit Fisto and the other Jedi who accompanied Mace Windu to Palpatine’s office, they are ready to fight a Sith Lord. Hell, Maul used to BE a Sith Lord.
Now, this is where things get dicey. Palpatine can produce Force lightning, which seemingly lets him even the odds whenever he wants (let’s not think about The Rise of Skywalker too much here) but, Mace was able to block that lighting, so, let’s just say Maul can, too. Even if Anakin fights Ahsoka, there’s no way he’s going to kill her. She’s not part of the “Jedi Conspiracy,” and she’s there to convince him that Palpatine is using him and will probably have him killed. She’ll tell him she stuck up for him when she talked to Obi-Wan. She’ll tell him the Jedi have treated him poorly, and that Anakin is right to be angry with them.
Most importantly, she’d forgive him, and she’d remind him that he is the Chosen One, and the Chosen One doesn’t need Palpatine to save people from dying. She’ll tell him that power is in him. Ahsoka looks up to Anakin, and in the entire Prequel era, she’s literally the only person who does. Everyone else is talking down to Anakin. Ahsoka won’t lecture him. She’ll still see good in him.
Anakin Turns Back to the Light and Palpatine Pulls Order 66
If Ahsoka can get through to Anakin, then, let’s face it, there’s no way Palpatine can take all three of them. Best case scenario for the Sith Lord here is to try and escape. This seems feasible, and he’ll probably get away with it. And he’ll still issue Order 66 because honestly, it’s the last trick he has up his robe at this point. This will remove Anakin, Ahsoka, and Maul’s ability to get help, and will make all three of them — and everyone in the Jedi Temple — targets of the Clone Army.
However, Palpatine isn’t using Order 66 as his “final order” in this scenario. He’s using it to create a bunch of chaos so he can get off the planet. Again, this will probably work. Palpatine will probably escape and a bunch of Jedi might be killed by the clones.
But not near as many as before. For example, the Jedi Temple was only really overrun because everything happened so quickly. Remember Palpatine’s words in Revenge of the Sith: “We must move quickly…we can catch them off balance.” Everything is connected to timing. If Ahsoka and Maul show up, all that timing is ruined, and there’s suddenly a lot more wiggle room to save a bunch of Jedi lives.
The Saga Continues
To be clear, I don’t think this scenario ends happily, per se. I just think it prevents Anakin from turning to the dark side. The Jedi are still under constant threat of death from Order 66, and if Palpatine flees the planet, the government is in total chaos and, for a variety of reasons, probably still loses faith in the Jedi. Maul will totally try to turn the tables on Ahsoka and Anakin, but, it feels reasonable that together, they can take him. What happens after this is a little shaky, but it feels right to say that the surviving Jedi, including Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan, would become a new version of the Rebel Alliance.
Like the humans fleeing the colonies in Battlestar Galactica, the Jedi will try to lay low and avoid the Clone Army after Order 66. Eventually, Palpatine returns and claims power again, and essentially, nothing else is different The Empire sill rises and the surviving Jedi live in fear of being hunted by the Empire.
But, this time, the new Rebellion happens nearly two decades earlier. And, its full of dozens of former Jedi, including the Chosen One. Anakin Skywalker gets a chance to actually raise his kids. Sure, he and Ahsoka and Padme and Yoda would be living as Republic exiles, trying to take down the Empire, but that sure beats living inside of a giant iron lung or dying, right?
I think this is how a single decision in The Clone Wars could have completely changed Revenge of the Sith. You can call it fan fiction or headcanon if you want, but search your feelings, somewhere, in some version of the saga, this is what the Force willed.