The Siege of Mandalore is in full swing. Ahsoka Tano and Maul (formerly Darth) face off in one of the series’ (and possibly the saga’s) best lightsaber battles. Meanwhile, the Mandalorians find themselves caught in the middle, herded to “safety” by a Republic which is beginning to look increasingly authoritarian.
With the show now fully overlapping with Revenge of the Sith, “The Phantom Apprentice” has plenty of easter eggs and references to other parts of the saga. Here’s what we’ve found so far:
Revenge of the Sith
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s conversation with Ahsoka establishes where exactly the episode (and the arc as a whole) takes place in terms of Revenge of the Sith: after Anakin Skywalker killed Count Dooku and just as the Jedi Council orders him to spy on Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. Soon, with Obi-Wan trying to find General Grievous on Utapau, Palpatine will start to sway Anakin toward the dark side.
It’s entirely possible that the arc will end with Order 66 and Ahsoka being forced to escape (or even kill) some of the clone troopers she once knew as her family. Expect a tragic ending to this story.
Maul and Darth Sidious
Discarded by Sidious and deeply hurt by the loss of both his mentor and his biological mother in the Son of Dathomir comic, Maul is especially volatile during the Siege of Mandalore. He has no reason to reveal Sidious’ plans to Ahsoka anymore but comes dangerously close to telling the former Jedi what’s about to happen to the Republic.
Instead, Maul hints that “The moment may be upon us,” referring to the upcoming slaughter of the Jedi without directly addressing it. He says the Republic and the Jedi are at their end, and that the clone troopers may play a part in this apocalyptic turn of events. But he doesn’t paint the full picture. Maul is still a villain and doesn’t want Ahsoka to go warn anyone, after all.
There are also things about the Sith that Maul doesn’t know — or doesn’t say. The Rise of Skywalker established that Sidious used the Force Dyad as an intentional tool of evil, not only creating the bond between Rey and Kylo Ren but attempting (unsuccessfully) to forge the same connections with Anakin Skywalker. Does Maul not mention this because he doesn’t know about the Force Dyad at all?
The Phantom Menace made it clear that Maul was just one small step in Palpatine’s plan, and that the plan could go on perfectly without him. So maybe Sidious didn’t feel the need to tell Maul about his grand scheme. Or maybe Maul’s knowledge of Sidious’ full plan will be retconned somewhere down the line since The Rise of Skywalker and The Clone Wars season seven released only months apart.
The Shadow Collective and Crimson Dawn
During his crusade to take down Darth Sidious, Maul amassed great power within the criminal underworld, forming a vast network of criminal organizations called the Shadow Collective, which includes Black Sun, Crimson Dawn, the Pyke Syndicate, and a group of Mandalorians led by Gar Saxon, who we covered in last week’s easter egg guide.
In the episode, right before launching his attack on Mandalore, Maul calls the leaders of the various crime syndicates, and we’re treated to a few cameos, including Dryden Vos, the leader of Crimson Dawn who dies years later in Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is the character’s first appearance outside of the movie.
We also see Ziton Moj, the leader of Black Sun, who we first met in The Clone Wars episode “Eminence.” As one commenter pointed out, Moj is a Falleen just like Prince Xizor, the villain of the classic Legends novel Shadows of the Empire.
Marg Krim, leader of the Pyke Syndicate, also appears as a hologram in the scene.
Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader
The biggest shadow looming over all of the characters in “The Phantom Apprentice” is Anakin’s. Throughout the episode, we get teases of how the young Jedi is inching closer to his inevitable transformation into Darth Vader. This transformation begins with Anakin murdering Count Dooku at Palpatine’s behest (check), and continues with Anakin being forced to spy on the Supreme Chancellor (check). Will Ahsoka have a chance to speak with Anakin, as Obi-Wan suggested, before his fall?
Maul has also seen Anakin in a vision of dark days to come. The former Sith explains to Ahsoka how her former Jedi master is being shaped to become Sidious’ next apprentice and the key agent of destruction that will change the galaxy as we know it.
Ahsoka and Luke Skywalker
The episode teases parallels between Ahsoka and Maul’s battle in Mandalore and Luke’s duel with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Maul wants Ahsoka to join him and help him defeat Darth Sidious in the same way that Vader wanted Luke’s help to take over the galaxy.
A small easter egg involves Ahsoka’s line to Maul that he’ll “find that there are plenty of things about me you won’t like.” This line is reminiscent of Luke’s own line to Vader: “You’ll find that I’m full of surprises.”
In the climactic moment of their duel, Maul disarms Ahsoka as Vader disarms Luke, asking her one last time to join him or die. The scene also happens to find Ahsoka with nowhere to go but down and likely to her death. But the episode does a great job of subverting our expectations here, as Ahsoka manages to fight back and capture Maul.
Clone Trooper Jesse
The elite trooper Maul captures and tortures is CT-5597, a.k.a. Jesse. He has appeared in many episodes of The Clone Wars and is generally seen accompanying Captain Rex in the 501st Legion. He’s known for having a good sense of humor, which makes his role as the helpless captive of the episode even more heart-wrenching.
Adding to the irony of the whole series, Jesse sports a tattoo of the symbol of the Galactic Republic, which will later be modified slightly to become the emblem of the Empire.
The custom arsenals Gar Saxon and Bo-Katan Kryze use in their fight in the elevator shaft will undoubtedly be familiar to anyone who knows Mandalorians. The jet packs and wrist-mounted rockets have been essential weapons for Mandalorian warriors since the days of Boba Fett.
There’s another connection I haven’t confirmed, but after rewatching these scenes, I think there’s something here. The wrist-mounted weapon Bo-Katan uses to destroy parts of the elevator sound a bit like the Whistling Birds, the small homing rockets Din Djarin uses in The Mandalorian. The gauntlet doesn’t look exactly the same, with Din’s sporting a blue glow Bo-Katan doesn’t have. But the similar firework sound could be a homage or an older version of this kind of projectile weapon.