New Clone Wars clips show just how much trouble Darth Maul will cause

Now that Darth Maul has returned to the Star Wars universe, we can expect him and his brother, Savage Opress, to kick up more mayhem in the fifth season of Clone Wars. But Maul isn't the biggest, baddest Sith Lord in the galaxy; Darth Sidious will finally show himself in the flesh, and he won't be happy. And what has prompted an alliance between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the deadly Mandalorian warrioress Bo-Katan?

Spoilers below.

Supervising director Dave Filoni and writer Matt Michnovetz came to San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, accompanied by a retinue of Clone Troopers, to tease season five of Clone Wars, which launches later this year. Filoni started off talking about what we can expect from Maul and Savage this season.

Filoni admitted that he had doubts when George Lucas asked him to bring Maul back from the dead, but felt that the Sith witches made Maul's return more believable. Now that they have him back, the Clone Wars team is excited to explore the keener, more intelligent side of Maul. "We don't want the Sith to be blunt weapons," Filoni explained. This Maul is sinister, tactical, and understands why Darth Sidious has been so successful. Michnovetz added, "We want audiences to empathize with him, to dig deeper and find the right motivation with him." Savage, on the other hand, doesn't yet realize the wickedness of his newly restored brother. As for whether we can expect Maul's mechanical raptor legs to stay (which replaced the spider legs as the lower half of his bisected body), Filoni said, "We do nothing if not change things all the time."

Anakin and Padme's relationship will also be explored in the coming season, and we'll see that "it's not always a picnic on Naboo." With Anakin so childish and Padme so mature, there are bound to be some strains on their romance. We'll also get some hints as to how much Obi-Wan knows about their relationship. Ahsoka will see some major character developments this season, and "we see some pretty big things happen to her." Hopefully, nothing that will permanently scar young Ahsoka fans, but more on that later.

The big news, though, takes us away from the main cast. Despite the death of actor Ian Abercrombie, who voiced Emperor Palpatine, earlier this year, Abercrombie's voice will be heard throughout the fifth season. For the first time in the series, Palpatine will appear as Darth Sidious in the flesh, not merely as a hologram. The so-called "Rule of Two," which holds that there can be only be one Sith master and one Sith apprentice, hasn't been followed of late, and the Dark Side of the Force is looking less like a line and more like a flowchart. "Darth Sidious isn't a hologram because he's not happy about this flowchart." Also, for some Force choking with a little side of Imperial March, check out the clip below.

This clip also teases another big addition. We'll be seeing much, much more of Bo-Katan, the female Mandalorian of the Death Watch. Why has she teamed up with Obi-Wan? It's unclear, but Filoni told the audience, "Bo-Katan will do more this season than Boba Fett ever did." This resulted in jeers, but those turned to applause when Filoni admitted that part of his thought in bringing Bo-Katan to the forefront was, "Let's give the ladies some cool armor." Boba Fett won't appear in this season.

The audience response to the new footage was pretty positive, to the extent that one person came up to the mic, admitted that he'd never seen the show before (he was just waiting for the Halo panel to start), but he was so impressed that he was going to start watching as soon as he got home. One mother, though, got the most profound response out of Filoni. She said that she was often mocked for her love of Star Wars growing up, and thanked Filoni and Michnovetz for giving her six-year-old daughter a role model in Ahsoka Tano and making it cool for her to like Star Wars. Then she said, "But," and paused.

Filoni ducked, clutching his head. "I know where this is going."

"But," she reiterated, "my daughter would be devastated if something terrible happened to Ahsoka, even though I explained to her that she's a doomed character."

Filoni thrust a finger at her. "That's on you!"

After pointing out her daughter, who was sitting in the audience (and gave a happy wave), the mother continued, "Is it safe to keep watching, or do I have to start screening the episodes?"

Filoni got a little misty-eyed here. "I take that very seriously," he said. "I wouldn't want to upset your kid at all." He talked a bit about the importance of Ahsoka to the show's young fans, and assured the woman, "I don't make the decision to kill characters lightly."

I've always thought there were ways the show could get out of killing Ahsoka within the Clone Wars timeline, but after seeing how stone-cold serious Filoni got at that moment, I'm a bit worried for the plucky Padawan.