It feels so good to be back with the bad guys! After hanging out with the Jedi younglings and spending way too much time on R2-D2's mission, Clones Wars brought us back to where the season opener left off, with Darth Maul and his brother-apprentice Savage Oppress in the wake of their battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Picked up and dusted off by the Mandalorians of Death Watch, Maul enacts a new plan, one that involves him forging an alliance with every shady organization in the Galaxy—even if it means making those alliances by force.
Maul and Savage's escape pod has been found by Death Watch, the Mandalorian splinter group that still holds to the old warrior ways. Savage and Maul are passed out, gravely injured from their last battle. Bo-Katan, the lady in the nice armor, sees the lightsaber and wonders whether they should kill the pair, but Death Watch leader Pre Vizsla (Is it wrong that I think of the dogs every time he says his name?) wants to hear their story, suspected that they might be enemies of the Jedi.
They bring the pair back to the Death Watch camp, and when Maul is well enough to speak, Vizsla begins questioning him. When Maul claims to be Sith, Vizsla asks if he serves Dooku. Maul sneers that he serves no one, but Vizsla knows the Rule of Two: there are only two Sith, a master and an apprentice. Naturally, Maul says that he and Savage are the true Sith, Maul the master and Savage the apprentice. Vizsla, intrigued, tells Maul about the current situation on Mandalore, the pacifist Duchess Satine, and Death Watch's mission to stay true to their Mandalorian roots. After learning that Maul and Savage were defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vizsla proposes an alliance: Maul will help Death Watch reclaim Mandalore and Death Watch will help Maul kill Kenobi. Bo-Katan is dubious about the proposition; after all, they've already had some bad luck allying themselves with the Sith and these two are fresh from their own defeat. A little Force-choking quiets her, at least for the time being. I get the feeling Bo-Katan won't let this alliance sit too easily.
While Vizsla takes the proposal back to the other Death Watch members, Savage wakes, and, in his typical anger management problems way, instinctively dismantles the medical droids. I know Maul and Savage resent the Jedi ways, but Savage could stand to use a little restraint. Maul fills Savage in on their current situation, telling him that the Mandalorians will make better patsies...I mean allies than Hondo's pirates. After all, they have honor. Savage sniffs that honor is a weakness, but Maul assures him that Death Watch won't know their true plan until it's too late.
As Maul tours the Death Watch camp, he tells Vizsla that they're going to need a bigger army to take out the Duchess and her Jedi allies. Their first stop is the Mustafar, home of the Black Sun crime syndicate. Maul, Savage, and Vizsla march into the Black Sun's council room and make their request to Xomit Grunseit. Grunseit is offended by the request, pointing out that they aren't mercenaries, and orders his underlings to kill the trio. Maul glances at Savage before stepping aside so his brother can hurl his double-bladed lightsaber at Grunseit's neck. Apparently, too many kiddie episodes in a row has made me bloodthirsty, because I'm weirdly excited that Wookieepedia says we'll see an uncensored version of Grunseit's decapitation on the Blu-Ray. Maul turns to Black Sun member Ziton Moj. "It seems the decision to join us is now yours," Maul says coolly. Moj doesn't miss a beat. "After careful consideration, we will join you."
Vizsla is ready to start his war on the Duchess, but Maul wants to expand their growing Shadow Collective. They are soon joined by the Pyke Family, a group of spice traders smart enough not to oppose Maul. Next, the Shadow Collective heads to Nal Hutta to meet with the Hutt Grand Council. Maul tells the Hutts they will spare their lives in exchange for Hutt space and everything inside it. This goes about as well as you'd expect and a battle ensues between the Hutt employed bounty hunters and a Death Watch team led by Bo-Katan. We get some great action, but eventually the bounty hunters retreat, leaving behind a single Hutt for Maul, Savage, and Vizsla to question. The Hutt, begging for his life, tells them they can find the other Hutts on Tatooine. Maul isn't impressed. "So the only thing you can tell me is that we'll find Jabba at Jabba's palace?" And splat goes the Hutt. I sort of get the impression Savage might have bisected the poor creature, but that's a bit too graphic for Clone Wars. Next stop, Tatooine.
The trio storms into Jabba's palace and demand that Jabba surrender. Jabba laughs his trademark chortle, but, to their surprise, agrees to join them.
But there are already cracks showing in this new alliance. As Maul and Vizsla review their plan, Maul reveals that he intends to install Vizsla as leader of Mandalore and then become the ruler of a new Galactic Underworld, one that will render the Separatists and the Republic irrelevant. This doesn't sit well with Vizsla, but he puts on a good face, likely realizing that he can still get what he wants out of Maul. Maul, for his part, doesn't seem to suspect a thing.
This was an in-between episode, the second episode in Maul's arc, but it's great to see this new, get-shit-done Maul, and it's going to be fun to watch what becomes of this alliance. Will Vizsla end up betraying Maul? Does Jabba have something up his sleeve? And how will Palapatine react if this Shadow Collective gets too big for his comfort.