Contains Minor Spoilers For Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Dark Disciple (2015 novel)
The Siege of Mandalore story arc marks the end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and many fans of the show are left wondering what will become of Ahsoka Tano and Maul. Ahsoka’s story continues in Star Wars: Rebels, and we know that Ahsoka survives past the Battle of Endor from the final scene of the show. And guess what? It is all-but-confirmed that she’s coming to the second season of the live-action Mandalorian Disney+ series! And the pandemic doesn’t seem to be delaying the scheduled October release.
As for Maul, we already know how his story ends in Star Wars: Rebels. But one scene with Maul in the show’s epic conclusion has been overlooked by many fans. In The Phantom Apprentice, at 11:36, we see Maul on a holo call with some of the galaxy’s most notorious crime lords. On the right, we see the public leader of Crimson Dawn, Dryden Vos! Remember the main villain from the Solo movie with the face scars? Yep – that’s him!
In the middle, we see Marg Krim, the powerful leader of the Pike Syndicate from the preceding story arc with Ahsoka and the Martez sisters. Krim is the Pike who Ahsoka uses a Jedi mind trick on. Seeing Krim alive in the Siege of Mandalore arc shocked me because I expected Maul to butcher him for his failures in the previous arc. Maul had threatened the Pike, and then Krim went on to fail yet again. On the left, we see the return of Ziton Moj, the leader of Black Sun. He’d been involved in previous seasons of the show and became Black Sun’s leader after Savage Opress killed Black Sun’s ruling council. One thing that makes this scene rather funny is the history between Krim and Moj. In Disney’s canon, Moj tries to coerce Krim into merging the Pike Syndicate with Black Sun by kidnapping Krim’s family. Moj’s plan is ruined by Ventress and Jedi Master Quinlan Vos rescuing Krim’s family. Then, Black Sun sends a fleet to attack the Pike base on Oba Diah – where Ahsoka and the Martez sisters are later held prisoner in season 7. Needless to say, knowing the history between Krim and Moj makes it a bit humorous to see them side by side on a holo call with Maul. It’s also quite ironic that Maul tells the three crime lords to go off the grid because, in canon, Maul spends many Imperial years trapped in a Sith temple on Malachor. In 3 BBY, Maul escapes the temple but is finished off only a year later by Kenobi on Tatooine. Because of Maul’s years-long absence and subsequent death, there is a void in Empire-era villains that needs filling for the small screen. Disney could easily just have Vader become more prominent and involved, but a part of what makes Vader so compelling in the OT is the combination of his intimidation factor and how little of him we actually see. His presence is felt throughout the trilogy, but he’s not actually in it all that much. But because he has such a small amount of screen-time, when he is on the screen, he grabs the audience’s full attention. Christopher Nolan did something similar with Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. The Joker’s presence is felt throughout the entire two-and-a-half-hour-long movie, even though he only on-screen for half an hour. While this might seem like a lot compared to Vader through a film-to-film lens, keep in mind that the Joker’s character arc was condensed into a single film, whereas Vader’s spanned a trilogy. Whenever Ledger’s Joker was on-screen, he held the audience’s full attention – much like Vader. Disney recognized this. In the thirty-seven-and-a-half hours of Star Wars: Rebels, Vader only received twenty-five minutes of screen-time. There’s a reason Vader only gets a handful of minutes of screen-time in Rogue One. If we were to see him all the time on-screen, he becomes oversaturated and less menacing. So the question becomes: who should fill the void? I think they should bring back another EU villain. I can’t think of any villain who’d be a more interesting antagonist for a pre-ANH Han Solo than Prince Xizor. (Maul wouldn’t be feasible – the force gives him too much of an edge).
When I first watched Maul’s Clone Wars scene with the cameo appearance of Ziton Moj, the Falleen dressed in purple robes, the first name that came to mind wasn’t Moj, it was Prince Xizor. The dark prince of Black Sun, as he was sometimes called, was the main antagonist in Shadows of the Empire, the first Star Wars multimedia project (1996-1997). Shadows of the Empire told the tale of what happened between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The SotE multimedia project had everything but actual film footage – unless you count video game cutscenes. Along with the game, there was an audio drama, a novel, comics, a junior novelization, toys & action figures – heck, it even had its own soundtrack! Unfortunately, Disney’s decision to discontinue the beloved Expanded Universe in 2014 means that Shadows of the Empire is no longer “canon.” But just because something isn’t deemed “canon” by Disney doesn’t mean it isn’t real Star Wars content. (Not to mention it was all canon in the Lucas-era of Star Wars before he sold it to Disney). But regardless of your opinion on any of this, a lot of the original Expanded Universe content doesn’t contradict Disney’s canon anyways – particularly the EU content that chronologically comes before Return of the Jedi.
I think it would be a missed opportunity to not reincorporate one of the EU’s most well-known villains into the canon. They did it with Grand Admiral Thrawn with Star Wars: Rebels, so it is certainly within the realm of possibility. If Disney plays its cards right, then perhaps they can have Ziton Moj reveal that his real name is Xizor. Lucasfilm could provide some back story for why he’d kept his true name a secret. Or better yet, Xizor could be Moj’s right-hand man who betrays and murders Moj, becoming who we know him to be from the Expanded Universe. Or, in classic Xizor fashion, the dark prince could use his wealth to bribe Moj into handing Black Sun over to him. And I can’t think of a better way to reintroduce Xizor than to have him be the villain for the only “Big Three” Star Wars character he never had to face in Shadows of the Empire: Han Solo. Xizor was in other EU content as well, but his most prominent and significant role was in SotE.
If “Solo 2” ends up being a Disney+ show, (which is more likely than a Solo 2 movie due to the pandemic’s effect on movie theatres, and since the first Solo movie was the first Star Wars film to be a box office failure), exploring the criminal underworld during the time of the Empire would be a very intriguing premise to fans. Han Solo’s backstory in both canon and the EU involved a lot of dealings with the criminal side of the galaxy. It’s more fleshed out in the EU, and it would be amazing to see his canon pre-ANH days in a Disney+ series. Just think about the possibilities for such a show: Greedo and Rodian Gangs, Jabba and his fellow Hutts, Boba Fett and Mandalorians, Maul & Qi’ra, and the return of the cold, cunning, despicable Xizor and his iconic human replica droid, Guri. It wouldn’t feel stale and recycled if Xizor is used as a villain for a Han Solo series because, in Shadows of the Empire, Han is frozen in carbonite the whole time. Xizor already has his own musical theme from the SotE project, and the soundtrack could be incorporated into a canon show. It wouldn’t be the first time Disney’s used EU music in its canon: the Javyar’s Cantina theme from the Knights of the Old Republic video game was implemented in both seasons of the Star Wars: Resistance television series. With the pandemic, creating a new orchestral Star Wars soundtrack becomes extremely difficult because of how COVID necessitates social distancing. An orchestra requires lots of people gathered in close proximity playing musical instruments together. To make matters worse, many of these instruments are impossible to play with masks because they require the user to blow into them (wind instruments). SotE has a soundtrack already, so a lot of the music could be edited to fit the hypothetical show, and it would be fitting for a show with Xizor.
If you haven’t played Shadows of the Empire, I would highly recommend it. It’s on N64 and PC. Though I’m warning you: the swoop bike chase on Tatooine is very difficult with a keyboard and mouse! The book is also fantastic, as it tells the meat and potatoes of the SotE story, fully tying together the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi with an incredible story. And the comics, oh the comics! The SotE comics are some of the most beautifully-colored Star Wars comic books I’ve ever seen. Definitely check them out!