Villainy swells! With an army of the galaxy’s most vicious criminals, Darth Maul and Savage Opress conspire with Pre Vizsla and the Death Watch to topple Duchess Satine, ruler of Mandalore.
While the conspirators prepare to attack the Mandalorian capital of Sundari from a base on Zanbar, the fate of 2,000 other neutral systems is under threat as Darth Maul moves closer to establishing a vast criminal empire.
Following on the heels of the end of the previous episode, where he had not quite revealed to Pre Vizsla his plans, he had asked Pre Vizsla in that encounter to provide him with “a list of targets vital to Mandalore’s security.” At the beginning of “Shades of Reason”, he finally shares them:
Darth Maul: “Where are my targets?”
Pre Vizsla: “We’ve identified them at these locations. However, as I’ve said before, if we try to take Mandalore by force, our people will turn against us.”
Darth Maul: “I will use my army of crime lords to attack different targets across Sundari and sow chaos to undermine the Duchess’ rule. Our gangsters will make her look too weak to maintain control. Then you and your Death Watch will capture and arrest us, bringing order where Satine’s weak government could not.”
Pre Vizsla: “We’ll be saviors.”
Darth Maul: “Exactly.”
Pre Vizsla: “A good plan.”
Bo-Katan: “Indeed. I’ll prepare the troops.”
It is rather curious to me why Darth Maul had shared none of these ideas with Pre Vizsla previously, only unleashing them at this meeting, perhaps it was on account of some sort of control – if he had let Pre Vizsla know ahead of time, Pre Vizsla could have taken over and put the plans into action on his own? In any event, it certainly makes Darth Maul look smart. Moreover, as Eric Geller points out, Darth Maul has become a “keen tactician and a master manipulator, much like the shadowy figure who trained him decades earlier. Indeed, Maul’s plan was reminiscent of Palpatine’s grand scheme: orchestrate chaos so you can be the hero by fixing things.”
Pre Vizsla was concerned about taking Mandalore by force, but Darth Maul is able to show a smart strategy of making Death Watch seem needed. Indeed, Darth Maul’s plan points out a weakness in Satine’s rule. Despite Pre Vizsla’s and Bo-Katan’s concerns about Darth Maul, they both seem satisfied (perhaps impressed(?)) with his plan and are happy to go along with it.
However, the plan to take over Mandalore, is not the only planning going on: we see both Pre Vizsla and Bo-Katan discussing getting rid of Darth Maul, while Darth Maul and Savage Oppress discuss the same regarding Pre Vizsla:
Bo-Katan: “It’s a risk to trust those monsters. How do we know they’ll keep their end of the bargain?”
Pre Vizsla: “We need those Sith and their thugs to cause some pain and show the Mandalorian people how weak Satine really is. After this is done, no one will doubt why we’re in power. Most will welcome us.”
Bo-Katan: “Then what?”
Pre Vizsla: “Then we execute Maul and those thugs. Those criminals will scatter, and Mandalore will be ours.”
Just as Pre Vizsla’s second-in-command shows concern about the other leader and Pre Vizsla justifies staying in league with the the other due to need, we see Darth Maul and Savage Oppress having a similar conversation:
Savage Oppress: “I believe Vizsla will betray us.”
Darth Maul: “We have no other choice. We cannot rule openly without drawing the attention of the Jedi. We need Vizsla as the face of our rule for now.”
Savage Oppress: “The promise of wealth will find us a new face on Mandalore.”
Darth Maul: “You have learned well, my apprentice. Greed never fails to motivate.”
Despite Darth Maul’s awareness of the impending betrayal of Pre Vizsla, he knows he needs his alliance. His primary reasoning is due to shield them from the Jedi – if they knew, the Jedi would come after them. He also agrees with Savage Oppress that they’re able to use wealth to their advantage in taking power on Mandalore.
In sum, we see that Darth Maul
- has become a master strategist in planning the impending invasion of Mandalore
- is aware of the danger of Pre Vizsla betraying him, but knows that he needs him
- keeps his plans from Death Watch until absolutely necessary, perhaps to avoid any early wresting of control