'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 5 trailer: Darth Maul, Death Watch battle over the galaxy -- EXCLUSIVE

CLONE-WARS

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Even legendary prequel naysayer Simon Pegg has made up with Star Wars. Why?

The Clone Wars. Making Star Wars cool again, twenty minutes at a time,” he tweeted in February, shortly before voicing Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter Dengar in an episode. But you don’t have to take Pegg’s word for it. Instead, check out Darth Maul and the Death Watch battling for galactic supremacy in this dark, kinetic new trailer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ fifth season, set to debut on Cartoon Network this September. Cynical as you may be about the franchise, it’ll make you feel like your 12-year-old self clutching a Boba Fett lunchbox in no time. Or as the series’ supervising director Dave Filoni tells EW, “There’s a lot of payoff coming.”

“I think people are going to see ways The Clone Wars ties together more and more with A New Hope,” Filoni says about the new season. “We’re setting up elements that eventually become the Empire.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this clip, which first played at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars Weekends but makes its exclusive online debut on EW.com. Here are the top five geektastic moments that caught our attention.

1. Darth Maul Is Making Up for Lost Time — When last we saw the bisected Sith Lord, he thoroughly kicked some Jedi butt. Obi-Wan Kenobi and newfound ally Asajj Ventress barely escaped with their lives. Why was Maul, who had been hiding out Gollum-style for 10 years on a junk planet, suddenly able to defeat Obi-Wan when he couldn’t a decade earlier during his prime? Because the first time he was just a sword for hire carrying out his master Darth Sidious’ bidding. During his second battle with Obi-Wan, though, his lust for revenge caused him to become a superconductor of the Dark Side.

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm

That said, after his rematch with the man who cut him in half, Maul seems to have bigger fish to fry. And no, not Mon Calamari. Filoni says, “Maul’s agenda becomes quite different from what you’d expect.” Part of that may be hinted at in this trailer, when he rants against “this Sith pretender, Dooku.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Maul would likely be a little upset with Darth Sidious — for abandoning him — and Dooku for taking his rightful place at the Sith Lord’s side. It’s unlikely that he and his brother Savage Opress would ever join Dooku’s Separatists in their war against the Republic. Maybe he’ll lead a third-party faction against both sides? This could be why it’s called the Clone Wars, not just Clone War.

Time will tell. However, it looks like he will have a clifftop showdown with Obi-Wan in season 5 and may even follow up on his pre-vivisection campaign against underworld cartel Black Sun, based on those green-skinned Falleen his lightsaber sliced through at the very end of the clip. Shadows of the Empire fans! Remember Prince Xizor? It looks like Maul might pay a visit to some of Xizor’s colleagues.

2. More Death Watch — More Clone Wars, less Cowboys & Aliens from Jon Favreau, please. Yes, the director of Elf and Iron Man appears to be returning as Mandalorian terrorist Pre Vizsla, the leader of the secretive Death Watch and owner of what may be the coolest Star Wars weapon ever: The Darksaber. It seems like the Death Watch — as with Maul and Savage Opress — is opting for a third-party campaign for Mandalorian supremacy. After all,. Dooku decided to cut Pre Vizsla loose after he failed to assassinate Obi-Wan’s old flame, Mandalore’s Duchess Satine. Expect Vizsla to be seeking some revenge of his own — especially after Dooku gave him that nasty facial scar as a parting gift.

3. Old Republic Mythology — One of the battlefields for season 5 name checked in the trailer is Onderon. If you’ve read Kevin J. Anderson’s Tales of the Jedi comics from the mid ’90s, you’ll know immediately what that means: There be dragons here. Or at least dragonlike beasts that rebels on Onderon use as their mounts when riding into battle. This was the planet where the ancient Jedi Ulic Qel-Droma began his descent into the Dark Side, eventually becoming a fearsome Sith Lord who would all but sunder the Republic during the Great Sith War. It’s been rumored that the Lucasfilm Animation team developed Old Republic-era character models during season 3’s “Mortis Trilogy,” so maybe we’ll see some of the Galaxy’s more ancient history? It’d be a smart move for the Clone Wars team, what with the MMOG hit Star Wars: The Old Republic logging 1.3 million registered users per month.

4. Embo — The broad-hatted bounty hunter patterned on Seven Samurai’s taciturn Kyuzo and voiced by Dave Filoni will be making a return. And as usual he’s using his hat as a weapon, shield, and, now, makeshift snowboard.

5. Hondo — You can’t keep a pirate leader down. Despite his numerous defeats in the course of the series, Hondo is alive, kicking, and apparently starting a new career as a quasi-legitimate arms dealer. During a live chat on EW.com with Filoni last season, reader Alex Gregory asked if Dooku would return to Hondo’s home planet of Florrum for revenge — as he promised way back in season 1. “Dooku has a good memory,” Filoni said. “As do you, Alex.”

Who else can’t wait for the start of season 5?

More on Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
Sam Witwer on Darth Maul’s ‘Clone Wars’ Resurrection: ‘He’s going to be around for a little bit’ -EXCLUSIVE
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ season finale recap: Darth Maul’s Revenge
Prepare to get Mauled: Chat live with ‘Clone Wars’ director Dave Filoni tonight about Darth Maul’s return

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