When Maul, formerly Darth, and Lady Tano finally met on Mandalore, it felt like the moment had been building for years. But Maul didn’t know Ahsoka, and she knew him by reputation and connections alone. Why did it feel like this meeting, this moment, was inevitable? The answer lies in their paths. Maul and Ahsoka follow such similar paths and get to such different destinations that it is hard to consider the Clone Wars ending with anything less than their confrontation.
Going back to their beginnings, both Ahsoka and Maul were taken from their homes to join their respective Orders. Maul is taken by the epitome of darkness, Sheev Palpatine, and Ahsoka is apprenticed to Anakin Skywalker, the Force’s attempt to counteract Palpatine. They may have stood by the best in their Order, but that did not shelter them from its condemnation. In a way, both Maul and Ahsoka are betrayed by their Orders. Maul’s “death” leads to Palpatine finding another apprentice, and when Maul returns he is told there is no place for him with the Sith. As a matter of fact, Maul’s “death” may have been the moment where Palpatine truly realized that his apprentices were disposable. He put years of training into Maul and then swiftly picked another pawn without having to sacrifice his larger game. Likewise, Ahsoka is the victim of the Jedi’s political participation. After being framed by Bariss Offee, Ahsoka is eventually acquitted of the crimes she did not commit and welcomed back into the Jedi Order. But that trust has been shattered, so Ahsoka leaves the Order and, as he perceives it, leaves Anakin. The loss of his Padawan, and more importantly his inability to protect yet another person whom he loved, propelled Anakin to seek the power promised by the dark.
Maul stops being a Sith the moment he fails to defeat Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo. He falls down the pit and into seemingly never-ending darkness. Ahsoka may not be “dead” as Maul is suspected to be, yet she is also propelled into a second life at the hands of the Jedi. After her life as a Padawan and potentially a Knight is severed, she likewise falls down a dark pit that seems to never end. Ahsoka falls down into the depths of Coruscant and lands in front of the shop owned by the Martez sisters. Their meeting is critical for Ahsoka (and not just because she sees Maul and his leading of the Shadow Collective for the first time). Through the Martez sisters, she is able to see that the Jedi Order has not just failed its members; it has failed its constituents and community as well. But being able to help the sisters, and vice versa allows for Ahsoka to come to terms with her place as someone who still believes in the ideals of the Jedi without believing in the Order proper.
Her descent into Coruscant is her death and rebirth, helping her to keep the faith in people that would eventually lead to her helping the Rebellion grow. On the other hand, Maul’s death leaves him alone, scrounging and living off garbage and anger. He comes to see that he really was only a tool, and that leads to him using so many others as tools. Where Ahsoka took the Jedi ideals and applied them to a new way of life, Maul took what he was taught about anger and power to bring destruction unto others, namely Obi-Wan himself.
Both characters essentially become the embodiment of their sides of the Force. When Maul is brought back to Dathomir, he gets a second life through the dark side magic of Mother Talzin. On the other hand, Ahsoka is actually brought back to life by the light itself when the Daughter of Mortis gives the last of her life energy to Ahsoka. The light and dark sides of the Force actually, physically, live inside of them, and thus they become representatives of the light and the dark in the temporal world.
It is how each decided to relate to the Force that eventually leads them to Mandalore. Maul’s second life is defined by him taking power over others, thus the creation of the Shadow Collective and his eventual overtaking of the throne of Mandalore. Even his own brother suffers from this selfishness; Maul is unwilling and incapable of working with others. Such is the dark side. Ahsoka works with Bo Katan, who once tried to kill her, because Bo Katan asked. As the former Padawan says, “In my life, when you see someone in need, you help them, no matter what.” Such is the light side.
The balance of light and dark is often up for debate, but the tension is not. Maul and Ahsoka show that the Force is not limited to a certain structure. There is a common misconception that being outside of the Jedi makes one “grey,” a term often connected to Ahsoka. But her character never sways from her beliefs and never strays from the light. That’s the point. In contrast, Maul has become one of the most compelling villains in the saga because audiences crave to see if he will finally learn (spoiler: he doesn’t). Ahsoka faces betrayal by her Order, the loss of her Master to the dark side, and a plethora of tragedies outside of her control. But she stays the course. She is the light not just because of Daughter’s transference of life, but because of the life she has lived. The choices Maul makes, over and over, cause his failure. Ahsoka’s choices, over and over, puts her in the pantheon of heroes.