If my understanding is correct, Darth Sidious' plan regarding Naboo is to use the Trade Federation to create a political crisis in which he, as Palpatine, can gain political power and become Supreme Chancellor. This plan succeeds by the time of the climatic battle in The Phantom Menace.

Why then is Maul on Naboo during the battle? If the plan to become chancellor has already succeeded, why doesn't Sidious recall Maul?

By leaving Maul with the Trade Federation, Sidious risks losing his apprentice and confirming to the Jedi that the Sith have returned. Is there anything to gain by leaving Maul on Naboo? What is Maul's objective, besides killing Jedi?

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    He wanted to kill the Jedi and begin the campaign to make the rest afraid, which was his way of further manipulating them and gaining control over the rest of the galaxy.
    – Derek
    Aug 12, 2021 at 5:20
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    Killing Jedi isn't a good enough motivation for Maul? He seems very committed to it
    – Valorum
    Aug 12, 2021 at 22:31
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    "DARTH SIDIOUS : Good. I will see to it that in the Senate, things stay as they are. I am sending Darth Maul to join you. He will deal with the Jedi."
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 12, 2021 at 22:39
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    Sure killing Jedi is enough motivation for Maul, but how does that contribute to Sideous' master plan, which is over a decade away from fruition? Is it enough to justify the risks? At a later stage maybe, but at this point what's to gain?
    – RedTera
    Aug 13, 2021 at 7:03

4 Answers 4


There's a few things going on here;

Sidious is keen to foment war and discredit the Senate.

Having the Queen defeat the Trade Federation and drive them off of Naboo is a big step in the wrong direction. By comparison, having her capitulate and, under obvious duress, sign an unfavourable treaty will result in endless indignation from the more democratically-minded Senators and further convince the populace that the Senate is hopelessly corrupted.

The Neimoidian’s flat, reptilian countenance managed a small flicker of humor. “The Naboo and the Trade Federation will forge a treaty that will legitimize our occupation of Theed. I have been assured that such a treaty, once produced, will be quickly ratified by the Senate.”

“A treaty?” the governor exclaimed in astonishment. “In the face of this completely unlawful action?”

Phantom Menace: Official Novelisation

As mentioned elsewhere, Sidious is keen for his plan to be successful, and not just as a way to gain the Chancellorship.

Maul's boss senses something

Sidious sends Maul to be his man on the ground, supervising things while he can busy elsewhere, presumably working on his maniacal laugh. He also, evidently, senses that the Jedi will have some sort of plan to help the Queen. Maul is going to take care of them.

The faceless speaker nodded. “Good. I will see to it that in the Senate things stay as they are. I am sending Darth Maul to join you. He will deal with the Jedi.”

Phantom Menace: Official Novelisation

This was always part of the plan.

Maul is keen to reveal the presence of the Sith to the Jedi, to demonstrate that they still exist and are superior. Sidious evidently sees little downside to letting Maul off the leash for a bit now that his plan is in motion, especially given what he judges to be the relatively low risk.

Darth Maul exhaled sharply. Satisfaction permeated his voice. “At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have our revenge.”

“You have been well trained, my young apprentice,” Darth Sidious soothed. “The Jedi will be no match for you. It is too late for them to stop us now. Everything is going as planned. The Republic will soon be in my control.”

Phantom Menace: Official Novelisation


Sidious actually wanted to reveal the continued existence of the Sith to the Jedi. This would cause the Jedi to become aware of Sidious' role in the war, giving them a solid reason to take part in it. Also, he wanted the Jedi to distrust the Senate and the Chancellor's office, giving him a solid reason and opportunity to wipe out the Jedi. This is evidenced by Dooku's repeated statements to Obi-Wan, indicating that the Senate was under Sith control. He uses the Jedi's distrust of the government later, as evidence that Order 66 was warranted.


To the Sith, losing one's apprentice is a small risk.

Remember that, under the Rule of Two, the Sith Lord is encouraged to have only one apprentice, and a powerful one at that - otherwise, they risk letting the legacy of the Sith die out altogether under a weak lord. As part of that philosophy, an apprentice must be tested, even to destruction. If the lord throws their apprentice into battle, there are only two outcomes: the apprentice wins and proves their worth, or the apprentice dies and another, more worthy successor can be chosen. Either way, the lord comes out on top.


Valorum has a lot of the things covered, but another factor is that Maul was not much of a planner and thus in the long run useless. So one plan of Palpatine was to discard him to "make room". Remember that Palpatine always followed more than one plan at the same time.

Do not get me wrong: Maul's combat skills were pretty good. But beyond that? Not much. Under the rule of 2, physical strength is secondary. The Manipulation of the galaxy is fundamental. And in that area, Maul was simply a failure. He was barely ahead of Savage Opress in that area. If Maul had tried the "Now I am the master" route, there would be two outcomes:

  • He fails, just weakening Palpatine's grip on the galaxy if Palpatine had relied on him.
  • He succeeds, then fails to keep the empire together and it falls apart within the year

Evaluating the (potential) for apprentices betraying and successfully becoming the new Emperor I would say:

Darth Maul? Okay for controlling parts of the Criminal Underworld, where power and brutality was enough. Not a manipulator.

Count Dooku? He manipulated the Separatist side of things. He could have been a worthy replacement.

Vader? He played a long game, planning to betray Palpatine from day 1. Once he had the force powers he needed to save Padme. And then again, when he learned he had some blood to rule with.

Luke or Leia Skywalker? Palpatine would have had to see after turning them. They certainly had subterfuge skills, having avoided his troops for this long. But turning someone to the Dark Side changes a person in different ways. Some become little more than violent idiots unworthy of being the heir

Ben Kenobi/Kylo Ren? A failure on multiple fronts:

  • He lacked the purity of the Dark Side, hesitating to killing his loved ones or being "shaken to the core" by doing it
  • When he did try to usurp power, he was not much better than Maul. Kylo failed to notice the betrayal by General Hux despite plenty of evidence.
  • He found Rey. And for Palpatine a mind transfer was always preferable over being replaced. Note that while I think any apprentice might have been a viable target for the transfer with enough preparation, Rey was clearly the easier target.

Rey Palpatine? The original plan to raise her as an apprentice was foiled by her parents. Even if she could be turned that late (or the apprentice plan had worked), Palpatine was not planning to give her an option to turn out wrong. He had planned for the transfer since day 1. At minimum, Palpatine would have turned into the loudest voice in her head. More likely he would have been the dominant personality, just getting a younger body.

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