-On Domino Squad:
I’ve thought about this and not quite landed on a decision yet. I agree that since time passes, the story implicitly wants to be paced. So that’s an argument in favour of spreading it out a bit - probably exactly as you say, with Clone Cadets mixed with Rookies, then ARC Troopers standing alone.
The problem with this is that Clone Cadets/Rookies this early in the show (1) isn’t as strong as ARC Troopers, (2) isn’t well concluded, and (3) doesn’t feature any of this show’s focal characters - and it’s a bit too early for a deviation away from our core. The full trilogy works nicely early because of the great conclusion to ARC troopers which brings it all together and gives you this good emotional clone story. So I think the value of an early Domino Squad arc is in its ending, not its beginning.
One option, perhaps best of both worlds, would be to split it as mentioned (CC/R then AT) but place both later. That way it is paced better but its weaker half doesn’t interrupt what we need to be a strong start to the show.
Alternatively, we mitigate the time delay through trimming dialogue that makes it obvious, plus add (vague) cards to indicate at least time passing, and have the thing early as one whole, which allows the viewer to realise “Oh cool, there’re good deep dives into the clones in this show too.”
I still have the option, though, of getting the whole thing on the cutting board and seeing what comes out, then working out where it fits on the timeline best.
-On the Maul opening:
You may have missed some of the earlier discussion, but probably the largest change I’m making to the show as a whole is reordering the entirety, mainly by dragging the Maul plot far earlier so that he’s a presence throughout, and also by kicking off the Mandalore plots early. I think this is justifiable because (1) it gives the show a bit of a central thread which takes us to the Mauldalore conclusion which is absolutely fantastic with a lot of payoff, and (2) Maul in this show is absolutely great and he makes a really ominous background presence, especially since he’s a third party we don’t know the fate of, and (3) The Maul episodes, especially the later ones, actually have a good amount of explicit time skips between them, so they can be paced out.
So, unlike in the original, we are getting straight to Maul - with the end of my (production) season one (essentially the first eighth of the show) putting Savage on the path to Maul, and with the end of my season two (the first quarter of the show) getting Maul in play.
A cold open I believe serves two purposes.
Firstly, it’s there as a promise. “We will get to here.” In this case, it serves to tell the audience “You get Maul, you get Mandalorians, you get Darksaber, you get Mandalorians discovering Maul.” All of that is interesting, and new, and challenges the idea that this show is just the predictable known path from Episode 2 (the start of a war and Anakin’s a bit dark) to Episode 3 (Sidious orchestrated the war and Anakin becomes Vader). It’s a far more interesting hook than just the rest of Christophsis, which is a paint-by-numbers adventure in a bad setting with a character who looks like she’ll probably be quite annoying, to be frank.
Secondly, a cold open is an attention focuser. “Notice these elements as they move through the story.” In this case, it serves to tell the audience “while you may see a lot of themes in this show, keep your eye on Maul and Mandalorians.” That’ll build interest through their appearances, and allow people to have a central pillar to keep track of and feel developing even while other episodes can lean towards feeling more of a part of an anthology.
Bonus, in this case, (1) people already know Maul is in this show, so it doesn’t need to be a suprise. And (2), for people hesitant about Maul, it rips the plaster (band aid) off, saying “Maul’s coming back (from the ‘dead’). Get used to it.”
Game of Thrones (forget its ending) used a cold open very well. The show, for the first season, had almost no fantasy elements, being almost entirely noble houses having beef with each other. But the cold open was “snow zombies”. So we had a full season of good meaty mundane drama, but a full ten episodes of awareness that, hang on, I saw snow zombies. When Dany’s dragon eggs turned out to be legit and hatched, we were onboard. And, of course, snow zombies went on to be the main villain of the show (forget its ending).
Or, in short, I’m not trying to make this show:
I’m trying to make this show: