Home TV TV Reviews/Recaps ‘The Acolyte’ is Off to a Promising Start

‘The Acolyte’ is Off to a Promising Start

The two episode premiere has both mystery and action


Something I’ve written about on here before is that too many shows and franchises expect you to put in a great deal of homework before you can watch the newest installment. I complained about this a LOT when I was reviewing Ahsoka, as the show grew more and more incomprehensible if you hadn’t watched all 75 episodes of Rebels.

So one of the potentially great things about The Acolyte is that is takes place a hundred years before the prequel films. There are no Skywalkers, no continuity to worry about. The only existing character that might even possibly show up is a certain little green Jedi Master. All you have to do is give me a compelling story. And so far, so good.

The Acolyte comes from Leslye Headland, best known for her Netflix show Russian Doll. Several cast members of that show appear here, which gives me hope for a Jedi Natasha Lyonne. The two-episode premiere that Disney released on Tuesday night gives us a solid start, promising action and mystery in equal measures.

The story follows Osha (Amandla Stenberg), a Jedi Academy dropout who now works as a meknek, doing dangerous outer-hull ship repairs for the Trade Federation. (Remember them, with the thick, Ming the Merciless accents? Apparently Feloni will not rest until every aspect of the prequel films — no matter how bad — has been reclaimed.) She toils away, with her pocket droid/multi-tool, Pip, until a pair of Jedi show up to interrogate her.

It seems that a Jedi has been killed on a the remote planet of Ueda. Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) was killed by a force user who fits Osha’s description to a T. She’s identified by the bartender, who was there for the attack.

The fight scene is very well done. The hooded attacker (and that purple cloak she wears is great — expect to see a lot of it at the next Star Wars Celebration) announces her intention to kill Master Indara and is greeted with a round of guffaws from the table. Kill a Jedi? Yeah, right. But she causes enough of a ruckus that Indara is forced to intervene. The battle recalls those scenes in martial arts films where an aggressive foe tries to attack the old sage, and the sage barely moves but causes the reckless attacker to flail and miss. Osha finds a weakness, though, by exploiting the Jedi’s compassion. She hurls a knife at the bartender, which Indara stops with the Force. However, this distracts her long enough to allow Osha to stab her. (I certainly hope this is not the last we’ll see of Carrie-Anne Moss! Seems a waste to get Trinity in your lightsaber show and kill her off inside of five minutes.)

Image: Disney+

Osha insists that she’s not the killer, but the pair of Jedi — including her handsome former classmate, now Jedi Knight Yord (Charlie Barnett) — arrest her and have her transported back to Coruscant on a prison vessel. After a fortuitous though badly thought-out prison break caused by the prisoners in the next cell, Osha crashes onto Carlac, a mountainous, wintry planet.

A couple of things happen here that are nice little character beats to show that Osha probably isn’t the real killer. First, she tries to force-pull her pocket droid to her to help get her door open, but she can’t. It’s been six years since she left the order, and she’s cut off from the Force. So it seems unlikely that she could knife a Jedi Master in combat. Second, she helps a prisoner who was being sedated by a parasite so he can get out, showing that she’s not cruel or callous. Her reward is the prisoner taking the last escape pod, leaving her to crash.

On Coruscant, at the Jedi Temple, Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) is training a fresh group of younglings when he is informed about the actions of his old Padawan, Osha. She was one one of his trainees, so he feels a special responsibility for her. He and Indara rescued her from a fire on her home world that killed the rest of her family. They brought her to the Academy, even though she was older than the typical youngling, and it was their urging that made the council admit her. When he learns that she crashed in the prison transport, he heads off to investigate with a small team. He brings Yord and his current Padawan, the by-the-book Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen). (I see buddy-cop potential here!)

Image: Disney+

Meanwhile, in the wreckage, Osha sees a vision of herself. Only it isn’t herself. It’s her twin sister, Mae. Which is impossible, because Mae died in that fire. Not only that, but she started it. However, it appears that she survived and now blames the Jedi for what happened to her planet. (Also, kudos to the production on this scene. Hearing a little-girl voice come out of an adult is never not creepy.)

This, understandably, freaks Osha out, and the arrival of the trio of Jedi does nothing to calm her down. She tells Sol that she is innocent, and that Mae is still alive as she backs herself off a cliff. Sol saves her, and tells her he believes her.

Her claim of innocence is bolstered by another attempt on a Jedi’s life while Osha is in custody. Someone broke into the Temple on Olega and tried to kill Master Torbin while he was in a meditative state but could not penetrate his protective Force field. Since Osha was with Sol, she couldn’t have been there as well. It must have been Mae. They are directed to investigate.

Mae has fallen in with a Dark Master who has trained her. Now, we obviously know this to be a Sith, but the Jedi at this time, at the end of the High Republic era, had not seen a Sith in centuries and seem absolutely puzzled that anyone would want to kill Jedi. Mae is intent on killing four Jedi to get revenge for what happened to her and what they did. And her mysterious master, for unspecified reasons, needs her to kill one of them without using a weapon.

Image: Disney+

However, Master Torbin has been in his meditative state for about ten years and is untouchable. She seeks advice from her supplier, Qimir (Manny Jacinto! Now both Jason Mendoza and Pillboi are canon Star Wars characters! Tahani next!)

He rather cryptically spells out their goals, reminding her that everyone has a weakness. “The Jedi justify their galactic dominance in the name of peace.” Which, they know, is a lie. Torbin is no different. He only thinks he’s found peace, but “what he really needs is something only you can give him. Absolution.” He makes her a poison based on a plant from Osha’s home world. She breaks back into the temple and speaks to the meditative Torbin and offers him a choice. Either confess his crimes to the Jedi High Council, or receive forgiveness from her by drinking the poison. Torbin awakens from his ten-year meditation almost instantly. He says, “I’ve been waiting for you, Mae,” and drinks the poison. “Forgive me. We thought we were doing the right thing.”

Which is… wow. What could the Jedi have done that was so bad that Torbin immediately killed himself rather than talking to the Council? I mean, we saw Anakin slaughter younglings! Back in the Ahsoka show, there was a flashback to young Ahsoka leading troops in the Clone Wars and thinking about the things they had done in the name of the Jedi. Will this be something similar? A fog-of-war moment? Were the Jedi “just following orders?”Or will it be something more akin to a My Lai massacre? Or did the Jedi do something terrible to preserve what they thought was a greater good? My interest is piqued.

Mae leaves the temple just as Osha, Sol and the rest arrive, which leads to a confrontation where Mae attacks Sol. This doesn’t go well for her as Sol is even better at dodging than Indara was. She escapes by using the Force to create a sandstorm for cover. As she runs out to the road to speeder-jack a vehicle, she sees Osha. Mae is just as surprised to see that Osha is alive. (Was that a motivating factor for her? Revenge for her sister? If she knows she’s alive will that change her desires?) Osha fires at her, but the shots are so far off, it looks to me like she missed on purpose.

As she and Sol discuss their encounter, Osha reminds him that there were four Jedi involved in the incident on her home world: Indara, Torbin, Kelnacca, and Sol. She already killed two, and fought Sol, which leaves only the Wookiee Jedi Kelnacca, camping out on Khofar. I am quite excited by the Wookiee Jedi. You thought they were badass when they could just rip an arm out of socket? Well, Kelnacca can do that and then use the Force to beat you with it.

So, overall, this is a strong start to the series. I am looking forward to the show digging into the mystery of what happened to Osha and Mae so long ago. What were the Jedi trying to cover up? What did they do that got Mae so angry, she turned to the Dark Side for revenge? Is there a lot of pent-up anger towards the Jedi? And who exactly is the mysterious instructor training Mae? We have eight episodes for them to tease out the mystery. Let’s hope for a satisfying conclusion.


Episode 1: Lost/Found: 4 out of 5

Episode 2: Revenge/Justice: 4 out of 5

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