Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Recap: The Acolyte Episodes 1 & 2 — Lost / Found and Revenge / Justice

The latest Star Wars TV series kicks off with a bang chronicling the adventures of Jedi 100 years before the Skywalker era. 

It's been a long time since we've had a Skywalker-less Star Wars TV show. In fact, it's been nearly two years since the epic and extraordinary Andor.

With The Acolyte, we get our first glimpse of the High Republic, a time of peace of stability in the galaxy with few (if any) of our favorite characters. Yoda is definitely alive during this epoch, but it remains to be seen whether he'll make an appearance. Star Wars shows do love their easter eggs (though often times it's blurry distinction between a knowing wink and just blatant fan service — looking at you, Boba Fett-riding-a-rancor).

Episode 1

Carrie Anne Moss Was Born to Play a Jedi

The first episode opens with a mysterious cloaked figure asking for the local Jedi, then proceeding to pick a fight with Master Indara, who's played by none Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity from the Matrix movies). Moss was absolutely born to play a Jedi, as she oozes effortless cool, calm, and zen-like wisdom. 

Mae (the unidentified, force-using attacker) cites "unfinished business" as they begin fighting. The stunt choreography is stellar, and it's fascinating to see a Jedi ward off steel edge weapons. That is, until Indara succumbs to one planted right in the chest. 

I refuse to believe that they'd only have Carrie-Anne Moss play a bad-ass Jedi for just a few minutes, so I hope that she'll be shown in flashbacks in future episodes. It's clear that Mae has a vendetta against Jedi, so we'll have to eventually learn the reason for her vengeance. 

This Is Getting Out of Hand. Now, There Are Two of Them!

Across the galaxy, a woman who looks identical to Mae wakes up on a spaceship clutching her chest — was she dreaming about the events that just took place? It's unclear. Her name is Osha and she's a meknek, a spaceship mechanic on a Trade Federation cruiser. Turns out she's a former Jedi who left the order, which becomes clear when two Jedi arrive unannounced to speak with her. 

But these aren't the stolid, over serious, and brown-robed Jedi from Attack of the Clones, though. During this era, their uniforms are white and gold, and they wear their lightsabers in leather holsters. They seem, for all intents and purposes, more like space cops than a mystical order of warriors. Like NCIS: Coruscant.

This new Jedi, a serious and stilted man named Yord, is a former colleague of Osha, and he's here to confront her about the murder of Indara. The suspect in the crime matches Osha's description, but it's clear that Osha has an alibi (on the ship working and not across the galaxy, girl has an alibi). Despite this, they take her into custody because they suspect her of betraying the order. 

Take Me Down to the Coruscant City

At the Jedi Temple, Master Sol (played by famed Korean actor Lee Jung-jae of Squid Game fame) is teaching younglings about the nature of the Force. Some things never change, and I shall never tire of seeing tiny baby alien versions of young Jedi. After class is dismissed, he speaks with Vernestra Rwoh, a Mirialan Jedi that hardcore Star Wars fans may recognize from the High Republic comics and novels.

She informs him of Indara's death, and that the suspect is one of his former students. He seems skeptical of Osha's alleged crime, and it's touching to see him appear so emotional. In contrast, the Jedi we know and love from the original trilogy and prequels are near-monastic in their devotion to being unattached to human connections. 

Master Sol sets off to see about this situation with his current Padawan Jecki Lon (who is a delightfully precocious and capable student). Meanwhile, on the prison ship transporting Osha to Coruscant, there's a mutiny by hardened and very weird space criminals (the whole scene is super entertaining, especially the strange fleshlike, alien-mouth cover). She declines to participate and crash lands on a frozen planet (thankfully not Hoth — it seems like we're foregoing the monoclime planets that dot the Star Wars galaxy). 

Osha is approached by a child, and she chases after her. We're not sure if this is a real or a dream, but it turns out she's talking to her twin sister (as a child) on her home planet of Brendok. 

From this premonition, she learns that Mae is still alive in fact, and that Mae killed Indara. We also learn that Osha used to be Sol's Padawan — he rescued her from a fire as a child. And he was certain that Mae died there. The backstory is slowly building, but there's so much we still don't know. Fortunately, Sol and Yord arrive to rescue her, and they believe that she's innocent. 

A Red Lightsaber

The final scene we see Mae walking up to a mysterious figure at a distance wielding a red lightsaber and wearing some sort of helmet, and he challenges her to kill a Jedi without a weapon. She, it seems, is the acolyte of the show's title. 

But who is this man?!!? In The Phantom Menace, everyone's favorite conehead Ki-Adi-Mundi says that the Sith have been extinct for a millenium. So who's this new guy? We'll have to see. 

Episode 2

One of the coolest things so far about The Acolyte is that we get a look into the regional offices of Jedi across the galaxy (more evidence that Jedi are cops). This episode opens with Mae blasting her way into a temple on a remote planet and attempting to murder Jedi Master Torbin, who's hovering in a meditative state. She can't break through his force field, however, and flees. This sort of transcendental meditation is impressive, and the kind of bad-ass Jedi power I've always wondered about. 

Good Twin / Bad Twin

Master Sol informs Coruscant that Mae (the evil twin) is the one killing Jedi, and he learns that she's taken another victim on a different planet. She's working with a crook named Qimir (incredibly played by everyone's favorite Floridian from The Good Place, Manny Jacinto) to concoct a poison to kill the meditative monk.

Sol and Osha discuss what's going on while traveling en route to the latest crime, and they come to terms with the fact that Mae may be alive. It's got to be hell on both of the dealing with the trauma of their joint past, as well as the truth that a long lost sibling is now alive and possibly evil.

And evil she may be, but there's possibly a reason. Mae returns to the meditative Jedi and offers him the chance of either confessing a crime to the Council or killing himself via poision — and he selects the poison. Is this a confession of guilt? As more time passes, we learn more hints that maybe Mae isn't acting out of pocket, that maybe her vengeance is earned. 

After Mae flees the scene, Osha approaches Qimir pretending to be Mae so she can learn what's going on. It's here that we see what a great actor Amanda Stenberg is — she portrays both characters so well and so differently so when she pretends to be one playing another, it's so clear that it's not the truth. (Fun fact: Stenberg had her breakout performance as Rue in the Hunger Games.)

Qimir feigns innocence but gives up Mae, claiming that he just gunruns for Hutts and provides supplies to criminals. Apart from that, he doesn't seem to know much, but what he does know for sure that Mae wants revenge on four Jedi. She's gotten two already, which means that now we're in a time crunch as she's only got Kelnacca and Sol left. 

Master Sol manages to confront Mae, and they have a fairly epic fight. Truly, the fight choreo continues to be super entertaining. He outfights and outsmarts her, though, in a scene that almost feels like something from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Sol demands to know who's training her, but we don't learn. That's the million dollar question these days, and I can't WAIT to find out, too. He's apparently taken great pains to hide his true identity, even from Mae as Sol force probes her mind. He shocks her by informing her that Osha is in fact alive, and she seems aghast. What happened to these sisters?

She flees, but we know that she has two targets left — including Kelnacca on Khofar.


Kelnacca, we learn, is a Wookiee Jedi, and it's absolutely incredible. Everyone knows Wookiees are fantastic, brute-strength warriors. But when you combine mystical Force powers? How would they not be unstoppable! When we see Kelnacca in action taking out some raiders, it's jaw dropping. He uses the Force to pull the attacker's weapons then literally rips the metal guns in two.

Next week we'll see him in a more epic battle, I imagine. Can't wait! These two episodes have definitely introduced more questions than answers, but I think it's setting us up for something awesome. 


The Math

Baseline score: Both get a solid 8.

Bonuses: This is a brand-new glimpse of a different Star Wars era than most of us are used to, and it's fun; You don't know have to be a big fan or know any easter eggs to enjoy the story.

Proto Gonk droid count:

POSTED BY: Haley Zapal, new NoaF contributor and lawyer-turned-copywriter living in Atlanta, Georgia. A co-host of Hugo Award-winning podcast Hugo, Girl!, she posts on Instagram as @cestlahaley. She loves nautical fiction, Vidalia onions, and growing corn and giving them pun names like Anacorn Skywalker.