Exploring the Past: The Acolyte’s Bold New Chapter in the Star Wars Saga

The Acolyte series evolves into a Star Wars whodunnit, with Osha and Mae discovering each other’s existence by the end of the opening episodes.

The Acolyte poster
The Acolyte poster.

When creating engaging new stories within an established fantasy universe, it can be advantageous to shed the existing lore and establish a distinct separation from the original narrative. For example, the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, jumped back a few centuries, and The Rings of Power set the stage thousands of years before the familiar events of Middle-earth. Following this trend, Star Wars has ventured further into the past than ever before with its latest prequel.

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The Acolyte, a new series, boldly sets its timeline a hundred years before the Empire’s rise. The Galactic Republic enjoys an era of peace, safeguarded by Jedi who wield the Force with their lightsabers and supernatural abilities. This period of tranquility is disrupted by a pivotal question posed by creator Leslye Headland, known for co-writing Russian Doll: What if someone challenged the Jedi?

The series opens with a dramatic duel. A determined warrior (Amandla Stenberg) confronts a Jedi in a bar on a rugged Star Wars planet, reminiscent of settings from The Mandalorian and Andor. Donning a Mortal Kombat-style mask and armed with kunai throwing knives, this warrior seems like a space ninja. She openly challenges the Jedi, revealing her own Force abilities, leading to a deadly confrontation.

This encounter alarms the Jedi leadership, who mistake Osha (also played by Stenberg), a former Jedi dropout, for the attacker. However, Sol, Osha’s former teacher, played by Lee Jung-jae, suspects something is amiss. He recalls Osha’s twin sister Mae, presumed dead years ago. Soon, Osha and her droid Pip join Sol’s mission to stop the mysterious ninja targeting Jedi.

The series evolves into a Star Wars whodunnit, with Osha and Mae discovering each other’s existence by the end of the opening episodes. A forthcoming flashback promises to explore their unconventional upbringing, shedding new light on the Jedi and the Force.

Stenberg delivers a standout performance in her dual roles. As Mae, she has a dynamic rapport with her underworld ally Qimir (Manny Jacinto). As Osha, she forms a tentative bond with Jedi trainee Jecki (Dafne Keen), an alien with a striking appearance. Osha also maintains a complex relationship with her former master Sol, who disapproves of her rebellious streak.

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Despite its fresh setting, The Acolyte embraces classic Star Wars elements, from scene transitions to familiar catchphrases. However, it occasionally feels weighed down by the traditional portrayal of Jedi as emotionally reserved.

Unlike Ahsoka, which continued storylines from animated series like The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, The Acolyte offers a clean slate, requiring no prior knowledge from viewers. Though it starts with familiar tropes, Headland’s subversive storytelling promises unexpected twists, making The Acolyte an intriguing new addition to the Star Wars universe.

The Acolyte is available on Disney+, with new episodes releasing on Tuesdays in the US and Wednesdays in the UK and Australia.

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