Lauren Brady as Young Osha in The Acolyte

‘The Acolyte’ Offers New Evidence for One of the Most Controversial ‘Star Wars’ Theories

Disney+’s latest Star Wars series, The Acolyte, has provided new evidence in favor of a controversial Jedi Order theory that was previously believed to be debunked.

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Episode 3 of The Acolyte, “Destiny,” is a flashback episode that explores the events leading up to the fire that killed Osha and Mae’s (Amandla Stenberg) family. It reveals Osha and Mae were raised by a coven of Force-sensitive witches on the isolated planet of Brendok. Despite one of the mothers, Mother Koril (Margarita Levieva), hailing from the Zabrak species, this coven of witches appears to be separate from the Nightsisters. The source of their power and origin of their community remains mysterious. Although the coven mentions creating Osha and Mae in some unconventional and forbidden manner, the witches don’t necessarily seem dangerous or sinister.

After all, they’re a small community of witches on a faraway planet. Even if their rituals are unique, they simply appear to want to live and practice their ways in privacy. It’s not as if they’re bothering anyone or posing a threat to the galaxy. So, when the Jedi come bursting onto the scene demanding their children, it is difficult not to question their tactics.

The Acolyte reopens the kidnapping debate

Amandla Stenberg as Osha in The Acolyte

One controversial theory about the Jedi Order is that they essentially kidnap children. The theory arose when the Star Wars prequel trilogy came out, and viewers took issue with how young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) was whisked away from his mother and home by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) to train as a Jedi. As a result, a theory arose that the Jedi aren’t the “good guys” in the galaxy but are a cult that kidnaps and indoctrinates children.

However, most Star Wars fans deny the theory because the Jedi seek consent from the parents before taking the children. When they detect a Force-sensitive child, they offer them the chance to join the Jedi Order, but it’s ultimately up to the parents. As a result, it’s more like an adoption than kidnapping. Also, Padawan are permitted to leave the Order if they wish, as seen with characters like Osha and Ahsoka. Still, the Jedi’s methods have continued to draw scrutiny, as many question the necessity of completely severing their ties to their families and the Jedi’s tendency to turn Padawan into child soldiers. Now, The Acolyte has further delved into the Jedi’s controversial tactics.

In “Destiny,” four Jedi appear on Brendok, and it’s quite clear their presence is not welcome. The Mothers try to hide Osha and Mae, but the Jedi sense the children and refuse to leave without seeing them. If the decision to recruit children to the Jedi Order ultimately comes down to the parents, it’s strange that the Jedi wouldn’t heed the parents’ request that they leave their planet and children alone. Instead, the Jedi manage to coerce Osha’s mother to let both girls take a test to determine if they have what it takes to be Jedi. Once again, the ethics become murky as the girls are administered tests in private, where the Jedi are able to speak to and encourage Osha to join the Order without either mother present.

In the end, the Jedi try to frame it as Osha’s choice to join the Order. While Osha’s wishes should be considered, it’s questionable whether a child so young can truly consent to joining the Order. The whole exchange leaves viewers feeling that the parents’ wishes don’t matter, as the Jedi confront the coven in an arguably hostile manner, demand to have access to their children, and then quickly separate the children from their parents and each other while testing them and trying to influence their decisions. There’s a feeling that the Jedi were going to take Osha whether she or the family consented or not.

Did the Jedi kidnap Osha?

Although the Jedi’s methods in The Acolyte are questionable, the Mothers listen to Osha’s wishes and eventually consent to letting her join the Jedi. So, the Jedi did technically receive permission … right? It’s not just the murky ethics that raise suspicion, but the fact that within moments of the Jedi arriving on Brendok, the entire peaceful coven is suddenly reduced to ashes.

Initially, it was believed that Mae started the fire and killed the coven. While Mae is seen starting a fire, the witches already appear to be dead by the time the blaze starts. The sole survivor of the incident is Osha, whom the Jedi save and induct into their Order. It’s hard to believe it’s a mere coincidence that four powerful Jedi only managed to save their recruit out of the whole coven. The Acolyte seems to be strongly hinting that the Jedi killed the witches and used the fire to cover up their deeds. If they did destroy the coven and take Osha, there’s no doubt that they kidnapped her.

Even though it isn’t confirmed that the Jedi harmed the coven, they’ll be partially responsible for the situation either way. If they didn’t do the deed themselves, they still drove Mae or possibly one of the other witches to drastic actions due to taking a child that the coven didn’t want them to take. The situation is exactly why the Jedi should think twice about separating children from their families or pushing their recruitment even after a family requests that they leave.

The actions of four Jedi don’t mean that the Jedi Order as a whole kidnaps children. However, their actions demonstrate that the Jedi may not have always acted ethically when recruiting Force-sensitive children and blurred the line between kidnapping and adoption at times.

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.