The Acolyte
(Disney+)

‘The Acolyte’ Is ‘Star Wars’ at Its Finest

It isn’t easy to produce a good Star Wars story. You have a divided fandom working against you and years of lore that people will nitpick given the option. The Acolyte, however, has the perfect recipe to make it one of the best Star Wars shows yet.

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Set during the High Republic era, the series (created by Leslye Headland) is not burdened by characters who are already beloved by fans; the whole cast of characters is new to the live-action franchise. Littered with the scene transition wipes made famous by George Lucas in the original trilogy, so much of this show feels like a love letter to the series as a whole. But it still brings to life vibrant characters and a story that will keep you hooked.

I have seen the first four episodes of the season, the third having a special place in my heart, but all four manage to tell you everything you need to know about these characters without giving away all their secrets. Mae Aniseya (Amandla Stenberg) is a woman who is trying to find justice for her family. The issue is that, to many, she looks like her Jedi-trained twin sister Osha (Stenberg), which results in Osha being apprehended by the Jedi.

Osha trained to be a Jedi Master until she left the order six years ago and is now a mechanic (essentially doing the job of an astromech droid). As she tries to keep to herself and hide away on the freighters she’s working on, you can quickly see the difference between these two sisters when we see Mae fighting Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) versus Osha’s joy over seeing the Jedi once more.

While Osha and Mae’s story is at the heart of The Acolyte, it still has all of those elements that make it so very Star Wars.

This feels like my Star Wars

Mae posing in the Acolyte
(Disney+)

When you think about this franchise, the original trilogy is about Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader with other characters peppered in. Leia Organa becomes more important once you see her connection to Vader and Luke, but the series is, for the most part, centered on that family dynamic and the issues there. There is a reason we all make fun of the Skywalkers and their drama. Even the prequels had Anakin and his family nonsense (his family being both Padmé and Obi-Wan Kenobi).

Setting The Acolyte in the golden age of the Jedi and yet still having the core issue center around these two sisters is exactly what makes this franchise so special. Yes, the wipe transitions help and the general feel of the show and look of it reminds me so much of the Prequels and what I loved about them, but the Star Wars-isms of The Acolyte all stem from the show having themes that have always worked within the universe.

Characters we all will love

Master Sol holding his lightsaber and posing on the ground
(Disney+)

It isn’t easy to make a Star Wars character that instantly grabs the attention of the audience at this point. Those characters that do are our beloved ones. Characters like Han Solo made a lasting impression, we all love Lando Calrissian, and fans won’t ever forget how Finn and Poe Dameron first met. Cassian Andor made a lasting impact enough to have his own show, but new characters are not always standouts.

With The Acolyte, there’s not a character I dislike. Every new character I meet makes me want to spend a lifetime with them. Yord (Charlie Barnett) is a beloved Jedi Knight who is more of a himbo than anything else. Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) can come across as a Theelin-human hybrid know-it-all, but she’s always right in what she’s saying.

Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) is powerful, intelligent, and has an emotional connection to Osha that defies the ways of the Jedi, yet he’s still someone you know will protect those he cares about. Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson) feels cold but can see reason and logic, and it makes her an important part of the Jedi.

They all have aspects of them that are very much connected to characters we know and love in Star Wars while still being unique and new.

A new time for the Jedi

The Jedi with their sabers all in a line
(Disney+)

We have seen the destruction of the Jedi, the absence of the Jedi, and then the attempt to rebuild them through the major Star Wars trilogies. While we have movies like Rey’s standalone film coming out (which will be another attempt at rebuilding the Jedi), we have never really seen them in all of their glory.

The Acolyte has the Jedi at their most powerful, their most together, and still, we see how the ways of the Jedi get in their own way. Sol wants to believe Osha when she says that she didn’t commit a crime against her, but he has to do as the council says, and that is the crux of all issues with the Jedi.

A brilliant new story in Star Wars

Star Wars mae and Indara fighting each other
(Disney+)

The Acolyte had a lot of things that could have worked against it. A new era for the franchise, all new characters, and a small portion of the Star Wars fanbase who hates anything not straight, white, and male was pushing back on the show before it even started it. But the first four episodes of The Acolyte tell a story I cannot get enough of.

Headland and her writers’ room did an incredible job of finding the balance between the story they were telling and honoring the universe that George Lucas created at the same time, and I loved every second of it.


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Author
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.