Monday, July 22, 2024

The Acolyte Tells A Partial Story, Unveiling More Questions

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The overwhelming mystery left from The Acolyte’s two-part premiere was undoubtedly the mystery of what happened when Osha and Mae lost their home. This week’s new episode spends its entirety showing us most of this incident, from glimpses of their normal life up to the incident where each sister thought the other dead. It’s a bit of a pace breaker, but one I can appreciate for giving me answers I would have been frustrated to have to wait for. There was also plenty of history to give here; so much that this episode could have given us another twenty minutes and had plenty of content to justify it.

But first, let’s talk about what The Acolyte did show us.

Sol speaks to a younger Osha in The Acolyte

I have to admit to a bit of disappointment when the credits rolled on this episode. The Acolyte did such a good job investing me in the mystery of what happened to Osha and Mae’s home, and then built so much tension throughout this episode, that the payoff in the end seemed tame. Most of all, it felt incomplete. There are still a considerable number of pieces missing from the puzzle and way too many questions surrounding the Jedi’s role in what happened to the coven of witches on Brendok.

That being said, this also continues to build the mystery by providing just enough answers to open a variety of new questions. We know that Koril and Mother Aniseya had deep differences over how to raise Osha and Mae. They had even deeper differences over how to handle the Jedi. We see Mae start the fire that causes the explosion, but the extent of the fire and its damage seems way too extreme for the amount of dead we see, especially considering where they are found in relation to the fire.

The Acolyte has also yet to show us exactly what the Jedi strike force did that they would feel so guilty over. It had to be something terrible for Torbin to enter a decade-long trance he only breaks to willingly kill himself. Torbin has his large facial scar in the end, but without showing us what caused it.

Right now, we only see four Jedi who looked to test the twins and rescued Osha when Mae started the fire that destroyed the fortress.

The possibilities are numerous here. My guess is that Koril and Aniseya’s differences, combined with the stress of losing one of their daughters, escalated into violence, which is what the Jedi stepped into. Warring factions within the coven may have been fighting, Koril could have killed Aniseya and tried to ambush the Jedi, we still don’t know, but this episode made a point of establishing the building tension between the two. I would say Koril jumped to the head of the line of suspects for the identity of the secret master Mae works under.

This still wouldn’t particularly establish what could cause the Jedi to feel so terrible about what happened. Again, we are missing vital pieces of the puzzle here, and not in a way I would all a flaw. These are exciting mysteries the show is establishing, both to set up up future episodes and build out the larger High Republic era.

The coven itself is definitely the highlight of the episode. Star Wars witches have always been cool, and these were no exception. I always like seeing different interpretations of the Force, since they flesh out the mystical nature of this power in a way that the real world around us interprets religion differently, even within similar beliefs. I would love to see more of them, and there’s a very good chance we will if Koril turns out to be Mae and Qimir’s master.

Having Koril and Aniseya use the Force to somehow conceive Osha and Mae is also an interesting display of the potential of their power. You can see how the Jedi would take interest in that kind of power considering what happens later with Anakin, and many fans are already speculating about the possibilities the twins’ conception being a precursor to the future Darth Vader. I also wonder if you can chalk up the differences in personality and morality to the fact they are twins. Perhaps they were meant to be a single entity and the ritual did not work as intended, which caused one to take the light side and the other to the dark, or maybe Aniseya made sure they were twins.

I also like the idea of each sister choosing differently when faced with the question of individuality, especially considering what happens after they split. Osha desperately wanted to be her own person, yet she ends up in the Jedi Order which famously tries to crush individuality. Meanwhile Mae was happy to be part of a homogeneous collective but ends up mostly alone.

That being said, the relationship between Osha and Mae was also the weakest part of the episode. Part of it is the acting of the girls, which I won’t hold against them or the episode too much because they are kids and you should never do that. Mostly, though, the relationship was weird and the speed with which Mae goes from full dedication to her sister to a murder attempt is quite ridiculous.

I wish we could have seen more of their lives and why Osha felt so strongly about leaving. I also wonder how exactly she would think the Jedi were heroes to admire and want to join if she spent her whole life secreted away in a witch coven that fears and resents the Jedi. Even if Mother Aniseya wasn’t as hostile as the others, she is still the leader of a group that opposes the Jedi way of thinking, and clearly does not view them favorably.

As is, I’m just left wondering what exactly pushed Osha so far from the others and what made Mae so suddenly hostile towards her. This didn’t feel like an intentionally open question the way the fire does, it feels like The Acolyte rushed the story to get each sister where they needed to be.

It’s unfortunate that Osha continues to be the one suffering for how the story is handling the twins. Mae still remains the more sympathetic figure here, even more than our presumed protagonist, and while part of that is intentional, it’s also a bit strange to leave your hero so far behind. On the list of interesting characters, she is well down my personal list.

Aniseya speaks to her coven from The Acolyte

Through three episodes, The Acolyte has a tendency of setting up a bevy of interesting plot points and thematic elements that vary in execution. Some of it is really good, but some of it feels too half-baked to be as interesting as the words read on paper. Many shows struggle through this at the start as they try to find their footing and solidify exactly where the story will go, and The Acolyte might be doing the same here. Or it could end up a show with unrealized potential.

If you’re a Star Wars lore lover, this show is a treat. I love the setting and the time period, and any expansion upon the use of the Force outside of the Jedi and Sith. Some of the characters are hitting me exactly how the show wants, with Sol continuing to be a standout, but then that is the problem. He is a standout, rather than a favorite among a strong cast.

Of course this is my own opinion, and not nearly enough to sour me on The Acolyte. These are just the flaws keeping me from loving this show. As is, I am still invested in how this all will play out. Five episodes remain to explore the mysteries established so far, and I’ll be here to see how they play out.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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