Monday, July 22, 2024

The Acolyte Jumps To Lightspeed, With Less Than Ideal Results

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One thing I feel confident saying about the first three episodes of The Acolyte was its dedication to placing the pieces of its mystery. This was a show that wanted us to be familiar with the players involved and their motivations. Did the story move a bit slow for this approach? Maybe, and I can see both sides of a debate over whether to speed up or keep the pacing the plot as is.

The Acolyte’s fourth episode decided now was the time to move things faster. Unfortunately, it made for the weakest episode so far, because they didn’t move faster so much as randomly teleport the plot forward.

A Sith Master holds a red lightsaber between themselves and Osha from The Acolyte

I’d say that for about eighty-percent of this episode, and maybe even more, I was enjoying this episode about as much as I enjoyed the first three. There were some awkward moments, some less than stellar pacing, but it remained solid enough. Or rather, it was leading to something very interesting to end the episode on, which would hopefully be worth the buildup. Every scene led to that moment where Mae and the Jedi team meet at Kelnacca’s hideaway.

This changed with one moment that undid not just the progress of this episode, but also much of the work done in the The Acolyte’s first three episodes; the moment Mae randomly decides that she doesn’t want to kill the Jedi anymore and will turn herself in.

To say this decision lacked buildup is a drastic understatement. Frankly, it comes out of nowhere. Mae shows no real hesitation, no scenes of doubt, nothing that suggests she is second-guessing the path she has chosen, and then suddenly abandons her mission entirely. Perhaps the only real hint is Qimir second-guessing her motivation because of Osha, and that Mae would be killed if she abandoned her vengeance.

This is not nearly enough. The Acolyte should use this scene as the start of a change for Mae, not the deciding moment where she wants to turn herself in to the Jedi.

In theory, I understand how Osha’s survival changes things for Mae, but once again this information is too brand new to act on right now. We have seen nothing to suggest Mae was wavering before, and so I expected any confrontation between the two sisters to be a battle of wills where they each try to convert the other. Yord even sets this up with the scene where he mentions Osha having to confront herself when she confronts Mae.

Instead we get none of this.

The episode plays out rather disappointingly from there. We see none of Kelnacca, as the wookie is already dead when Mae gets there. We don’t get a scene with Osha and Mae. Mae’s master shows up, but the episode cuts to the credits in a very strange and ill-timed manner that just feels like the climax was randomly cut short.

The Acolyte Jedi Standoff

There are still compelling things to talk about. More than ever, it’s clear Qimir is someone important, and maybe even Mae’s master himself. The scenes of him leading Mae through the forest were the highlight of the episode. The Jedi politics in the episode definitely strike my interest.

The Sith Master also makes an iconic entrance, floating on screen in the background, out of focus, with a creepy smile design on their mask, and I loved everything about that. The show of power to Force push so many Jedi makes clear they are in a different tier of power than anyone there.

Without that climactic action to cap off an episode filled just with walking and talking though, the flaws in the walking and talking feel worse than they otherwise might have. Many of these scenes were clunky and out of place in ways I am now tolerating way less than if they ended on a cool high note.

At least we got the adorable Bazil, the fuzzy tracker who immediately became one of my favorite characters on The Acolyte.

Bazil in The Acolyte
The real hero

A popular theory right now is that Osha is the one who will truly turn to the dark side and be the titular Acolyte to Mae’s (former?) master. There is an interesting way to reveal that getting Osha was the goal all along, and that she was believed to be the stronger one when they were children. It makes for a compelling tragedy for Mae if she was simply used to turn her stronger sister evil. I think this idea makes even more sense if their mother, Koril, is the Sith master.

Even then, I don’t feel like The Acolyte did enough to set that twist up if it happens. We need more to truly sell why these sisters would make these decisions. We need to know more about who the hell they are. I thought we had a good idea of who Mae was, which is a big reason why her turn feels unsatisfying and abrupt. We have little idea who Osha is, and this episode continued to make her an underwhelming character.

I’ll say this; the next episode needs to kick off with a bang. They need to do something exciting with this cliffhanger. This was bad timing to air my least favorite episode of The Acolyte so far, so they need to follow up with one of the best. Here’s hoping they manage it.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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