Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Acolyte Pulls A Parent Trap As It Nears The Finale

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Last week’s episode of The Acolyte was not just a brutal one, it was also a momentum shift for the rest of the season. Circumstances have changed significantly for basically every character, and it was up to this week’s episode to begin plotting the new course the season will take with its remaining episodes, as everyone picks up the pieces from a fight that didn’t really leave anyone a winner, just varying degrees of losers.

The dynamics have also changed significantly, while some new players begin looking into the fallout of last week’s massacre.

Sol, face dirty and scratched up, looks pensive on The Acolyte

Most of this episode focuses on the switch made at the end of last week’s episode, where Mae disguises herself as Osha in order to escape with Sol, leaving her twin sister in the clutches of Qimir. Qimir wastes no time trying again where he failed with Mae, as he taps into Osha’s anger and insecurities to try and convert her to the Dark Side.

Qimir really continues to shine in these scenes, following up on the character’s terrific introduction last week. After all the Darth Bortles jokes, it’s rewarding to Manny Jacinto absolutely nail this character. He’s so effortlessly in control throughout this episode; whether he is start naked or pinned against a wall with a lightsaber to his neck, Qimir is always the one dictating every single moment he spends around Osha. The character displays so much power without lifting a finger in violence throughout the entire episode.

The Acolyte also drops a few hints as to Qimir’s past, though obviously we should consider the source. He claims to have once been a Jedi, and has scars on his back he claims came from his master. He uses this past to try and make a connection to Osha, who was also pushed out of the Order, and you can easily imagine him doing exactly the same with Mae.

This is a difficult balance for an actor to maintain. Qimir has to simultaneously come across as enticing and dangerous, truthful and manipulative. Jacinto pulls this off without any issues whatsoever, and continues to give Qimir potential as an iconic Sith villain.

It’s Qimir that entirely carries these scenes. I don’t think The Acolyte has done enough to establish the rage and insecurity in Osha that Qimir is tapping into. I’m sure I am a broken record about this, but this was Mae’s whole gig; she was the angry one, she was the insecure one. These scenes fall a little flat and didn’t sell me the way I’m sure The Acolyte wanted to sell them because I don’t see Osha the way the episode wants me to see her. I don’t see her as so close to the Dark Side that she could be so easily swayed away to consider Qimir’s point of view.

Not that it matters too much when one character is as great as Qimir was here, but I hope this subplot will provide Osha a chance to really emerge.

On the flip side of this were Sol and Mae. They don’t receive as much time or as many interactions as Qimir and Osha, but they do well with their time, especially Sol. Still, I hoped we would get more. Things don’t really get juicy between these two until the end, when Mae tries to coerce Sol’s side of the Brendok story and is caught out as not being Osha.

Unfortunately, their last scene is Sol preparing to deliver a speech he says he has prepared ever since Brendok, and I wish we could have seen that before the episode ends. It feels like a tease the same way The Acolyte teased Qimir vs. the Jedi and I hope the next episode delivers as well as that cliffhanger did.

Also included in the Sol/Mae plot is Jedi Master Vernestra’s active introduction into the plot as she leads a team to investigate the deaths of Sol’s squad, following Sol’s unclear report from his ship. Many fans are speculating that she is Qimir’s master, and that she will cover up the deaths on Khofar in order to hide her complicity in creating Qimir.

I can certainly see how The Acolyte suggests this to be true. She carries a whip lightsaber, and Qimir’s scars somewhat resemble scars from whipping. She is also quick to let her subordinate believe Sol killed the Jedi and has fallen to the Dark Side. Hell, she practically suggests it beforehand. Even her earlier appearances this season carried a hint of paranoia about her, as if she was worried about something the rest of us don’t know about.

We also hear in her scenes about a faction of the Galactic Senate that wants external review of the Jedi Order, suggesting some level of mistrust in the galaxy towards the Jedi. The combination of this political pressure and Vernestra’s possible role in the existence of Qimir would be very good reason for her to want to cover all of this up.

There have been many rash accusations about The Acolyte ignoring previous Star Wars canon with the existence of a Sith Lord, when the Jedi believed them nonexistent in this point in Star Wars history, but we can see how the show has set things up so no one will ever know.

Of course, The Acolyte also gives Vernestra reason enough to suspect Sol. She mistrusted his emotional attachment to Osha and Mae from the beginning of the season and may still harbor distrust towards Osha, and in turn mistrust Sol as someone whose emotional attachment could turn him to the Dark Side. There’s still the very real possibility that Koril is involved and was Qimir’s master, and my previous assumptions that this was on ongoing thing were off base. Maybe Koril is dead, and her impact on the season comes from her role in the past of multiple main characters.

In short, this would be a great time for the flashback episode everyone expects to reveal the truth behind Brendok, the witches, the fates of Osha and Mae, the role of the Jedi, etc.

The Acolyte did a solid job of immediately reestablishing tension and direction for the season, following last week’s fallout of the hunt for Mae that drove everything up until then. I imagine some of the remaining questions fans have will remain unanswered, as showrunner Leslye Headland has newly discussed her plans for future seasons, but at the same time she has said that she doesn’t want to save things with the assumption that she will get a second season, and leave fans unsatisfied.

That means that wherever The Acolyte is headed, we can expect it to be relatively conclusive. With two episodes remaining in this first season, I’m curious to see what that conclusion will be.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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