The Acolyte – Is the Force Finally with This Series?

SERIES REVIEW – Star Wars can sometimes be dark, complex, and ambitious, like the Disney+ series Andor or the film The Last Jedi. Other times, it’s exhilarating, epic, and heartwarming (Return of the Jedi). And sometimes, it’s just weird, silly, and disappointing (The Phantom Menace).


So, it’s perhaps no surprise that the prequel to the prequels, Disney+’s new series The Acolyte, falls into the latter category. Full of logical fallacies, clunky dialogue, and nonsensical plotlines, The Acolyte fits right in with the worst elements of the prequel trilogy, which many hardcore fans still despise even after 25 years. The series, created by Russian Doll producer Leslye Headland, certainly has ambition, trying to tell a grand story about the mythology and magic of the Jedi and the Force. But this show is a prime example of how good intentions can pave the road to hell—especially when the creators lack the necessary talent.


Az Akolitus / The Acolyte


Looks Aren’t Everything


Sci-fi/fantasy jargon, dramatic costumes, brightly colored lightsabers, over-the-top hairstyles, and ominous villains crammed into The Acolyte by Headland do not make a good story on their own. There needs to be emotion and depth in the characters and their struggles. More is needed than just perfunctory plot points. There must be a sense of adventure and wonder. And there needs to be something that captures the essence of Star Wars, not just its aesthetics. The Acolyte lacks this, no matter how hard it tries.

A century before Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) felt a disturbance in the Force in The Phantom Menace, a rogue “Force-user” is hunting and killing Jedi masters across the galaxy. Initially thought to be the former Jedi Padawan Osha (Amandla Stenberg), it is revealed that the Jedi killer is her twin sister, Mae (also Stenberg), long presumed dead after a mysterious fire when they were children. The blaze killed their family and led to Osha being taken into the Jedi order. (This “twist” is revealed in the first few minutes of the series premiere.)

Jedi Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game), who trained Osha before she left the order, is determined to capture Mae or Osha (or both) and solve the mystery. He’s joined by a handful of other colorful but utterly forgettable Jedi. Is Mae seeking revenge for what she believed happened to her family years ago? Or is there a more sinister power brewing in the galaxy? This is the puzzle, and a flashback episode featuring Jodie Turner-Smith as the girls’ mother, Aniseya, and the leader of a “witch coven” offers few answers.


MOZI HÍREK - Carrie-Anne Moss a Mátrix digitális világából a Star Wars: The Acolyte (Az akolitus) misztikus erői közé csöppent.


Too Complex and Too Simple


It’s all a bit too convoluted (witches, in this galaxy?) and a bit too simplistic (ah yes, the old evil twin twist). Mae’s reveal comes too early in the series, stripping away much of the mystery that could make The Acolyte unique within the ever-expanding Star Wars canon. There are too many characters with too many quirks to distinguish them from one another. It’s tough to tell the various aliens apart from Charlie Barnett’s Jedi Knight Yord.

But The Acolyte has its moments. The final scene of Episode 4 (the last provided to critics) delivers genuine horror and fear when a villain is introduced. Perhaps this bodes well for the season’s final four episodes. Jung-jae and Stenberg make a great pair, with the former proving his acting chops in English (he won an Emmy for Squid Game, which was entirely in Korean). And it’s always a treat to see Matrix star Carrie Ann Moss, who briefly appears in two episodes, wielding a lightsaber as if she’s done it all her life.



Some Fans Might Love It


Some Star Wars fans will devour every frame of The Acolyte. For them, the complex mythology is the main course, not a silly garnish. But superfans can forgive a lot of flaws. Some sci-fi series manage to make their mythology and world-building far more engaging and compelling (like Amazon’s excellent The Expanse, for instance). However, in The Acolyte, the Jedi mythology remains confusing and dull. It needs more excitement and clever use of old elements because many aspects are overused, while others poorly fit into the Star Wars canon.

Like young Padawans (the Star Wars term for students or apprentices), The Acolyte has great potential. The Mandalorian turned Star Wars into a western. Andor made it revolutionary. The Acolyte could have been a fantastic and mysterious masterpiece. Instead, it’s just another missed opportunity and a lackluster, Force-less series.

-Gergely Herpai “BadSector”-



The Acolyte

Direction - 5.6
Actors - 5.8
Story - 6.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 6.8
Ambience - 6.2



The Acolyte starts promisingly but quickly runs out of steam as the series fails to find the right story. While it has some good moments, the overall confusing plot and too many characters make it hard to engage fully. The Jedi mythology it tries to build on is murky and dull, in dire need of some excitement.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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