How Qimir and Palpatine used a middle ground to seduce with the dark side

How Osha is being lured by the same tactics as Anakin Skywalker
The Stranger (Manny Jacinto) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
The Stranger (Manny Jacinto) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

From the beginning of The Acolyte, mystery surrounds the training of assassin Mae. We know that her master, Qimir, has deceived her and prevented her from knowing his identity until the truth is forced into the open. Master Sol says that she couldn't disclose his name, even if she knew it. The dynamic certainly qualifies in some ways as abusive, and a major concern has been how she can safely leave that relationship.

A major twist in episode 5, "Night," was Mae's choice to leave her own sister in the grasp of this dark Force user so she could escape with the one Jedi who survived the massacre on Khofar. As Osha finds herself a captive of Qimir, we see her own seduction into the darkness.

More captivating than her reactions to the opportunities presented to Osha are the ways in which Qimir presents himself as not like other bad guys. She is given clothing, healing, and provisions in the time between her sister's betrayal and her awakening as a thrall of the unmasked murderer. As she approaches his discarded clothing and saber, we get a close-up of his face and register how aware Qimir is of her presence and her intentions. There is no question of him concealing who he is now, and the only thing he can do is reframe who he represents.

This can also be a sign of the abuse cycle that he will likely perpetuate. According to "11 Reasons Why People in Abusive Relationships Can't 'Just Leave," there are a number of reasons that Osha is in a difficult position:

"Society normalizes unhealthy behavior so people may not understand that their relationship is abusive...It's hard to identify your relationship as abusive and therefore there's no reason to seek help...after every abusive incident comes a make-up honeymoon phase. Often when an abusive situation happens, it is followed by the abuser doing something nice...This makes their partner minimize the original abusive behavior."

At this point, Osha doesn't have much experience with Qimir. What she knows causes her to follow him at a distance and keep herself armed. She even holds his saber to his throat late in the episode.

His placid responses remind us of another dark side adherent. Palpatine goaded Luke Skywalker by offering him a means to end the war and based his confidence on the anger he felt in the young Jedi. Chronologically earlier, however, his grooming of Anakin Skywalker for service to the dark side is a more patient game.

"I can feel your anger. It gives you focus, makes you stronger."

Chancellor Palpatine (Darth Sidious)

Earlier, Palpatine was the only one to understand and validate Anakin's killing of an unarmed prisoner, recalling the secret the Jedi Knight had shared of his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders. Similarly, Qimir sees Osha's conflict as she takes up the saber that killed several Jedi and voices the paradox:

"You're wondering if it's honorable to kill me like this. Heat of battle, it's justified, but a few hours later, it's vengeance. Now you're wondering how I can read your mind. I can't. Your anger betrays your thoughts."


His rueful smile at the end is one of camaraderie as if he knows what it's like to be so vulnerable because of emotions. He also turns thoughts of his malfeasance back on her, claiming his insights are a product of her choices and denying that she is a prisoner because she is the one with power. After his brutal acts, he is the one with less power.

In another parallel to Palpatine, Qimir continues to highlight Osha's empowerment in a situation where she feels powerless. Qimir denies Sol's great strength in the Force and attributes it to Osha herself, saying, "Someone ought to teach you that." This hearkens back to the moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin says that he is aware that the Jedi Council is holding back knowledge of the Force because they don't trust him. In the following conversation about the "subtleties of the Force," Palpatine begs him to learn the ways of the dark side:

"Ever since I've known you, you've been searching for a life greater than that of an ordinary Jedi. A life of significance, of conscience."

Chancellor Palpatine (Darth Sidious)

Qimir doesn't openly turn Osha against the Jedi. That would be too heavy-handed, and she already lives under the shadow of her guilt that she failed as a Jedi. But he explains, "The Jedi teach that there is only one way to access the Force, and if you don't do it their way, it fades." When he identifies the powerful emotions that Osha has been feeling, and she classifies them as a path to the dark side, he shrugs that off as "Semantics."

Anakin and Osha are both Force users who recognize that, "I'm not the Jedi I should be" as Anakin says. They belong to neither side, but Qimir subtly lets Osha find her path in the gray spaces between light and dark and patiently waits because "When you lose everything, that's when you're finally free."

We can hope that sense of freedom won't lead her further along his path, but that is a story to be told in the remaining episodes.

The Acolyte: What psychology advises to help Mae break free of her Master's abuse. dark. Next. The Acolyte: What psychology advises to help Mae break free of her Master's abuse