Star Wars: The Acolyte episodes 1 & 2 review

The Acolyte is off to an intriguing start.
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Warning: There are spoilers ahead from episodes 1 & 2 of The Acolyte.

Since it was first announced in 2020, Star Wars: The Acolyte has been eagerly anticipated. That anticipation is mostly rewarded in the intriguing two-episode series premiere.

The first episode, "Lost/Found," does an effective job of immediately providing the necessary context for all fans. The series opens with a crawl-like card of blue text clarifying when the show takes place and establishing the current state of the galaxy. It's the perfect amount of information to make the story accessible without being overwhelming. The blue text, the words appearing onscreen, and the ominous music make this introduction distinct from the traditional opening crawls in the Skywalker Saga films.

The episode jumps right into Mae (Amandla Stenberg) confronting and attacking Jedi Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss). The action is impressively choreographed, and it's visually captivating to see Force-sensitive characters attacking and practicing self-defense through various styles of real-world martial arts.

That being said, the opening fight sequence loses some of its tension because so much of it had already been shown in The Acolyte's trailers, TV spots, and after the credits of The Phantom Menace's 25th anniversary theatrical re-release. The death of Indara also suffers because of this, as she seemed most likely to be the first Jedi death in the series, given that almost all the promotional footage of her character was solely from this fight. It's a little disappointing to lose her so soon after making her Star Wars debut. At least there will be more of her once the flashbacks to Brendock, the home planet of identical twin sisters Mae and Osha (also played by Stenberg), are revealed.

The Acolyte's mystery is enriched by focusing more on motive than on it being a whodunnit. The story doesn't waste time trying to convince the audience that Osha is the killer. Instead, it's more interested in exploring the motives behind these actions, gradually shedding light on what happened on Brendock all those years ago. It also examines the divergent paths Mae and Osha have taken and the lingering bond between them.

Stenberg is already one of the show's standout performers, making both Mae and Osha feel like their own well-defined characters, each equally compelling to watch. One sister joined the Jedi Order and is now helping them years after she left their ranks. The other sister becoming the acolyte to a masked individual wielding a red lightsaber (likely a Sith Lord), presents a fascinating new twist on the dichotomy of good and evil in Star Wars.

Mae (Amandla Stenberg) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

In addition to Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae shines in the first two episodes as Jedi Master Sol. He brings gravitas to the role, making you want to hang onto his every word, yet there is a warmth and sadness to him as well. The calm, reflective, and open-minded way Sol teaches the younglings is the same energy he also brings to his interactions with his former Padawan, Osha, and his current Padawan, Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen), makes him feel like the best of the Jedi. But he doesn't see himself that way as he's clearly haunted by past mistakes, from what happened on Brendock, to Osha walking away from the Jedi Order.

The second episode, "Revenge/Justice," features some more great action, this time between Mae and Sol. However, the episode really excels in its quieter moments. It is genuinely sweet seeing Sol inquiring about Osha's tattoo, her quip about him not approving of the tattoo, and his remark that it only matters if she likes it. This exchange gives a rich sense of their dynamic and history that remains intact despite no longer being master and apprentice. It makes it more believable when Sol then admits to Osha that he wanted to save both her and Mae all those years ago.

Another quieter moment, one that is far more dramatic and tragic, is Jedi Master Torbin (Dean-Charles Chapman) breaking out of his meditation, asking Mae for her forgiveness, and choosing to drink the lethal poison. What could he have done on Brendock that would make him feel he needed Mae's forgiveness and that he deserved to die?

(Clockwise from center): Jedi Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss), Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae), Jedi Master Kelnacca (Joonas Suotamo) and (second from right) Master Torbin (Dean Charles Chapman) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

With both Indara and Torbin already dead, the stakes feel real for Sol and the Wookiee Jedi Kelnacca (Joonas Suotamo), who were the other two Jedi present on Brendock on that fateful night. Even the Jedi who weren't involved in that incident, such as Jedi Knight Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) and Jedi Master Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson), seem like they could be in danger, one of the advantages of telling a story in an unexplored part of the timeline with a cast of characters whose fates haven't been sealed.

The identity of the Sith Lord and how killing these four Jedi factors into their endgame is another enticing mystery in play, both for this story and in the larger Star Wars canon. The Sith Lord is manipulating Mae's need for revenge, but why are they intent on having her kill these Jedi right now? This could compromise the secret of the Sith's survival, a secret that has been kept for approximately 900 years. If the equally comedic and sinister Qimir (Manny Jacinto) isn't the Sith Lord, how does he factor into this grand plan as well?

Between all these questions, The Acolyte's premiere leaves viewers with plenty of intrigue to keep them invested moving forward. Given the multilayered mysteries at work, the series should be able to sustain this intrigue, especially since the majority of the footage shown in the marketing has already occurred in the first two episodes.

dark. Next. Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 1 "Lost/Found" Ending Explained. Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 1 "Lost/Found" Ending Explained