The Acolyte is a straight-forward detective story that fails to break much new ground

The first two episodes of Star Wars: The Acolyte are out now on Disney+! Are they worth watching?
(L-R): Mae (Amandla Stenberg) and Jedi Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Mae (Amandla Stenberg) and Jedi Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Another show has entered the increasingly worn-out looking Star Wars galaxy, with The Acolyte dropping its first two episodes on Disney+ this week. The Acolyte promises a new take on the franchise with a detective story set in the High Republic era, a century before even The Phantom Menace. A Jedi master is murdered by a mysterious Force user, prompting a murder investigation that begins to uncover a lot of secrets about the Order that might have been better kept hidden.

I'll be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this show, and if I wasn't already a huge Star Wars fan, I can't see myself signing up just to watch it. The marketing left me cold, which I think that has a lot to do with the fact it's supposed to be a mystery. The trailers were coy, and as a result they didn't give any tantalizing glimpses into the story.

And when you actually get to watching The Acolyte, that mystery isn't all that important anyway. It takes the Columbo approach to detective stories, showing the murder of Master Indara (a criminally underused Carrie-Anne Moss) in the first few minutes. From then on, it's more about how the Jedi find the murderer, Mae (Amandla Stenberg), and us finding out why she's committing these acts in the first place. There's no doubt about who's responsible, even though the Jedi first pick up Mae's twin sister Osha, assuming she's to blame. Everyone is quickly disabused of that notion.

I don't know if the writers were hoping for more, but the fact that Osha and Mae are twin sisters is pretty obvious from very early on, though it is odd that they both look identical, even down to their hair, despite the fact they haven't seen each other for over a decade, and neither knew the other was alive. It makes you wonder if there's something else going on here, with twin sisters who are both strong in the Force. Does this mean something bigger than just coincidence?

The whole plot is pretty predictable, but the characters are interesting, particularly Jedi Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae), who brings some much-needed weight to the show as an older figure, balancing out a relatively youthful cast.

Most of the first episode, "Lost / Found," is concerned with setting up the world. The show looks good. There are large scenes involving crowds of background extras, many in make-up and prosthetics, and the ubiquitous alien bar scene, all well done. It seems like it's been a while since there's been so much detail in a Star Wars show. This is meant to be the golden age of the Republic and the Jedi; we see that in scenes set in a Jedi temple, where members of the Order wear more regal robes than in the prequel trilogy.

Star Wars: The Acolyte review: Episode 1 and 2, "Lost / Found" and "Revenge / Justice"

As is often the case with streaming shows, the first two episodes were dropped at once, which means we don't have to be satisfied with the setup in Episode 1 and can move right on to the payoff in Episode 2, "Revenge / Justice." There's a fair amount of convenience involved in getting the main group together, and a lot of bad decisions by the Jedi in how they handle the situation.

The action gets going more in Episode 2, where we find out more of what's driving Mae to kill Jedi. It looks like they were responsible in some way for the death of her family and now she's on a path of revenge to kill the four Jedi who were involved. I didn't buy the idea that a hostile Force user would be able to sneak into a Jedi temple undetected, and it seems a little off that a Jedi would commit suicide for their own peace of mind, rather than following the will of the Force.

The more pressing mystery that could now become the crux of the series is the identity of Mae's master. Who's the mysterious bad guy in the mask? Fan theories are already going round the internet, so maybe it will tie in with something already established, though if he does turn out to be a Sith, that could risk retconning the idea that they've been extinct for a thousand years as stated in The Phantom Menace.

All that aside, is The Acolyte any good? Well, yes, and that's probably the best way to describe it: Good. There's not much here that's terrible but nothing that will boost the franchise to new heights. It's nowhere near as strong as Andor, but isn't a pile of bantha poodoo either. It's more just keeping it on the same level. It's enjoyable for what it is, but there are also some clear gaps in the plot. These are only the first two episodes, though, so there's a chance for it to rise or fall yet, and I can't really see how this particular storyline can be stretched over eight episodes without some big plot twists.

Perhaps that's what the show will be, just another also-ran that doesn't do much to change the franchise in any big way. Only time (and the next six episodes) will tell.

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