The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 4

By George & Josh Bate

the acolyte episode 4 review
(L-R, front row): Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett), Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 4

After an episode that turned the clock back to shed light on the origins of Mae and Osha, Star Wars: The Acolyte propels forward with a new episode full of intriguing conversations, neat cameos, and a resounding final scene. 

Episode 4 picks up where the series’ second episode left off. The Jedi are still in pursuit of Mae following the murders of Jedi Masters Indara and Torbin, while Mae is after Kelnacca the Wookiee Jedi, the third of four Jedi she holds accountable for the death of her family.

Despite just confirming with her own eyes that her sister Mae is alive and seeing her for the first time since they were children, Osha decides to leave the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and return to her regular life. This reluctance feels a little misplaced given Osha’s motivation to find Mae in episode 2 and their enduring connection as twin sisters. Throughout this episode, Osha expresses reluctance at joining the Jedi on their quest, saying so to Jecki, Sol, and Yord in three separate conversations. One would think that Osha would feel more motivated than ever to find Mae, bring her in, and receive closure for what Osha believes Mae did to their family, but, perplexingly, this is not the case. 

Osha first expresses her desire to leave the Jedi Temple to Jecki at the start of episode 4. The former and current padawans of Master Sol have an enjoyable exchange and showcase that Osha would very likely have friends in the Jedi Order if she was still a member today. Given their proximity in age and commonality in both being trained by Sol, Osha and Jecki have developed a friendship, which later affords an interesting conversation as Osha begins to feel the Force again.

the acolyte episode 4 review
Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+.

Meanwhile, on the forest planet of Khofar, Mae and Qimir are in pursuit of Kelnacca. As noted in our review of episode 2, Qimir, the rare non-Force sensitive character in The Acolyte, is suspicious to say the least. This first comes up in episode 4 when Qimir remarks that he knows bounty hunters who won’t step foot in the forests of Khofar, to which Mae asks, “Oh, but you have?” After hesitating, Qimir admits that he has. So, bounty hunters refuse to make this trek and it took considerable effort from a Wookiee Jedi master, but the seemingly powerless Qimir was able to do so? Something is certainly up with Qimir, as will become more evident later in the episode.

Back on Coruscant, the Jedi deliberate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the reemergence of Mae and the deaths of Indara and Torbin. One of the Jedi engaged in this deliberation is none other than Ki-Adi-Mundi. The ever-recognizable Cerean Jedi, who appeared in both the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars, makes an unexpected cameo appearance here as one of the Jedi discussing Mae. Leslye Headland remarked that The Acolyte would not feature cameo appearances from characters outside of people from the High Republic and from Legends, but Ki-Adi-Mundi’s inclusion here (and the inclusion of another Jedi later on) is evidence to the contrary. With these remarks, Headland was probably talking about cameos from widely known, prominent characters, unlike Ki-Adi-Mundi, who, relatively speaking, plays a minor role in a galaxy far, far away. Nonetheless, it is fantastic to see him again, now sporting black, rather than gray, hair, which is reflective of where The Acolyte is set in the Star Wars timeline compared to the prequel trilogy.

Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+.

Ki-Adi-Mundi and other Jedi have an interesting discussion about Mae here. Having faced her head-on in episode 2, Sol has seen that Mae has received considerable training, with Vernestra Rwoh going as far as to confidently hypothesize that she must have been trained by a Jedi. Not only are the Jedi motivated to find Mae so that they can hold her accountable for the murders of Indara and Torbin and prevent the murders of Kelnacca and Sol, but they are also intrigued and concerned by the existence of Mae’s master. One of the Jedi speculates that Mae and her master may comprise a splinter group of Jedi who have left the Order and formed their own. This same Jedi also brings up the possibility that Mae and her master are something else. The word ‘Sith’ is not used here, but it is certainly implied. Much has been made of how the Jedi in The Acolyte can face a Sith Lord given that, in The Phantom Menace, the Jedi note that they had not faced a Sith for thousands of years. How The Acolyte will address this point remains unclear, although one can already see some of the Jedi’s shortcomings in refusing to take this issue to the High Council. 

Back on Khofar and the conversation between Qimir and Mae places further intrigue around the identity of the dark side master. Again, Qimir is just so suspicious here. He briefly mixes up the pronouns “I” and “We” when discussing the master and he seems far too interested in and knowledgeable of the dark side. Putting aside what happens to Qimir later this episode and taking into account what we’ve seen by this point, it seems that we may be heading toward a reveal that Qimir is indeed Mae’s master.

Determined to bring Osha along for the mission, Sol tries to convince his former padawan to join his team of Jedi. Sol tells Osha that he senses there is still good in Mae and implies that Mae will get hurt if Osha is not there to help turn her to the light side. This conversation paints a bit of a picture of what kind of master Sol was to Osha, although Osha’s reluctance to join this mission continues to be a bit of a head-scratcher

After recruiting a reluctant Osha to join the search for Mae, Sol leads a team of Jedi to the planet Khofar to save Kelnacca and catch Mae. Among this team of Jedi is another famous Jedi from the prequel trilogy – Plo Koon! The Kel Dor Jedi Master, notable for being one of Dave Filoni’s favorite Star Wars characters, was rumored to feature in The Acolyte after a shot from one of the trailer’s suggested his inclusion. Although the actor playing Plo Koon is not credited in the episode, we’re fairly certain that this is him. Plo Koon’s species have longevity of life compared to humans and Plo Koon was around in this time 100 years before The Phantom Menace. Little attention is allocated toward Plo in this episode, which is ultimately a great decision as doing so would derail attention away from the lead characters in favor of a cameo only a select group of viewers would appreciate.

the acolyte episode 4 review
Scene from Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Also assisting in this mission to find Mae is Bazil. Leslye Headland confirmed in a roundtable interview we participated in that Bazil is played by a man in a suit, harkening back to how similar characters of small stature were played by people in practical suits in the original trilogy.

Using Bazil’s expert tracking skills, the team of Jedi journey through the forests of Khofar, hoping to find Kelnacca before Mae does. On the way, Yord is oppositional toward Osha, demanding that she hand over her blaster as it is property of the Jedi Order. Charlie Barnett plays the strictly by-the-book nature of Yord so well in never making the disciplined Jedi unlikable or unknowable. Speaking with Yord, Osha hints at that the justice she wishes to achieve for the death of her family and, unlike Sol, casts doubts on whether Mae can turn to the light side.

As the journey continues and after Sol kills an umbramoth that Osha senses, Osha and Jecki engage in another of the episode’s more interesting conversations. The two discuss what it means to be a true Jedi and Osha expresses guilt that it was her action that led to the death of the innocent creature. Osha echoes a long-held Jedi sentiment, which was integral to Anakin’s fall to the dark side, in claiming that she could never be a true Jedi given how fixated she was on the loss of her people. We’ve commented on how excellent Amandla Stenberg has been in this show so far, but attention should also go to Dafne Keen, as evidenced by her performance in this scene. Keen manages to perfectly embody the inquisitiveness and upstanding morals of a young Jedi and is so natural in her line delivery. The former X23 actress shows she was a great inclusion for this new Star Wars show.

the acolyte episode 4 review
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Elsewhere, Mae and Qimir continue their conversation and get ever closer to Kelnacca. The two discuss the master’s “final lesson” for Mae to kill a Jedi without a weapon. This remains an intriguing point for The Acolyte to explore, especially when one considers that it is without a weapon that the Sith eventually destroy the Jedi (through Palpatine’s subtle political maneuvers). Once again, alarm bells ring all around Qimir as his motivation to help Mae complete her mission is suspiciously strong.

Suddenly, an unexpected turn occurs. Mae tricks Qimir and ties him up as she decides to abandon her allegiance to her master and her pursuit of revenge. “I don’t need to do this anymore,” a relieved Mae says. “Osha being alive changes everything. My loyalty is to Osha, not your master.” Given how prevalent the theme of redemption is in Star Wars, Mae’s turn doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it definitely comes earlier than expected. Nonetheless, it makes sense given what has happened so far. Mae was motivated by revenge against the Jedi as she blamed them for the murder of her family, especially her sister. But, now, Mae knows that Osha did not die. With her sister being alive, Mae no longer feels as strongly about revenge, with her motivation pivoting to being with her sister again.

Now, Mae journeys to Kelnacca in order to turn himself in, rather than to kill him. But, in another twist, Kelnacca is already dead, brandishing a fresh lightsaber wound across the chest. Kelnacca’s death here is certainly a surprise given we’ve seen so little of the character so far. Promotional footage for the show has revealed that Kelnacca will feature in flashbacks, which will likely explain what really happened on the night Mae and Osha’s family died.

the acolyte episode 4 review
(Center, L-R): Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) and Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

With Kelnacca dead and Mae innocent of the murder, a realization comes to mind: the master is here. The sun sets and the forest gets dark while the Jedi surround Kelnacca’s hut and demand that Mae exit. When trying to get her out, Sol and the others suddenly sense something. In the episode’s creepiest shot, a mysterious figure approaches the Jedi and Osha from the background. Emerging from the darkness is Mae’s master, sporting the terrifying smiling mask. And, just as the fight between the master and the Jedi begins, the episode comes to an end. An abrupt end, that is. There’s nothing wrong with an episode ending on a cliffhanger (in fact, this is often the best way to conclude an episode of TV), but this episode’s conclusion feels rather sudden. This issue may have been subverted if the episode ended on a slightly different note, perhaps before the master and the Jedi engage in battle. Either way, the cliffhanger ending is successful in making us eagerly await what comes next.

This final note of the episode adds more evidence to the theory that Mae’s master is Qimir. After acting so suspicious all episode, Qimir is suddenly off-screen after Mae tied him up. Then, moments later, Kelnacca is dead and the master has arrived. The timing feels like more than a coincidence in that it appears Qimir, disguising as a trader, is actually the master. After being tied up by Mae, Qimir could have escaped using his Force abilities, rushed his way to Kelnacca, and killed the Wookiee Jedi before he got there. Admittedly, Star Wars has introduced a number of masked characters recently, which, despite generating speculation regarding their identities, ultimately did not go anywhere (look no further than Marrok in Ahsoka and C-X2 in The Bad Batch). Despite this, it really feels like Qimir is more than what he appears on the surface.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

After the prolonged flashback that was last week’s episode, The Acolyte propels forward with a captivating episode full of intriguing conversations, dramatic moments, and neat cameos. Twins Osha and Mae find themselves on different sides in pursuit of Kelnacca the Wookiee Jedi, with the former allying with the Jedi to prevent his death and the latter allying with Qimir to kill him. The episode is largely dedicated to each team’s journey to Kelnacca, which affords plenty of opportunities for great character interactions, especially those between Osha and Jecki and those between Qimir and Mae. A number of unexpected plot twists lead to Mae turning her back on the master and Kelnacca meeting his demise, before an eye-opening finale in which the dark side master makes his greatest appearance yet. Although the episode’s abrupt ending feels rather jarring, it excels in increasing our anticipation for what comes next in Star Wars: The Acolyte.

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