The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 5

By George & Josh Bate

The Acolyte episode 5 review
Scene from Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 5

There have been more than a few moments throughout the nearly 50 year history of Star Wars that have taken our breath away. Many of these moments have had deep emotions connected to them, but others have also astounded with an exhilaration and breathtaking intensity. Some of these moments include the infamous Duel of the Fates sequence in The Phantom Menace, which saw Darth Maul battle Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the epic series duels of conflicts that unfolded in The Clone Wars episode “The Lawless.” Now, with the release of The Acolyte episode “Night,” another project joins the ranks of top-tier, nail-biting, and unrelentingly intense Star Wars stories.

Picking up right after last week’s jaw-dropper of a cliffhanger, the new episode of The Acolyte shows Mae’s mysterious master face-off against Sol and a battalion Jedi in an epic showdown with identities revealed, lives lost, and tears spilt.

“Night” kicks off with an unconscious Osha laying on the forest floor of Khofar. She has just been knocked out by Mae’s master at the end of episode 4 and wakes up in a manner similar to Paige Tico does at the start of The Last Jedi. After stumbling through the forest for a few moments, Osha runs into the dead body of a nameless Jedi, one of the group that start pursuing Kelnacca in the previous episode. With the sounds of lightsabers clashing in the background and seeing a Jedi already dead, for a few moments, we thought that the episode may not depict the Master’s conflict with the Jedi on-screen. Episode 4 killed Kelnacca off-screen and, at first, it appeared that episode 5 may follow suit without showing deaths on screen.

Thankfully, though, that was not the case. Shortly after, Osha looks deeper into the forest to see the Master dueling with various Jedi in a brilliantly choreographed action sequence. The mysterious dark side user fights and kills a number of Jedi using some pretty awesome techniques, including using his forearm armor to block lightsabers and even headbutting a lightsaber while wearing his helmet. Few materials are able to withstand the power of lightsabers, but it is clear that the Master has gotten his hands on something formidable. One such material is Beskar, the Mandalorian armor that the likes of Din Djarin and Boba Fett wear. Maybe a visual dictionary will one day reveal what the Master’s armor is made of, but, for now, it is quite neat to hypothesize that he may be wearing Beskar (although a moment a few minutes later suggests the helmet and armor are more than just Beskar…)

In addition to some brilliantly choreographed lightsaber moves (including stabbing a Jedi and then using the Force to bring another Jedi through his ignited lightsaber), something else becomes clear in this moment – the Master is extremely powerful. He effortlessly kills various Jedi (including the Plo Koon lookalike Ithia Paan) just like Darth Sidious does in the Chancellor’s Office when fighting Mace Windu and company. For a single person to so formidably stand against trained Jedi means the Master is extremely skilled to say the least. And, as the episode progresses, the Master’s power continues to impress.

Right before delivering a final blow to Yord, Osha shoots a stun blast at the Master. In one of the episode’s cooler moments, the Master takes the stun blast with no pain or effect at all. He simply and slowly turns his menacing face toward Osha, shrugging off the blast with ease. 

Saving the day just in time is Sol. Osha managed to duck just in time to avoid the Master’s thrown lightsaber, which leads to an awesome shot of several trees severed in half and slowly falling apart after being sliced by the Master’s lightsaber.

(L-R): Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) and Osha (Amandla Stenberg) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Osha flees the scene with Yord, while Sol bravely stands against the Master. The Master cocks his head in an unnerving manner, very much like Michael Myers does in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). This all happens before the show’s title has shown on screen, by the way. What an introduction.

Elsewhere, Mae is still in Kelnacca’s hut and manages to find his lightsaber. Not long after and Mae succumbs to a great jump kick from Dafne Keen’s Jecki character. The two begin to fight in a sequence reminiscent of the first episode’s ‘Force-Fu’ action between Mae and Indara. Seeing this Matrix-esque action in Star Wars continues to be really refreshing and offer a nice counterpoint to the lightsaber battles happening elsewhere in the episode. The Jedi’s primary weapon is a lightsaber, but this does not mean they cannot lean into their Force abilities in battle and The Acolyte, perhaps more than any other Star Wars project to date, embraces that fact.

Meanwhile, The Master and Sol exchange words, with Sol sensing that the Master is familiar to him, and begin to duel. Sol tells the Master to take off his mask and reveal his face, which the Master responds to with, “And let you read my thoughts?” Does this imply that the Master’s mask somehow blocks out the effects of the Force? If so, this mask is reminiscent to Magneto’s helmet from X-Men: First Class in similarly blocking its user from being affected by another’s power (in Magneto’s case, his helmet blocks him from being affected by Charles Xavier’s cerebral powers). Hopefully, we get more info about the Master’s helmet down the line. Has The Acolyte just made the metal Cortosis from Legends canon?

While fleeing from the scene, Yord and Osha overhear Jecki’s duel with Mae and turn around to save her. That happens after Yord makes an interesting comment about the Master’s ability to get inside your head and stay there. This is not the first time Star Wars has featured a dark side user using their abilities to get inside the head of an enemy (Palpatine and Ben Solo, for instance). 

The Acolyte episode 5 review
(L-R): Mae Aniseya (Amandla Stenberg) and Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Jecki’s duel with Mae is interrupted then as the Master shows up, having vanished from his encounter with Sol. The Master’s primary motivation here appears to be getting his hands on Mae, going so far as to leave Jecki alive in order to ensure he secures Mae. The duel between Jecki and the Master entertains while it lasts, especially with a cool moment in which Jecki dual wields both her lightsaber and Kelnacca’s lightsaber.

The Master pursues Mae and shows what Yord means by getting inside your head with some pretty terrifying and invasive moves. While sprinting away, Mae is terrorized by close-up images of the Master, who calls her a ‘coward’ and taunts her. It is not long before the Master catches up to Mae and critiques for being weak. Just before landing a fatal blow though, Sol and Jecki show up to save Mae. What unfolds is another brilliantly choreographed lightsaber duel, which affirms that this episode is essentially a 30-minute action sequence.

Just after smashing the Master’s helmet, Jecki suddenly meets her death. The way in which her death is confirmed, by showing three lightsaber wounds from behind, is chilling, but the primary emotion here is heartbreak. Jecki was such a lovely, kind-hearted character, who had developed rapport with Osha, Sol, and Yord across the first four episodes of the show. To see her meet her demise like this is so sad, something that is made all the more painful when considered in the context of another heartbreaking loss later in the episode.

But, for now, as hearts break and tears swell, Jecki falls to her death, revealing the Master’s true identity. It comes as no surprise at all that the Master is indeed Qimir. There were a number of fairly overt hints in the first few episodes that there was more to Manny Jacinto’s character, and we even hypothesized that he was Mae’s master in a previous review. While this reveal is predictable, it also comes just after the show’s halfway point, meaning there is plenty of time for more twists and turns. If the Master’s identity was kept concealed until the end of the show, only to reveal that he has been Qimir the whole time, then there may have been some disappointment. However, because this reveal comes now, its predictability isn’t too damning.

The Acolyte episode 5 review
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

From here on out, the episode firmly becomes Manny Jacinto and Qimir’s. Jacinto has impressed in previous episodes of The Acolyte, but that work pales in comparison to the singular menace and terror that he brings to this fifth episode. This is perhaps best shown in a fleeting moment in which Jacinto temporarily transforms back into the bumbling Qimir, before switching back to his true villainous self.

A true villainous self that happens to be…a Sith! Yes, series creator Leslye Headland has teased that her show would tie into the lore of the Sith, but finally hearing that word spoken again and confirming that The Acolyte is truly committing to exploring the Sith were amazing. 

Sol takes on the perspective of the audience for a second by asking Qimir, “Why risk discovery?” This is an understandable question given that the Sith hid in the shadows for hundreds of years before finally making their presence overt again in The Phantom Menace. Much controversy around The Acolyte has been with its handling of the Sith and whether it would remain consistent with the sentiment held by Ki-Adi-Mundi and others in Episode I that the Jedi believed the Sith were extinct. Seemingly, the only way in which Qimir’s reveal as a Sith does not run counter to what The Phantom Menace is established is if all of the Jedi here die…

Qimir explains that his motivation is “Freedom. The freedom to wield my power the way I like. Without having a Jedi like you to answer to. I want a pupil, an Acolyte.” Qimir goes on by saying that, because Mae exposed him as a Sith, he now has “to kill every last one” of the Jedi here. “They see my face, they all die,” he says, a line that doesn’t bode well for Sol and Yord in this episode.

Qimir’s motivation here is quite interesting to explore. The Sith have seemingly operated in secret for hundreds of years after the Jedi believed they had defeated them in battle. Qimir is expressing a frustration the likes of Sidious and Maul do – a frustration that the Jedi have seeming control of the Force and the galaxy and that they have determined the Sith should not exist. More insights into Qimir’s motivation are likely to come, but, for now, they seem to be rather consistent with what we know about the Sith from the prequels.

After making a choice comment about Mae and Sol reuniting all of these years after the mysterious disaster on Brendok, Yord bombardes in and clashes with Qimir. The two briefly battle before Qimir snaps Yord neck and kills him! (Cue the need for more tissues to wipe away our tears). As if this episode wasn’t heartbreaking enough already with the death of Jecki, now Yord all dies. Just when we, like many, have declared ourselves proud members of Yord’s fan club (lovingly known as the Yord Horde).

An emboldened Sol fights with Qimir and is ready to kill him when he is stopped by Osha. Qimir uses his dark side manipulative ways by playing on the trust Osha and Sol have for one another. “You trust him even after everything he did to you?” Again, it is clear that there is more to be discovered about what happened on Brendok all those years ago, and likely that discovery will implicate Sol, Indara, Torbin, and Kelnacca in the murders of Mae and Osha’s coven.

Qimir approaches Sol again when Osha attacks Pip to his back. The light of Pip attracts the umbramoths of the forest, and the creatures proceed to take Qimir away from Sol and Osha. This gives the two a second to reflect on what Qimir just said. Osha inquires as to why Qimir said she should not trust Sol. “What did you do?” she asks. Sol states that he will explain, right before Mae hits him with a stun blast.

The Acolyte episode 5 review
Mae Aniseya (Amandla Stenberg) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Now, after nearly five episodes, Mae and Osha are finally reunited. Amandla Stenberg excels here in believably portraying these two sisters as distinct, fleshed-out characters. Mae and Osha argue about their past as Mae believes the Jedi are evil, while Osha blames the Jedi for brainwashing her and making her believe that Mae was responsible for the fire. Mae delivers a similar line as Anakin Skywalker from Revenge of the Sith does when she says, “They’ve turned you against me.” And, as more and more hints about Brendok are given, it appears that Mae has a point. It definitely seems like the Jedi manipulated the truth in order to portray themselves as the good guys and Mae as the bad guy.

Although it looks like Mae and Osha will reconcile for a second, Osha pulls away from Mae and makes it clear that Mae has to pay for her crimes. The two engage in battle, which culminates in Osha becoming unconscious. The Acolyte then proceeds to lean into tropes of twin stories by having the twins swap places (just like in The Parent Trap). Mae cuts her hair to appear like her sister Osha and then joins the side of Sol, unaware that Mae is now pretending to be Osha. It remains unclear exactly what Mae’s motivation is here, although it seems like the show is maybe heading in a direction in which Mae aligns herself with Sol and Osha aligns herself with Qimir. The latter appears increasingly likely as Qimir, recovering from his tussle with the umbramoths, comes across the unconscious Osha. Qimir gives a dark side spin on Yoda’s classic, “Luminous beings are we” quote by saying “What extraordinary beings we are.” He uses the Force to heal Osha (just like Rey and Ben Solo do for each other in The Rise of Skywalker) before the episode agonizingly cuts to black.

The Acolyte episode 5 review
Osha (Amandla Stenberg) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

VERDICT: 9/10

The Acolyte delivers its best episode yet with 30-minutes of nail-biting intensity, heartbreaking losses, and a rather predictable reveal. The episode features arguably the best lightsaber choreography since the prequels, while also offering plenty of dramatic heft with the losses of Jecki and Yord. While the reveal that Mae’s master has been Qimir does not come as a surprise whatsoever, this reveal thankfully comes with a few episodes of the season to spare, rather than being delivered as some disappointing and predictable end-of-season twist. After this reveal, Manny Jacinto becomes the star of the show, triumphing with an unnerving performance as the show’s first look at a Sith lord. Mae and Osha’s long-awaited confrontation leaves a bit to be desired, but it does lead to a The Parent Trap-esque twin swap, which will surely provide for some interesting plot developments in the coming episodes. With Osha now in the hands of Qimir and Mae side-by-side with Sol, the fifth episode of The Acolyte concludes on a tantalizing note after delivering the series’ best outing yet.

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