The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 6

By George & Josh Bate

The Acolyte episode 6 review

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Acolyte – Episode 6

The previous episode of Star Wars: The Acolyte was not only the best of the series to date, but also ranks among the best episodes of live-action Star Wars television ever. Masterfully crafted fight choreography, heartbreaking losses, palpable intensity, and a key identity reveal made “Night” a near-perfect Star Wars story, one that intriguingly set the stage for what’s to come. And what’s to come is “Teach / Corrupt,” the sixth episode of The Acolyte.

“Teach / Corrupt” picks up where its predecessor left off. An unconscious Osha has been taken by Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger, while Mae (disguised as Osha) is now side-by-side with Master Sol after the deaths of Jecki, Yord, and other Jedi.

The previous episode of The Acolyte could be characterized as a 30-minute action sequence. Unrelenting action in a manner similar to Mad Max: Fury Road made episode 5 filled to the brim with action and intensity, interspersed with several moments of reprieve. Episode 6, however, adopts a slower, more methodical pace. This pattern of following an action-packed episode with a more contemplative successor can be seen in various acclaimed television shows, including Game of Thrones. While some may find this approach to be a bit jarring, it works very well here. The previous episode featured so much emotion and such important plot reveals that the audience needs a moment to breathe and sit with these emotions, exactly what “Teach / Corrupt” does.

The episode begins with Osha waking up in a small living quarters on the island planet seen at the end of episode 1. The Acolyte has followed Rogue One and Andor so far in depicting planet names with on-screen text, but strangely continues this trend by introducing the island location as “Unknown Planet.” Admittedly, a minor gripe, labeling this planet as “Unknown Planet” does not take anything from the episode – it just feels a bit off.

As Osha wakes up and begins to explore the island, we get a better look at this unknown planet. Right off the bat, the planet evokes memories of Ahch-To, the isolated planet that Luke Skywalker exiled himself to in the sequel trilogy. The tiny creatures move and look somewhat similar to the thala-siren Luke milks in The Last Jedi, while the rocky geography shares obvious parallels to Ahch-To. When this planet was revealed in promotional footage for The Acolyte, he hypothesized that it could be Ahch-To, and the beginning of episode 6 does little to dispel this assumption. However, a scene later on in the episode suggests that this is not Ahch-To, but, rather, an important location to the Sith from Legends (we’ll expand on this point later in the review).

From the beginning onward, The Acolyte’s sixth episode unfolds like a Star Wars flavor of The Parent Trap. The twins Mae and Osha have swapped places and, in turn, masters. The episode proceeds by switching back-and-forth between Mae and Osha’s interactions with each others’ master. This proves to be really intelligent storytelling as it exposes Mae and Osha (but especially Osha in this episode) to starkly opposing viewpoints. The lives of both characters diverged quite markedly following the disaster on Brendok, with their subsequent masters playing significant roles in forming their worldviews. But, here, those worldviews are challenged. Osha began this episode with an idea of the Jedi as an all-good, unwaveringly well-intentioned institution of people, but The Stranger pushes back on this assumption, encouraging Osha to be more skeptical of the morals of the order she once belonged to. Much of episode 6 unfolds as a conversation between Osha and The Stranger, one that highlights the seductive nature of the dark side and exposes cracks in the ethics of the Jedi.

Osha first comes across The Stranger by following him as he journeys to a pond on the island (similar to how Rey follows Luke around on Ahch-To in The Last Jedi). The Stranger then strips down and joins Kylo Ren, Anakin, and Yord as the latest Star Wars character to have a shirtless scene (surely much to the delight of the section of Star Wars social media thirsting over Manny Jacinto’s character after last week). This shirtless scene also serves a purpose though as it depicts an interesting scar on The Stranger’s back. Later in the episode, The Stranger discusses the scar with Osha, teasing that the damage was caused by a lightsaber and that he was stabbed in the back by someone. We may be reaching here, but could the winding nature of the scar indicate that it came from Vernestra Rwoh’s lightsaber whip? Regardless, it is clear that there is much to learn about The Stranger’s backstory.

As The Stranger swims in the pond, Osha grabs his lightsaber. The Stranger compliments Osha’s stance and offers a bit of advice. “You should keep your other elbow up higher,” he says. Much of the dialogue in this episode teases that Osha will be the pupil Mae failed to be – that she will be The Stranger’s acolyte. Jacinto’s character clearly sees potential in Osha and subtly exploits her buried emotions by casting doubt on the teachings and morals of the Jedi. 

Everything The Stranger says to Osha is so meticulously crafted to manipulate Osha. A great example of this is when he comments that it is interesting that she asked about Sol’s well-being before she asked about her sister Mae’s well-being. Manny Jacinto has delivered the standout performance in The Acolyte so far, and continues in this episode by showing a different side to his character – one that is more cognitively and emotionally manipulative and one that shows the more subtle powers of the dark side.

Jacinto’s character shows this manipulation in another conversation he has with Osha later in the episode. He dismisses Osha’s claim that he endorses the dark side by simply saying, “Semantics,” a line that highlights how The Stranger (like many Star Wars villains) do not view themselves as evil. As Palpatine said in Revenge of the Sith, “Good is a point of view.” The Stranger takes this advice in his stride by dehumanizing the people he just killed, responding to Osha’s statement that he killed Jecki and Yord by simply saying that he killed Jedi (as if the very fact that they are Jedi should explain why they deserved to die).

The Acolyte episode 6 review

After this conversation, The Stranger quotes Palpatine with the line, “Do it” as he insists that Osha use his lightsaber to give in to her anger and kill him. He asks Osha why she is no longer a Jedi, something that pushes Osha over the edge and makes her ignite The Stranger’s red lightsaber. Here, The Stranger discloses that he has lost everything as well and that it is because of this loss that he is finally free. As much as we can’t wait to find out what happened on Brendok, we are equally interested in The Stranger’s backstory. Why does he have such disdain for the Jedi? Who did he lose? 

The final season of the episode that features Osha and The Stranger’s interaction sheds more light on The Stranger’s intentions and ties into what we know about Sith lore. Osha asks The Stranger, “What do you want?” The Stranger responds, “The power of two.” Of course, this harkens back to the Rule of Two, the Sith ruling that there should only be a Sith master and apprentice (no more and no less, as Yoda described). This line adds further credibility to the theory that The Stranger is actually the apprentice of another Sith master and wants to overthrow his master with an apprentice of his own.

Further tying into Sith lore is what The Stranger says about his element. He namedrops “Cortosis,” an awesome moment for fans of Legends who recall the inclusion of this special metal in the novel I, Jedi and the Darth Bane novels. The Stranger explains that the Cortosis helmet he wears is “a sensory deprivation headpiece, like we used as younglings.” This means the helmet is similar to the helmet worn by Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars when training with Ben Kenobi (another pretty cool parallel).

The Acolyte episode 6 review

The mention of Cortosis here also ties into another interesting piece of Legends, which may shed light on the identity of this “Unknown Planet.” Cortosis is found on the planet Bal’demnic, a world that first featured in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars and played a significant role in James Luceno’s novel Darth Plagueis. In Luceno’s book, Bal’demnic is where Darth Plagueis kills his master Darth Tenebrous. The two Sith were originally led to the planet due to its large concentration of Cortosis, which was thought to parallel the actions of Darth Bane generations earlier. With each episode of The Acolyte, we are getting more and more references to the Sith lords of Legends and it appears we will find out more about the Sith in episodes to come…

This half of the episode concludes with Osha putting on the Cortosis helmet. Now more than ever, it seems as if the series is heading in a direction that will have Osha become the titular Acolyte. The twins are swapping places in more ways than one….

The other half of episode six, meanwhile, is dedicated to Mae, who is disguised as Osha to be side-by-side with Sol. Mae’s motives are a bit ambiguous here, although the episode clears things up a bit. Episode 5 concluded with Osha rejecting Mae’s request for reconciliation and, therefore, left Mae with quite the predicament. In episode 4, Mae had made it clear that revenge is no longer her primary objective – that has changed to reuniting with her sister. But Mae, at least for the time being, failed to achieve this objective and has now seemingly pivoted back to her original goal of revenge. However, as episode 6 progresses, it becomes clear that Mae wants to use this opportunity of being close to Sol for more than just revenge – she wants answers. There remains so many questions about what happened to Mae and Osha’s witch coven on Brendok and Mae decides to use Sol as a means to clear up these lingering questions.

While Mae carefully navigates this tricky situation, Sol finds himself unable to make contact with the Jedi Order back on Coruscant. This is a key point here as it means that the Jedi continue to be unaware that there is a Sith lord operating. Given the way in which the Jedi are depicted as believing the Sith have been extinct for centuries in The Phantom Menace, it seems that The Acolyte is heading in a direction that will continue to obscure the broader Jedi from learning of the return of the Sith. As such, it feels increasingly likely that Sol will not make it out of this season alive. Not only is he so deeply affected by guilt, but he is also in possession of knowledge the Jedi simply cannot possess by the time of the prequels. 

The Acolyte episode 6 review

Trying to get closer to the truth is Vernestra Rwoh, who departs Coruscant to investigate the events that occurred on Khofar. Her investigation reveals that Jecki, Yord, and company were killed by someone wielding a lightsaber. The brief shots of the deceased Jecki and Yord in the episode hit hard, especially as their deaths came as such a shock in the last episode and how we were forming a real emotional connection to these characters (Yord Horde forever). Vernestra clearly suspects that something more insidious is going on here and seems determined to discover what happened. Again though, either Vernestra comes to the conclusion that there is a Sith lord out there and dies before she can relay this to the Jedi Order, or she does not come to this conclusion and drops the investigation altogether. Either way, it is unclear how The Acolyte will resolve the continuity related to the Jedi’s knowledge of the Sith, but eager viewers should exercise patience before jumping to judgment (there are still two episodes left of this season and, hopefully, more seasons to come).

In the episode’s most emotional moment, Sol finds himself silently grieving the losses of his fellow Jedi, especially his padawan Jecki. This moment sees Lee Jung-jae stare in silence as he faces the anger and sadness of losing Jecki and the others. Lee Jung-jae has produced an incredible performance as Master Sol so far in The Acolyte, and this moment is his best piece of acting yet in The Acolyte. The actor conveys such a depth to his emotions here with his facial expression alone. This scene is absent of dialogue, with Sol’s face telling the audience everything they need to know about the pain he is experiencing. Phenomenal acting from Lee Jung-jae.

The Mae-focused half of this episode concludes with Sol discovering that Mae has been pretending to be Osha. We’re glad this plot point didn’t persist beyond this episode given how tiring twin swapping tropes can be if they overstay their welcome. Before Sol figures out what’s going on though, Bazil sniffs his way to the conclusion that the person aboard the ship is not Osha. When Bazil finally confronts Mae about this, we get the episode’s funniest moment as the tiny Bazil hypes himself up and hilariously tries to fight Mae. 

After dodging discovery here, Mae is stunned by Sol and wakes up to find that she is restrained. Sol says that he will tell her everything about what happened on Brendok, indicating that the next episode will likely be a flashback-dedicated episode similar to episode 3. It will be interesting to finally figure out what the Jedi did on Brendok and how Mother Aniseya and others met their end. Clearly, Sol, Torbin, and Kelnacca harbored great guilt over these events and the reason for their guilt will seemingly be revealed next week.

The Acolyte episode 6 review

VERDICT: 8.5/10

The Acolyte follows up an action-packed installment with a slower, more methodically paced story. “Teach / Corrupt” sees Mae and Osha switch places and, in turn, masters in an episode that further creates cracks in the pristine image of the Jedi held by Osha and many others. Manny Jacinto stands out once again with a performance that taps into the seductive and insidious nature of the Sith and the dark side, while Lee Jung-jae provides the episode’s strongest acting with his powerful, silent grieving of Jecki. The episode is shrouded in intrigue as questions remain, not only about the events on Brendok, but also about The Stranger’s origins. Subtle references to the Darth Plagueis novel and broader lore about the Sith tease interesting reveals to come, while a tantalizing ending suggests Osha may embrace the dark side and become the titular Acolyte. If there is one word to describe The Acolyte after six episodes, it is ‘intriguing.’ The show is more than living up to its billing as a mystery series and has us eagerly awaiting what’s to come next.

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