The Acolyte Episode 5’s Big Deaths Just Changed the Game for Star Wars

The Acolyte just took a bold step forward that will shock Star Wars fans.

Sith Lord in Star Wars: The Acolyte
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Acolyte article contains spoilers.

Not since the Order 66 montage in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith have we witnessed such a bloodbath. Episode 5 of The Acolyte, suitably titled “Night,” didn’t just kill off the nameless Jedi redshirts we all expected to die when the mystery Sith Lord showed up on Khofar in episode 4 but also two members of the show’s main cast: Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) and Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) in one fell swoop. It’s a shocking turn of events that immediately raises the stakes of the show and reveals the dark side this Star Wars murder mystery has been promising to unleash since its very first trailers. Now, all bets are off, and it’s so refreshing.

You see, up until Qimir (Manny Jacinto) stabbed Jecki through the chest and broke Yord’s neck, “Night” seemed to be taking the safe path we all expected it to take, especially with all the redshirt-wearing cannon fodder on the board. Indeed, as Osha (Amandla Stenberg) regained consciousness, she was immediately greeted by the bodies of several redshirts littering the woods where a whole squad of Jedi had banded together against a sole lightsaber-wielding attacker just minutes prior. She then came upon another pair of nameless Jedi dueling with this clearly superior Sith Lord, who easily dispatched them before turning his attention to Yord. But the episode doesn’t pull the trigger on the Yord Horde’s favorite stickler so quickly. The show bides its time.

The episode written by Kor Adana and Cameron Squires and directed by Alex Garcia Lopez plays with our expectations and tricks us into a false sense of security by leading us through familiar Star Wars TV beats. After all, these shows don’t kill off characters all that often, so of course Osha would pull out her blaster just in the nick of time to save Yord. The Acolyte gives us the fake out we know (and hope) is coming, so that the eventual killing blow will land that much harder later.

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Similarly, Jecki seems to be out of harm’s way at first, and even seems to gain the upper hand when she arrests Mae. But then the episode ups the tension by making her face off against Qimir alone, a duel she can’t win but that most viewers likely expected her to survive for the same reasons as Yord. The show even goes out of its way to confirm Jecki’s plot armor by purposefully writing Qimir out of the scene just when he could’ve easily landed the killing blow. Instead, he’s off to chase an escaping Mae. “Way too convenient,” we say as Jecki is left to deal with her malfunctioning lightsaber, but we know this is exactly how Star Wars works.

The show only pulls the rug from under us once Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) joins the fight. For a second it looks like the master and padawan might actually best the Sith Lord who’s now on the back foot after Sol shows off some of his martial arts moves, but Qimir seems to actually be playing a much crueler game. By how quickly and effectively Qimir kills first Jecki and then Yord, it looks like (at least to this writer) that the Sith Lord was simply waiting for the Jedi Master to show up so that he could kill his closest Jedi partners in front of him.

That’s a level of cold-blooded Sith evildoing we haven’t seen in Star Wars in quite some time, not since Palpatine turned the Clone Army against their Jedi commanders, and manipulated Anakin Skywalker into killing children, at the end of the prequels. For The Acolyte, it’s quite an effective way to establish a brand-new and very dangerous Sith threat. While watching Qimir singlehandedly killing a bunch of nameless Jedi would have told us he was powerful on paper, it wouldn’t have been a very shocking payoff to last week’s cliffhanger. Instead, “Night” makes us feel the true power of the Sith as poor Jecki and Yord’s lifeless bodies crumble to the ground when we least expect it. It’s the incredibly dark Star Wars twist we’ve been waiting for. At last, the Sith show we were promised has arrived.

The Acolyte is streaming now on Disney+.