Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 5 Review: The First Revenge of the Sith

A new Sith Lord has been properly introduced on The Acolyte and we have a bad feeling about it all...

Sith Lord in Star Wars: The Acolyte
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Acolyte review contains spoilers.

Finally, in The Acolyte’s fifth episode, the truth is revealed: This show ain’t working. All jokes aside, it really does become clear in this episode precisely what’s holding the show back the most, and it has everything to do with the twins, Mae and Osha.

Before getting into the mayhem that is the first half of the episode, we need to get one thing out of the way. Mae and Osha come face to face for the first time since being separated by the fires that burned down the coven on Brendok, and the scene falls completely flat. The conflict between the twins is meant to be the beating heart of the story, but the way their relationship has been conveyed just doesn’t make a lick of sense emotionally or practically.

The stakes are all screwed up because the show hasn’t successfully convinced us the twins were that close in the first place. The flashback in the third episode mostly shows them not getting along and actually ends with Mae threatening (and seemingly attempting) to murder Osha, so by the time we get to episode 5 and she’s hugging Osha, begging her to consider reuniting, it doesn’t ring true. We’re meant to feel the love, but it’s just not there.

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From a dramatic point of view, the scene doesn’t work well because the dialogue is awkwardly written (“I can help you return to yourself…”) and Amandla Stenberg, for all her talents, can’t make the scene sing. It’s not her fault—these two characters are written so inconsistently and sparsely that there’s little for her to chew on. Mae and Osha are proving to be two of the weakest characters on the show, which is a dealbreaker when they’re the stars.

It’s a real shame since the show has glimmers of goodness, like this episode’s explosive Sith moments. Manny Jacinto’s Qimir being revealed as Mae’s mysterious master was quite an effective twist actually, mostly because Jacinto is so pitch-perfect as the slimy villain. He subtly retains some of the quirks of the Qimir we initially met, which is a nice touch and lends the character depth. 

You have to give the show credit where credit is due—the fight scenes in this episode are tremendous. The mix of lightsaber battles, hand-to-hand combat, and the environmental x-factor (tying in those tree creatures from the last episode was a slick move) really come together to make the first half of the episode gel. And a crucial element of the fight(s) is that people actually die here, which of course makes the clash with Qimir/Sith feel all the more significant.

Losing Jecky really sucks. She was one of the highlights of the show, hands down, and Dafne Keen should be proud of her performance. Charlie Barnett did a great job too, but unfortunately, Yord’s loss doesn’t hit nearly as hard because there wasn’t all that much to the character. It also doesn’t help that Osha barely reacts to him getting his neck snapped despite practically begging him to rejoin the fight in the first place. Ugh. This show gets so many details wrong, and all of these flat notes accumulate on a show that feels more uneven and rickety the deeper into the season we get.

It’s actually cool to get deeper insight into the origins of the Sith, with Qimir expressing that his actions stem directly from the Jedi’s hubristic stance that they and they alone may employ the powers of the Force. This adds a layer of depth to everything else we’ve seen from the Sith throughout the Skywalker Saga, and it makes sense that the Jedi Order tightening its grip on the Force would create a pressurized societal environment, thereby giving rise to less virtuous Force users.

On a completely different note, let’s talk about Bazil, the show’s obligatory cute creature who is little more than a walking plot device. He and Pip—the obligatory cute droid—feel out of place on this show. They also may go down as two of the least compelling “mascot” Star Wars characters ever. That being said, when Osha tells Pip she loves him before sacrificing him to take out Qimir, it’s a far more believable sentiment than any of her exchanges with Mae.

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So now Qimir and Sol have swapped Padawans/Acolytes, and the truth behind Sol and the deceased Jedi’s initial excursion on Brendok is surely about to be revealed. There’s still plenty of story yet to be told, but it’s difficult to feel invested at this point, primarily because most of the arcs and mysteries that have resolved thus far haven’t been worth the investment.

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3 out of 5