Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 7 Review: The Vergence

At last, we know what happened all those years ago on Brendok. Our review of the latest episode of The Acolyte...

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 7
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Acolyte review contains spoilers.

The penultimate episode of The Acolyte, titled “Choice,” is a big, looooong reveal that’s meant to be eye-opening but instead makes the eyelids heavy. Sol’s entire arc has been building to this, the most convoluted, head-scratching episode of the series yet. 

The second-to-last episode of a season is supposed to be explosive, revelatory, climactic! Instead, “Choice” centers on a series of morally gray decisions Sol made on the periphery of the catastrophic events outlined in the much better flashback episode “Destiny.” That episode was actually one of the strongest of the season, and Sol has consistently been one of the show’s few bright spots. But as with the Stranger last week, the show continues to undermine its greatest assets. The material never quite matches the level of gravitas Lee Jung-jae injects into his scenes.

The crux of the episode is that Sol isn’t as virtuous as he’s appeared up to this point. We know he’s been harboring deep trauma from that fateful trip to Brendok, but now we see where all the brooding comes from. Essentially, what was meant to be a peaceful research mission ended in mass murder due to his insistence on taking Osha as his Padawan. The Coven feared it was the Jedi Order who wanted to take the twins, but in truth Sol’s hubris was to blame.

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On paper, in broad strokes, this makes sense. It would have been a pretty fresh idea for Star Wars to reveal that Sol was actually a desperate, obsessive kidnapper who planned the murder of the coven in order to “save” the girls. But that is not how it’s played onscreen. Instead, the show tries to have it both ways. 

Sure, Sol insisted on manipulating Osha to fly to Coruscant with him. But he was just trying to keep her safe. Okay, so he murdered the twins’ mom. But it wasn’t premeditated—it all happened so fast. Yes, he let Mae fall to her doom. But what else was he supposed to do? His Force power wasn’t Force-y enough to save them both!!!

If you’re going to turn Sol upside down, turn him upside down. If you’re going to present the idea that Jedi aren’t as monastic and morally unimpeachable as they present themselves, go all the way. The episode is called “Choice,” and although Sol and the rest of the Jedi certainly make morally questionable decisions, the show goes out of its way to assure you that they’re still good people despite their hubris. It’s as if they were all but forced to make the bad choices they made because they’re too compassionate.

Sure, good people sometimes do bad things and vice versa. But wouldn’t the story be more interesting if these Jedi did truly malevolent, ugly things in the spur of the moment? When Torbin killed himself out of principle for what he did on Brendok, it suggested what he did must have been unspeakable. Turns out, he was an inexperienced kid who made some dumbass mistakes because he was homesick and mind-f*cked by witches. Indara killed the coven, but sheesh, they were trying to kill her friends.

The point is, we understand the Jedi had to make difficult decisions, but the circumstances surrounding those decisions seem to absolve the Jedi of responsibility in a wishy-washy way. How are we meant to feel about all this? Do we hate them? Do we love them? Nope. Neither of those. That’s the problem. 

Scratch that: That’s a problem. Another problem is that this episode is poisoned with exposition, the same sci-fi fantasy, midi-chlorian drivel that threatened to sap all the magic out of the franchise in the Star Wars prequels. Sol claims that “nothing could be more important to the Jedi” than protecting and researching a vergence. Nothing more important? Okay, so a vergence can create life. But guess what else can? People. Isn’t the Jedi Order’s mission to keep the peace and protect people? How the hell did this “vergence” thing skip to the front of the line?

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At least we finally get to see Kelnacca in action. The long-awaited moment when we get to see a Wookiee dueling with a lightsaber is entertaining enough, although there’s no hiding the heavy use of CG as Joonas Suotamo just can’t move all that quickly in the heavy suit. The result looks a bit stiff onscreen, but there’s a definite cool factor. Overall, Kelnacca, the first Wookiee Jedi to ever appear in live-action, was incredibly underused by this show. We learn virtually nothing new about the the character in the episode, and considering he’s dead in the present, this is likely the last time we’ll see him at all. It’s a shame.

Meanwhile, the twins fade a bit into the background this episode, which could have been an interesting change-up. But even in that case, the show wants to have its cake and eat it too. We were led to believe Mae had burned the Coven to the ground. This made us feel some type of way about her. Now we find out the fire was an accident. This is meant to make us feel more sympathy for her than we did prior, and perhaps we do. But that sympathy isn’t as potent as the resentment we felt when we thought she was an evil pyro kid, the dark side to Osha’s light—which was a compelling setup at the start of the series. Instead, we feel less when we should be feeling more.

“Choice” is a convoluted mess. Its themes, arcs, and plot points collide in awkward ways that prevent it from saying anything definitive or resonant.

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2 out of 5