Review: The Force is NOT With Leslye Headland’s ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’



Leslye Headland’s Star Wars: The Acolyte has arrived. After much pomp, a questionable PR campaign, and a fewe loose-lipped faux pas by Lucasfilm, what we ended up with was a strange, plodding, and predictable attempt at a mystery thriller in the Star Wars universe.


Patience, my young apprentice. Soon I will address the light and the dark sides of these episodes. Let us begin with a quick overview of the two episodes. Be advised, there may be some spoilers as I proceed.




Episode 1 titled: “Lost/Found” begins with introducing us to ‘the acolyte’, played by Amandla Stenberg, as she travels to a back water bar on a back water planet. She announces herself to her target, Jedi Master Indara played by Carrie-Anne Moss, in the strangest and cringiest way. Unfortunately, this will become a pattern as the show proceeds.


The fight itself is a decent martial arts fight and with decent choreography, hearkening back to ‘bullet time’ in The Matrix. So far, any use of the Force throughout the episode has been on the level.  Aggressive use of the Force has never been the Jedi way, but the acolyte relies on this idea to a fault. It was a bit of a head scratcher, but we’ll go with it. 



We are introduced next to Osha, also played by Amandla Stenberg, a former padawan. Oh? Two characters played by the same actress that look alike? What could this mean? Sarcasm aside, Osha serves on a Trade Federation freighter of some sort as a mechanic or ‘meknek’ in the in-world parlance. Basically, she’s a human R2 unit. I will give the show credit for having this delightful reference to the Trade Federation and Neimoidians. It’s part of a trend I’ll address later, but I digress.


A pair of Jedi arrest her of suspicion of murder after the most inept investigation. We’re briefly introduced to Lee Jung-jae’s Jedi Master Sol and Rebecca Henderson’s Jedi Master Vernestra Rwoh. Think of Sol as the detective and Rwoh as his uptight superintendent. Cut to Osha on a prison ship with other convicts, but due to woeful Republic or Jedi standards, they escape. The ship crash lands with Osha still aboard and the Jedi find her. End episode.



Episode 2 “Revenge/Justice” starts yet again with a murder attempt of another Jedi. She fails, but meets up with an accomplice to prepare for the next try at the Jedi. Master Sol and the other Jedi take Osha to see the Jedi council on their ship, but are rerouted to the temple where the acolyte had attempted assassinating another Jedi master. It’s revealed that Osha and Mae are twins (gasp). Master Sol, Osha and the Jedi fail to stop the assassination and Mae escapes.


We are next teased with a Wookie Jedi. End episode.



Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect here, especially after Ms. Headland touted that this would be a mix of Frozen and Kill Bill.  I want to be as fair as possible, despite my opposition to most of Disney Star Wars. Disney+ has this listed as a mystery, but so far nothing really seems to be mysterious. It’s been fairly predictable. Just like Ahsoka these first two offerings of The Acolyte are just being held up mainly by member berries and a setting that feels like Star Wars. Which is a shame, because you can see where the $22.5 million per episode went.


They didn’t slouch on the sets and effects, and Michael Abel’s score set the mood quite well.  Most of the actors were emoting fairly well and much better than the planks of wood of some of the protagonists we got in Ahsoka. Lee Jung-jae’s my favorite actor and character in this show so far. I just wish he was in a better show. Amandla was better as Osha as opposed to Mae. Sith acolytes tend to be on the darker side of things and I don’t really feel that she pulled it off too well. More importantly, with the name ‘Osha’ all I could think of is the government organization OSHA. Someone should have told Ms. Headland that this was a terrible name.



The world building appears to be very weak. Viewers are not really given any background of this time of peace and prosperity of the High Republic era.  While there really wasn’t anything overtly woke in these episodes, it seems to be headed in that direction. One of the Jedi had the stereotypical combover dreads hairstyle that seem to permeate modern comics these days, but the big red flag was a mention of Mae having two mothers in episode one. That was a groan. Perhaps a sign of things yet to come? And, by the way, this does not feel like Frozen and Kill Bill. Ms. Headland pitched the show that way, but I think she needs to rewatch both of those movies. 





Alas, my young apprentice, as I watched this all I could think about was how they threw out far superior Sith based stories and gave us this instead. Don’t get me wrong, there was a probably good idea in here somewhere here, but so far this is no where near in quality to the likes of Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane novels, or my favorite book of the old EU James Luceno’s Plagueis, and many others. I highly recommend those stories over this one. 


The consensus seems to be that I am not alone in my disappointment in the series so far.



I’ll carry on reviewing this as is my duty to the readers, but I can clearly see the signs that this will be more of the same from Lucasfilm. If Alan Ng from Film Threat is to be believed, it’s only going to get worse from here.





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The Shark of Paper

I'm a longtime fan of quite a few geekdoms like Star Wars, Manga, Anime, and Light Novels. I'm here to share my opinions, views, and reviews on all the mediums I enjoy!