The Acolyte episodes 1 & 2 review | A wobbly but promising start

the acolyte review
Share this Article:

The Acolyte, Disney’s latest high-profile Star Wars show, is set well before the the Skywalker era. Here’s our review of the first two episodes. 

Disney’s The Acolyte premiered its first two episodes with a lot of expectations on its shoulders. The recent Star Wars shows have been full of ups and downs; The Mandalorian has lost its groove, Obi-Wan Kenobi was disappointing nostalgia bait, but Andor was genuinely excellent. 

The Acolyte has promised to be a darker, more violent take on the galaxy far, far away. But based on the first two episodes, showrunner Leslye Headland has so far served up more of the same as what came before. 

We’ll do our best to give you a relatively spoiler-free description of the premise. A young Force-user is wreaking havoc in the galaxy, killing Jedi masters. Lee Jung-jae’s Sol investigates along with a former Padawan and, as you would expect, discovers all kinds of dark forces at play. 

the acolyte carrie ann moss
Credit: Lucasfilm / Disney

The series takes place about 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace and is set at the end of the High Republic era. The Sith are hiding at this time, but The Acolyte will reportedly feature them quite heavily, making for an intriguing premise. Star Wars as a franchise boils down to simple conflicts, but when done right, it’s riveting. We just have to hope that The Acolyte can nail that, but the first two episodes don’t have us convinced yet. 

The Acolyte quickly settles into old patterns. Amandla Stenberg’s Osha, Sol’s old Padawan who has since left the Jedi behind her, is riddled with trauma and there are less than subtle metaphors for the light and dark sides. Star Wars never was a franchise for subtlety, but The Acolyte’s storytelling feels particularly blunt in the first two episodes. 

Read more: Ahsoka | Star Wars follows Marvel’s footsteps – and not in a good way

In recent years, Star Wars has become increasingly formulaic and The Acolyte feels predictable. The first two episodes, titled Lost/Found and Revenge/Justice, set up a familiar story which I fear will lead to a familiar ending. I’m hoping Headland will prove me wrong, but The Acolyte needs to subvert expectations if it wants to be remembered as a great entry in the Star Wars universe. 

One thing elevating The Acolyte is the excellent cast, which is mostly made up of people of colour. You could argue that this is just Disney ticking a box, but the cast are compelling nonetheless. Stenberg is particularly magnetic in a tricky part that stretches her abilities as an actor and Lee Jung-jae brings a lot of nuance to a broadly written role. 

There’s plenty of potential here. Episodes 1 and 2 have left me a little worried about where the series might head and whether it’ll settle for familiar tropes and narratives, but I genuinely hope to be wrong about it. Columbus and After Yang director Kogonada will direct a couple of episodes of The Acolyte, including next week’s episode, and I’m looking forward to it. Star Wars is in dire need of something fresh, and I’m hoping that The Acolyte will provide that. 

The Acolyte episodes 1 & 2 are streaming now on Disney+ with new episodes released every Wednesday. 

Share this Article:

Related Stories

More like this