The Acolyte Episodes 1 & 2 Review

‘The Acolyte’ has finally arrived on Disney+, giving viewers a full look at the High Republic. And the first two episodes do intrigue and set up interesting story possibilities, and do it while stradling the line between pulp and the hard tone of ‘Andor’. Characters are good, and, while the twists are believeable, some are obvious. It’s a good start, leading viewers to look forward to whats to come. 

Star Wars

Perhaps the best place to start with this show is its tone. It’s a mystery-thriller, with the opening mystery of someone going around killing Jedi just being the start. It eases audiences in, and gets them asking questions, and the subsequent episode begin to build on it. It’s not played for laughs, though it’s sometimes wonky dialogue and abundance of alien life keep a believeable and thankful sense of levity. Balance. It’s distinct from everything that’s come before it. 

Opening with the very ‘Star Wars’ text on screen, the show helpfully introduces audiences to the HIgh Republic era, with numerous Jedi, and all wearing Council and mission robes. It’s a visual difference that helps set this show apart from the rest of the ‘Star Wars’ canon, and shows the committment Leslye Headland and the costume designers have to the era. It’s a welcome sight. It’s this and the more numerous Jedi and Padawans that makes this show unique, and it’s definitely enjoyable to see this many Jedi present. 

Touching on sets, this show has an emphasis on practical sets, something that can be felt in their verticality. This isn’t done all on one level, but on multiple, making the action more frenetic in turn. The planets look vibrant, though the same, which is admittedly not a problem unique to ‘The Acolyte’, but no steps are take to solve it.

Headland very much likes ‘The Matrix’, something that comes through most obviously through the action in ‘The Acolyte’. And, while the choereography gives flair and style to the action, it still leaves audiences confused as to way this is in a ‘Star Wars’ show, something that they watch for blasters and lightsaber action. It’s not ‘Star Wars’. The trailers hint at this being resolved later on, and this is more of a nuanced gripe than simply saying it’s bad however. 

Audiences follow an ensemble cast of plenty of Jedi and auxillery members. Amandla Stenberg pulls double duty, and manages to bounce between a pleasant and bright former Padawan to a sterner assassin within the same episode, in a performance that will stretch her as an actor. Lee Jung-jae plays Master Sol, a warm and wise Jedi. His current Padawan, Jecki, is played by Dafne Keen, a name fans will recognise from ‘Logan’. Rebecca Henderson brings Master Vernestra Rwoh to green life from the High Republic novels, though she’s more jaded, more worried about optics and politics than the people of the galaxy. It’s clear something changed between her current appearance and the books. 

Yord, played by Charlie Barnett, is a delightful presence, a by-the-book man and one wedded to the rules. He’s the closet to a comic-relief, though remains believeable (apart from the topless scene). The final character of note is the helmeted red lightsaber-wielding stranger, though so far he’s only had one line, and it’s clearly an attempt at some sort of metaphor, though it feels twisted. He’s nothing to fear so far. 

Being a msytery thriller, ‘The Acolyte’ is predicated on having twists and turns, reframing what audiences know with more and more context. And, so far, the mystery is intriguing, though episode two made it more compelling and worth seeking answers. The first episode does have a twist, but it’s so obvious audiences can see it from orbit and so makes it unedrwhelming. At least it’s out the way from the first episode, and more gripping stuff can follow. How this central mystery unfolds is key to this show’s longevity and final opinion. 

‘The Acolyte’ presents a good start with its first two episodes, with excellent 

Disney’s new ‘Star Wars’ show is off to a good start, introducing compelling characters and a mystery that is at first underwhelming but gains steam. The costumes all commit to the High Republic era, and its tone and characters all make for a unique experience. There are some stumbles like the dialogue getting in the way, and action that belongs to a different franchise, but hopefully the remaining episodes can move past these flaw.  

Kieran Burt

My name is Kieran and I am based in the UK. I love writing about all things science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Wars and Marvel. When I’m not writing or watching anything sci-fi related, you can probably find me exploring the open worlds of alternate lands through my Xbox.

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