Star Wars The Acolyte: First Impressions

Star Wars The Acolyte: First Impressions

Okay, I now know why they launched this thing during Pride month.  It was no happy coincidence that the gayest Star Wars ever was let loose in the wild during June.

This review will cover the first three episodes of the Acolyte. The first two were available for streaming last night and the third was made available to me by means I’m not going to discuss in public. 

I’ll start with the third episode because the first two are overloaded with mystery boxes that are packed with so much foreshadowing the story is more comprehensible if I just jump ahead. The episode opens on the Planet of the Space Lesbians.  The protagonist and antagonist are introduced as a set of young identical twins (girls naturally because there are no men at all on this idyllic world). The Space Lesbians are powerful Wiccans who have secret knowledge of the Force.  The Force is actually, quite literally, female.  It comes from motherhood. They have two mothers, one who was their birth mother and the one that knocked her up using the Force.  I’m grateful they couldn’t get away with showing the conception because I have a horrible feeling it would have involved scissoring and force lightning 

There is a lecture held on the womanly power of the Force. It’s not a “force” at all as that is far too masculine of a concept, it is in fact a thread that sews the cosmos together and it can be tugged upon to accomplish certain… This is all Wicca stuff, if you’ve ever become acquainted with that neopagan Marxist bullshit of a “religion” you’ll recognize the concepts pretty quickly.  Space Lesbians are the true and uncorrupted Force users. 

Skipping ahead, it turns out that the twins are strong with the… Thread… Osha is the good one. Mae is the bad one. I’ll give you a moment to come to grips with the dazzling originality of using twins in Star Wars. 

Four Jedi masters land on the planet of the Space Lesbians. They’ve sensed the girls’ power and have come to take them away for training. 

Okay, this one is really George Lucas’s fault.  In Empire, there is a line where Yoda doesn’t want to teach Luke and uses an excuse of, “He’s too old to begin the training.” Luke was in his mid-twenties and it is easier to start martial arts training in your post-pubescent teens. You have your coordination back but your muscles and tendons have a good deal more elasticity.*  It didn’t really tie you down to meaning anything other than it was better to start Jedi training when young. However, in the Prequel Trilogy, George made it explicitly clear that Jedi agoge appears to start as soon as the kid is out of diapers.  It was a stupid idea, with consequences he just didn’t think through all the way. How do the Younglings’ parents feel about this?  Is their opinion allowed to matter? Can the kid decide? Not that that one matters, I mean if I offered seven-year-old you magic powers and a laser sword would you have turned me down?

Leslye Headland has decided that, no, there is no choice involved.  If the Jedi come for your children you will lose your children.  This choice was made to make the Jedi look as evil as possible.  The Jedi were Sol (the guy from Squid Game), Carrie-Ann Moss, Floaty Guy (I’ll get to him later), and a Jedi Wookie.

Stuff happens.  Osha really wants magic powers and a laser sword, and Mae wants to be a Space Lesbian.  More stuff happens, their Lesbian village burns down, and their mothers are killed. Osha goes off with the Jedi who are now the representatives of the white cisgender normative patriarchal word salad of evil.

Mae is believed to have been killed but isn’t and starts getting trained up by Darth Gimp Mask. 

Okay, we will now go back to the first episode and it starts with Mae fighting and killing Carrie-Anne Moss.  It was almost all martial arts and no sword fighting. Carrie-Anne is passive about the fight until she finally has to protect others and draws her lightsaber. Then the assassin’s mask drops and Carrie-Anne recognizes her. Mae tricks Carrie-Anne with a feint and kills her with a thrown dagger.  No loss to the order, she. 

This is called a murder by the Jedi, I’m not sure it qualifies since I don’t think Mae said anything that determines premeditation.  She just wanted a fight.  A decent lawyer might be able to plea bargain her down to manslaughter. 

Why would this legalese matter? Because the Jedi are cops now.  Osha is working as a black market mechanic on a trade federation ship. The Republic made it illegal to use anything but R2 units for outside repair but humans are cheaper.  That even kind of works. What doesn’t is this fire in a hard vacuum. 

Before you start going on about possible oxidizers, you will have to convince me that Leslye Headland actually thought of that.

The purpose of the fire was to give Osha a flashback to when her village of the Space Lesbians burned.  The Jedi show up and arrest Osha for the murder of Carrie-Anne Moss despite her iron-clad alibi of being on a starship. 

Lucas was at least smart enough to leave the Jedi’s legal status intentionally vague. Here they clearly have police powers. They can arrest with no evidence. Possibly, they can convict on suspicion and possibly have the power of summary execution but that hasn’t been made plain yet.

There is a prison break on the penal barge Osha is on and it crashes. She has a vision of her sister. A Jedi team led by Master Sol finds her.  Lee Jung-Jae is the only actor here who has made enough of an impression that I can remember the character’s name without looking it up. 

Mae tries to kill Master Floaty Guy but he’s protected by a… Force-field I guess.  He took a vow of silence after her village was wiped out and he’s just been floating for a decade meditating the fuck the out something.  Anyway, she can’t get through to him because of some invisible barrier.

Plan B. Mae convinces him to poison himself. By offering it to him.  He’s been feeling guilty for sixteen years, but now he decides to off himself? Why?  A Jedi suicide is completely unprecendent in Star Wars and this one was presented pretty much out of the blue with no real buildup. In this show human interactions are reduced to a menu of cliched responses. 

The Jedi know for certain it’s Mae now, and the hunt is on for her and her master.

The last shot is of the former Jedi Wookie. He was wearing robes in episode three, which means that for forty years now Chewbacca has been a nudist just free-balling it everywhere he went. And I thought The Last Jedi train wrecked canon.

If I made this show sound better than it is, let me assure you, this is awful. The scripting has enough uncanny valleys in it that the hand of ChatGpt is unmistakable.  The Jedi mystical bullshit dialog is just one of many giveaways.  In one scene you’ll have dialog that declares “A Jedi doesn’t draw her lightsaber unless she intends to kill.” But later in that episode, a Jedi uses his lightsaber as a fucking flashlight. In a third, a Jedi threatens an unarmed man with this lightsaber. The established rules of this universe are discarded as quickly as they are made up. Mae set up rules for herself that she doesn’t follow. Basic characterization and motivation are clearly not understood at all.  These are the kinds of inconsistencies that strongly indicate that an AI did all the heavy lifting for Leslye Headland.

Was there anything I liked? 

The Acolyte got the aesthetics right.  It does look like Star Wars and it had an actual orchestra providing a score that sounds like a John Williams riff. That’s nice for a change.  Headland even used some of the older serial wipes like an iris wipe just like Lucas did in 1977.  Amandla Stenberg is doing what she can with the part she’s got but she should’ve found a way out her contract. This is not going to make you a star kid. Lee Jung-Jae, obviously had to learn his lines phonetically which has been a drag on his performance but he’s still leaving the rest of these actors in the dust. 

That’s it. That’s all I liked.

This thing actually got pushed through by LucasFilm despite the fact that Disney Burbank was clearly reluctant about this project. It got a budget of $180 million when Disney doesn’t have that kind of money to burn on a Disney Plus show. The reason it was made is that this is the story that the LucasFilm Story Group has always desperately wanted to tell.  This is the heart of the story they wanted to follow up The Last Jedi with, before Disney screamed, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And turned the next movie back over to JJ Abrams. This is a Star Wars story that is all about more equivance There is really no light side or dark side of the force.  The Jedi aren’t good because they represent order and that represents the patriarchy. The Sith aren’t evil because they’ve been oppressed for millennia and their beliefs are misrepresented. 

If a Sith had a chance to write a Star Wars this is the story she would write. The one where everything you believe to be good is lie, that you should only do as thou whilst, if it feels good do it and people should only judge you by how you feel about yourself and never by your actions because no matter how evil they may seem to someone else, they can be justified to yourself if you view in the right light

Rian Johnson can finally breathe easy, the Acolyte has managed the impossible, it is actually worse than The Last Jedi. 

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*Personal aside, I am very grateful for my own boyhood martial arts training as it has aided me considerably in my recovery from knee replacement surgery.

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