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The Acolyte

Lost/Found & Revenge/Justice (The Acolyte - S01E01&E02) - Live Action Series

Series: The Acolyte

Title: Lost/Found & Revenge/Justice

Season: Two

Episode: 1 & 2

Original Air Date: June 4th, 2024

Runtime: 40 & 36 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

The Jedi justify their galactic dominance in the name of peace. And peace... is a lie, I know." SPOILERS.

This looks cheap

The Acolyte was finally released on Disney+ last night. Much was talked about the show before, much was talked about the showrunner Leslye Headland, the various PR disasters leading up to the show where actors could not keep themselves from saying questionable things. And after all the anticipation or dread... what is the show actually like? Unlike reviewers who have acccess to advance screeners I only watched the first two episodes, but apparently episode 3 could prove to be, let's say "controversial". I may briefly touch upon episode 3 spoilers here... but I will mostly limit myself to the first two episodes I actually watched... so not to beat about the bush any longer... how is it?

Maybe it was a bad idea to feature her so much in the trailers..........

The good thing(s) first. This show has an outragoeus $180 million budget, which is still less than what Andor had... but the good thing is, just like Andor you can see this money, at least for the most part. Apart from some hokey matte paintings or wonky CGI this series looks great, there are tons of aliens, elaborate set pieces and it all looks 100% like (prequel era) Star Wars. Where Obi-Wan Kenobi felt and looked cheap and amateurish, The Acolyte impressed (most of the time) with its scenery. Things only somewhat fall apart when something was very obviously filmed on a soundtage, like a snow planet. but for the most part this looks gorgeous. Another good thing, in theory, are the Matrix style wire fu duels here. But while it all looks cool it also feels somewhat out of place, I was undecided on the idea before... but I feel wire fu, the way it's done here (think The Matrix or the various Asian martial arts movies) feels out of place, the style does not fit.

We are with the Space FBI and want to arrest an evil person!

Sadly, The Acolyte is guilty of the biggest sin there is in entertainment. No, the first two episodes are not "bad", not "bad bad". not "so bad it's good" or "so bad because it's supposed to be campy". No. The show is utterly boring. Sadly, I found the acting of most people in this atrociously bad. Worst of all, the lead, Amandla Stenberg, either cannot act or Headland wanted all the actors involved to make it all feel like someone rehearsed their lines for their first high school theater play ever. Lucas was also not great at directing people, so I will not say too much about the actors here, I bet most of them are very capable, but everything here feels stiff, like someone is reading cue cards. And Stenberg's line delivery is either lifeless or borders on overacting when the script tells her to have an angry outburst.

Another happy landing

The acting is not helped by terrible dialogue, some of it is cringe inducing. It's not even so bad it's funny... it's just "bad". And even Dafne Keen who has proven she can act (she was the girl Wolverine in Logan) has cringey lines and a very flat delivery. "Permission to speak freely" is used frequently by her and you will soon begin to roll your eyes when the characters open their mouth. The characters mostly do nothing for me, maybe also because the acting is questionable and the dialogue just painful.

We need to do something about the female gaze and how it objectifies men

You may now wonder... ok, what about the plot? This is supposed to be some kind of murder mystery... only without the mystery really. The big "twist" is revealed 30 minutes or so into the show, there are no real mysteries anymore... other than "the motive", and apparently episode 3 (which is a flashback episode) will shed light on the motive. Ok, the plot.... once upon a time there were two twins, Mae and Osha... Mae (we learn this through dialogue) for some reason got angry one day and burned down her village, killing the entire village and family... only Osha seemingly survived and Jedi Master Sol took her in and even made her his apprentice, even though she was already 8 years old... but unresolved trauma (dead parents etc) made Osha quit her sweet Jedi life and now she works as a "meknek" (mechanic) on some Trade Feration ship or so... even if the Republic outlawed EVA repair work by humanoids and mandates that droids have to do this dangerous work. Don't ask. But lo and behold... Oshas's evil twin sister is alive! And the series begins with Mae walking into a bar, having a cringe exchange with Trinity aka Carrie Anne Moss aka "Indara" and demands she fights her. Mae kills Trinity in the cold open, before the title card is even shown... good bye Carrie Anne, I hope you enjoyed your 7 minutes in Star Wars! No, she will return in the flashback episode next week. But other than that she is dead.. dead as a doornail a few minutes into the show.

Evil person with red lightsaber, apparently a big fan of Kylo Ren

The way Indara is taken out is moronic... Mae fights her with mere daggers (and the Force) and takes her out by feinting to the right... only to throw a dagger at her with the left... hitting her square in the chest. Who knew Jedi are so easy to take out... just distract them for a split second and *bam". I suppose this was supposed to be a shock moment, look, it's Trinity... oh, they fight exactly like in The Matrix... see what we did there? Aren't we smart... and oops... we bet you didn't see that coming... she's dead! However, it all falls flat because in this moment you neither care about Indara nor her assassin. When Obi-Wan died in A New Hope his death had meaning, weight... he was not some random unknown celebrity cameo.

Look! They found Obi-Wan's fake beard from Attack of the Clones in a drawer somewhere!

What else... the Jedi in The Acolyte are the somewhat arrogant Space FBI, while Attack of the Clones and various animated shows sometimes touched upon Jedi doing investigative work I find this massive focus on the Jedi now being the Space FBI a bit weird. They even have their own prison transports and prison cells on the temple grounds. Anyway, the Jedi have an eyewitness, it is revealed that a former padawan of Sol, the mentioned Osha, apparently murdered Indara. So a buffoonish Jedi Knight (Yord) and his padawan go to arrest Osha who works as a mechanic on a space ship. In a display of sheer stupidity the Jedi does not care about "alibis", does not even investigate said alibi when - very half heartedly - presented with it and just arrests Osha. You see... any actual Space FBI agent would at least investigate the alibi... which is... "I was on this ship... you know... in space... so how could I be on this planet killing a Jedi... me, a padawan who has not used the Force ever since I left the order six years ago". Any person with a brain would then check the ship logs, interview the other crew to corroborate the details... but why bother with procedure when you can just arrest people.

The show looks great, for the most part

To further underline the stupidity of the plot Yord and his padawan for some reason or another do NOT accompany their high profile murder suspect and instead the prison transport with various criminals only has a droid crew. Said prisoners stage a mutiny with ease (a person with wifi implants hacks the droids), they screw over Osha, who then crashlands on Hoth 2.0. Where her former master Sol eventually finds her... and their encounter goes like this:

"I didn't do it, it was my evil twin sister!"
"I believe you!"


To think Headland gets money for these dialogues.... add some more stupidity... for some unknown reason only Sol even knows Osha had a twin sister (assumed dead) this was NEVER entered into her official files at the temple. And Sol apparently never bothered to tell anyone about Osha's backstory. Yeah, sure... whatever. But it's all pointless anyway, because the series doesn't even pretend to create a mystery here as the "they're twins" twist is revealed basically right out of the gate.

Woof!

Osha also has some crazy dreams or visions about her sister. Rather random, I guess it's supposed to be mysterious... only it isn't. The second episode is more of the same... we learn that Mae is an Acolyte to some hooded and masked allegedly male (I am calling it now, it will be her "mother" and not really a man) quasi Sith, her mission is to kill four Jedi who allegedly wronged her. And in episode two she wants to take out Master Torbin who has been in hermit mode for the past 10 years or so and merely meditates, does never speak and is surrounded by an impenetrable force field (created by the force). So how does Mae kill him? She convinces him to commit suicide by swallowing poison. Okay. Sure. I always wanted to see suicidal Jedi on a guilt trip, this is my idea of Jedi in their prime in the High Republic. I guess Headland was not kidding when she said her show won't be kind to the Jedi....

We get some more wire fu when Mae encounters Sol and fights him. Sol's padawan Jecki flies in her police helicopter, searchlight and all, and booms over loudspeaker that Mae is under arrest etc like in some bad cop tv show... only Mae kicks up some dust and vanishes (apparently, they have not invented infrared cameras in Star Wars and cannot track criminals from the air). Osha then encounters her sister... Mae did not know Osha is even alive, so it's a surprise to her... Mae fires off a blaster shot that is never meant to hit her and lets Mae go. And her next target is revealed... some Wookiee Jedi

What else... Headland cast her wife in this, she plays a green-skinned alien woman, someone from the books, I believe. And she's utterly horrible. Now everyone in this series is varying degrees of bad, but Headland's wife either cannot act at all or her wife is a terrible director who cannot get actors to deliver a good performance. Fortunately her role is very, very small. She's mostly there to berate Sol. There are no cameos. No Yoda, no other prequel Jedi. According to Headland there will be no memberberries at all.

Despite there being no memberberries Headland created a Black Mirror version of various Star Wars tropes... so once again we have twins, the droid sidekick.... in fact this is a similar setup as in that one Vision short with Am and Karre where the female twin was all out evil and the other tried to redeem her. I do not want to spoil episode 3 too much, but apparently the twins were conceived similar to how Anakin came into this world. I seems these things happen every other week in Star Wars and it's nothing special after all. Turns out Anakin is not only not the Chosen One, that's Rey, his miracle birth is a common thing now. And the female twins did it first even! 

So what is my verdict? The first two episodes were inoffensive. It's not the utter trainwreck (as of now) as maybe some expected it to be. However, in some ways it's even worse... because it is painfully boring and utterly stupid. Dialogue is often cringe inducing. The acting is either flat or horrible or both. The lead, Amandla Stenberg, is terrible in her role, she either cannot act or Headland told her to act like this (maybe the latter). The actor who plays Sol struggles a bit with the English language, as if he learned his lines phonetically... but Sol is still one of the somewhat better, even if boring, characters. I actually like Yord the most... I guess he's supposed to be some kind of comic relief, he's a bit of a buffoon and fool. He also threatens suspected criminals with a lightsaber when he's in "bad cop" mode. And this is another of my critcisms... I do not like how the Jedi are portrayed here at all. Not even remotely. This is their alleged peak... and yes, the prequels and subsequent shows made the Jedi a flawed order... but it seems Headland goes to town with that concept. When the Jedi should be, flaws or not, the heroes. Always. Here they are some weird (arrogant) Space FBI and it feels off. And they are all stupid too. Indara's first line of dialogue is also super condescending and arrogant... this is how we are supposed to see the Jedi here: as arrogant jerks, stupid cops and suicidal hermits who willingly swallow poison to escape from it all.   

So should you watch it? If you can tolerate bad acting, stupid plots and what feels like a Mirror Universe version of Star Wars... The Acolyte is still boring. Of course your mileage may vary. I will say this: production values are high, there are tons of aliens (many all new), most sets look great... but then you - at times - also get bad looking CGI environments, cheap looking matte paintings and fake beards straight out of Attack of the Clones. Carrie Ann Moss was a bait and switch character, she's dead after 7 minutes, so there's no point even watching it for her. Amandla Stenberg gets the majority of screentime here and sadly I feel she's lacking in both the acting department and screen presence, Andor this is not. Mae feels almost like a Saturday Morning cartoon villain and Kylo Ren was a textbook example of subtlety compared to her, Stenberg is even wooden when she's supposed to be angry . Which may be down to how Stenberg at times overacts her lines. Adam Driver is the much better actor. Even if directors tell him to overact.

And now it is waiting for next week when - allegedly - all the really bad things happen. When we get the flashback, meet the coven of lesbian space witches, learn what the Force, according to them, really is, how Mae and Osha have two mothers and why Mae burned it all down (allegedly) in a fit of rage when her sis wanted to become a Jedi and what horrible, horrible thing the four Jedi did so all of them deserve to die and one of them even willingly commited suicide to atone for it all... I feel I need a drink now! And I never drink!

Added: June 5, 2024
Category: The Acolyte
Reviewer: Thomas
Score:
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