We’re Halfway Through The Acolyte, and Not Nearly Enough Has Happened

Episode 4 showed promise, but was frustrating too.

The Acolyte

At the end of The Acolyte Episode 4, rising tensions between the show's Jedi and Sith characters reached a fever pitch. Mae's (Amandla Stenberg) attempt to turn herself into the Jedi Order is upended when she realizes, to her horror, that her mysterious Sith Master is also present on the jungle planet of Khofar. The episode cuts off before viewers see the full confrontation between Mae's Sith teacher and the Jedi who find themselves on the receiving end of their ambush, but its explosive final moments promise plenty of action in The Acolyte's next installment.

Next week's episode will be the show's fifth, which means The Acolyte has officially reached its halfway point. While this week's chapter, "Day," is its most memorable, its game-changing ending also reveals how little has actually happened so far.

The Acolyte's first four episodes have been fun, and far more watchable than many of Disney’s other Star Wars shows. However, these episodes have also felt shockingly slight. Episodes 1 and 4 are so short and end so abruptly they almost feel incomplete. Despite this brevity, it feels like the show has scattered moments of filler throughout its chapters, and yet The Acolyte has more or less maintained the same brisk pace established in its very first scene.

At the end of The Acolyte’s fourth episode, Mae finds herself caught between two very different paths.


As a result, the show has felt both rushed and stretched out to accommodate its eight-episode format. That feeling was reinforced by the brief burst of action that ends "Day." The episode's final scene immediately feels like the most substantive and impactful instance of conflict in the series, but its weight was lessened by how jarringly it was cut short. One can't help but be left with the sense that the decision to stretch out Sol’s (Lee Jung-jae) confrontation with Mae's Sith Master is a consequence of The Acolyte’s story being so thin.

On top of that, the electrifying nature of the show's latest cliffhanger makes everything that's come before it feel like a prolonged preamble. That might not be a problem in isolation, but there are only four episodes of The Acolyte left. We’re already at the midpoint, and it feels like the show just got started.

Hopefully, the remaining episodes of The Acolyte Season 1 will end up more substantial than its first four, especially now that Mae and Osha's shared backstory is out of the way. But The Acolyte will only be able to truly build on the momentum created by its latest episode's jolting climax by delivering more episodes that actually feel like they earn their runtimes. So far, the series has struggled to do that, instead falling victim to the same pacing and structural issues that have plagued so many streaming shows over the past few years.

It's too early to say that The Acolyte would have worked better as a movie, but its story hasn't become dense or complex enough to justify the show's eight-episode length, either. Now, there are just four episodes left to prove this investment was needed.

New episodes of The Acolyte premiere Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET on Disney+.

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