Star Wars

The Acolyte Finally Stopped Pulling Its Punches

The Star Wars series finally gives lightsabers the respect they deserve.

Osha (Amandla Stenberg) comes face-to-face with the Sith in The Acolyte
The Acolyte

Let no one say that nothing ever happens in The Acolyte. Sure, the Star Wars series took a bit of time to get off the ground in earnest — a worrying development, since we’re already more than halfway through its first season. But Episode 5 is not without a sense of urgency, picking up right where last week’s cliffhanger left off and delivering more action than anyone could have expected. In the process, it also may have fixed a bigger problem in modern Star Wars.

Spoilers for The Acolyte Episode 5 ahead!

Episode 5 sees a blistering showdown unfold on Khofar. The Acolyte’s mysterious Sith villain has cornered our Jedi heroes, while Mae and her twin sister Osha (both played by Amandla Stenberg) find themselves caught in the crossfire. Though they’re led by the competent Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae), the Jedi can barely take on one Sith alone. As Yord (Charlie Barnett) later points out, their adversary fights dirty with a form that’s hard to guard against. That injects the episode, which is essentially one long, interchanging duel, with actual stakes.

With its blistering lightsaber battle, The Acolyte reclaims the best part of the Star Wars prequels.


We’re a long way from the lackluster duels of Ahsoka or Obi-Wan Kenobi, where lightsabers lacked any weight or destructive power. Remember when Sabine recovered from getting stabbed by a lighstaber? That’s not happening here.

In The Acolyte, no one is safe from a Sith Master’s blade, and each of our heroes is clearly fighting for their lives. Episode 5 is cut from the same cloth as the Star Wars prequels, which relished in high-risk combat and choreography. Back then, when lightsaber duels happened, there were consequences. The Acolyte doubles down on this sensibility and introduces some casualties: The Sith mows down Jedi with abandon, resulting in a handful of shocking losses. And we’re not just talking about random redshirt Jedi either. The stakes in the show are now higher than ever because major characters have just been brutally cut down.

The Acolyte notably loses two fan favorites in Yord and Jecki (Dafne Keen), Sol’s padawan. Their murders, while disappointing, are arguably effective. Sure, we could meet their spirits through the Force, but in this life, they are 100 percent no longer alive. If nothing else, this reclaims something that recent Star Wars projects have lacked: an actual sense of danger. In the majority of the films, lightsabers were interesting because they were very dangerous. The Acolyte remembered this detail and made us all remember it, too. Lightsabers are cool. But they’re also scary as hell.

Yord and Jecki will definitely be missed, but their sacrifice is a sobering reminder for The Acolyte’s main characters, and for the audience watching. Lightsaber duels are much more than sparring matches; when done right, they should reaffirm the importance of these battles between good and evil. By embracing the true power of a lightsaber, the series takes a page from the prequels and the classic films, too. It’s just one way the series is building on the Star Wars stories that have come before; hopefully, its risk-taking doesn’t end here.

The Acolyte is streaming on Disney+.

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