The Acolyte

One Scene in The Acolyte Just Fixed a Lazy Part of Star Wars Canon

This explains so much.

Yord in 'Star Wars: The Acolyte.'
The Acolyte

The Trade Federation has never been the most interesting or explicable part of the larger Star Wars canon. In The Phantom Menace, they mostly just exist to get tricked into sparking a galactic conflict, and by Revenge of the Sith this group of corrupt space capitalists is easily overshadowed by their fellow Separatists from the Techno Union, at least when it comes to silly Star Wars character design. For 25 years, the Trade Federation has been a strange and slightly embarrassing part of the Republic era of that faraway galaxy.

But in The Acolytethe latest Star Wars show on Disney+ and one set a hundred years before the events of the prequels — we finally learn something interesting about the Neimoidian aliens who make up the Trade Federation. And this revelation helps justify their entire existence.

Very light spoilers ahead for The Acolyte Episode 1.

The Trade Federation confront the Jedi in The Acolyte.


One of the first scenes of The Acolyte brings us to a familiar Star Wars location that we haven’t seen for a while: a Trade Federation ship. Osha, the former Jedi apprentice turned freelance spaceship mechanic (or “meknek” in Star Wars parlance) is working on this ship when the Jedi track her down for complicated reasons that aren’t really relevant to our Trade Federation interests in this article.

But before the Jedi find her, they have a short, exposition-heavy interaction with the Neimoidians working on the ship. When the Jedi say they’re looking for Osha, the Trade Federation claim there are no passengers on their cargo ship. The Jedi counter by explaining that she’s a meknek, to which the Trade Federation rebuts, “Why would we have mekneks here? The Republic has legislated that only droids may perform outer ship repair.”

But the Jedi aren’t buying it. And a moment later, a second Neimoidian tells them where to look so they can find Osha.

Count Dooku with the Trade Federation in Attack of the Clones.


There’s a lot to unpack here. For one thing, the scene explains why Astromech’s like R2-D2 are so common in Star Wars. They exist to do a very dangerous job (fixing the outside of a spaceship) so humans don’t have to take that risk — although you could argue this is an example of the High Republic taking jobs away from people (or aliens) and giving them to robots.

But perhaps more importantly, it provides some insight into why the Trade Federation fits so seamlessly into the role of antagonist in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The Jedi in The Acolyte basically show up and act like arrogant highway cops, pushing the Neimoidians around and using the law as a weapon to exert control over what’s clearly a harmless group.

In that context, it makes a lot more sense why the Trade Federation would happily march into a battle against the Republic and the Jedi Council in the prequels. After all, a century of dealing with pushy bureaucrats and nosy space cops could make anyone angry. All it takes is a subtle push from Palpatine to turn that into an all-out conflict.

The Techno Union in Revenge of the Sith.


In the prequel trilogy, the Trade Federation aren’t compelling or multilayered foes. From the racist tropes underlying their character design to their one-dimensional motives, it often feels easiest to pretend they don’t exist and chalk it up to George Lucas needing an editor. But in just one scene, The Acolyte helps explain at least part of why the Trade Federation acts the way they do during the prequel trilogy. This doesn’t make the Trade Federation suddenly cool, but it does explain them a bit more.

Maybe next, The Acolyte can shed a little more light on what the Techno Union was up to a century before the prequel trilogy. Wat Tambor fans are waiting.

The Acolyte is streaming now on Disney+.

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