Star Wars

The Acolyte’s Witches Just Rewrote the Rules of the Force

All is as the Force wills it.

Jodie Turner Smith as Mother Aniseya in The Acolyte
Lucasfilm
The Acolyte

“The galaxy does not welcome women like us,” says Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith), one of the most recent and intriguing additions to the Star Wars saga. Aniseya leads a coven of witches in The Acolyte, and though they’re not the first to bring an eerie edge to that galaxy far away, the Witches of Brendock are very different from the Nightsisters of The Clone Wars and Ahsoka. In fact, they’re different from any Force-sensitive group to appear in the franchise. That’s largely due to the radical way these witches approach the Force as an extension of themselves, not as a means of control.

The Acolyte Episode 3 turns the clock back 16 years, reintroducing Mae and Osha Aniseya (Leah and Lauren Brady) as children on their home planet. It’s also the first (and potentially last) time we see their coven in action, and meet their mothers, Aniseya and Koril (Margarita Levieva). Before the tragedy that allegedly destroyed their home, Aniseya is seen teaching Mae and Osha the ways of their coven. Her Force power is strong, but she wields it differently than any Force-users we’ve seen before.

She even calls the Force by a different name. To the coven, this unseen power is known as the Thread. They still believe it connects all living beings, but also that it offers a sense of individualism that doesn’t exist for the Jedi or Sith.

The power of one, the power of two, the power of many.

Lucasfilm

When Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her group of Jedi attempt to recruit Mae and Osha, Aniseya is surprisingly supportive. Osha wants to walk the path of the Jedi, and whatever reservations her mother might have about the Order, she shares some sage wisdom with Osha. “Destiny is not decided for you by an anonymous Force,” she says. “If you want to pull the Thread, then pull it.”

Above all, Aniseya believes in the power of choice. The witches of Brendock speak of three powers: the power of one, the power of two, and the power of many. Osha could have grown into a strong Force-user with the coven's help, but she can be just as strong on her own. It’s up to her to choose for herself, regardless of the pressure she feels from Mae or the Order.

The Thread is neither good nor evil, and the same could be said for the Aniseya coven. While the Jedi use the Force to enforce their own dogma, the witches of Brendock are free-thinkers. That said, their unconventional ideas have made them galactic outcasts; they’ve been “persecuted, hunted, forced into hiding.” Aniseya’s powers of creation might have caught the Jedi Order’s attention, as The Acolyte implies Mae and Osha were conceived with the help of the Thread, and only the Sith flaunt that kind of power.

Mother Aniseya may be an enemy of the Jedi, but she’s one of The Acolyte’s most level-headed characters.

Lucasfilm

But perhaps the coven made themselves enemies of the Jedi by simply refusing to subscribe to their rules. As Episode 3 reveals, the Order has a sort of monopoly over the Force. If you’re not a Jedi, you’re not allowed to practice, while the Jedi that visit Brendock believe they have a right to test any Force-sensitive children they find. Other Star Wars stories have established the Jedi as peacekeepers — but in The Acolyte, they act a lot more like the Sith, dealing in absolutes and pressuring the marginalized.

As The Acolyte takes place hundreds of years before the Skywalker saga, we know the Jedi will eventually approach the Force from a more lax perspective. But first, they’ve got to let go of their superiority complex, and The Acolyte is poised to show how their fall from grace began.

The Acolyte is streaming on Disney+.

Related Tags