The Acolyte: Star Wars Boldly Goes Where No Story Has Gone Before

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For decades, the Star Wars universe has been inextricably tied to the Skywalker family saga. From the original trilogy’s focus on Luke, Leia, and their father Anakin’s tragic turn as Darth Vader, to the prequel and sequel trilogies further exploring their origins and legacies. The Skywalkers have been the narrative core around which almost every Star Wars story orbited.

That well-trodden path is what makes Disney+’s new series The Acolyte so refreshingly bold. Set 100 years before the rise of the Empire, during the High Republic era first introduced in novels and comics, The Acolyte dives into completely uncharted narrative territory free from Skywalker ties.

The series follows estranged Force-sensitive twins Osha and Mae, the former a disillusioned ex-Jedi, the latter a disciple of mysterious dark side forces bent on eliminating Jedi. Their intertwined journeys of reunion and confrontation form the crux of the narrative’s dramatic thrust.

On paper, the setup sounds intriguing – the dichotomy of light and dark paths, the personal layers of family bonds shattered then rekindled. However, the execution over the first two episodes lands with a surprising thud of disengagement.

The world-building is rich, with a visual and production design scope that arguably outclasses much of Disney’s recent Star Wars output. But the characters, despite committed performances particularly from the excellent Lee Jung-jae as Jedi Master Sol, fail to gel into empathetic anchors amid plodding pacing and pedestrian dialogue.

For a story boldly heading into the franchise’s great unexplored frontier, The Acolyte feels paradoxically stale and immediately forgettable in its opening chapters, more interested in flexing its detachment from the Skywalker shadow than crafting an immediately compelling alternative.

That said, the very ambition to wander so far afield is still admirable and potentially lays fruitful narrative soil for more fertile growth to come in the following episodes.