The Acolyte Begins to Unspool in “Teach/Corrupt”


First recruitment tactic: Swim naked. Got it.

Recap

Screenshot: Disney+

Osha wakes up on an unknown world with her wounds dressed. She finds herself on an island in the middle of a sea and follows Qimir to a tide pool where he strips naked and goes for a swim. She takes his lightsaber, and he asks her how it feels to hold one again. He corrects her stance, talks a bit about the Jedi and why they abandoned her, and asks if he can get dressed again. Osha lets him put on his clothes, and asks about why he’s brought her here, and whether he killed Sol and Mae. He tells her he didn’t and asks about her bond with Sol.

In the meantime, Sol is trying to send a message to the Jedi on Coruscant that his party has been murdered, but his systems keep failing. Bazil puts PIP in his charging dock. Sol tells “Osha” (Mae in disguise) that it’s time for him to come clean to the High Council about what happened all those years ago, but the ship keeps shorting out, so he asks her to go take a look. On Coruscant, Venestra is informed about Sol’s message and decides that a party must be sent to investigate what happened to their team.

Osha insists that Sol will find her here because he’s very powerful in the Force, but Qimir wants her to know that the power is hers. He also tells her that she’s free to leave if she likes. Osha follows him and insists that she can’t be powerful because she left the Jedi, and you lose your connection to the Force if you don’t keep working at it. Qimir tells her this is Jedi dogma. He asks why the Jedi abandoned her, and she insists that she left because she failed and holds Qimir’s lightsaber to his throat. He tells her that losing everything can free a person.

Mae encounters Bazil while enacting repairs, and he tries to fight her and runs away. She finds PIP and resets him, then pursues Bazil around the ship. Eventually she runs into Sol again, who is beating himself up for not knowing who Qimir was when they first encountered him, on Olega. He brings up how Osha takes care of her PIP droid, how she loves him. Mae as Osha tells him that she had to give up a lot of herself to become a Jedi and asks if he’ll tell her what happened on Brendok now. The system powers up, and Sol stuns Mae. He gets a message that the rescue team is on their way, but jumps to hyperspace before they arrive.

Osha asks Qimir about the scar on his back, which looks like someone stabbed him with a lightsaber. She wants to know if his master did this to him. He shows her his helmet—it’s made of Cortosis, the same element that they use for sensory deprivation helmets on younglings, which apparently makes it harder for people to read him and is a bit more resistant to lightsabers. He suggests that she try the helmet on to fully focus herself. Venestra and her team find the slaughtered Jedi; one of her group wonders if Sol is responsible. Venestra doesn’t think so; she believes something has arrived to tip the scales. Mae wakes up bound to a bed on the ship. Sol insists that he won’t hurt her, that he knows who she is, and that he means to finally tell her what happened on Brendok. Alone, Osha puts on Qimir’s helmet.

Commentary

Manny Jacinto as Qimir, shirtless by a tidepool in The Acolyte, "Teach/Corrupt"
Screenshot: Disney+

We’re gonna need to have a talk about all these planets with verdant islands that Force-users can just set up camp on all alone for their gorgeous solitude retreats where they may or may not train students. I was expecting porgs and nuns to show up again, only for them to tell us this is “Unknown Planet”? Sure it is. The galaxy has an endless supply of little island ocean worlds. (At least Pabu has a bunch of people on it; Pabu wins.)

So Qimir is now the only Sith to say the quiet part out loud with “The dark side is about sex, actually.” Finally. Someone had to say it if the Jedi are gonna be so weird about attachments. (I maintain that there’s no way that some Jedi don’t have sex occasionally, but they’re real weird about all emotions in general which is why poor Sol is so… *gestures*) It’s a great ploy! Why don’t we try seducing someone to the dark side with a little actual seduction… but obviously do it better than whatever Kylo Ren thought he was doing. I dunno, Darth Maul probably would’ve tried that route if Ezra hadn’t been a teenager at the time, so let Qimir get a shot at it and do it better than everyone else. We deserve this.

But we’ve still got an information gap problem regardless of how enjoyable Qimir’s argument is from a new material standpoint. Because we don’t know much about how he trained Mae, we have to guess at whether or not he’s changing his tactics, and more importantly, why that might be true. Is Osha more powerful than Mae? Is former Jedi repression better for flipping people to the dark side? Does he just like her more? So much of this poor series is happening in a vacuum, it’s getting to the point where I care less about what really happened on Brendok than I do about why the characters are feeling and behaving the way they do. Can we sink in with any of that, please?

It’s not just a need for the show to be meatier that prompts my interest in this. Qimir’s desire for “the Power of Two” gets much wrigglier if he’s leaning into the seduction aspect of the dark side, and while I suspect the show doesn’t mean to dig into that… oof, it really should? Let this stuff be gnarlier and more complicated for a change—you’ve got the room for it. Don’t just leave Osha with a sensory deprivation helmet—sorry, turns out I will be laughing at that forever, that’s pitch perfect edgelord gear on Qimir’s part—and act like it’s going to do the work for you.

The one suggestion that I love from this episode: The idea that Jedi tell everyone the Force is a “use it or lose it” connection and ability. Which is absurd, but makes perfect sense as a method of control, galaxy-wide. It makes it even more manipulative in terms of taking children from their parents: If they suggest that not allowing your child to study the Jedi arts will eventually cut them off from this innate ability, of course a parent would worry that they were depriving their child of something important. Again, it’s a very ugly system that relies on deception and coercion, and actively discourages anyone from using the Force by suggesting that anyone who isn’t a Jedi can’t connect.

I am personally trying not to freak out over Mae resetting PIP, but if he’s truly erased from that… I mean, that would actually be the most evil thing she’s done on the entire show, and it had nothing to do with revenge or being a baby Sith. Just gonna not think about that for now, gonna shove that deep down.

Of course Sol knows what’s going on, but the whole outline of what’s happening on his ship is real messy up until the end. Which is unfortunate, because every close up of his face is so good. Give him more to do. Why do we need Bazil sneaking around in the ducts and all the weird delays, and is it just to mount tension with the incoming rescue party because there was no tension there? It’s fine, you don’t have to pretend that you created any.

Again, we see all the red dust on the ground when the Jedi group investigate, and I’m going to be real upset if they don’t use it. We do get a glimpse into Venestra’s whole deal this time, and there are some great tidbits—like getting lightspeed sickness! So inconvenient, so good. Also, she has the infamous lightwhip, which is a weapon that has been all over Star Wars lore, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen one in live action? Don’t particularly love how thoughtlessly everyone keeps dispatching those poor moth creatures, but we learn quite a bit about her by knowing she carries one.

The fact that the investigative party does think it’s possible that Sol committed all these murders seems… not great? In both the hubris sense of the Jedi believing they’re always the most powerful, and in the suspicion-among-their-own-ranks sense. If there’s so little trust between them, is this a common problem?

But of course the episode gets cut off before we get the confession about whatever happened on Brendok. It would be nice to get a full episode. We haven’t had one in a month!

Spanners and Sabers

Amandla Stenberg as Osha, holding a lightsaber to Qimir's (Manny Jacinto) throat in The Acolyte, "Teach/Corrupt"
Screenshot: Disney+
  • I’m sorry, but when Qimir puts on the white sweater and starts walking back with his gear, my brain went “He’s just some SoCal guy heading to his next yoga class. Follow him, Osha, he’ll take you to Lululemon for some fancy workout leggings.”
  • Genuinely trying to think if there’s another moment where we’ve gotten nudity from anyone in Star Wars? We don’t see anything, but it’s relevant that this might be the first time we’re aware of a human character being entirely naked on screen.
  • Okay, but Qimir says Osha would have to swim to the ship to leave, which implies that he somehow swum over with her while she was unconscious? Because otherwise how…
  • Who is Venestra’s helper, and why does he give “Normally I’d be the person under prosthetics in Star Trek, but they decided to cast me as a human for some reason” energy? I love him. All the random side Jedi in this are so good.

Next week we’ll hopefully finally find out what happened on Brendok! icon-paragraph-end



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