Monday, July 08, 2024

The Acolyte episode 6: Teach/Corrupt

The Acolyte is a new series streaming on Disney+. It is set in the Star Wars universe and occurs 100 years before the fall of the Jedi and subsequent rise of the Empire.

What happened: Osha awakens in a cave on an unknown planet. Cautiously, she follows Qimir down to a rocky seashore where he strips naked and bathes in a sheltered lagoon. In the distance, across a narrow channel, is a spaceship on a rocky island. Osha grabs his lightsaber and he returns to shore as they exchange banter. Qimir wants Osha to willingly become his new apprentice. Osha threatens to kill him, but won't, because he is unarmed. Qimir mocks her for still following the Jedi code. Back in the cave, he explains his armor is made out of Cortosis, a rare metal useful in a fight against lightsabers. He explains the helmet also doubles as a senory deprivation device, allowing the wearer to be better attuned to the force so the senses don't betray them. Osha says she'll never fall to the Dark Side of the Force but nevertheless puts on the helmet. Back on Khofar, Sol and Mae-disguised-as-Osha take off only to discover their ship is all kinds of glitchy and can't jump to hyperspace. Sol tries to get off a distress signal but it is garbled (the signal is received on Coruscant, and Vernestra, while worried about a Senate inquiry, gathers a rescue team and immediately takes off). Mae almost stabs Sol in the back before Sol tasks her with repairing the ship as Mae is a meknek. Bazil, the alien badger/bloodhound, knows Mae is an imposter but rather than warn Sol, he reactivates the remains of Osha's palm droid Pip who squirts ink at Mae before getting reset to factory settings. Mae, pretending to be Osha, bitches to Sol about how bad he treated her as a padawan before Sol, tired of her shit, stuns her and ties her down. When she awakens, he says he thought for years about what he would say to her so she's damn well going to listen. Sol jumps to hyperspace just as Vernestra arrives. She and her party find allteh dead Jedi on the planet and realize they're dealing with a fallen Jedi... or worse.

Disturbances in the Force: After the intensity of the previous episode, this one reverts to a slow burn which would be fine except that nothing happens. This episode is slow and everything that happens is so slowly drawn out to fill the runtime that I kept checking my watch to see how much longer was left. With Sol and Mae, there was a kind of does-he-know-or-doesn't-he vibe going on that was pretty pointless. Sol kept giving Mae tech assignments she wasn't capable of managing yet somehow bluffed her way through even as Sol wallowed in regret for all the lives lost on Khofar. That tedium could've been nipped in the bud had Bazil just gone straight to Sol and told him Mae was posing as Osha, but instead he decides on some Home Alone-esque pratfall boobytraps that annoy Mae but accomplish little else. I've yet to figure out the relevance of Verenstra's subplot beyond documenting the various ass-kickings the Jedi are receiving. The Qimir/Osha doalogue/negotiations are the most compelling element in this episode but even those are drawn out. To a degree they are evocative of Yoda's sandbagging of Luke early on Dagobah, but only slightly. Mostly the exchange consists of Osha following Qimir around, saying, "I'll never be your Dark Side apprentice!" and Qimir responding, "Fine. Go then. The ship's over there. Keys are in the ignition." Yes Osha refuses the easy out, continuting to bluster and posture while getting fitted for a black Sith suit and red lightsaber.

The interwebs inform me that Cortosis is a metal previously only seen in the Expanded Universe novels. It is very rare and has the unique property of absorbing the energy of lightsabers, thereby short circuiting them for a brief period. This isn't made terribly clear in the show. I'm guessing it'll have a greater role in the narrative come episode 8, but might just be a throwaway reference to get fans of the Expanded Universe excited. I dunno. On Khofar, Verenstra's team determines the battle was found against someone very powerful in the Force, but erratic, unfocused. That, coupled with Qimir's behavior with Osha is further indication that he's not Sith but rather mostly self-trained. Once the Jedi suss out his tricks and surprises I suspect he'd be toast. He dropped hints that he's a former padawan, but this show continues to refuse to give straight answers even when logic dictates that's what should happen. Once again, we're on the verge of finding out whatever it was that Sol did that was so terrible when the scene fades to black. That's not a cliffhanger. That's not drama. That's shitty writing, hiding the truth from the viewers through contrivance. Look, I get that reset episodes exist for a reason but this one contained about 10 minutes worth of plot that was stretched out over 40 minutes. When you're working with the kind of budgets they have for the Star Wars TV series, maybe devote a little more of that budget toward adding substance to these reset episodes because the audience and characters deserve better.

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