Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 1 Review


The galaxy far, far away returns in the new Lucasfilm and Disney+ Original Series, Star Wars: The Acolyte. After years of shows and films set during the days of the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, the Empire, the New Republic and the First Order, this is the first series ever set during the High Republic.


Set 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, this series has everything it needs to set it apart from all other Star Wars fare available to the masses. It’s not constrained by a connection to the Skywalker Saga. This is a timeframe that’s only appearance on screen prior to this series is the Disney Jr. show Young Jedi Adventures. There’s a lot of open space to move with characters whose pasts and futures mostly haven’t been written, unless they are directly addressed in the canon series of books. Even then, not everyone willing to watch this show reads the books so there’s a lot that can be discovered. And the rise of the Sith certainly intrigues casual Star Wars fans.

The series opens with one of the best fight sequences we’ve seen in a Star Wars property. It’s not on the level of the duel between Darth Maul, Qui-Gonn and Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, but it feels different than most fights we see. There is a lightsaber but it’s not a lightsaber duel. It’s not a generic fight between blasters. There’s actual hand-to-hand combat that sets the stage very well. It ends with the unknown, at the time, assailant defeating the Jedi played by Carrie Anne Moss. It’s a great setup that feels different than most we’ve seen from Star Wars under the Disney banner.


The first episode squanders that set up. The Original Trilogy is often hyped for its Space Opera style. The Mandalorian leaned heavily into Westerns for its inspiration. Acolyte’s first scene set it up perfectly for a murder mystery or a crime noir series. Unfortunately, it fails to build to either of those. There is a murder mystery that has a perceived answer and then an actual answer both revealed in the first episode. The first episode feels like it’s trying too hard to blend the styles of both The Mandalorian and Andor and just doesn’t live up to either.

That leads into another con: pacing. At times, the pacing feels rushed as they go from the fight to the arrest to the reveal too quickly. But once they arrive at these points, it feels drawn out. Things that should take longer don’t and things that should be quick are long. Hopefully, that gets course-corrected in future episodes.

Unfortunately, this series also feels familiar in the worst way. As mentioned, this is unfamiliar terrain for live action Star Wars, but the setting feels too much like prequel era Old Republic. It’s formulaic and basic when it should feel like something we haven’t seen previously. This was the chance to do something wild that stands out while still fitting in the Star Wars universe. Instead, it feels like everything else Disney has done with Star Wars.


This has one of the greatest disparities on Rotten Tomatoes of any Star Wars property. As of this writing, the critics score is 91% while the audience score is 28%. While I don’t have a hard time believing this will be similar to The Last Jedi with critics loving it more than the audience, I do have a hard time believing it is worthy of either of those scores. There are reports it was review bombed by people who want the property to fail and used AI generated reviews to lower the audience score. In this politically polarizing time, that’s not hard to believe, because this episode is nowhere near the 90 or 20 percent range. This episode felt like a solid 55% episode.

There’s also the complaint about fire in space. Yes, in our real world how it was depicted was impossible, but this is Star Wars, if that’s your complaint, you have no complaint. This is the series that’s shown fire in space multiple times previously and set up Han and Leia to walk out on what they thought was the surface of an asteroid with nothing but an oxygen mask. It’s clear physics works differently in Star Wars, so that’s not a valid complaint.

So far, the series doesn’t feel groundbreaking like The Mandalorian, inspiring like Andor or inspiring like Ahsoka. It feels a lot like The Book of Boba Fett, competent and familiar yet still inferior. In Boba Fett’s case, it was a show set at the same time as a better show with a character that fans had been clamoring to see more often. There’s no character like that for The Acolyte. It shouldn’t feel familiar which works against in this case. It’s not great or terrible; it’s just kind of there and that may be the worst sin a Star Wars series can commit.

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