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The Acolyte Episode 3 Has A Troubling Story Connection To The Star Wars Movies

We like The Acolyte so far because its story has stood alone--but this week's episode may have changed that.


The latest Disney+ Star Wars series, The Acolyte, has drawn raves from critics (including me!) and fans alike, and there's one thing that kinda binds those of us who enjoy it: That it's completely apart from the rest of the franchise because it takes place 100 years before the movies. The Star Wars franchise has so often made the galaxy feel very small, and this appears to be a nice break from that. But I'm very concerned that that's about to change, based on a key piece of info we got during this week's third episode, which told most of the story of how Mae and Osha were separated when they were kids.

Warning: This article will discuss some major spoilers from Episode 3 of The Acolyte.

This week's episode reveals that the twins were raised in an all-female coven of Force witches who had been exiled from an unknown place and were living off the grid on a supposedly otherwise uninhabited planet outside of Republic space. Their mother is a zabrak called Mother Coral, and the clan is led by a human called Mother Aniseya--given those titles, and the presence of a zabrak, these are likely a sect of the Witches of Dathomir, who played a key role last year in Ahsoka, but this is never made explicit.

Mae and Osha were just approaching their coming-of-age ceremony, when a quartet of Jedi showed up to ask them a few questions--the Jedi apparently get weird when unaffiliated groups train children to use the Force, regardless of the context.

Coral, who is actually Mae and Osha's mom, is concerned about the Jedi not just because they might kidnap Mae and Osha--she's worried they'll find out that Mae and Osha were created by Aniseya through the Force, conceived without a father. Just like Anakin Skywalker would be a century later.

We don't know the specific implications of that reveal yet, but it's the kind of thing that could very easily turn The Acolyte's plot into a direct prequel to the films. And I'm not sure that's gonna go well if that ends up being the case. But let's consider the possibilities.

In the current canon, Anakin Skywalker's birth is still a mystery--as far as we know right now, he really was conceived by the Force itself, unprompted. But the story was a little different in the Legends continuity. The story went that Emperor Palpatine's old master, Darth Plagueis, had the ability to manipulate midichlorians to keep people alive for an unnaturally long time, and he also invented the essence transfer technique that allowed Palpatine's spirit to survive the death of his body on the second Death Star. Plagueis had attempted to create a person as well, and was unable to do so--and he suggested that Anakin's birth was the Force's reaction to his machinations, or otherwise an accidental side effect.

We might try to hold out hope that Mae and Osha's immaculate conception doesn't have long-term and big-picture implications for the whole franchise, but with Mae later falling under the sway of an actual Sith--Mae and her pal Qimir directly reference the Sith Code in Episode 2, so the Sith are involved--this scenario is just far too pointed for us to keep believing that The Acolyte stands separate from the other Star Wars stories. On the contrary, it actually makes it seem like it's telling a new chapter in the main plot of the franchise.

It's hard not to see Mae and Osha as a sort of prototype for a lot of familiar Force concepts from the movies, like the prophecy about Anakin's birth--being conceived by the midichlorians, and bringing balance to the Force since they're like a single person, half light and half dark. And then there's that nonsensical "dyad in the Force" thing with Rey and Kylo Ren from The Rise of Skywalker, something else Plagueis had apparently tried and failed to make happen with Palpatine--Mae and Osha could be one of those, too.

I've enjoyed The Acolyte so far as a rare Star Wars adventure that doesn't bear the full weight of the franchise on its shoulders, but with this reveal I'm worried that may be an illusion--that we may actually be watching Star Wars: Episode 0 - The Acolyte, the story of how Anakin got made and where the Sith got their resurrection magic. Or it could be worse--a new extension of the Mandalorian/Boba Fett/Ahsoka portion of the franchise, which has been dealing a little bit with Palpatine's post-Return of the Jedi quest for immortality, and included several Dathomiri witch characters in Ahsoka last year. If either one of those is where we end up, it'll be disappointing.

But it would be such a typical move for Star Wars that it wouldn't be much of a surprise if that's the route they took. It would just be Star Wars doing what it so frequently loves to do: directing your attention back to the parts of the franchise that it thinks you already care about at the expense of fostering love for something new. Let's hope that's not how it plays out.

New episodes of The Acolyte stream Tuesdays on Disney+.

Phil Owen on Google+

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