‘The Acolyte’ Episode 4 Recap: “Day”

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Here’s a list of things I’m fully on board with when it comes to Star Wars, all of which we get in this short, sweet episode of The Acolyte.

1. Backroom skullduggery on Coruscant

I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I was to hear Jedi Master Venestra openly suggest covering up the Jedi killing spree being committed by Mae, on the grounds that her own Master is obviously a current or ex-Jedi and thus a scandal would ensue. I was even more pleased to see everyone, including Sol, agree to this decision, even if it means lying by omission to both the Jedi High Council and the Galactic Senate. I absolutely want High Republic politicking amongst the magic monks. I want negotiations about taxation on shipping lanes, goddammit. 

THE ACOLYTE EPISODE 4 LITTLE SQUIRREL MAN

2. Little squirrel guys

The Acolyte has come through in the little guy department pretty consistently; there were three or four such guys in the premiere alone. This week’s little guy is Bazil, an anthropomorphic squirrel-man whom the Jedi hire to track down Mae and her quarry, Kelnacca, on the isolated forest planet Khofar. I stand in favor of furry little guys as a rule. (I’m a vegetarian.)

3. Gross bug monsters

Like something out of Avatar crossed with the insect-pit sequence from Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Osha messes around with a growth on a tree trunk only for it to extend its legs, skitter way, fly off, and return for the kill. Only the quick reflexes of Sol, who benefited from the beast’s attraction to the glow of his lightsaber, saves the crew from death by creepy-crawly. The best part of this sequence, however, are all the bugs that don’t awaken and attack, coiled instead around tree trunks everywhere you look. The danger is just implicit but it’s there, and you dread it every second you’re around that area with the characters. Highly effective creature deployment.

THE ACOLYTE EPISODE 4 KELNACCA DEAD OF A LIGHTSABER SLASH

4. Murder-mystery twists, presented like we’re watching a murder mystery that just happens to involve Wookiees sometimes

At the risk of being insensitive to poor Master Kelnacca, how funny was that shot when a now-repentant Mae creeps into his quarters to surrender, only to find him slumped dead in his chair, with a still-fresh lightsaber wound across his chest? Classic “I know what this looks like, but I can explain!” material from noirs and private-eye movies a million times over. One of the great joys of the Star Wars setting is how its repleteness allows you to hit all kinds of notes in all kinds of stories from all kinds of genres. This one tickled me pink.

THE ACOLYTE EPISODE 4 SCARY GUY WALKS FORWARD

5. Bad guys who look like if the Hellraiser puzzle box existed in a galaxy far, far away

Seriously, check out Mae’s masked, anonymous Master. Look at that array of metallic whatchamacallems that makes him look like the Chatterer cenobite. Dig the way he descends from the sky in the background out of focus like a vampire when he first appears in this episode. Check out how he wordlessly punks out an entire Jedi SWAT team. Getting real “We have such sights to show you” vibes from this fellow in a way I haven’t from a Star Wars villain since the initial appearance of Darth Maul. I realize that “design a cool guy in black armor” is barely a challenge for a seventh grader, let alone professionals, but still.

THE ACOLYTE EPISODE 4 JECKI TRAINING WITH THE SWORD

There’s a lot about The Acolyte that still rings flat in my ears. Dialogue like “We’re not defined by what we lose, we’re defined by what we survive” that feels taken from something your therapist might have on their walls and which passes for profundity among fans whose interest never take them much farther afield then their franchise of choice. The inconsistency of Mae, whose tendency to go as hard as she can anytime she makes a decision, up to and including committing lethal arson, feels like some sort of untreated mental illness but has not been portrayed as such. But this is a fun little Star Wars adventure now, and I’m having a fun little time. With fun little squirrel guys, preferably.

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling StoneVultureThe New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island.

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