Star Wars: The Acolyte ‘Destiny’ Review – Episode 3

The Acolyte episode three, Destiny, takes things back to the past and the childhood of Mae and Osha and looks at how the tragic incident that consumed their family and separated them, driving them apart – how it happened. It’s brutal; Mae’s rage and anger at Osha betraying their trust to see the stars and join the Jedi Order exacted by her belief that the Jedi were responsible for tearing her sister away from her. It’s enough to turn one to the Dark Side.

Twins are special in Star Wars and this continues in The Acolyte – Destiny

There has been an emphasis on twins being special for as long as Star Wars has been Star Wars; Luke and Leia, of course, so any twins with special powers is going to get looked at even in an era long before the original trilogy. Here, we get to see Osha as the daring adventurer, reaching for the stars – running away from home and dragging her sister with her. It’s very Leia. It’s very Luke. It’s very Star Wars.

 The all-female coven of witches on Brendok gives the twins a connection even with Anakin, the Chosen One – they do not have a father. They were carried by another witch. Mother Koril. This bodes way to the ceremony and a way to use the Force, aka the Thread – in a way that the Jedi misuse it. They’re warrior monks to the witches, deluded and stuck in their ways. All-seeing and duplicitous, their ruse of setting foot on a planet is quickly believed to be empty – they’re here for the sisters and want to give them a choice of joining the Jedi Order or not.

And such is the stakes. It’s an interesting choice to give to Kogonada, master of the slow-burn walk-and-talk character drama, a high-stakes origin story, but he excels the direction and makes this show and Brendok look incredibly beautiful and unique. The whole ceremony, before it’s interrupted by the Jedi, is breathtaking, and when the dilemma comes for the twins to fail the test, you see him maximizing Jasmyne Flournoy and Eileen Shim’s script to deliver maximum impact – the end result of Mae failing her test only to learn the anguish that Osha has passed, drives an incomparable wedge between the two siblings.

Mae’s revenge boils over; she’d rather Osha die than leave her and starts a fire that burns down her entire coven. It’s an escalation that ends in a tragic way – and it is easy to see why it would shape Mae and Osha’s narrative for both characters going forward; both vengeful at each other, both siblings, the yin and the yang of each other – and we learn Mae’s hatred for the four Jedi – Indara, Kelnacca, Torbin and Sol. There’s disbelief from her that Osha passed the test, convinced that they used their mind control powers, but when it’s revealed that it’s Osha’s choice? Devastating for Mae.

The Destiny offers one vision of events

But it’s important to remember that this is just one vision of events – one version; it leaves out a lot of key events, somewhat deliberately. It’s not the only Star Wars project to follow this vision of how it unfolded; like The Last Jediwe saw different variations of Luke preparing to strike down Ben and turn him into Kylo Ren. It’s classic Rashomonthe multi-character, multi-perspective narrative – and Osha’s perspective being clearly in command leads us to think that we’re not seeing the whole version. We’re going to learn Mae’s tale sooner rather than later – her test is never seen, and her actions after the fire are never shown. What makes it different from The Last Jedi is that this is just what Osha remembers, rather than deliberate manipulation of past events.

Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE. Image courtesy of LucasFilm.

How did the fire spread so fast? Even in a flashback episode designed to give us answers, we only come away with more questions, and we’re left waiting a week for answers. The short but sweet time we spent with the Coven really made it an engaging world that was built here; Jodie Turner-Smith and Margarita Levieva act as the guiding light of these characters. Their perspective vs. the Jedi and getting the chance to see their views of how the Force could be used showcases their differences and how it shapes Osha’s worldview on top of that; she’s going into the Jedi order radically different from the Jedi that were raised in more traditional ways so she’s not going to feel welcome from the beginning.

What it means to be a Jedi

I do like the obvious metaphors being what it means to being a Jedi feeling different and the commentary on the queer experience is very much a running thread throughout The Acolyte; and it’s pulled off rather well. It’s an interesting metatext that feeds into the underbelly of the Coven/Jedi narrative – and lays a groundwork for deeper works at play. There’s maybe no such thing as good and evil here; maybe a blend of the two – and it might not be so simple as being a member of the Coven or a member of the Jedi. Osha has been both; yet neither – their entire guiding principle of being a Jedi is built around a sense of unease, recruiting children and taking them away from their family and culture. What impact would that have on Osha further down the line – what impact would that have from anyone?

We have theories we can explore. Like Kelnacca fighting Torbin in the trailers, suggests more flashback work at play and there was a Jedi/Witch conflict. But it’s too early to tell; they’re just theories yet. Representation this week was absolutely massive across the board here – Abigail Thorn played Eurus, whilst the mothers themselves were a couple. It’s absolutely massive for Star Wars to make such positive representation leaps here, even if relatively minor, and hopefully, that’s a step in the right direction.

The whole fire in space thing is something that we’ve seen done to the point of death in Star Warsand nobody brought it up when it was used in abundance in the original trilogy or the prequels, so why should they here? Star Wars is fantasy, after all, not science fiction – and that’s shown by the abundance of amazing visuals that Kogonda directs. Worlds away from ColumbusI’d love to see him handle more genre roles like this going forward, as long as he remembers to do a ‘one for me’ from time to time.

The Acolyte Episode 3 is now streaming on Disney+.

Learn more about the latest Star Wars television series from the official website for the title.

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