A star rating of 4 out of 5.

This review is based on the first four episodes of The Acolyte.


Since the end of Andor season 1, we've needed something a bit different from Star Wars' live-action offering. Enter The Acolyte.

Part mystery, part thriller, part crime procedural, the new series starring Amandla Stenberg and Lee Jung-jae is galaxies away from any recent Star Wars show - and all the better for it.

It's no secret now that Stenberg plays two different characters, Osha and Mae, sisters who were separated by tragedy when they were young.

When tragedy also hits the Jedi Order, Jedi Master Sol (Lee) is charged with investigating - leading him to reunite with Osha, his former Padawan who left the Jedi Order. Despite such a long time apart, the pair have to work together - and soon discover they're dealing with very sinister forces.

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ord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in The Acolyte standing in Jedi robes looking concerned
Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in The Acolyte. LucasFilm/Disney+

The Acolyte would work on its own as a mystery thriller, but is made all the more interesting by being embedded into an important but as of yet unexplored part of Star Wars history.

Showrunner Leslye Headland is the perfect choice to helm the show, having proven her skills in the likes of Russian Doll. She masterfully crafts a suspenseful tale, while easily taking on the terrifying task of setting her story in uncharted territory: a period of Star Wars history that's never been put to screen before.

Of course, it's not just Headland's story that sets The Acolyte apart. Stenberg, who's no stranger to a sci-fi hit after her role in The Hunger Games, is a force of nature as she seamlessly brings to life two polar opposite sisters, both still reeling from the trauma of their childhoods.

Squid Game star Lee is another standout as the sensitive and protective Jedi Master desperate to get to the bottom of what's happening. Both actors have made it clear that they're huge Star Wars fans, and it's a treat to welcome them to the franchise.

The cast also boasts talents like Charlie Barnett (Yord), Manny Jacinto (Qimir) and Dafne Keen (Jecki), as well as the great Jodie Turner-Smith (Mother Aniseya). At the halfway point, Turner-Smith is somewhat underused, but here's hoping that's rectified in the remaining instalments.

As opposed to the sprawling nature of a series like The Mandalorian, The Acolyte is more of an intimate, character-driven show (although that's not to say we don't see plenty of the galaxy along the way). The glimmers of Osha, Mae and Sol's backstory only add to the depth of the characters and the tale, and every episode is gripping.

Four episodes in, the series so far has none of the pacing issues that often plague Star Wars live-action outings, either.

It's pacy but still takes the time to beautifully flesh out each of our leading characters. It's serialised but doesn't feel formulaic. It can be enjoyed as a standalone series for newcomers to Star Wars but still has plenty to enjoy for die-hards.

Of course, as with every Star Wars series, The Acolyte is still under a lot of pressure to stick the landing. It's one thing to provide a gripping first half, but it's how things wrap up that the show will truly be judged on.

Four episodes in, it's a very promising start but, while the comparisons to Andor are understandably coming thick and fast, it hasn't yet done quite enough to outdo the Diego Luna series.

Could the remaining four push it over the edge? Absolutely. But that's all down to what Headland and her stellar cast have in store.

Star Wars: The Acolyte will launch on Disney Plus on Tuesday 4th June. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.


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