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Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 6: Unveiling the Identity of the Stranger’s Former Master

The highlight, if one could label it such, of The Acolyte’s fifth episode (a chapter so compelling it won over some viewers) was its soaring ambition, especially following a mixed first half of the season. By dispatching two major characters, streamlining the investigative plot, and surfacing the emotions of the main players, it appeared the series had finally found its true voice. This week, while the pace is more subdued, the narrative feels more settled after the Jedi massacre.

Perhaps the strategy was always to play the long game with setups and misdirections, aiming to hit a home run with the second half of the season, flipping roles and morals on their heads. However, such an approach doesn’t immediately excuse the mechanical shortcomings of episodes 1 through 4. As the live-action debut of the High Republic era and its first foray into murder mystery, The Acolyte could have achieved more. At this juncture, though, we’re inclined to embrace the show as a satisfactory Star Wars success if it nails the landing in the remaining two episodes.

Episode 6, titled ‘Teach/Corrupt’ and helmed by Star Trek veteran Hanelle Culpepper (also known for Westworld), presents the calm after the storm. Primarily, the narrative follows Sol and Mae (posing as Osha) aboard the Jedi vessel at Khofar, as well as Qimir and Osha on the mysterious planet where Mae first encountered Qimir (or the Stranger) in the premiere episode. Everyone is grappling with significant changes or revealing their pasts. Meanwhile, a team of Jedi led by Vernestra Rwoh investigates the events at Khofar, following Sol’s failed attempt to warn them about the potential Sith threat.

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Much of the online discussion (beyond blind criticism) surrounding this episode will focus on Osha and Qimir’s relationship, with unmistakable shades of ‘Reylo’ dynamics intensifying rapidly. Even before the show premiered, there was a noticeable resonance with serious young adult literature energy, potentially resonating with younger audiences who fervently shipped the sequel trilogy characters. After last week’s homage to those who grew up with the fast-paced lightsaber duels of the prequels, this feels like a narrative reward, both within and outside the show.

Qimir asserts he was once a Jedi betrayed by his master, seemingly dispelling any notions of his Sith origins. It’s worth noting he never categorizes himself as a Sith in the conventional sense, instead suggesting the Jedi applied that label to anyone diverging from their dogmatic views of the Force and its use. This is where series creator Leslye Headland’s remarks about the brief inclusion of Kylo Ren’s musical theme in last week’s episode come into play: “It’s intentional, but I can’t divulge why or what it signifies. You’ll see.” It wouldn’t surprise us if this storyline evolves into the genesis of what later becomes the cult of the Knights of Ren.

Whatever Qimir’s backstory (more on that later), Osha finds herself in a precarious and perilous situation. There’s a growing sense that the four Jedi stationed on Brendok were involved in something deeply troubling sixteen years ago, and that Osha’s time with the Jedi Order kept her separated from Mae, whom she might have been able to save from a darker path. Qimir also contends that her sister never fully ‘committed’ to his cause, opting instead for empty vengeance—a stance that aligns with her swift departure when circumstances turned dire.

So, what is Qimir’s cause? “The power of two” recurs as a motif, evoking echoes of the Sith’s infamous Rule of Two, yet it could equally serve to mislead or set up the Force dyad concept first introduced in The Rise of Skywalker.

Osha’s relationship with the Jedi, irrespective of her feelings for her former master and fallen comrades, remains troubled, and her flight from them hasn’t led to any resolution. At this stage, it seems inevitable she will at least flirt with the dark side, a notion underscored by the final scenes of this episode where she dons the Stranger’s cortosis helmet—an ominous indication unless someone intervenes with compelling reason.

What happened to Master Sol during the Brendok incident sixteen years ago?

Concerned fans feared Sol would immediately journey to Coruscant to alert authorities about their encounter with a Sith or dark Force practitioner. Fear not, as interference disrupts Sol’s efforts to contact the High Council. Nevertheless, he remains understandably shaken by the loss of many Jedi and Osha’s departure once more.

It’s unusual to witness a Jedi grappling openly with such intense emotions and anger without succumbing to the dark side. While Luke and Rey navigated turbulent paths in the now-distant sequel trilogy, seeing an old-school Jedi Knight embrace humanity to this extent—in live-action—feels unprecedented since Obi-Wan’s duel with Anakin on Mustafar (though we acknowledge that final Obi-Wan Kenobi episode was profoundly emotive).

Lee Jung-jae’s fluid portrayal across these six episodes stands out as a series highlight. Episode 7 promises another significant flashback that will likely unveil the truth behind the long-discussed Brendok incident. While some speculate Sol might be a Sith Lord concealed in plain sight, his introspective moments in episode 6, away from prying eyes, suggest otherwise. He may have made significant errors and harbors a darker side, yet he appears more troubled man striving to maintain the path of light.

Nevertheless, Sol discerns Mae’s intentions as she speaks candidly, a departure from the reticent Osha, resulting in another surprising twist. Sol opts not to rush to Coruscant, instead hoping to persuade Mae to disclose the events of Brendok, aiming to draw her out of her dark isolation. Meanwhile, Bazil and Pip provide welcome comedic relief amidst the series’ intense narrative.

Who trained and ultimately rejected Qimir?

Vernestra Rwoh’s role in this tale suddenly assumes greater significance, contrary to her previous cameo appearances that primarily catered to diehard High Republic enthusiasts. Her reaction upon learning of events on Khofar and her efforts to suppress this information from reaching the High Council hint at a concealed truth of considerable magnitude.

Returning to Qimir’s scenes in this episode, particular attention is drawn to the peculiar scar on his back, not typical of wounds inflicted by lightsabers. Additionally, Vernestra’s abrupt use of her lightwhip on Khofar, though seemingly random, may hold significance—as many seemingly trivial actions in the series have ultimately connected crucial dots. While a true Sith Lord may still be lurking in the shadows, it increasingly appears that Qimir’s Stranger persona, the allusions made, and even the deliberate use of ‘Sith’ in a pivotal scene may serve to confound fans.

Headland has promised further exploration of Sith lore should The Acolyte secure a second season, yet she has also indicated that season one’s narrative arc will conclude definitively by the final credits of episode 8. With Sol’s imminent revelation of a major blunder and mounting evidence suggesting Vernestra’s involvement in Qimir’s embitterment, perhaps the true Sith antagonist will bide their time in the shadows a while longer. Moreover, according to the villain, his falling-out with his master occurred long ago, correlating directly with Vernestra’s advanced age by human standards—hinting at a potentially sinister method to prolong life, a hallmark of the dark side.

As an aside, Headland’s latest ‘deep cut’ into Legends lore may be the as-yet-unnamed oceanic planet housing Qimir’s base. The geography, pristine waters, and presence of cortosis ore, possibly utilized in the creation of the iconic helmet, suggest it may be a canonized iteration of Bal’demnic. Of greater significance? It was once under the dominion of Darth Tenebrous and Darth Plagueis. Theorize freely!

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