‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ episode 4: What’s the goal of Mae’s test?

For all its faults, The Acolyte has been refreshing the live-action side of the Star Wars universe in a big way. After an uneven two-episode premiere that successfully took fans to a previously unexplored era of the Star Wars timeline, episode 3 has dared to expand the Force-related mythology with a few bold swings. This week, the story finally gains some true momentum, and new twists make us rethink the central conflict.

It increasingly feels like the first three episodes were just the tip of a very large iceberg, as the basic pitch that Lucasfilm had been pushing for most of the pre-release marketing campaign is steadily going out the window. While most of The Acolyte’s DNA clearly belongs to George Lucas’ divisive (but recently revalued) Star Wars prequels, we could safely say that creator and showrunner Leslye Headland took some pages right out of Rian Johnson’s book; the plot doesn’t stay still for too long, and points of view and seemingly unimportant character instants are key to understanding what’s really going on.

Regardless of the reservations we might have about how the overall series is flowing or is presented, it’s abundantly clear by now that creator Leslye Headland had a story that was worth telling in mind and has managed to bring it to life without making too many concessions. So far, The Acolyte comes across as the kind of Star Wars story fans who actually like the franchise (despite its ups and downs) were clamoring for. It’s adding to the mythology at every turn and daring to ask some big questions that traditionally have been limited to Legends stories; as a result, the Star Wars galaxy is feeling, for the first time in a while, larger instead of smaller.

Sol and Vernestra discuss what’s next. (Image credit: Disney+)

Nonetheless, this series continues to struggle with making the most of its TV structure. Although episode 4 ‘Day’ strikes a better balance between moments of quiet and more traditionally adventurous bits, The Acolyte still comes across as a long movie that’s been hacked apart.

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