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Home > Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 3 ‘Destiny’ (2024): A Review

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 3 ‘Destiny’ (2024): A Review

Lauren Brady as Young Osha, Jodie Turner-Smith as Mother Aniseya, and Leah Brady as Young Mae.

The Mystery Deepens

Episode Three of Star Wars: The Acolyte, titled ‘Destiny’, aired on June 11th. Much in the tradition of recent TV shows, the third episode is a flashback episode, the story jumping back sixteen years to (sort of) reveal what happened on Brendok, the world where the sisters grew up, where they were separated by fire, and where four Jedi who should have mined their owns beeswax first got on Acolyte Mae’s hit-list. This episode is packed and dense, making good use of every one of its 40ish minutes of screen time.

A side note but interesting detail before diving in is that in the sky over Brendok are twin moons; red and blue, respectively, which are both visible side by side, overlapping in the same way the O in The Acolyte does in the show title. Just a fun little visual. 

The Same, But Different

The episode spends ample time comparing and contrasting things, be it the sisters themselves or the Force-using traditions between the Witches of Brendok and The Jedi. That’s right, Osha and Mae are part of a coven of witches. Most Star Wars enthusiasts will be familiar with the Witches of Dathomir, who are not only present in the live-action and animated shows, but in video games as well. In the original book from where they originate, a now non-canonical book titled The Courtship of Princess Leia, there were actually two sisterhoods present, the Nightsisters and The Singing Mountain Clan of Witches. Those witches weren’t exclusive users of the dark side. The lore of these witches, if not in name then in spirit, has found its way into The Acolyte

Per an interview with Entertainment Weekly and show creator Lesley Headland: “I was very inspired by the Nightsisters storyline and the Ventress storyline on The Clone Wars when I was a budding writer,” Headland said. “So when I got the chance to make a show set in the Star Wars universe, it felt like, ‘Well, of course I’m going to do my version of witches. I just am going to shoot my shot.” The short version is that these witches use the power the Jedi call the Force, but they call “The Thread”. Also notable is that the Witches of Brendok live on the outskirts of the galaxy, certainly outside of the jurisdiction of the Galactic Republic.

Yet despite their isolated existence, they live in fear, hunkered inside a fortress at the peak of a mountain, doing their best to keep a low profile. So when Mae and Osha leave the confines of the fortress, the latter to get some much-needed space from the former, it draws unwanted attention to them because, at that exact moment, a group of visiting Jedi are on the world for… unclear reasons (maybe for this very purpose). Master Sol spots Mae and Osha using the Force (or the Thread, depending) and soon enough, his companions, Indara, Kelnacca, and Torbin, pay the witches a visit. 

Witchy Women

The coven is apparently in hiding because some consider their connection, presumably to the Dark Side, to be unnatural. This line may sound familiar to something Emperor Palpatine said in Attack of the Clones during the squid opera scene. The witches Mantra: “The power of one, the power of two, the power of many…”, certainly has parallels with other Force Mantras, such as the Sith Rule of Two. This episode is dense, and rarely a line feels wasted. The storytelling and delivery of exposition is actually quite elegant and clear.  In about half an hour, the audience learns that the witches are in exile, the witches are all female, Mae and Osha are the only children there (and indeed are pampered not unlike royalty, albeit princesses locked in a tower), Mae and Osha were created (not born), perhaps in a way similar to how Anakin Skywalker himself was made (a vergence in the Force).

A significant portion of the episode also shows Mae is a little… off. At various points in the episode, she attacks local fauna, threatens to kill her sister, and burns a journal we’ve seen Osha scribbling in from time to time. Because none of the older Coven Mothers comment on Mae’s behavior, it’s entirely unclear if this is just how Mae is, if something is wrong with Mae, or if her connection to the dark side has had some side effects. It’s also made clear that Osha isn’t as connected with the dark side, and in fact, when the Jedi present to the witches, the sisters are extended an opportunity to join them (more on that below). What’s notable for now is that Osha is clearly unhappy and desires separation from her sister; wanting to differentiate herself and seeing more of the galaxy.  And while Osha’s desire to join the Jedi could be pinned on childhood desire, Mae threatens to kill Osha if she leaves.

Later, Osha expresses a lack of desire to participate in the Ascension ceremony. The details are vague, it’s some sort of coming-of-age ceremony, perhaps where the witches’ powers are linked in some way (they call it the ‘power of many’ in the episode). Mother Aniseya warns them that the galaxy is not kind to those like them, witches, and that their powers will make them targets and indeed, when the Jedi show up, the word that comes to mind is tension. 

Jedi Interlopers 

As noted above, the four Jedi from the first two episodes are present here. After entering the Fortress unannounced, the Jedi very passive-aggressively confront the witches. Aniseya expresses a desire for no violence, and indeed, the coven puts away their weapons before the Jedi even show up. The Jedi are concerned the coven is training children and imply that Republic law forbids non-Jedi from training Force Users. Finally, when it is revealed that the Sisters have no father, the Jedi seem particularly concerned. Later in the episode, it’s revealed that Koril carried the twins to term while Aniseya ‘created’ them, which may suggest the same way that Anakin was ‘conceived by the midichlorians’ in The Phantom Menace. A suggestion from Mother Koril is that creating life in this way may be illegal or at the least, taboo. When the twins get into an age-appropriate debate about whether the Jedi are good or bad, Mother Aniseya is quick to note, “This isn’t about good or bad. This is about power and who is allowed to use it.” Indeed, much of the episode feels like The Jedi would prefer they be the only Force-users in the galaxy. 

Later in the scene, the Jedi claim the right to test potential Padawans, and reluctantly Mother Aniseya agrees to allow the twins to be tested, under duress. The scene reeks of elitism and privilege in the form of do-gooders; the Jedi entered the fortress uninvited, they quoted laws that didn’t apply (since Brendok is outside of the Republic), and at best, they lied a little when they stated, “The Jedi do not take children.”  Not twenty minutes later, they literally take Osha away.  Osha has apparently romanticized the Jedi, and her desire to leave with them is at least partially based on what happens next.

Fiery Confusion 

Things get a little confusing from this point on.  Summarized quickly, Osha has decided to leave with the Jedi, and Mae, in protest, locks her in her room, and burns Osha’s journal in protest. Things then escalate quickly. The hallways are suddenly in flames, and Mae is gone. While we did see Mae burn the journal, we don’t actually see Mae start the larger fire, which quickly spreads. Osha escapes through a vent (finally using her mechanical inclination), and around that time, we hear witches screaming, with no clear clue as to what they are reacting to.  Moments later, the power grid for the fortress seems to be haywire before it explodes; perhaps sabotage. The sisters attempt to unite but are separated by a severed walkway. 

Osha thinks Mae began the fire, which is now out of control. The walkway collapses and 

Mae falls into a chasm below. Sol catches Osha before she falls in, and he leads her past what can only be described as a pile of dead witches, revealing them all dead but not apparently by fire nor lightsaber. The fire quickly spreads, and the fortress is soon consumed. If all of that sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Things are happening faster than the viewer can understand them, and because the fortress is burning, there’s no time for consideration. Viewers had to rewatch the scenes just to be sure what they were seeing. This episode was directed by Kogonada, who is perhaps best known for writing and directing After Yang. Whether it was the pacing, the choppy editing, or the storytelling, this section of the show just didn’t flow well; it felt confusing, not exciting, or terrifying.  

This portion of the show is probably meant to sow doubt and misdirect; is the Master (Sith) already present, manipulating events inside the fortress? Did they start the fire or force Mae to do so? If so, did the Master kill all the witches, and if so, how? At various points in the episode, the dangers of the Bunta tree (a local flora) are noted, so maybe the Master poisoned the witches in some way. Interestingly, creator Leslye Headland may be taking her cues from mystery box aficionado J.J. Abrams in that she isn’t all that concerned with solving every mystery in the show. In an aforementioned interview with Entertainment Weekly in late May, Headland noted: “If you keep watching the show, we do talk about that and explore that. I would say there isn’t one answer to it,” Headland says. “Some characters believe certain things and other characters believe other things in terms of what she means by that. So you’re going to have to watch and decide which side of that argument you’re on.” With five more episodes in the season, surely some reveals are forthcoming.

Final Rating 

Episode 3 of The Acolyte, ‘Destiny’, did a great job of deepening the mystery around Osha and Mae’s upbringing and, ultimately, their separation. A frantically paced conclusion might leave some viewers more confused than satisfied, as was the case with this reviewer, but ultimately, a satisfying addition to the series. Here’s a fun unboxing video with the cast of The Acolyte.

The Acolyte (2024) Cast Product Unboxing

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Caleb aims to write high-concept genre pieces that focus on broken families. His works have been recognized by the Nicholl's Fellowship, the ISA, Screencraft, Launchpad, and Nickelodeon.When not writing Caleb enjoys video games and tabletop RPGs, camping, and is a connoisseur of fine bourbon.

Hi! I am a Dramatic Writing and Performing Arts major at SCAD from Puerto Rico. I have an intense passion for all things film, tv, and music. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and putting it out there is the most important.