Recap: ‘The Acolyte’ Episode 5 Is The Best Yet — And It’s Not Even Close

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: June 26, 2024 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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The Acolyte Episode 5 Recap - The Best Yet By Far
The Acolyte Episode 5 | Image via Disney+

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

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Summary

“Night” is easily the best episode of The Acolyte thus far, boasting exciting, energetic choreography and some meaningful developments.

One thing I’m not is a hater, so I’m happy to admit that Episode 5 of The Acolyte, fittingly titled “Night” after Episode 4, “Day”, is easily the best half-hour the show has produced. It’s full of genuinely exciting action, has a couple of meaningful reveals, and feels like it’s beginning to live up to its potential.

People will tell you differently, because at this point it has become fashionable in certain circles to hyperbolically rant about the show’s perceived lore-breaking failings, but for anyone who doesn’t have a vested interest in tearing down Disney’s Star Wars as some kind of determined cultural identity play, there’s loads here to enjoy.

The Acolyte Has Some of the Best Fight Choreography in the Franchise

Let’s start with the obvious. Most of “Night” is fighting, as the newly revealed Sith lord slices and dices pretty much the entire contingent of Jedi that tracked him to Khofar in the previous episode. And I’m on record as far back as the season premiere wondering about whether the show’s obvious Wuxia inspirations leaned too much into The Matrix.

As it turns out, this isn’t the case. The fights in this episode are great, and they strike a happy medium between the slow but emotional duels in the original trilogy, the overly choreographed and balletic ones in the prequels, and the clumsy bludgeoning style of Episodes VII-IX.

Everyone looks like they know how to fight in The Acolyte, which feels right for a show about an Order at the height of their powers. The masked Master – comically dubbed “Smilo Ren” in some quarters – is just better, and hacks down almost everyone present, even claiming a couple of surprising victims. Speaking of which…

Who dies in The Acolyte Episode 5?

The Acolyte Episode 5 Recap - The Best Yet By Far

Jecki meets an unexpected end in The Acolyte Episode 5

Let’s just do a quick round-up of the casualties here, since it was a Red Wedding-esque cull of many significant supporting characters.

Needless to say, every unnamed Jedi who went on the mission to Khofar is killed pretty quickly – Osha wakes up to find several already dead and a couple of others being handily skewered by Smilo. There’s a bit of toing and froing when Sol finally arrives to intervene, ordering Yord to take Osha back to the ship, while Jecki tries to apprehend Mae.

But Jecki meets a surprising end here. After getting the better of Mae she’s forced to engage her Master alongside Sol, but even though she’s able to unmask him – more on this in a minute – she ends up getting skewered multiple times. The audience sees it from behind, one, two, and then three sizzling puncture wounds appearing on the back of her robes. Another one bites the dust.

When Osha talks Yord into returning to the fight, the Master unceremoniously disarms him and snaps his neck. This surprised me since I expected him to survive a couple more episodes at least, but no such luck.

Surprising nobody, the Sith is Qimir.

The Acolyte Episode 5 Recap - The Best Yet By Far

Qimir is the mysterious Sith in The Acolyte

Everyone had deduced that Qimir was the Sith master, but his reveal is still important since it raises some interesting questions about who trained him, what his motivations are, how powerful he is, and how it all relates to the High Republic Jedi.

Oh, and then there’s that small matter of whether his existence breaks the canon established in The Phantom Menace and beyond.

I don’t think anything is being broken here, for what it’s worth. Almost everyone who has seen Qimir is now dead, and the Jedi have every reason to keep his existence a secret. In fact, it’s the likeliest thing for them to do, since Qimir himself points out that his entire motivation is wielding his power in the manner he chooses. He claims that the Jedi deny him the right to do so and that he has to kill everyone who knows about him because the Jedi won’t allow him to exist.

Qimir also makes an excellent villain. He looks great, he fights well, and he has a cool mask and gauntlet that seem to be made of cortosis, a material that causes lightsabers to short-circuit. It’s a minor detail but it’s used like three or four times within the episode’s various fights to excuse fun moments of choreography.

Sol is hiding something

The Acolyte Episode 5 Recap - The Best Yet By Far

Sol continues to hide something from Osha

Master Sol is able to best Qimir in combat, almost giving into his darker impulses by executing him, but Osha stops him at the last minute and instead – rather ridiculously, it has to be said – tricks the native umbramoths into carrying him away screaming.

But Qimir made plenty of intimations about Sol and the Jedi that will need to be unpacked. He rightly blamed them for bringing a child like Jecki into combat, called out their totalitarian vibe, and alluded to some darkness in Sol’s past that isn’t entirely dissimilar from the mask he himself wore to hide his true identity. Sol is lying about something, and it’s inevitably the exact circumstances of what wiped out the coven on Brendok in Episode 3.

But there isn’t time to address this here, since Mae intervenes and stuns Sol, giving the sisters a moment to argue about their shared backstory and the Jedi’s role in it. Mae accuses Osha of being brainwashed, and at this point, it seems like she might be right. Mae knocks Osha out and steals her identity, cutting her braids to the right length so she can blend in with Sol back on the ship. However, Bazil can smell trouble, pretty literally in this case.

This leaves Osha with a surviving Qimir, who may or may not know about the Parent Trap­-style switcheroo that has just occurred. Either way, the twins have literally traded places now, which will allow each of them to get a glimpse into the other’s world as we move into the back half of a radically improved first season.


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