REVIEW: The Acolyte – Season 1, Episode 3, “Destiny”


“Destiny” opens on Mae and Osha’s homeworld of Brendok 16 years ago. They are the only children in a coven of witches led by Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith), their actual mother. But she isn’t their only mother; Mother Koril worries about Osha’s lack of discipline and tendency to run away. The girls’ parents bicker over their safety as their daughters fight over their destinies. Osha wants to leave Brendok and see the galaxy, and this deeply offends Mae. Mae wants to stay together forever, but Osha wants her own life and doesn’t want to share. At their coven’s Ascension Ceremony, Mae is given the mark. However, Osha’s Ascension is interrupted by a group of Jedi who show up asking to see the children. Osha goes to them and convinces Mae to do the same. Surprisingly, Mother Aniseya allows the girls to be tested for Force aptitude, but in secret, she asks them to fail. Mae fails on purpose, but Osha is convinced by the Jedi and succeeds. Unlike everyone else in the coven, Aniseya supports Osha’s choice and tells her about bravery and their version of the Force, the Thread. However, an enraged Mae starts a fire, and both sisters fall off a collapsing bridge. Sol saves Osha and takes her for Jedi training, leaving Mae alone, confused and angry. 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; then, we can get into everything else. The reason people are mad and this episode evidently destroys Star Wars lore is that Mother Aniseya created the twin girls, evidently using the Force/Thread. They have no father, being carried by Koril and created by (and resembling most) Aniseya. This is all very reminiscent of Anakin and the Chosen One prophecy, which we have to assume is intentional. In the few interviews I’ve seen, showrunner Leslye Headland praises the prequels a lot. The story of Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side seems to be what interests Headland about Star Wars the most. That’s all well and good, but implying that children can simply be made by using the Force cheapens Anakin’s role in the story. And it’s still ultimately his story, right? All this supplemental material and all the side stories in the world can’t take that away. The first six movies are about his rise and fall. Honestly, I would prefer if the two moms somehow combined their DNA to make the daughters. I have no problem with lesbians, and the existence of lesbians and their family doesn’t recontextualize the Force or the Chosen One. But this is silly and a bad move, not just for this show but for Star Wars going forward – unless they reveal in a later episode that Aniseya made them some other way, which would just make the whole thing cheap. 

The Acolyte Destiny

I also take issue with the framing of the Jedi in this episode. Despite claiming to be peaceful, they barge in and spy on the coven before demanding to train the girls. I know Headland said The Acolyte wouldn’t be kind to the Jedi, and she has kept her promise. They haven’t done anything truly despicable (yet), but they are shown as overly bureaucratic, cold, arrogant, and condescending. There’s even a Republic law that says only the Jedi may train children, evidently. What did the Jedi ever do to Leslye Headland? They didn’t even do some of these things in the Clone Wars time period; I’ve said it before, but they knew about the Nightsisters and left them alone, and they’re more definitively Dark Side than these witches. Aside from the virgin birth, I’m not sure what they do that would be considered dark. But Aniseya says this fear of being considered Dark Siders is what drove them into hiding. “The Galaxy is not a place that welcomes women like us,” and all that. But is this true? And why are the Jedi just appearing to whisk kids away? They also didn’t do this in the prequel era. They took kids for training only if the parents consented. They also make Sol look sketchy in this episode, like he feels guilty about something he’s hiding from Osha. He’s also the one who initially spies on the two little girls… creepy. It’s like they’re trying to ruin the only likable/interesting character up to this point. I get that this show has a hate-boner for the Jedi Order, but making me indifferent or angry towards all of your characters isn’t a good way to sell your show. I liked Sol even more after learning that Lee Jung-jae learned English specifically for the role and based him on Qui-Gon Jinn. I’m starting to wonder if he’s the only one on set who actually likes Star Wars, and that’s why his performance seems the most genuine and earnest. 

The Acolyte Destiny

Another aspect of “Destiny” that falls flat for me has less to do with Star Wars as a brand/franchise: the dialogue is terrible. I don’t mean it’s awkward, like some of the prequel dialogue; it’s just bad. Mae and Osha refer to themselves as “children,” and in my experience, this just isn’t how children speak. The vague way Aniseya and Koril allude to the girls’ origin also feels forced and unnatural. This may work to extend the show’s uninteresting mysteries, but it’s just not how humans communicate. Why wouldn’t you speak openly to your wife about your own kids? There’s no reason to be so cryptic. It’s hard to get invested in people who don’t feel or behave like people at all.

The Acolyte Destiny

It’s also strange to me how adamant everyone is that Mae and Osha become witches. They talk about maintaining their way of life and all, and I do get that. But Osha isn’t interested in this from the very start. I like that Mother Aniseya decides to let her go her own way, at least as far as we know. I have a feeling that the real reason everyone dies is that they fight the Jedi. Although it’s interesting that Mae really did start the fire; many fan theories were that Osha was to blame, or even the Jedi. We also learn that Mae’s forehead marking is given at Ascension, much like the Nightsisters’ markings appear through their own ritual. I found the “power of many” chant silly, in all honesty. Yes, I agree, there is power to be found in working together. But this was a drawn-out, repetitive, and dull way of illustrating that. How about you show us the combined power of the witches instead of pontificating on it for minutes on end? I guess because then they would actually have to show us what happens, but I bet it would at least be cooler to look at. 

The Acolyte Destiny

Speaking of looks, the visuals are the saving grace of “Destiny.” The boonta tree is gorgeous, although I find it weird that it bears the same name as the holiday celebrated on Tattooine. Is this a coincidence? Am I reading too much into it? “Destiny” is the most visually interesting episode of The Acolyte yet, for what that’s worth. It’s nice to see something different in terms of costuming. I need to correct something I said last time, that this is the best-looking Disney+ Star Wars since The Book of Boba Fett episode 5. I think Andor is just so good (in almost all areas) that my brain forgot to count it among the mostly mediocre Disney+ batch, at least where live-action is concerned. The music by Michael Abels, the special effects, and the costumes are the best parts of the show, for better or worse. 

The Acolyte Destiny

I could go on and on about why this episode doesn’t work, both as a Star Wars story and just a TV show in itself. Why undermine the prophecy like this? Why show that the moms can’t agree on discipline if it’s not going to be important? Why is Aniseya shown as being right when she constantly undermines her wife and takes away her authority? Some partnership. Why don’t the girls love Koril, especially since she’s the mother who bore them? I understand their closeness with Aniseya, but I find the way she one-ups her wife disconcerting. She even has their kids turned against her. And we’re supposed to feel sorry for someone who treats her own wife this way? Why didn’t it occur to Mae that Osha was taken by the Jedi? How did Mae survive the fall? Apparently, a small throwing knife can kill a Jedi Master, but an 8-year-old is immune to drastic falls. One of my bigger problems is with the Thread; it’s not that different than how the Jedi see the Force. They already see it as something connecting all life; that’s literally what Yoda said. This is the worst episode yet.

The Acolyte Season 1, Episode 3, "Destiny"

Plot - 4
Acting - 5
Progression - 4
Production Design - 7
Character Development - 3



"Destiny" is the worst episode of The Acolyte yet, cheapening the prequels while putting the Jedi in an exceedingly bad light, all anchored by boring, unlikable characters. The technical aspects are the best part of the show, once again.

Comments (3)

June 13, 2024 at 1:57 am

Seeing things similar to this in other shows now, but in The Acolyte, it is done in a much more boring way. Also, in other shows, it was acknowledged that these things are done is some kind of sex cults and I almost see this whole show as an attack on Star Wars itself and The Force in particular. Back at it’s peak, The Force was almost a new religion and I see this show as a blasphemy against a once great religion. Instead of making a show, this Acolyte is agitation propaganda and I’m of the opinion that it is an evil act, by a perverted cult, to deliberately insult and destroy what Star Wars and The Force was. I’ve seen all this stuff happen before over the years. The real tell was the cackling laughter by Headland and the lead actor. First, they hit you with insulting power moves to destroy IP, then they laugh all about it and mock and they just had to throw in the conception angle, too. I’ve seen this at Slam Poetry nights, this same kind of behavior, where Headland types show up talking a lot of insulting trash and ruining entire scenes. You see it in Doctor Who as well. You will soon see it in everything else.
Any strong person does indeed have a problem with them because their intent is to destroy. Everyone associated with this show belongs on a Do Not Support list with Ezra Miller, Rachel Zegler, Seth Rogen and other no-talent, privileged nepo snobs. Down with all of them.

June 13, 2024 at 2:00 am

Any smart person in Hollywood would never, ever hire anyone associated with this show again.

June 13, 2024 at 2:31 am

Avoid the evil. Destroy the evil.
This is cultural vandalism. The is cultural blasphemy.
I’ll never support anyone associated with this show again. This show is a Litmus test as well to avoid dumb people. If they like it, they are doormats.

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