Star Wars: The Acolyte’s first big plot twist did nothing for me, but not because of the twist itself

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A masked Mae stands ready to fight with her throwing knives in Star Wars: The Acolyte



Star Wars: The Acolyte’s first big bombshell left a lot to be desired.
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Full spoilers follow for The Acolyte episode one.

Star Wars: The Acolyte will revolutionize Lucasfilm’s legendary sci-fi franchise – that was I and many other fans’ key takeaway ahead of its Disney Plus debut. Okay, nobody promised that but when quotes like “it’ll be unlike anything you’ve seen before” were being thrown around pre-release, it’s easy to understand why so many of us had high expectations before its first two episodes were released.

Color me disappointed, then, that The Acolyte‘s first big plot twist was just casually thrown out there. Major spoilers follow for the show’s first entry, so turn back now unless you’ve seen it.

Mae (Amandla Stenberg) standing in front of the sea in The Acolyte.

This reveal Mae come as a surprise to you… (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd)

I had more than an inkling about one of the series’ major reveals (I’m confident this isn’t its first and last). Indeed, one of The Acolyte‘s most recent trailers ruined said big plot twist almost two weeks before episodes one and two – titled ‘Lost / Found’ and ‘Revenge / Justice’ – aired. Spoiling the surprise for myself, then, is partly on me for watching the trailer, but I also lay some blame at Lucasfilm and Disney’s feet for not triple-checking the teaser for any potential story spoilers.

But I’m getting off-track. The surprise in question is that Amandla Stenberg, the first actor to sign onto The Acolyte in December 2021, isn’t just playing one character – Mae – in one of 2024’s confirmed Star Wars TV shows. She’s also portraying Osha, Mae’s identical twin who, like her estranged sibling, was trained in the ways of the Force before they turned their backs on the Jedi Order. Their reasons for doing so aren’t clear yet, but Osha is now a work-for-hire ‘mechnik’ currently employed by the Galactic Trade Federation. Remember, The Acolyte takes place during Star Wars’ The High Republic era and set around a century before Star Wars Episode one: The Phantom Menace, so the Trade Federation is still going strong at this point.

Anyway, in episode one, we’re first introduced to Mae, who has traveled to Ueda to kill Jedi Master Indara, which she does successfully, thereby setting this series’ plot in motion. However, we then spend much of ‘Lost / Found’ following Osha, who’s been mistakenly identified as Indara’s murderer. Nobody other than Osha and Jedi Master Sol know that Osha has a twin sister, hence why she’s mistakenly installed as public enemy number one.

Osha pleads her case to an off-screen Sol on Carlac in Star Wars: The Acolyte episode 1

Osha is being blamed for Mae’s murder spree. (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

It isn’t until around the 30-minute mark that we find out that Osha and Mae aren’t the same person. Mae uses her Sith-based Force powers and familial connection to Osha to reach out to the latter, via an illusory trip down memory lane, after the prisoner transport ship that Osha is on crash lands on Carlac. It’s here, using said Force-based manifestation, that Mae reveals she’s still alive to Osha, with the latter believing she died alongside the rest of the pair’s family when Mae curiously set fire to their home during their childhood.

To most viewers, the revelation will be a surprising one. To me, though, it just didn’t have the necessary oomph to hit home as much as it should have. Again, that’s likely down to the fact I already knew Stenberg was playing two characters.

The main problem I have with The Acolyte‘s big spoiler, however, is when it happens. As I mentioned, this story beat is not only thrown at us a mere 30 minutes into ‘Lost / Found’, which isn’t enough time to emotionally invest in Osha and Mae’s journeys, but it’s also quite meek in its execution. We’re supposed to be shocked by Mae’s revelation but, to me, it induces a reaction akin to an “…oh” rather than an “Oooooooohh!”.

Amandla Stenberg is INCREDIBLE. I think Osha is my favorite character so far. And the way she switches between her and Mae?? Insane.June 5, 2024

Equally, I also expected it to happen much later in the story. Maybe that’s down to how I perceived its plot would play out, which would have gone something like this: someone is killing Jedi, so Sol teams up with his estranged former pupil in Mae to solve said case. It’s only around episode three, aka the show’s midpoint, that – shock horror – we learn Mae has a twin named Osha, who she’s been framing for these murders. Initially believing Osha is the culprit, Sol and Mae arrest her, only for Sol (with Osha’s help) to eventually deduce that Mae is the real criminal, that she’s has betrayed him, and that she’s has now infiltrated the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to kill more Light Side Force wielders. No, I haven’t thought about this storyline a lot. I came up with it on the spot. Shut up.

I suspect there’ll be more thrilling twists and turns to come in later episodes. Based on how The Acolyte‘s mystery-laced narrative is likely to proceed, it makes sense to get the Osha/Mae reveal out of the way early, too. Even so, as much as I don’t want to de-value the story that creator Leslye Headland (and her fellow writers) have concocted, nor Stenberg’s brilliant performances as both characters, I can’t help but have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that this twist could have been imbued with more intrigue and shock value. 

I still have high hopes for The Acolyte and believe it’ll eventually deserve a spot on our best Disney Plus shows list. Right now, though, it’s off to an unremarkably start in the mystery-thriller department – and I believe that’s solely down to where its first curveball happens. Prove me wrong, Lucasfilm.

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As TechRadar’s senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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