'The Acolyte' on Disney Plus just restored my faith in Star Wars — and it's 94% on Rotten Tomatoes

Star Wars The Acolyte poster
(Image credit: Disney)

"The Acolyte" has arrived on Disney Plus and, going by the two-episode premiere, I think it just might be one of the most exciting new chapters for the galaxy far, far away in some time. 

So far, Disney's Star Wars output has felt decidedly hit-and-miss: aside from "Andor" and the first season of "The Mandalorian," I wouldn't say that I've loved any of the live-action Star Wars shows that the House of Mouse has put out since Disney Plus arrived. 

"Ahsoka" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi" might have delivered some thrills, but I'm currently way more invested in seeing where "The Acolyte" takes us. Here's why I'm going to be glued to my seat every time a new episode drops.

"The Acolyte" is exciting because it feels fresh 

Star Wars "The Acolyte" on Disney Plus

Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol. (Image credit: Disney/Star Wars)

It may be sacrilegious, but I've felt for a long time that I'm sort of over the Skywalker saga. I have loved Star Wars since I was a kid, but I've been desperate to see fresh stories unfold or to meet more brand-new characters who aren't in one way or another tied back to Luke and Darth Vader. 

Enter "The Acolyte," a mystery series (a genre Star Wars hasn't properly explored) that charts an intriguing new tale set at the end of the High Republic era. It's a part of the timeline that hadn't appeared in live-action until now and is characterized by peace and prosperity for the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic.

Our tale takes place 100 years before the events of "The Phantom Menace." That peace is threatened when Mae (Amandla Stenberg) starts hunting Jedi. Jedi Master Sol ("Squid Game" frontman Lee Jung-jae) starts investigating these killings, bringing him into conflict with a dangerous figure from his past. 

'Andor' was a triumph because it focused intently on telling a character-driven, revolutionary, and well-written story. So far, 'The Acolyte' seems to be cut from similar cloth.

"Andor" was a triumph because it focused intently on telling a character-driven, revolutionary, and well-written story. So far, "The Acolyte" seems to be cut from similar cloth. This a well-realized new corner of the universe, and since it's been populated with all-new characters — save for a familiar face from other High Republic media — I felt like I wanted to get to know these characters right away.

Likewise, the on-screen action in the first two episodes feels fresh. Fights thus far haven't been lightsaber duels; they've mostly been driven by Force-powered hand-to-hand combat that's executed with flair. The stakes feel high in these fights precisely because the Jedi do not seem to understand this dangerous new presence they're up against.

Since it's a mystery story, I don't really want to give much more away about the plot, but the two-episode premiere has already set up some very interesting questions. Who, or what, is driving Mae to hunt Jedi? And if Mae is the titular acolyte... who does she serve? There's also the very strong sense that we're about to learn the Jedi aren't necessarily as "good" as we're led to believe...

'The Acolyte' reviews prove that people want something new

Carrie Anne Moss in Star Wars: The Acolyte

(Image credit: Disney)

Clearly, I'm totally on board, but it certainly looks like I'm not the show's only fan. At the time of writing, "The Acolyte" has earned an impressive 94% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, from a total of 90 reviews. However, it's worth noting that the audience score is 40%. 

The site's critical consensus reads: "Taking fresh risks with Star Wars lore while having infectious fun playing with the stylistic trappings of a galaxy far, far away, "The Acolyte" is a Padawan series with the potential to become a Master". 

"Andor" is still held by reviewers as the franchise's high point — and it would be untrue to say that "The Acolyte" won every critic over — but I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one happy to see Star Wars try something new.

Paste Magazine's Terry Terrones called "The Acolyte" 'so compelling and unique' and praises the talented cast and Leslye Headland for doing 'an incredible job of creating something new' with the series. 

Inverse's Dais Johnston similarly praises it as 'a standalone story that establishes a new caliber of what Star Wars TV can do', noting that discovering new things about the High Republic and discovering new things about the world and the central story alongside "The Acolyte" cast is a treat.

In another positive write-up, Manuel Betancourt of The AV Club praises the show chiefly for investigating the Jedi Order, writing: "What perhaps makes "The Acolyte" such an engaging and addictive watch (over the first four episodes screened for critics, at least), is its commitment to not treating the Jedi (or the Star Wars franchise writ large) as untouchable."

Should you stream "The Acolyte" on Disney Plus?

If you couldn't tell already, I think you 100% should make some time to stream "The Acolyte".

It takes us to a new point in the franchise timeline and looks to recount a story that doesn't require tons of Star Wars homework to comprehend (making "The Acolyte" a perfect jumping-on point for Star Wars newcomers). 

The first two episodes set up an engaging mystery that plays with familiar themes from the franchise (revenge versus justice, the relationship between light/dark, duality), but looks to take this story in a different direction or maybe to draw fresh conclusions about the franchise than past projects, without the baggage of including cameos or tying everything back to the same core cast.

The way I see it, broadening the universe's scope to tell new tales can only be a good thing. If I've convinced you to check it out, be sure to stream "The Acolyte" online ASAP.

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Staff Writer, Streaming

Martin is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, covering all things movies and TV. If it’s in the theaters or available to stream somewhere, he’s probably watched it… especially if it has a dragon in it. Before joining the team, he was a Staff Writer at What To Watch where he wrote about a broad range of shows that stretched from "Doctor Who" and "The Witcher" to "Bridgerton" and "Love Island". When he’s not watching the next must-see movie or show, he’s probably still in front of a screen playing massive RPGs, reading, spending a fortune on TCGs, or watching the NFL.

  • Stinky Trouble
    The show might have a 94% from critics, but it has about a 40% from real audience members. Just like The last Jedi that had a 91% from critics and a 41% from real audience members.
    Reply