'Star Wars: The Acolyte' episode 4: What's the goal of Mae's test?

A young woman Jedi looking up at another Jedi (all we can see is their cloak).
Mae talks to Qimir. (Image credit: Disney+)

For all its faults, The Acolyte has been refreshing the live-action side of the Star Wars universe in a big way. After an uneven two-episode premiere that successfully took fans to a previously unexplored era of the Star Wars timeline, episode 3 has dared to expand the Force-related mythology with a few bold swings. This week, the story finally gains some true momentum, and new twists make us rethink the central conflict.

It increasingly feels like the first three episodes were just the tip of a very large iceberg, as the basic pitch that Lucasfilm had been pushing for most of the pre-release marketing campaign is steadily going out the window. While most of The Acolyte's DNA clearly belongs to George Lucas' divisive (but recently revalued) Star Wars prequels, we could safely say that creator and showrunner Leslye Headland took some pages right out of Rian Johnson's book; the plot doesn't stay still for too long, and points of view and seemingly unimportant character instants are key to understanding what's really going on.

Regardless of the reservations we might have about how the overall series is flowing or is presented, it's abundantly clear by now that creator Leslye Headland had a story that was worth telling in mind and has managed to bring it to life without making too many concessions. So far, The Acolyte comes across as the kind of Star Wars story fans who actually like the franchise (despite its ups and downs) were clamoring for. It's adding to the mythology at every turn and daring to ask some big questions that traditionally have been limited to Legends stories; as a result, the Star Wars galaxy is feeling, for the first time in a while, larger instead of smaller.

Sol and Vernestra discuss what's next. (Image credit: Disney+)

Nonetheless, this series continues to struggle with making the most of its TV structure. Although episode 4 'Day' strikes a better balance between moments of quiet and more traditionally adventurous bits, The Acolyte still comes across as a long movie that's been hacked apart.

This isn't a new problem for Disney either. The Lucasfilm camp delivered two middling shows in Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett, whose biggest common trait is that they'd have worked far better as reasonably sized spin-off movies. It's an issue that's plagued even several of the best Marvel Studios shows. But, as we all know, Lucasfilm and Disney quickly stepped away from that arena after Solo: A Star Wars Story underperformed in 2018.

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Spoilers ahead for The Acolyte episode 4: "Day"

Is Qimir a Sith?

Osha is grabbed by the mysterious villain. (Image credit: Disney+)

It's impossible to discuss 'Day' without addressing the elephant in the room first: Yeah, Qimir isn't who he says he is, and Mae is getting tired of his vague answers and suspicious amount of knowledge. That said, it still looks like she's playing right into his hand and that he's ahead of everyone else. The easiest, most obvious answer to the mystery at the center of the show is that he's the Sith (or another type of dark side follower) who's been teaching Mae. However, the reality might be even twistier and far more satisfying.

That statement is likely true at this point, but is Qimir really a big-shot Sith baddie? Chances are he isn't. He does indeed sound and look like the man under the mask (after several not-so-subtle hints). Yet the fact that Kelnacca is murdered with a lightsaber once Mae rethinks her position and questions Qimir's identity can only mean this mysterious dark figure doesn't need her to finish the 'kill four Jedi' test anymore. Why is that? Well, maybe it was his mission all along.

Revealing Qimir as a Sith Lord halfway through the season would be interesting, although the script hasn't really tried to cover the potential surprise. On the other hand, a double twist that makes him the real apprentice – with a big-name master in the shadows – who simply took advantage of Mae's past to make his job easier would properly turn the show upside down. For now, we're leaning towards "the helmet-wearing dark side villain is this show's Darth Maul."

Does the Ki-Adi-Mundi cameo make sense?

Ki-Adi-Mundi gives his input on the situation. (Image credit: Disney+)

Episode 4 also takes us back to Coruscant for a while, where Osha and Jecki Lon get to spend more time together, exchange bits of wisdom, and further solidify their friendship. You'd think Master Sol's current Padawan would be wary of his apprentice that left the Order, yet quite the opposite is happening. In fact, we wouldn't rule out a deeper sort of connection brewing between them, especially if the show is looking for more cracks in the Jedi Order's way of thinking and central beliefs.

For diehard Star Wars fans, the biggest moment of 'Day' is the surprise cameo of a prequel-era Jedi Council member that isn't Yoda: Ki-Adi-Mundi, everyone's favorite Cerean. There's already been some discussion online about whether his (brief) appearance breaks canon or not, as the Star Wars Legends timeline stated he was born slightly later. For now, all info and lore pertaining to Legends that hasn't been reinforced on-screen is considered no longer valid. We know Cereans are long-lived, and the script smartly keeps him out of the whole mission to find Kelnacca, which leads to the unfortunate encounter with the adversary wielding a red lightsaber.

As stated before, we still have our doubts about the mystery evildoer being a Sith. However, The Acolyte continues to carefully dance around the fact the Jedi Council firmly believed that the Sith had been extinct for nearly a millennia. So, keeping well-known Jedi out of the main events is probably for the best.

Some Jedi won't be leaving Khofar alive

Yord and Jecki are surprised by the lightsaber-wielding villain. (Image credit: Disney+)

Episode 5 promises to be full of action and will hopefully recapture some of the early wuxia energy that helped the two-episode premiere stand out. By the end of 'Day' (which feels remarkably breezy), the villain that Mae answers to, Qimir or not, shows up to face the sizable group of Jedi that have gone to Khofar looking for answers.

It's here where director Alex Garcia Lopez's (Daredevil) classier and clearly more energetic direction gifts viewers one of the coolest Star Wars bad guy intros we've ever seen. Everyone is rightfully pointing out the shift to horror in the last couple of minutes, from the moment Kelnacca is revealed to be already dead (we'll surely see him again in yet another flashback as promised by the previews) and day turns into night.

The very final stretch of the episode has the 'visual juice' that's been largely absent so far, and we can only hope The Acolyte season keeps the excitement up as we march into the remaining four chapters 1 (and more could be on the cards).

As for the unsuspecting Jedi, it's hard to ignore the fact that the group has many 'red shirts' without a name just waiting to be slaughtered by the menacing miscreant. A bigger (and scarier) question is whether one of the characters we've grown attached to will face their end too. As much as we like Yord Fandar, he might be the impactful death the story needs to break Sol, Jecki, and Osha, and to fully kick things into high gear.

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Fran Ruiz

Fran Ruiz is our resident Star Wars guy. His hunger for movies and TV series is only matched by his love for video games. He got a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for Space.com since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.