'Star Wars: The Acolyte' episode 6: Who's the Stranger's old master?

Close up of a man's face. He is standing on a beach, his chin-length hair sweeping in the breeze. He has a serious expression on his face.
Qimir reveals more about himself. (Image credit: Disney+)

The worst part, if you can call it that, about The Acolyte episode 5 (a chapter so good that it sold some people on the show) was that it raised the bar too high, especially after a mixed first half of the season. By cutting through two major characters, trimming down the investigation plot, and letting the main players' emotions come to the surface, it seemed like the series had finally found its true identity. This week, while things are much calmer, it sure does feel like the story is in a better place after that Jedi massacre.

Perhaps it was always the plan to play a longer game with the setups and misdirections in order to knock it out of the park with the second half of the season, with inverted roles and twisted morals. But such an approach doesn't instantly justify the more mechanical shortcomings of episodes 1 through 4. As the live-action debut of the High Republic era and a first crack at a murder mystery, The Acolyte could've been so much better. At this point, however, we'll be happy to embrace the show as a good-enough Star Wars win if it sticks the landing in the two remaining episodes.

Sol reflects on what happened. (Image credit: Disney+)

Episode 6, titled 'Teach/Corrupt' and directed by Star Trek veteran Hanelle Culpepper (also of Westworld fame), is the inevitable calm after the storm. For the most part, we follow Sol and Mae (posing as Osha) on the Jedi ship at Khofar and Qimir and Osha on the unknown planet where Mae met Qimir (aka the Stranger) at the end of the premiere episode. Everyone is either going through some big changes or opening up about their past. Meanwhile, a group of Jedi led by Vernestra Rwoh looks into what happened on Khofar, since Sol fails to contact and warn them about the potential Sith menace.

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Spoilers ahead for The Acolyte episode 6: "Teach/Corrupt"

 Is Osha going to fall to the dark side? 

Osha looks at the Stranger's helmet. (Image credit: Disney+)

Most of the online conversation (that isn't blind hate) surrounding this episode will be about Osha and Qimir's relationship, with very unsubtle tints of 'Reylo' taking over and the levels of temptation going dangerously high really fast. Before the show had even started, we could perceive some serious young adult literature energy that could help it connect with younger audiences who endlessly shipped the sequel trilogy cast. After last week's love letter to those of us who grew up with the prequels' fast-paced lightsaber fights, this feels earned inside and outside the show's narrative.

Anyway, Qimir claims he was once a Jedi who was betrayed by his master, seemingly shooting down any theories about his Sith past. Again, remember that he never defined himself as a Sith in the usual sense of the word, instead saying the Jedi liked to use that term for anyone that didn't follow the Jedi's dogmatic views of the Force and how it should be used. It's also here where we must point out series creator Leslye Headland's words regarding the brief use of Kylo Ren's musical theme in last week's episode: "It is there on purpose, but I can't tell you why, and I can't go into what it is. But you shall see." It wouldn't surprise us if he ends up creating what later becomes the cult of the Knights of Ren.

Osha threatens to kill Qimir. (Image credit: Disney+)

Whatever Qimir's past (more on that later) is, Osha is in a weird and dangerous position right now. There is a growing sense that the four Jedi stationed on Brendok did something really bad 16 years ago and that the time spent with the Jedi Order took her away from Mae, who she could've found and saved from a dark path. Qimir also claims her sister never 'committed' to his cause, instead looking for empty revenge, which, given how she jumped ship the moment things got bad, kind of tracks.

So, what's Qimir's cause? "The power of two" seems to be a recurring motif that makes us think of the Sith's famous rule, but it also could be there to throw us off or set up the Force dyad concept introduced for the first time in The Rise of Skywalker.

Osha's relationship with the Jedi (regardless of her feelings for her former master and her murdered friends) is troublesome, and running away didn't get her anywhere either. At this point, we definitely think she'll at least dabble with the dark side, and the final moments of this episode, in which she tries on the Stranger's cortosis helmet, appear to suggest that's where things are going unless someone comes up with a good reason not to listen to Qimir.

What did Master Sol do back in Brendok 16 years ago? 

Sol hugs Mae posing as Osha. (Image credit: Disney+)

Impatient fans were worried last week that Sol would promptly travel to Coruscant and let everyone know they'd just fought a Sith or a dark figure trained in the Jedi arts. Fear not, as interference disrupts Sol's attempts to contact the High Council. Regardless, he's understandably shaken by the death of so many Jedi and losing Osha again.

It's uncommon to see a Jedi letting out so many emotions and rage without falling to the dark side. While Luke and Rey went through some rough patches in the now distant sequel trilogy, it feels like we hadn't seen an old-school Jedi Knight allow himself to be human this much – in live-action – since Obi-Wan duelled Anakin on Mustafar (though we'll admit that final Obi-Wan Kenobi episode was pretty emotional).

Mae listens to Sol. (Image credit: Disney+)

Lee Jung-jae's fluid performance across these six episodes has been one of the show's highlights. It appears that we're heading for another major flashback in episode 7, one that will surely reveal the truth behind the Brendok incident we've been missing. While some fans have theorized that Sol could even be a Sith Lord hiding in plain sight, his intimate moments in episode 6 with no one around suggest otherwise. He might've made big mistakes and have a darker side buried deep, but he just seems like a troubled man trying his best to stay on the good path.

Nonetheless, Sol reads Mae's intentions the moment she talks too much and opens up in ways that Osha (the noticeably shier twin) rarely did, thus someone gets stunned once again. Sol, however, isn't going straight to Coruscant, and instead wants to tell Mae everything that went down on Brendok in hopes of getting her out of her dark place. More importantly, Bazil and Pip are surviving through this whole thing and adding much-needed laughs to the series.

Who trained and "discarded" Qimir? 

Qimir cooks while talking to Osha. (Image credit: Disney+)

Part of the reason why we think Sol isn't the dark Jedi or hidden Sith we're looking for is the sudden importance given to Vernestra Rwoh's part in this story. So far, her role was more of a glorified cameo for High Republic diehards. However, her reaction to hearing what's gone down on Khofar and how she continues to block information on the matter from reaching the High Council suggest she's got one big dirty secret.

If we go back to Qimir's scenes in this episode, special attention was paid to the strange scar on his back, which looks like no normal wound caused by a lightsaber. On Khofar, we also get to see Vernestra use her lightwhip abruptly in a moment that feels random, but, much like many seemingly empty actions in this show, it might be the breadcrumb we needed to put together a picture that's one step closer to the real, final thing. While a proper Sith Lord might still be laughing in the background at everyone, it increasingly looks like Qimir's Stranger identity, a number of references, and even the use of 'Sith' in a key scene are just there to mess with the fans.

Vernestra Rwoh looks into the Khofar massacre. (Image credit: Disney+)

More Sith lore has been promised by Headland should The Acolyte be renewed for season 2, but the creator has also openly declared season 1's story arc should have ended neatly by the time episode 8's credits roll. With Sol's big mistake about to be revealed and strong indication that Vernestra might be responsible for Qimir's anger after all, maybe the true Sith will be waiting in the shadows for a while longer. Also, according to the villain, his master-apprentice fallout happened a long time ago, which ties directly into Vernestra's old age by human standards (and suggests he may have found a secret to longer-than-usual life, a very dark side thing to do).

As an extra: Headland's last 'deep cut' into Legends lore might be the as-yet-unnamed ocean planet where Qimir's base is. The nature of its geography, the pristine waters, and the presence of cortosis ore (which he probably used to create the iconic helmet himself) suggest it could be a canonized version of Bal'demnic. The most important part? It once fell into the hands of Darth Tenebrous and Darth Plagueis. Theorize away!

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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.