The Acolyte's Classic Star Wars Easter Eggs Are More Then Just Clever Nods

04July2024

This article contains spoilers for "Star Wars: The Acolyte" episode 6, "Teach/Corrupt."

The sixth episode of "Star Wars: The Acolyte," titled "Teach/Corrupt," offers a number of nods to other parts of the "Star Wars" mythos, but not in ways that are random or willy-nilly. The show's writers, led by Leslye Headland, took specific inspirations from other parts of the saga and threaded them in thematically into this work. This episode shows us Osha and Mae, disguised as each other, navigating a world that is their opposite. Mae (Amandla Stenberg), trained by the Jedi, finds herself in the thrall of the so called "Stranger," Manny Jacinto's character Qimir. Osha, trained by the Stranger, finds herself questioning Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae). It creates an interesting yin-yang effect to both parts of the story and explores the underlying philosophies of the light and dark sides. However, thanks to cues and Easter eggs relating to other parts of "Star Wars," we're afforded a much more in-depth and layered experience.

Ahch-To?

The first place we're brought to is an unknown planet that bears a striking resemblance to Ahch-To, the planet where Luke Skywalker exiled himself to prior to the events of the sequel trilogy. You'll notice that even Mae is given an outfit that has the cut-out shoulder windows that Rey (Daisy Ridley) bears when she seeks Luke out and commences training on the island where he exiled himself — which is also believed to be the location of the first Jedi Temple.

The island seen in "Teach/Corrupt" appears to be a place of peace, an interesting dichotomy for a location where an apparent Sith lives. But there is a deeper layer to this island. In the Legends continuity, one of the places where the precious saber-shorting metal cortosis (which we wrote about last week at length) is found is called Bal'demnic. It's a planet that became important in the old continuity in regards to the history of the Sith, specifically Darth Plagueis and Darth Tenebrous (the immediate predecessors of Darth Sidious, better known as Sheev Palpatine). In Legends continuity, a great deposit of cortosis ore was found on this site. It's also where Darth Plagueis killed his master.

As we watch the Stranger talk about how he's searching for the power of two and a pupil in "Teach/Corrupt," there is nothing to suggest that this isn't actually Darth Plagueis or even Darth Tenebrous. Granted, both of them were different alien species in the Legends canon, but it's certainly plausible either one of them (if not both of them) could be re-imagined as a human in the new continuity. There are so many potential possibilities offered by the appearance of this planet. That's on top of the yin-yang parallels between Luke residing on Ahch-To and the Stranger similarly living in isolation on his island in order to avoid being found. Both characters also lead their would-be pupils on a merry chase around the island to give them a better sense of their unglamorous day-to-day lives.

Vernestra Rwoh

"Teach/Corrupt" features another Easter egg in the form of the exchange between Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson) and the other Jedi on Coruscant. They are surprised by the idea of her wanting to travel to Khofar personally to investigate what happened to Sol and the others, believing hyperspace travel makes her sick. She clarifies that it doesn't make her sick, it is merely unsettling to her.

This is a very specific reference to some of her experiences as a younger Jedi featured in the previously published High Republic books. Vernestra has a unique ability in the Force, allowing her to experience visions when she travels through hyperspace. Sometimes, these visions shut her body down completely and she's transported through the Force into the visions. Although the episode skips over showing her journey through hyperspace to Khofar, her suspicious attitude upon arriving on the planet leads one to believe that she knows much more than she lets on about the events that unfolded on the planet, as well as what might be coming for the Jedi.

It's a clever nod to established continuity, adding even more shades of depth to the episode itself.

Yoda and Obi-Wan's teachings

Perhaps the most fascinating details in this episode relates to the teachings of Obi-Wan and Yoda. Odder still, they all come from the Stranger.

As the Stranger explains his Sithy helmet to Osha, he compares it to the teachings of the Jedi. Though it's made of cortosis, making it handy against lightsabers, it's a sensory deprivation helmet "like we used as younglings." It brings to mind Obi-Wan training Luke aboard the Millennium Falcon, encouraging him to take his first steps into a larger world. "With the blast shield down, I can't even see. How am I supposed to fight?" Luke asks Obi-Wan. "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them," Obi-Wan wisely answers. Perhaps that is advice we should take to heart for what we see in this episode of "The Acolyte."

When Osha asks if the Stranger's helmet blocks out all your senses, he replies, "So it's just you and the Force. And what you bring with you." This is likewise an echo of Yoda's admonition to Luke before his failure in the dark side cave. "What's in there?" Luke asks after feeling the cold, deathly call of the domain of evil. "Only what you take with you," Yoda tells him. Recall that Luke insists on bringing his martial weapons and encounters Darth Vader.

The Stranger chides Osha to try on the helmet and see what she feels inside of it, wondering what she would bring inside with her. We still have at least two episodes to determine what that is, because as "Teach/Corrupt" ends, she puts the helmet on and leaves the everyday world armed with nothing but the Force.

This isn't the first time the teachings of the Jedi have been turned on their ear by the dark side, either. In an episode of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," Darth Tyranus himself trains Savage Opress in the ways of the Sith and his teachings are brutal inversions of Yoda's instructions on Dagobah.

All of this is meaningful and adds layers and layers to the storytelling in "The Acolyte."

Only a Sith deals in absolutes

But do they? 

This quote is famously from Obi-Wan Kenobi as he levels it against Anakin Skywalker in the climax of "Revenge of the Sith." However, the latest episode of "The Acolyte" brings a lot more nuance to both the Jedi and the Sith when it comes to their belief in absolutes. In fact, both Sol and the Stranger have found shades of gray in their adherence to their particular beliefs and "Teach/Corrupt" explores those beautifully. There are filmmaking techniques used to heighten this effect as well. Watch as Master Sol is cast in the dark for most of the episode and the Stranger takes off his black garments, plunges into a calming bath and emerges to bear white clothing. It's intended to heighten the confusion between light and dark. There are elements of both in each.

Also notice how the Stranger treats his prisoner, reminding her that she's not a prisoner at all and allowing her the option to escape (or, at the least, the illusion of it). He feeds her. He treats her with soft kindness and respect. Contrast that with Master Sol, who brutally stuns Osha when he discovers her identity and ties her down to a bed before being willing to speak with her, robbing her of her freedom. Who actually seems like the villain in this episode?

Between now and next week's penultimate episode — likely a return to the events of Brendok 16 years prior — meditate on this, we will.

New episodes of "Star Wars: The Acolyte" premiere on Tuesdays at 9pm EST, only on Disney+.

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