Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for The Acolyte Episode 6.


The Big Picture

  • The Acolyte
    Episode 6 explores the aftermath of the Jedi massacre, with Lee Jung-jae’s Jedi Master Sol showcasing a stirring performance of grief and guilt.
  • The dual narrative in Episode 6 sees Mae and Osha’s paths diverge, while Master Sol struggles with his emotions and the consequences of the tragedy.
  • Lee Jung-jae’s portrayal of Master Sol’s vulnerability and duality highlights the human cost of the Jedi’s losses and the character’s internal conflict.


The galaxy is gradually becoming a much more brutal place. After last week’s action-packed episode delivered epic lightsaber duels and the horrifying deaths of multiple fan-favorite Jedi, this week’s installment of The Acolyte slows things down to explore the aftermath of the Stranger’s Jedi massacre, and no character communicates the utter devastation of that tragedy with as much gut-wrenching power as Lee Jung-jae’s Jedi Master Sol. One of the most senior Jedi Masters featured in Leslye Headland‘s prequel series, Sol has honored the Order’s traditional values of patience and restraint throughout The Acolyte, but the loss of his fellow Jedi has finally pushed the character past his breaking point. Having only just begun to recover from the Stranger’s rampage, Sol is a Jedi Master in crisis in this week’s episode, and Lee Jung-jae gives a stirring performance that depicts the character’s guilt and grief.


Divided between the light and dark side, The Acolyte Episode 6, “Teach / Corrupt,” sees a dual narrative unfold directly after the slaughter on Khofar, as well as the consequences of Osha and Mae’s (Amandla Stenberg) twin switch at the end of Episode 5. Mae stows away onboard Master Sol’s ship as he attempts to contact the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, while Osha wakes up on an unknown planet with Manny Jacinto‘s The Stranger, who, in contrast to last week’s murder spree, speaks with her openly. In fact, despite Osha confronting The Acolyte‘s resident Sith about the deaths of her Jedi friends, Osha quickly moves past her bitterness in favor of her curiosity, indulging The Stranger’s lessons about the dark side and refusing to kill him when given the chance. Lee’s Master Sol, on the other hand, is not able to move past his trauma so easily.



Lee Jung-jae Portrays Heartbreaking Grief in ‘The Acolyte’ Episode 6

Even though he’s a Jedi, Lee’s Master Sol isn’t immune to his emotions. Out of all the Jedi sent to Brendok in Episode 3, “Destiny,” it’s Master Sol who displays the most outward affection for Osha and Mae, comforting the former when she feels torn between the wishes of her mothers and her own desire to join the Order. Sol also defends Osha when she is accused of Mae’s murders at the beginning of the season, using his past connection to the young woman in order to clear her name. Yet, as The Stranger points out, Sol has been trained out of forming meaningful attachments by The Acolyte‘s Jedi, so it is only the killing of his team that finally coaxes Sol into a state of genuine feeling. Lee uses this opportunity to deliver a heartbreaking exploration of Sol’s grief through the character’s natural rigidity and restraint.


After achieving orbit with an undercover Mae above Khofar, Sol’s attempts to contact Coruscant reveal the first crack in his typically calm demeanor. He struggles to articulate what has transpired on the world below, sounding choked up as he manages to only relay the basic fact that his entire team is dead. The exhaustion and weight of Sol’s words clearly weigh on him in this scene and throughout the episode, as Lee’s dismayed expressions consistently depict a faltering sense of disbelief in stark contrast to Sol’s self-assurance throughout the beginning of The Acolyte. As a Jedi, Sol doesn’t allow himself to fully break down in tears or lash out in anger, but Lee’s emotional delivery of his lines hints at Sol’s true distress, underscoring the tragic dilemma of a man taught to feel nothing but simultaneously overwhelmed by his own suffering.


In no part of the episode is this understated mourning more evident than when Sol goes to reset the communication transceiver. Without speaking to himself and without addressing another one of The Acolyte‘s characters, Lee’s character simply stares straight ahead into the control panel and allows himself to sit with his emotions. This is when Lee’s portrayal is at its best and most heartbreaking, as he takes advantage of a close-up shot to slightly twist his facial expressions until Sol’s true grief creeps through his rigid facade. As Sol shudders and sniffles and tears up, it’s easy to feel the true burden of all that he’s lost.


As a moment of prolonged tension reminiscent of how Anakin sits in the Jedi council chamber before killing Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, Lee’s performance makes it easy to connect the image of this broken Jedi with the human cost of The Acolyte’s massacre. His vulnerability in the midst of his own internal conflict demonstrates just how acutely he feels his losses, experiencing the Jedi equivalent of a breakdown after witnessing the death of his apprentice, Jecki (Dafne Keen), and other young Jedi Knights like Yord (Charlie Barnett). This vulnerability is only made sadder by the fact that Sol doesn’t allow it to last, with Lee quickly hardening his expression once again and returning to the task at hand, demonstrating how the actor skillfully portrays Sol’s dueling nature between honest grief and forced rigidity.

Related

‘The Acolyte’ Actor Wanted People to Be “Disturbed” by His Episode 5 Reveal

“It’s very subtle.”


Sol Finally Succumbs to His Guilt in ‘The Acolyte’ Episode 6

Despite Sol’s forced recovery, Lee’s performance also makes it clear that the Jedi Master’s grief ultimately overrides his Jedi training in this most recent episode of The Acolyte. The cracks in Sol’s stoic demeanor that open in the episode’s beginning fully widen by its end, with Lee gradually allowing his character to engage in the same sort of emotional outbursts that the Jedi Order discourages. Even before Sol restarts the transceiver, the Jedi Master smashes his fist against the dashboard in frustration, and when he still thinks Mae is Osha, he actually embraces her and appeals to their past connection directly. Both instances illustrate how The Acolyte‘s newest episode peels back the layers of Sol’s true emotions, culminating in Sol finally surrendering to his honest feelings of guilt.


Lee first performs his character’s guilt when Sol blames himself for what happened on Khofar, wondering aloud how he hadn’t been able to sense that Qimir was The Acolyte’s villain back when the Jedi strike team was investigating Mae on Olega. His delivery follows the typical beats of a troubled hero who is too hard on himself, appearing withdrawn and disparaged, but what really elevates Lee’s performance in this episode is how the actor manages to capture the multiple layers of Master Sol’s shame. While the Jedi readily discusses his failure to see through Qimir, he deflects and pulls back from Mae’s own questioning about what really happened on her home planet of Brendok sixteen years earlier. This hesitation to discuss Episode 3’s fire demonstrates how Sol has repressed not only his feelings of attachment, but also his guilt over what transpired.


When the Jedi strike team’s tracker, Bazil, blows Mae’s cover and enables Sol to detain her, Lee shifts his performance to accommodate this change in circumstances. No longer able to ignore the survivor of the Brendok tragedy, the Squid Game actor adopts a more assertive tone to illustrate how Sol has formed a new conviction out of his tragedy. His promise to release Mae in order for them to talk reveals his willingness to confront the past, while his refusal to deny Mae’s accusation that there’s more to the story of what happened on Brendok confirms many fans’ suspicions that The Acolyte hasn’t yet revealed the planet’s true tragedy. This shift in Sol’s characterization allows Lee to showcase his Jedi Master’s darker nature, as Sol’s last scene standing over a restrained Mae makes him seem even more threatening, emphasizing the bitter seeds at the root of the character’s buried feelings.


By the episode’s end, Sol is even willing to flee with Mae before The Acolyte‘s Master Vernestra’s (Rebecca Henderson) rescue team can reach him, hinting at a dark path ahead for Lee’s former champion of the light. Throughout the episode, Lee delivers an incredible, multi-faceted performance depicting Sol’s duality, struggling between the lack of emotions he’s supposed to feel as a Jedi and the honest losses he suffered on Khofar. Lee then uses the flood of feelings that Sol’s trauma compels in him to pivot into an exploration of the Jedi Master’s guilt, demonstrating his own versatility by switching between the character’s subtle, nuanced grief and the dark underside of Sol’s shame. With Osha warming up to Jacinto’s Stranger and Sol seemingly approaching a devastating admission himself, The Acolyte is making it clearer than ever that not even Star Wars’ heroes can escape the long shadow of their own inner demons.


The Acolyte is currently streaming on Disney+. New episodes air every Tuesday night.

WATCH ON DISNEY+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *