The Acolyte Fought Hard to Get Its One Big Star Wars Line

The Acolyte Fought Hard to Get Its One Big Star Wars Line

Star Wars has long been a little in love with itself, for better or worse—familiar faces and locales showing up over and over, nods to familiar events, and of course, lines that become something akin to catchphrases. And while The Acolyte is both a series that charts a lot of new ground for Star Wars on-screen, it’s also one that couldn’t help indulge in a little of that self love for a few moments, either.

While it’s unsurprising in this setting—about a hundred years before the events of The Phantom Menace—Jedi still part ways with a “May the Force be with you,” The Acolyte’s two-part premiere also harkens back to another familiar Star Wars line in a more referential manner. During the second episode, while our group of heroic Jedi are one a stakeout waiting to cross paths with Amandla Stenberg’s mysterious assassin, Mae, Jedi Knight Yord Fandar, watching from afar with a pair of macrobinoculars, gets to drop the one thing we’d kind of expect a Star Wars character to say in this situation: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” he murmurs, like so many characters before him.

“That was hard to get that in,” showrunner Leslye Headland told Entertainment Weekly about getting to drop the line into the show. “I’m going to be honest. I got a lot of feedback that I shouldn’t put that in. But I just feel like when you get the opportunity to do Star Wars, you’re just going to shoot your shot. And ‘I have a bad feeling about this’ is incredibly iconic.”

On the one hand, the concerns are fair. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” has become such a catchphrase for Star Wars in the years since Luke Skywalker first uttered the line in A New Hope, that the moment it’s uttered in material at this point it is in danger of not actually feeling like moment-to-moment dialogue, and instead like a pointed nudge to the audience to go “look, Star Wars!” that takes them out of the narrative. For a brief moment, whoever gets to say it, stops being a Star Wars character and instead becomes, metatextually, a character aware of Star Wars as we know it. “May the Force be with you” works as both an in-universe saying and a Star Wars catchphrase because it’s something structured as this quasi-religious liturgy.

But on the other, there’s something very pointedly funny in Yord Fandar being the one who gets to have it for The Acolyte, in a way that feels more characterful rather than just wholly referential. If there’s one thing we learn about Yord in The Acolyte’s first two episodes, it’s that he’s a very good Jedi—in that he’s walking around with a stick up his ass and gets very boy-scout-y about rules and regulations and being a general stickler for the way things should be done the Jedi Order has instilled in him. He’s great! But he’s also a kind of annoying dweeb. Having him be the one bristle and complain about the way Master Sol is conducting his investigation and say “I have a bad feeling about this” feels less like either him literally having a bad feeling, in that he can sense Mae’s presence or what’s about to happen, and more like he’s just whining that things aren’t being done by the book.

It lets The Acolyte’s particular allowance for indulgence tread that fine line between pulling you out of the moment for a Star Wars nod while still actually reasonably sounding like something one of these characters would say in this particular scenario. That, at least, makes it an indulgence worth fighting for in this instance.

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