The Acolyte is hinging its whole story on vergences, of all things

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No one has ever accused Star Wars lore of being clean or simple. But even in its mess of post-Disney canon and oft-ignored Legends, there are still pockets of absolute silliness that are allowed to play important roles in the story. And now the latest episode of The Acolyte has let two of those things take center stage: vergences and midi-chlorians.

[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for episode 7 of The Acolyte.]

Just about every Star Wars fan from the ardent book-reader to the most casual movie watcher is familiar on some level with midi-chlorians. First infamously mentioned by Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, they’re a physical, living measurement of Force sensitivity that can be measured with a simple Jedi blood test.

It’s a bit of the lore that’s been ridiculed and rejected by fans since 1999, and with pretty good reason. It’s disappointing to hear the mystery and magic of the Force reduced to a question of simple genetics. In fact, midi-chlorians have been so roundly chastised, that when The Acolyte chooses to bring them up for plot purposes, its writers refuse to even use their full name, instead employing the ridiculous sounding, “M-count,” for short. Despite all that though, vergences, this episode’s other plot-important bit of lore, are even more ridiculous than the oft-mocked Force-giving lifeforms.

 The Acolyte, shielding several people behind her Image: Lucasfilm

Vergences were also introduced in The Phantom Menace, also by Qui-Gon during a conversation with Mace Windu. He didn’t expand on them much at the time, but since that movie we’ve learned that vergences are normally places with an unusually high concentration of the Force. They’re more descriptively known as nexus points for the Force, and canonically include things like the cave on Dagobah where Luke confronts Vader. Another example is the mirror cave that Rey visits on Ahch-To. But that’s not all vergences are, and this is where thing start to get ridiculous.

Based on the different ways it’s been used in canon, vergences can be almost anything. On their first mention, Qui-Gon explains that Anakin himself is a vergence, which is part of the reason he believes the child could be the chosen one. In another instance, the Skywalker family lightsaber becomes a vergence when Rey touches it in The Force Awakens. Why does that happen? Who knows! Vegences are a mystery. Which is all fine and good when they’re mostly relegated to a flavorful bit of contextual lore around some of Star Wars’ most important events. But when they become important, things get messy.

 Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Koril (Margarita Levieva) in The Acolyte. They stand abreast, smiling slightly, in elaborate robes on a stark cliff face. Image: Lucasfilm

Which is what brings us back to episode 7 of The Acolyte. While all of this vagueness may be fine for helping us understand important places and moments in Star Wars canon, but it makes for a terrible devices to use in an ongoing story. Despite that fact, The Acolyte’s big reveal is that the witch coven cult on the planet Brendock have actually set up their temple around a vergence. Not only that, but they seem to have used that vergence to create artificial life, which they then split into the two extremely Force-sensitive (high M-count) children Osha and Mae — who are apparently one person trapped in two bodies.

This would be an extremely complicated reveal no matter what Star Wars lore was tying it together. But trying to explain all of this using the vagaries of a rarely used piece of lore that’s mysterious by nature is downright baffling. On top of that, how exactly the coven created Osha and Mae, and what it means that they’re separated into two different bodies remains a total mystery. Worst of all, it’s possible that none of this is quite what the show is trying to reveal, which might honestly be the worst case scenario of all.

All of this muddies the water on what seems like it was supposed to be the series’ triumphant reveal: it set up an over-the-top cliffhanger in episode 3 all so we could see what happened. So why doesn’t it feel like we know what happened?

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