‘The Acolyte’: Who Is Jodie Turner-Smith’s Mother Abiseya?

The first trailer for Lucasfilm’s upcoming Star Wars streaming series, The Acolyte, has put up some eye-popping numbers, tallying over 53 million views in its first 24 hours online, a record for a Star Wars Disney Plus series. The Acolyte will be the first live-action series set during the High Republic era and will introduce audiences to an entirely new cast of characters. That’s not to say there won’t be some winks and nods to the Skywalker Saga but more than any other project so far, The Acolyte seems poised to stand on its own merits, taking place roughly a century before the events of The Phantom Menace.

Series creator Leslye Headland was given a unique opportunity to shape the tail end of the era that precedes the Fall of the Jedi and if the trailer is a fair representation of the series, it seems she’s populated it with some interesting new characters. One such original character that has caught the attention of many is Jodie Turner-Smith‘s Mother Aniseya. Described by StarWars.com as “the leader of a coven of Witches who value their independence and the preservation of their beliefs and powers,” Aniseya’s role in the series has largely been kept secret. Who is Mother Aniseya and what ties might she have to pre-existing Star Wars canon? While we can’t supply any certain answers, we have a few ideas about the character’s true nature.

(Center): Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) in Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Though The Acolyte will be the first live-action depiction of the High Republic era, spanning from roughly 500 BBY until 82 BBY, Lucasfilm has already done a great deal of table setting through its publishing initiative. Through novels and comic books published by Marvel and Dark Horse, the glory days of the Republic and its expansion into the Outer Rim, have been chronicled to some extent. The Acolyte is set toward the end of the High Republic and the markers we do have for it would suggest it takes place around 132 BBY. For reference, Yoda would be 764 years old at that time and Sleepy Sheev Palpatine won’t be born for another 48 years. This time is truly a blank slate in terms of narrative possibilities…but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of possible connections to events, people and places that existed both before and after 132 BBY.

The most intriguing revelation about Turner-Smith’s character is that she bears the title of Mother. Revealing Aniseya as a Mother and the leader of a coven of witches seems like an almost intentional nod to the Nighsisters of Dathomir; however, given what’s known about the Nightsisters, it seems unlikely that Aniseya is that kind of witch. Of course, the Nightsisters weren’t the only clan of witches native to Dathomir which allows for the potential that Aniseya may be the Mother of one of the similarly force-sensitive clans. The Blue Coral Diver Clan, the Singing Mountain Clan and the Howling Crag Clan have all been written into canon without any significant backstories. Aniseya may be the Mother of a witch coven from one of these clans that relocated from Dathomir sometime after its colonization.

Clues to another (and perhaps more intriguing) possibility could be found in the pages of a novel and comic books from Phase II of The High Republic publishing initiative. Set roughly 350 years before The Acolyte, the Phase II novel The High Republic: Path of Deceit introduces a group called the Path of the Open Hand. A cult whose members “believe the Force is owned by no one, and not to be wielded in the manner of the Jedi Order,” the Open Hand was led by Elecia Zeveron, known as “The Mother.” Zeveron taught her extremists that the use of the Force by the Jedi was responsible for death across the galaxy. Though they were defeated by the Jedi during a battle known as the Night of Sorrows, remnants of the Path founded both the Nihil and an offshoot known as the Elders of the Path.

The Nihil were one of the great threats to the Jedi during the High Republic era but were no longer at the height of their power by 200 BBY. Though they still existed until after the Battle of Yavin, they wouldn’t pose much of a threat by 132 BBY and nothing in the trailer for The Acolyte hints at their inclusion. The Elders of the Path, however, do have some interesting connections to what’s known about The Acolyte. One of the core beliefs of the Elders of the Path is that the Force should not be used but rather appreciated at a distance, something the elders of the group teach their students, known as…acolytes. This belief is at least partially reflected in Aniseya’s words in the trailer when she explains that whatever it is she’s being questioned about, likely by the group of Jedi she’s seen interacting with,isn’t about good or bad. This is about power, and who is allowed to use it.

Still, Ainseya remains almost completely shrouded in mystery. If Turner-Smith is to be believed, the character is no Jedi and she has no narrative ties to Amandla Stenberg‘s Mae, which probably means she’s also not a Sith. However, Turner-Smith has revealed that her character does weild the Force which puts her at least partially at odds with the the original doctrine of the Path. So while Aniseya may not be an Elder, there’s plenty of room for a branch of a cult to branch out further and for Mother Aniseya to pick up the mission of Order of the Path to free the Force from the Jedi. Of course, as is true any time one travels too far down the rabbit hole of speculation, one likely wanders further from the truth than intended and so it’s much more likely that Aniseya’s true nature is something far different than any of the guesses laid out above. Either way, there’s still quite some time before we find out as The Acolyte doesn’t hit Disney Plus until June 4th.

Source: Star Wars

About Star Wars: The Acolyte

In Star Wars: The Acolyte, an investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master against a dangerous warrior from his past. As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems….

The series stars Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie TurnerSmith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo, and Carrie-Anne Moss.

Leslye Headland created the series, based on Star Wars by George Lucas, and serves as an executive producer along with Kathleen Kennedy, Simon Emanuel, Jeff F. King and Jason Micallef. Charmaine DeGraté and Kor Adana are the co-executive producers. Rayne Roberts, Damian Anderson, Eileen Shim and Rob Bredow are the producers.

Headland also directed the premiere episodes (Eps. 101 & 102). Directors Kogonada (Eps. 103 & 107), Alex Garcia Lopez (Eps. 104 & 105) and Hanelle Culpepper (Eps. 106 & 108) round out the directing duties on the series.

Award-winning composer Michael Abels, known for his work on Get Out and Us, scored Star Wars: The Acolyte.

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