You Just Gonna Leave Those Bodies There, Star Wars?

“It’s always an honor to get to witness anything or anyone transform into the Force,” young padawan Jecki Lon tells Osha in The Acolyte’s fourth episode, perhaps preparing us all for the carnage that was to come just a week later in its fifth, leaving a lot of people transforming into the Force. But even with this brief moment of insight into a Jedi’s perspective on death, there’s one thing that’s still haunted me more than anything about The Acolyte’s massacre last week.

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After the Stranger has carved his way through the jungles of Khofar leaving only Sol, Mae, and Osha standing, there’s an interesting beat in the climax of The Acolyte’s fifth episode, “Night.” Given a chance to escape the terror after the Stranger is carried away into the depths of the forests by a swarm of Umbramoths, Sol and Osha—unbeknownst to him, actually Mae, now disguised as her twin sister—examine the fallen bodies of the two Jedi closest to them from the carnage of the night before: the crumpled forms of Yord, one of Osha’s old friends when she was still with the Jedi; and Jecki, Sol’s own padawan learner. It’s just a quiet moment between the two of them, and before Sol tells “Osha” in a hurry that they have to leave, marching back out of the forest and to their ship.

In the moment, it struck me as something odd, even with that prior conversation between Jecki and the actual Osha in the earlier episode. Would Sol really leave the bodies of these people he cared about, who he just watched get brutally cut down, to rot on a distant world? Sure there’s some practicalities to think of—there’s like eight bodies to recover, including a Wookiee, and only two of them, they’re completely exhausted by everything they’ve just had to endure, and they have no idea how long or if the Stranger will return to finish them off. Hell, we the audience see that the Stranger does indeed return to the scene of his battle, stepping over Jecki’s lifeless body to recover his cortosis helmet. But even then, and even with the Jedi’s whole complicated rigmarole on attachment, the idea that Sol would leave Yord and Jecki’s bodies like that almost tore me up more than watching them get got did. I think the Jedi Order would be understanding in part if you at least recovered the body of a child, Sol! The child in your care as a Jedi Master!

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The Jedi have always had an interesting relationship with death—on the one hand, accepting and almost distant to the grief of it, understanding that, as Jecki told Osha, that they should embrace and revere being able to watch a being transform into the living Force as beings themselves deeply connected to it. It’s that connection that eventually allows some of them to transcend even beyond that moment of transformation and manifest as a spirit, a Jedi art so rare and beautiful, unmatched by the machinations and alchemies of the dark side, that it becomes something of a comfort in and of itself.

But on the other, there’s a sort of respect to the physical form that remains after death we see multiple times in the saga that feels contrasted to the idea of simply abandoning a body to more naturally become one with the Force. We see multiple Jedi burial ceremonies in the Star Wars canon, cremations of the physical form that at least give a sense of respect to the body that remains after a person’s spirit has become one with the Force. In the movies, there’s obviously Qui-Gon’s funeral on Naboo, and Luke burning his father’s body on Endor. Even in wartime during The Clone Wars, we still saw the Order conducting similar cremation ceremonies, indicating that even with the changed circumstances and context of the war bringing a lot more dead Jedi with it, these rites were still conducted, indicating there was still some level of reverence for the body even with acknowledgement of the spirit’s separation.

Who knows, maybe it really is just a spur-of-the-moment necessity, albeit a painful one; maybe in this week’s Acolyte or some future episode after Sol reports to the Order we’ll see a full recovery team sent to Khofar to do what he couldn’t. After all, we have seen glimpses of as-yet-unbroadcast scenes of Vernestra Rwoh on jungle planet with other Jedi that looks a lot like Khofar—although those are scenes where she wields her purple light-whip, so maybe it’s a recovery mission that becomes something more, if that’s the case. But if it isn’t, and the Jedi that fell to the Stranger are destined to decompose, the circumstances of their deaths kept hidden by the Order’s hubris? That’s perhaps a darker fate than any of the grim ways the Sith killed them in the first place.

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