Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (2024)

Yana Grebenyuk

·5 min read

It is impossible to discuss the Star Wars TV show The Acolyte without mentioning Manny Jacinto's scene-stealing (and bicep-baring) presence.

The Acolyte, which premiered on Disney+ in June 2024, is set before the events of the Skywalker Saga as a series of murders lead Jedi Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) to reconnect with former pupil Osha (Amandla Stenberg) — and her not-so-dead twin sister, Mae. Sol quickly learns that sinister forces are at play as Mae's history with a mysterious Sith master is uncovered.

When Jacinto was introduced as a smuggler named Qimir, viewers were entertained by his antics as he helped Mae please their unseen leader. The fifth episode, however, turned out to be one for the history books when the Jedi warriors met The Stranger, who was orchestrating the crime through Mae. An epic battle revealed Jacinto's character Qimir as the man behind the sinister helmet.

Shortly after the episode aired, an outpouring of support came in for Jacinto. It wasn't just Jacinto’s performance as an actor that fans were rooting for, with The Stranger receiving just as much love on social media.

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Creator Leslye Headland wasn't surprised by the response.

"Originally, even up until shooting, The Stranger was not in a lot of the rest of the season. He was much more of a tee-up for a second season arc," Headland told Inverse in July 2024. "But I saw Manny’s screen test early on in pre-production, and I just thought, 'There will be riots in the streets if I don’t [go further]. Here we go. I guess I’m rewriting an episode.' Manny was so impressive in every aspect."

Headland praised Jacinto for his ability not only to tell a compelling story — but to make viewers root for a more villainous arc.

"As a filmmaker, in my head, I’m like, 'I’m positive this is going to work. If I can get Manny Jacinto, this will work. If I don’t, this character won’t exist. We’re going to have to start from scratch and figure out something else,'" she added. "I was so grateful he did the show, but he surpassed my expectations."

Keep scrolling to see why Star Wars fans are rooting for the dark side thanks to Jacinto's The Stranger:

1st Introduction

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (1)

When Jacinto made his Star Wars debut on The Acolyte, he appeared to be a simple smuggler named Qimir who was helping Mae get revenge for what happened in her past. Mae's orders from her and Qimir's master required her to kill four Jedi from her past — and one of the kills had to be without a weapon. Qimir's role was to supply the poison for one of the murders but he stuck around long enough for Osha to trick him into thinking she was Mae to get more information out of him.

It seemingly worked — until Jacinto delivered a surprisingly seductive line delivery when telling Osha she looked just like Mae. The result was several fans keeping a closer eye on Qimir moving forward.

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In Disguise

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (2)

The fourth episode of the show followed Sol and Osha's attempts to stop Mae from killing the new Jedi on her list a.k.a Kelnacca (Joonas Suotamo), a Wookiee living in seclusion. Mae was already there, however, with Qimir's help. She turned on Qimir when she decided she didn't want to continue the mission and he was seemingly left for dead.

Meanwhile, the Jedi group ran into a mysterious figure wearing a helmet and wielding a red lightsaber (which is famously the color that will be wielded by villains Darth Vader and Kylo Ren). This planned run-in turned into the unknown villain — now known as The Stranger — facing off against a handful of Jedi warriors and coming up victorious.

His impeccable skills on the battleground earned him even more support.

The Unmasking

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (3)

Since everyone wanted to know who was under the helmet, The Acolyte didn't keep Us waiting long. An expert move from Jecki's (Dafne Keen) lightsaber caused The Stranger's helmet to come off and for Jacinto's face to hit our screens.

The Stranger wasn't too concerned that his identity was blown as he continued to kill off anyone who was there. His commitment to the chaos — coupled with an outfit that showed off his impressive biceps — made Jacinto's episode the talk of the internet.

A Sweet Moment

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (4)

An antagonist needs one of two things to appeal to the audience: a sad backstory or a charged moment with another character that has Us yearning for them to become a couple. Star Wars took the second route — although hints have also been dropped about The Stranger's past — by having him form an unexpected connection with Osha.

After initially working with her sister, The Stranger made it clear he didn't trust Mae's devotion to him anymore. The Stranger is on the search for a pupil, but along the way he notices a natural evolution between him and Osha.

The fifth episode ended with Mae swapping places with Osha, who was knocked out against her will. Along came The Stranger, who was kind enough to use his jacket as a blanket for Osha like a true gentleman.

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Knowing What the Audience Wants

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (5)

There was no plot-related reason for Osha to wake up in the sixth episode on an unknown planet only to follow The Stranger as he took a bath in the lake. Regardless, The Acolyte blessed Us with a moment where Jacinto stripped down and later emerged from the water in a scene that felt ripped straight from some Star Wars fan fiction (and that is a compliment).

Escalating the Tension

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (6)

The entire sixth episode focused on Osha learning more about The Stranger — including the fact that they aren't as different as she initially thought. Osha even put on his helmet, but the lead-up to the moment was even more exciting.

Osha and The Stranger shared several scenes that can only be described as emotionally charged and exploding with sexual tension. But it wasn't just Osha who was affected in the hours after the episode dropped. Star Wars fans expressed their overwhelming gratitude to Headland for bringing the idea of Osha and The Stranger bonding session on a private island to life.

Every Time Manny Jacinto’s The Stranger Made ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Fans Root for the Dark Side (2024)
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