Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 6 Darth Vader Reference, Explained

Contains spoilers for "Star Wars: The Acolyte" Season 1, Episode 6 – "Teach/Corrupt"

The Force is strong with "Star Wars: The Acolyte" Season 1, Episode 6, which continues to muddy the waters between the light and dark sides of the Force. Qimir's (Manny Jacinto) combination of stern dark side ruthlessness and surprisingly warm nuances has been somewhat reminiscent of Ray Stevenson's fallen Jedi Baylan Skoll from "Ahsoka."

What's more, the episode also suggests that the titular acolyte might not be Mae (Amandla Stenberg), after Qimir heals her twin Osha (Stenberg) and slowly starts bringing her to his side. While the episode leaves the level of Osha's corruption ambiguous, it does provide a pretty big hint about her situation with a subtle yet noticeable reference to the prequel trilogy days of the franchise's most famous Sith villain, Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker (Hayden Christensen).

When Osha tries Qimir's helmet on, "Star Wars" fans likely recognize that her breathing begins to sound a lot like Darth Vader's iconic, labored breaths. This appears to be a callback to the end of "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith," when Anakin is enclosed in his Vader suit for the first time and the mask covers his face. Both scenes are shot in a very similar way, from showing the helm descending on the character from their viewpoint to the music suddenly stopping before the breathing sounds begin.

Osha might be on the path that turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader

The sound of Darth Vader's breathing is arguably the most ominous auditory cue in the entire "Star Wars" franchise. Narratively speaking, it's also an ever-present sign that the character on screen when you hear it is the Sith Lord Vader instead of Anakin Skywalker. From the moment the mask goes on and the mechanized breathing begins to the "Return of the Jedi" moment Anakin finally asks Luke (Mark Hamill) to remove the helmet, the character is coded as an unfeeling, unstoppable black-clad monster.

Even when viewers get a peek of Vader without his mask — such as the brief glimpse of his meditation chamber in "The Empire Strikes Back" or Obi-Wan Kenobi breaking Vader's mask in "Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi" — such scenes immediately lead to Vader chillingly chiding an underling or outright explaining that his Anakin side is long gone. It's not until the helmet comes off for good and the breathing effect stops that he fully regains his humanity.

The fact that the helmet scene in "The Acolyte" Episode 6 references the very moment that marks Anakin's transition to Vader could mean that Osha has now officially been corrupted and will join Qimir. It could also be a deliberately Sith-coded cliffhanger designed to suggest that Osha has turned, only for her to back away from the brink at the last moment. Either way, there's virtually no chance it's a coincidence that her big helmet scene bears such a strong similarity to a pivotal moment in the tragic life of Darth Vader.