— Lucasfilm

“The Jedi live in a dream. A dream they believe everyone shares. If you attack a Jedi with a weapon you will fail. Steel or laser are no threat to them. But an acolyte, an acolyte kills without a weapon. An acolyte kills the dream.”

These words close The Acolyte Episode 1, and they’re a terrifying thesis for a Jedi/Sith clash unlike any we’ve seen in Star Wars canon. But as powerful as these words are, we have no idea who said them. Mae’s master, the Sith she’s seeking vengeance for as part of her “final test,” is unknown even to her, and seen only by viewers in the distance during Episode 1. Just who could this big villain be? Here are all the possible suspects.

5. Darth Plagueis

Darth Plagueis is more than just the subject of one of the most notorious prequel memes; he’s also the master Palpatine betrayed, making him a key part of Sith history. In James Luceno’s non-canon novel Darth Plagueis, Plagueis’ master had a backup padawan in case Plagueis failed to become a full Sith. Perhaps Mae was his own first attempt at an apprentice, and Palpatine was his backup, making Mae (and her possible failure of this “final test”) essential to Palpatine’s rise.

As a Muun, he has a longer-than-average lifespan, meaning he could already have been a Sith lord a century before Palpatine rose to power. From the moment The Acolyte’s setting was announced, speculation of a Plagueis appearance has been swirling, so it would certainly be a popular choice.

4. Darth Tenebrous

If Darth Plagueis is too obvious, the next logical possibility is his master, Darth Tenebrous. Perhaps Darth Plagueis isn’t Tenebrous’ first attempt at an apprentice, and he attempted to train Mae before one of them abandoned the partnership. That would make Mae an indirect predecessor to Palpatine, and a “what-if” for the entire Star Wars universe.

Tenebrous was an unusual Sith; in Darth Plagueis, he broke the Sith’s famous Rule of Two by training Darth Venamis alongside Darth Plagueis. Now he could be training Darth Plageuis in secret alongside Mae, which would explain why Mae only sees her master occasionally.

3. A Nightsister

The Dathomiri Nightsisters have been having a moment lately, featuring heavily in Ahsoka and Tales of the Empire. Could one of them be posing as a Sith and training an acolyte in her own way? There did seem to be a group of mystical women in the show’s trailer, suggesting there could be more at hand than just Sith training. We just saw their dark Force magicks at play in Ahsoka last year, and unlike the Sith, they don’t allow themselves to be consumed by the Dark Side. To them, the Force is a tool to fuel their own sorcery, not a way of life.

But why would these witches want an acolyte? In Episode 1’s opening text, we learn that “a powerful few learn to use the Force in secret” in this era, implying the High-Republic-era Jedi regulate who can use the Force. This means the Nightsisters’ very way of life is now illegal, and the coven could look to get revenge on the Jedi through this powerful assassin.

2. A Turncoat Jedi

Showrunner Leslye Headland has cited the Clone Wars episode “The Wrong Jedi” as an influence for The Acolyte. That episode followed Ahsoka as she sought out a traitor among the Jedi to clear her name for a crime she didn’t commit. She eventually found the culprit in her friend Barriss Offee, who went on to become an Imperial Inquisitor. It’s possible The Acolyte follows a similar path, showing there can still be temptation to the Dark Side even in the idyllic world of the High Republic.

1. A Completely Original Sith

It’s also possible this character was created just for this series, making all speculation moot. So far, The Acolyte has invented every planet (except Coruscant) and much of its world-building, so adding a new villain wouldn’t be surprising. The series has managed to be exciting without replying on callbacks and cameos to other Star Wars properties, which has been a refreshing change of pace. That could stretch to this villain as well. But, even masked, they’re already driving fan theories, so whoever they are, they’re making an impact.

The Acolyte is streaming on Disney+.

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