There is a ghostly threat lurking within The Acolyte

Lucasfilm’s new Star Wars series The acolyte has praise deserved because it simply exists outside of the Skywalker Saga – after 47 years of stories set in the same time frame, a jump back “100 years before the rise of the Empire” to the glossier High Republic era is enough for aching Star Wars fans. But even with a prohibitively old setting and a cast of characters separate from Anakin and Luke, The acolyte creator Leslye Headland still finds ways to pepper the drama with Easter eggs. Episode 4 gave the experts a whopper: Plo Koon.

Plo Koon, the Kel Dor Jedi known for his fancy oxygen mask, first appeared in Jedi Council scenes in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and became a fan favorite when he took on an action role Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Plo’s biggest fan perhaps The Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni, who has made his passion for the B-tier Jedi extremely clear to the Star Wars fandom over the past 20 years, having performed at conventions as the Jedi, taking photos with fellow cosplayers and his Plo Koon toy collection had shown on social media. His ‘personal life’ section on Wookieepedia are completely facts about his Plo Koon collectibles. Despite being one or two levels away from a Glup Shitto, Dave Filoni is all in for Plo Koon.

I believe Filoni when he says he spoke extensively about Plo Koon with George Lucas. Reportedly, when the animator pushed to strengthen Plo’s role in the film The Clone Warsthere were plans to cast an actor who sounded like Toshiro Mifune Seven Samurai to give the Jedi a samurai feel. But Lucas thought the character was wackier than that and wanted a Jim Carrey type. Filoni ended up with actor James Arnold Taylor because of his Gandalf vibes. The Lucas-versus-Filoni Plo-off doesn’t end there; during Star Wars Celebration 2023, Filoni admitted that he argued to his boss that Plo Koon would have clearly survived Order 66, thanks to #skillz. Lucas has rejected the request to change the canon, but Filoni supports his defense.

None of this was relevant to The acolyte… until now. For a split second, as he stands with Osha in a drop shop on the way to meet the Wookiee Jedi Kelnacca, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Plo Koon, who hasn’t appeared in live action since. The phantom menace. How could Plo still be alive during the High Republic era? That’s very human of you to ask, but like Yoda, he’s technically old enough to kick; nerd number crunching based on decanonized Legends materials puts him about 382 years old at the time of The Clone Warswhich should already make him a seasoned veteran of the Jedi The acolyte.

For a second it sounded like Filoni had tricked his man into it The Mandalorian. Leaks hinted at a possible reveal in the season 2 finale, but it turns out that early storyboards and VFX footage were all an elaborate plan to hide the return of an aging Luke Skywalker. “All it takes is one person to color correct the film, one person to go on social media and say, ‘Guess what I saw today?’” Mark Hamill said in the Disney Gallery making-of document in which the episode is central. What no one seemed to care about at that moment was how angry Filoni’s fellow Plo Koonheads must have felt!

Technically, The acolyte is one of the few Star Wars projects that Dave Filoni doesn’t appear to be directly involved in; he shares no writing or directing credits on the series, nor does he have an overall producer credit. (In every respect his attention is fully focused Ahsoka season 2.) And maybe it’s THE Plo Koon. In theory, this nameless Jedi is just another Force-sensitive Kel Dor.

But come on, it’s Plo Koon. And it makes sense why Headland would want the cameo. As the showrunner has said, she purposefully set up her writers’ room to represent a wide spectrum of Star Wars fandoms and surrounded herself with people who could bring their own Easter egg wish lists to the table. So while longtime fans may have prayed at the altar of George Lucas, others involved were weaned The Clone Wars – and Filoni’s pro-Plo fandom. So that’s no surprise The acolyte would find ways to nod to the OT, the prequels, and even the cartoons that have little in common with the world: if you’re on the right side of Star Wars history, you make room for Plo Koon.