By George Bate
With a slew of interesting Star Wars projects on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement as we eagerly anticipate shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, and, of course, the next season of The Mandalorian, amongst others. But one of the shows that particularly has our attention is one that has been seldom spoken about, relative to the other gargantuan projects in development. And that is The Acolyte, a new female-centric Disney+ series in development by writer and executive producer Leslye Headland. So why are we so excited about The Acolyte?
Headland leading the way
In recent years, Star Wars has attracted some incredibly talented writers and directors to helm projects and it looks like that tradition is continuing with Leslye Headland’s work on The Acolyte. The writer and director hit it out of the park recently with her Netflix series Russian Doll. For anyone who has not caught this show, definitely give it a watch. It’s eight 30 minute episodes that feel like a mix between Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, and The Good Place. With her work on Russian Doll, Headland demonstrated that she not only has a steady hand behind the camera, but is capable of writing clever and quirky dialogue and narratives that would fit perfectly into the Star Wars universe. The twinges of sci-fi sprinkled throughout Russian Doll also lay the groundwork for Headland to tackle a galaxy far, far away.
Headland is a Star Wars fan and made a great comment at The Rise of Skywalker premiere when asked about her favorite Star Wars film. Headland said to Variety, “I’m the type of Star Wars fan that doesn’t have a favorite movie, I just want to live in the universe of Star Wars continually, in perpetuity forever. So, when people are like, ‘What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?’ I’m like, ‘There is no Star Wars movie, only Star Wars.’” That definitely seems like the kind of person who understands Star Wars to perfection.
Adventures in The High Republic
Another reason we’re excited for what Headland has in store for The Acolyte is the series’ place in canon. At Disney Investor Day, Kathleen Kennedy revealed that the series will be set during the last days of the High Republic.This means The Acolyte is likely to be the first live-action depiction of this new era in galactic history. As the High Republic continues to be developed in great novels and comics, it’s interesting to ponder what it will look like when captured in a television show.
In an interview with Fantastic Frankey, Headland stated, regarding her upcoming series, “I would say it’s in a pocket of the universe and a pocket of the timeline that we don’t know much about….I’d like to think of my show as a tent revival. You can come over if you want to. We’re going to be talking about some cool stuff.”
The dark side of the Force is a pathway…
Perhaps the thing that has most captured our attention about The Acolyte is its focus on the dark side. The Acolyte’s official description states that the show is “a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.”
This sentence alone leads to quite a bit of speculation. For starters, the show is described as a mystery-thriller. The Mandalorian is very much a Western series. Rogue One is very much a heist film. It’s great when Star Wars leans into genre a little bit and Headland once again leaning into the mystery genre, but now within the Star Wars realm, sounds really cool.
The exploration of “shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers” also catches our eye. In canon, the dark side is largely restricted to more sideline roles, in exchange for a primary focus on light side characters. It seems that The Acolyte will break from tradition in this regard by turning the focus toward characters who are traditionally conceived of as villains.
If we begin to combine some of these pieces together and do a bit of Star Wars timeline mathematics, that’s where The Acolyte becomes even more intriguing. We know the series focuses on the dark side AND is a female-centric show. Immediately, our minds go to the Nightsisters. But, the mention of a series about the dark side set “in the final days of the High Republic era” also gets us thinking about Palpatine. The High Republic era concludes as the Fall of the Republic begins with The Phantom Menace. We know that, in the years leading up to The Phantom Menace, Palpatine was working behind the scenes to conquer the Republic. In this sense, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a show about dark side powers during this time doesn’t touch upon Palpatine and maybe even his master Plageuis.
Time will tell…
Not much is known of The Acolyte currently, but everything we’re heard so far has us excited. A female-centric Star Wars project like this is long overdue and Leslye Headland seems like the perfect choice to take the franchise in this direction. A live-action series depicting the High Republic era and dark side powers also have us intrigued and are sure to contribute to a lot of fan speculation in the coming months. Time will tell how The Acolyte eventually pans out, but we certainly have our hopes up.
Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, & Los Angeles Times