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'The Acolyte' Star Wars Series Is Now Filming, And It Can't Be Overstated How Game-Changing This Show Will Be For The Franchise

[StarWars.com]

"The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. A former Padawan reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes, but the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated."

We have a full cast, a brand-spankin'-new synopsis and set photos to confirm that principal photography on The Acolyte has begun! Even some harder-core Star Wars fans probably don't have this latest Disney+ series on their radar, but I'm telling you, this thing is about to be absolutely incredible.

It's disheartening to see a lot of folks give up on Star Wars these days. Look, I understand the frenetic pace with which the sequel trilogy sped through production, and that those stories were polarizing. George Lucas drew inspiration in part from Flash Gordon serials to create his pop cultural monolith in the first place, so Star Wars' move to TV was an organic, logical progression especially once streaming became so prevalent and obviously when Disney+ launched. Lucas was ahead of the curve on this — what a surprise — when he developed The Clone Wars animated series. He simply didn't have the budget nor the resources to tell the myriad stories that took place between the final two prequel films.

Even though The Mandalorian was a raging success upon its launch and continues to draw critical acclaim ahead of its Season 3 premiere in February, the rest of the Disney+ Star Wars live-action slate has delivered mix results in the eyes of most fans. Even Mando's show is criticized for pacing and sticking too much to an established formula.

It's fair to say The Book of Boba Fett had some incredible moments, yet was uneven in its execution, particularly regarding Boba's flashback scenes and how they married with the main narrative. Obi-Wan Kenobi had a couple banger episodes to finish its six-part run, which left many wondering what happened during the slower-paced middle of the series.

Andor might be the flat-out best Disney+ series yet in my opinion. Unfortunately, it seems the absence of lightsabers and austere approach to the material is struggling to find as big of an audience.

So to bring alllllllll this back around to The Acolyte, I believe all the ingredients are in place for us fans to receive a killer combination of everything that's been great about the Disney+ Star Wars era, packed into one show!

The Acolyte explores a completely new part of the Star Wars timeline

Confirmed in an awesome Vanity Fair spread a while back, The Acolyte is set ONE HUNDRED YEARS before the first prequel film, The Phantom Menace. A full century before Episode I? Sign me up! We're about to see the beginning of the end of the High Republic — those glory days Obi-Wan spoke of to Luke in A New Hope. The tail end of over a thousand generations wherein the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.

From my understanding, an Acolyte is essentially an aspiring Sith and Dark Side Force user who isn't an apprentice. After all, the Sith have that "Rule of Two". That exclusivity and obscurity was instrumental to Palpatine's puppet master scheme and eventual takeover as Emperor.

Speaking of which, we may very well actually get to know the guy who used to boss Palpatine around! 

"Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?"

I'm not going to post rumors and supposed leaks that may contain spoilers, but even disregarding all of those, when I first heard of a show that was going to be set way before The Phantom Menace, the literal first character I thought of who could be involved was Darth Plagueis.

As the scene above lays out, this guy was Palpatine's master. Papa Palps called this dude daddy at one point. Imagine that. We've never seen Plagueis in live-action and he's not really popped up in the Disney canon in a big way yet. Since he's a freaky-looking alien character, it's going to take some Snoke-level magic from ILM to get him right, but I think that's where we're headed.

Even the vague possibility of Plagueis popping up alone has me so hyped for this show. I assume they'll honor what came before in the non-canon Legends continuity and have him be capable of living for over 100 years. So much intrigue has surrounded this guy for many years ever since Palaptine's opera convo with Anakin. 

While I'm fine with having my expectations subverted, I will be a tad sadboiing if Plagueis doesn't show up in The Acolyte. I predict he will. At the very least, we're going to find out a hell of a lot more about the Sith sabotaging the Jedi, so whichever antagonist the show decides to focus on, it's gonna be either Plagueis adjacent or be compelling as hell on its own merit.

The creative talent involved is intriguing to say the least

Showrunnner Leslye Headland co-created the sci-fi Netflix series Russian Doll and kills it on that show. She's reunited with one of the most underrated on-the-rise actors I'm aware of, Charlie Barnett. That dude is a beast and the Force is telling me he's about to break out in a massive way with whatever his role is.

Headland is a self-professed massive Star Wars nerd, and in the aforementioned VF article, she divulged more information on what The Acolyte is about, painting the Jedi as a sort of passive, arrogant lot whose apathy sets the stage for the Dark Side to take over.

"My question when watching The Phantom Menace was always like, ‘Well, how did things get to this point?’ How did we get to a point where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? Like, what went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment? […] We actually use the term the Renaissance, or the Age of Enlightenment. Jedis were not always ascetic monklike figures living selflessly and bravely. The Jedi uniforms are gold and white, and it’s almost like they would never get dirty. They would never be out and about. The idea is that they could have these types of uniforms because that’s how little they’re getting into skirmishes."

It's really cool that Headland has such a unique angle to explore here. I guess I was pretty young in 1999, but my brain definitely did not, even years later, immediately track toward, "Wait, how is the Jedi Council slipping this badly?"

Series lead Amandla Stenberg is building quite a strong filmography and was excellent in the recent A24 movie Bodies Bodies Bodies. Carrie-Anne Moss just joined the cast! TRINITY. Come on!! Just her, Stenberg and Barnett alone would be enough, but then The Acolyte messed around and nabbed Squid Game's Lee Jung-jae for a key role, Jodie Turner-Smith of Queen & Slim acclaim, 1917's Dean-Charles Chapman who SLAYED in that, and Dafne Keen, who was off-the-charts good in Logan.

Mind-blowing how good the cast is. Seriously it's nuts.

The best of all Star Wars worlds

I feel like the show is in such great hands with Headland at the helm. I think it'll be similar to what Tony Gilroy's experience is on Andor where they really give her free rein to tell the story. It won't have to strain to connect to anything other Star Wars show or film. The upside is immense.

So you probably get the mystery/espionage thrill of Andor in The Acolyte, but with Jedi and Sith, from the Sith perspective. How dope is that? The whole premise of "mystery-thriller" seems to suggest the show won't be light on action or suffer from too much slow pacing, which is great. Plus, we'll be getting so much NEW shit thrown at us as audience members, that I think exposition will actually be something that's highly anticipated rather than dreaded as a potential momentum-killer.

All indications are The Acolyte is going to give us our first truly original, fresh Star Wars series. Nobody is really talking about it and I realize it probably won't debut until 2024. It's still a while out. I'm not sure how the other Disney+ output will be received in the interim. Just know, something massive is officially in the pipeline, and if your faith in the franchise is shaken, best stick around for this!

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok