Even before the theatrical release of The Rise of Skywalker in December of 2019, Star Wars had seen widespread success on the small screen with its first live-action series, The Mandalorian. As reception to each entry of the sequel trilogy was met with divisive opinions, ranging from not being enough like the original trilogy to being overloaded with fan service, The Mandalorian was met with overwhelming praise.
Building on this success, Disney has planned an entire slate of Star Wars TV shows to continue to cash in on its trend. This includes the animated series The Bad Batch to the upcoming live-action spinoffs The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the horizon. One upcoming series, Star Wars: The Acolyte, will be an original story set during the final days of the High Republic. It’ll also throw in an overt political spin to the sprawling space opera, as showrunner and co-creator Leslye Headland explained in an interview with The AV Club.
A life-long Star Wars fan, Headland described the franchise as “a Rorshach test” for fans. “A lot of times it is what you decide it is,” she added, believing that’s why it continues to appeal to fans across so many different generations. For The Acolyte, it will also add a mystery/thriller element, exploring a new way to tell stories in a galaxy far, far away.
Headland, who created the Netflix series Russian Doll, also addressed the blowback she’s gotten on social media once word of the politically-oriented story started to make the rounds. While the overwhelming remarks tend to be around a call to not infuse Star Wars with political overtone, Headland believes that “George Lucas made it political. Those are political films. War is, by nature, political.”
Other than being a politically leaning mystery/thriller set during the High Republic, little else is known about Star Wars: The Acolyte. Though it will be led by a woman of color, and reports indicate that they’re looking for someone comfortable with fight scenes. No casting has been announced as of yet, however.
The title also indicates how there will be some Dark Side involvement, as an Acolyte in Star Wars lore is typically how Sith Lords refer to their respective apprentices. This could lead one to assume this as-yet-unknown lead character could be an aspiring Sith Lord who’s looking to cash in on her anger in exchange for some wicked Force powers and a red lightsaber.
Setting it during the High Republic era of Star Wars also opens up some potential for political intrigue. While the Sith were very much around, they were living in hiding, which no Jedi were aware of. Instead, they were at the height of their reign, meaning that exploring some of their shortsighted dogma and how it impacts their role as galactic peace-keepers could be interesting. Not to mention how The Acolyte could reveal what would lead to the Jedi Order’s eventual collapse at the dawn of the Galactic Empire.
All these specifics remain to be seen, obviously. However, Headland’s vision in these early stages does promise plenty of political intrigue, adding another new element to the ever-expanding Star Wars universe.