Star Wars: The Acolyte Brings the High Republic to TV

Mae (Amandla Stenberg) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

It was only a matter of time before Lucasfilm brought the High Republic era to live-action and they do so with Star Wars: The Acolyte.

“This isn’t about good or bad; this is about power and who is allowed to use it.” – Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith)

Ever since reading Charles Soule’s Star Wars: Light of the Jedi, I’ve been wanting to see this era in live-action. His book may take place about 100 years before the series but that’s beside the point. Aside from characters like Yoda, the era allows us to explore other eras of the universe without feeling forced to check in on the likes of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. It also means getting Jedi robes that are gold and white. This isn’t to say anything bad about Obi-Wan Kenobi because I’m one of those who would love to see a second season. Anyway, there are a total of eight episodes of mixed runtimes during the season. Disney sent the first four episodes to press. And yes, I desperately need the fifth episode in my eyeballs right now!

Leslye Headland takes the show in a different direction than prior Star Wars projects. If you thought Andor was a change of pace, think again. Star Wars: The Acolyte is the first live-action title that does not have an active war in the universe. Like Andor, the series did not film with the Volume, opting for practicality. In fact, it’s more of a mystery-thriller with fight scenes that are intimate in nature. The fight scenes are just unbelievable. I mean, we have a character who tries to kill their victims without using a weapon or their knowledge of the Force. Seems impossible, right?

I’m going to have much to stay below the logo. I’m not going to get into major spoilers but I will, at the very least, be discussing the show’s basic plot. If you want to go into the series without knowing, please stop reading now and come back later.

Star Wars: The Acolyte logo
©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

What we know is that a few Jedi are dying and they all have the same thing in common. They just happened to be station on a planet when certain events took place. When Jedi Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) is briefed, he takes charge of the investigation, which brings him face to face with a warrior (Amandla Stenberg) from his past. Is it Mae or Osha? Well, you’ll just have to wait and find out. Meanwhile, all is not what it seems because there are other forces at play. This is the basic gist of Star Wars: The Acolyte without diving into spoiler territory.

The High Republic era spans about 500 years to 100 years prior to the Battle of Yavin IV. Star Wars: The Acolyte takes place late in this era, around 100 years before The Phantom Menace. Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson) makes her live-action debut, making the transition from comics and books. Obviously, Yoda feels like a character that could plausibly show up during the season but he’s nowhere in the first four episodes. However, Ki-Adi-Mundi does make an appearance. We know that the Sith are still in hiding during this era and while there is a mysterious figure wielding a red lightsaber, I want to know if it is Darth Plagueis the Wise or his mentor, Darth Tenebrous. Given the era, Darth Bane is unlikely.

A question on my mind is whether the series will explain how a Sith Lord managed to start wielding influence in the Senate. Given that Sheev Palpatine was born around 84 BBY, we can certainly rule out his presence in the show. More likely than not, it has to be Darth Plagueis the Wise making his live-action debut. It’s either him or Darth Tenebrous? It couldn’t possibly be anyone else, could it? I hope we get an answer as the season plays out. What we do know for certain is that the Jedi High Council were convinced of the Sith being extinct for over a thousand years and had no knowledge of their return until Darth Maul entered the picture. This begs the question of just how the season is going to play out.

On the easter egg front, there are species that people will recognize. We might be in the oldest era of Star Wars in live-action but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see characters who look similar to those in previous films or series. One can tell that Headland is a Star Wars fan because the series creator looked to bring ideas and such over from the Expanded Universe (EU aka Legends continuity) in developing the series, mostly on the species end of things. The Darth Plagueis book falls under Legends continuity to maybe it’s now time to bring material in the book over to the current canon.

Star Wars: The Acolyte utilizes serialized storytelling and martial arts in bringing the live-action High Republic series to the screen.

DIRECTORS: Leslye Headland (Eps. 1-2), Kogonada (Eps. 103 and 107), Alex Garcia Lopez (Eps. 104 and 105),  Hanelle Culpepper (Eps. 106 and 108)
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Leslye Headland, Kathleen Kennedy, Simon Emanuel, Jeff F. King, Jason Micallef
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Charmaine DeGraté, Kor Adana
PRODUCERS: Rayne Roberts, Damian Anderson, Eileen Shim, Rob Bredow
CAST: Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie Turner-Smith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo, with Carrie-Anne Moss

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episodes 101-102 launch exclusively on Disney+ on June 4, 2024 at 6 PM PT / 9 PM ET. New episodes will premiere weekly. Grade: 4/5

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Buttondown.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.