The Andor series may have closed out the year for Star Wars on Disney+ but there are plenty more live-action shows coming up in 2023 and beyond. Next year will see the return of The Mandalorian for its long-awaited third season as well as the premiere of the Ahsoka standalone series. Meanwhile, Jude Law will make his Star Wars debut in the coming-of-age tale Skeleton Crew, which is helmed by Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts.
Most intriguing of all is The Acolyte, a series set 100 years before The Phantom Menace. It’s helmed by Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland and stars Amandla Stenberg (Bodies Bodies Bodies) and Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game). While it’s currently filming at Shinfield Studios in the UK, we know surprisingly few official details about the secretive production. According to the show’s synopsis, it’s 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.” It will also see a “former Padawan reunite with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes.”
It has been long suggested that the series puts a Sith disciple (presumably played by Stenberg) front and center as the titular “acolyte” of the show. Well, according to a new interview with co-star Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), the Sith element of this series will have a direct tie to the events of the Prequel Trilogy and the plot that ultimately unfolds to exterminate the Jedi Order in Revenge of the Sith.
“It’s kind of an explanation of how the Sith infiltrated the Jedi,” Keen revealed to Tech Radar. “It’s a Sith-led story, which has never been done before.”
A big plot point throughout the Prequel Trilogy is the Jedi Order’s realization that the Sith have slowly snuck into the galactic house of power and taken over. In The Phantom Menace, the Jedi are surprised to learn the Sith still even exist, while in Attack of the Clones, they sense the growing dark side of the Force. In Revenge of the Sith, their true enemy finally reveals himself but it’s too late for the Jedi to do anything about it — the game is already over by the time the Jedi learn who they’re really playing against. It sounds like The Acolyte will explore how the Sith began spinning the web of deceit that would eventually lead to Emperor Palpatine’s ultimate victory at the end of the Prequels.
Headland herself has teased that the extent and complexity of the Sith plot in the Prequels is a central Star Wars question she’s long wanted to explore.
She told Vanity Fair last May, “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?”
“The High Republic is so golden in so many ways. The Jedi uniforms are gold and white and it’s almost like they would never get dirty. The idea is that they could have these types of uniforms because that’s how little they’re getting into skirmishes. So of course my question is like, ‘Well, what else is going on?’ You can’t just end up with George [Lucas]’s Phantom Menace situation if everything is going well,” Headland continued. “It has to be going well at the expense of what? What is not being attended to? What are we turning a blind eye to that could lead to the rise of somebody like Palpatine about a century later? Yes, it’s one bad guy, but it’s one bad guy that completely undermines the entire system of government. A lot of other things must have been going on beneath the surface.”
It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the events of The Acolyte lead into Palpatine’s scheme in The Phantom Menace, and how the Sith managed to keep what they were doing a secret for so long. And will we meet a dude named Plagueis at some point on the show? When we caught up with Stenberg earlier this year at San Diego Comic-Con, she was tight-lipped about the specifics but opened up about her preparation for the role.
“My whole life is Star Wars,” Stenberg told Den of Geek. “I wake up and I think about Star Wars. I watch Star Wars before I go to sleep. I read Star Wars. I listen to Star Wars podcasts. My life has been transformed to be dedicated to this one universe, which is actually really fun and liberating. To finally be able to share it with people who love the universe so much, especially because they contribute so much to it…I’m just so excited!”
The Acolyte is coming to Disney+. No release date has been set. In the meantime, you can check out the full schedule of upcoming Star Wars movies and TV series here.