The Acolyte
(Disney+)

It’s All in the Name: Why ‘The Acolyte’ Is the Most Daring ‘Star Wars’ Story Yet

To say that anticipation for The Acolyte is high might be an understatement, especially when you’re talking about longtime Star Wars fans, who have been waiting for a series like this since the EU was still a thing.

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It’s right there in the title: The Acolyte. Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with the wider world of Star Wars lore, that word doesn’t mean very much. The simple definition: someone who follows or assists a member of a religious clergy by performing ceremonial duties. That could also describe the Padawans, the young Jedi in training, but in Star Wars, acolytes are much more intriguing figures precisely because so little is known about them.

Which brings us to the major reason why fans are so excited for The Acolyte, the new series from Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland. Premiering June 4 on Disney+, the eight-episode series (or first season? We’ll see!) is the first live-action Star Wars narrative to take fans back to the days of the High Republic—500 to 100 years before the Skywalker saga, and hundreds of years after the Old Republic has fallen. The Acolyte is specifically set 100 years before the events in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and centers on Jedi master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) as he investigates a series of crimes with the help of Osha, a former Padawan who parted ways with the Jedi Order after struggling with her relationship to the Force.

Amandla Stenberg pulls double-duty in The Acolyte as both Osha and her long-lost twin, Mae, who was presumed dead until she returns as a fierce warrior who has taken up with the Dark Side—and yes, Mae is our titular Acolyte. In Star Wars lore, Sith—villains who abuse the Force for fascistic purposes—abide by the Rule of Two: there can only ever be one Sith Lord with one apprentice helping them in order to keep their dirty deeds on the DL. However, the Sith can also have acolytes, devout followers who are often Force-sensitive and hope to someday become Sith.

Again, this is all territory that hasn’t been fully explored in Star Wars movies and shows until now. We’re accustomed to following the heroic Jedi and their Rebel allies on missions to combat the Sith and their government comrades, but The Acolyte is deepening our understanding of this centuries-spanning battle by shedding more light on the Dark Side of the Force.


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Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.