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Breaking Down ‘The Acolyte’ Trailer, a Glimpse of a ‘Star Wars’ Age We've Never Seen

Lucasfilm Ltd.

As Star Wars fans steadily await a new set of big-screen films, the saga of the galaxy far, far away continues apace on the small screen, with the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Acolyte. The Leslye Headland-helmed series finally came out of lightspeed today with its first official trailer, bringing with it some questions about the who, what, when, where, and why of it all. The Acolyte is charting a new course for the franchise, exploring a period of Star Wars history distant from the Skywalker legacy. To help you make sense of why it all matters, we’re here to break down what it all means. First, check out The Acolyte trailer below; we’ll see you on the other side.

OK. So this is another Star Wars show on Disney+?

Yes. The Acolyte, showrun by Leslye Headland, was first announced in 2020 as part of Disney’s continuing mandate to invest in their streaming service by oversaturating their IP. Some of those plays (The Mandalorian and Andor, both Emmy-nominated dramas) worked out while others (we’re looking at you, The Book of Boba Fett) didn’t.

Wait—is the filmmaker behind Bachelorette making a Star Wars show?

That’s a deep pull, which tells me that you know ball. Yes, that same filmmaker. Before becoming the first-ever female showrunner in the history of Star Wars on TV, Headland was probably best known for cocreating Netflix’s Russian Doll with Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler, so we can all hold out hope that Lyonne will show up as a Sith or a used-droid dealer or something.

Hm. What’s Headland’s connection to Star Wars, out of curiosity?

“I am the type of Star Wars fan that doesn’t even have a favorite movie,” Headland told reporters at the Rise of Skywalker premiere in 2019. “I just want to live in the Star Wars universe continually.” LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy called Headland a “gigantic” fan who “knows it all.”

Her pitch involved wanting to bring a “female-centric” point of view to the franchise, and to explore the Star Wars universe from the perspective of the Sith—but a stage in a universe where "the bad guys are wildly outnumbered [at that point and are] the underdogs."

Well, when would that be time-wise?

The Acolyte will take place during what’s known in SW canon as the High Republic era, an extended period of peace and prosperity for the galaxy, with the Jedi Order flourishing and at their peak. Although it’s lately been depicted or referenced in a range of comics, novels and video games, the High Republic era remains largely unexplored on the big or small screen—which was the inherent appeal for Headland.

The show arrives roughly 100 years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace as the dark-side Force wielders known as the Sith Order begin their rise to power. Headland has said she’s interested in exploring what exactly went wrong for the good guys so that the bad guys could sneak in through the back door unnoticed. “My question in watching The Phantom Menace,” she told Vanity Fair in 2022, “was always like, ‘Well, how did things get to this point?’ Do you know what I mean? How did we get to where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate”—as depicted in the prequels, which showed us soon-to-be-Emperor Palpatine betraying the Jedi and ushering in the Imperial Era—“and none of the Jedi pick up on it? What went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment?”

So this is, like, a prequel to the prequels?

If you want to think about it that way, sure. But we’re at a point in history with Star Wars now that lots of media functions as a prequel to something. Plus, the High Republic era is some truly unseen stuff that has the chance to feel and look really different from a lot of recent major Star Wars projects. Hence, it’s worth getting a little excited about for that aspect alone—especially for anyone who’s rightfully weary of re-revisiting the Skywalkers and hasn’t studied up on all the animated-series lore referenced in Ahsoka.

That kinda makes my head hurt. Okay, well, what does this new trailer have to show us about the series?

The Acolyte trailer is framed around Jedi Master Sol (Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae) teaching a gathering of younglings as an assailant named Mae (Amandla Stenberg) squares off with Jedi Master Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss) in a bar. The rest of the trailer sets the stage for a story about someone or something attacking and killing Jedi across the galaxy, plus a torrent of quick-cut reveals: Space witches led by Jodie Turner-Smith, yellow lightsabers, a menacing cloaked figure, Force-based martial arts (!), and a Wookiee Jedi (!!!).

Gotta say, a Wookiee Jedi is definitely something we haven’t seen before. But how does the trailer square with the series description?

The show's logline states that The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller in which “[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.” It’s likely Jung-jae and Stenberg are the Master/Padawan duo who reunite, but given the trailer’s framing, they’ll have quite a bit of work to do before they can join forces, considering it looks like she’s the one hunting Jedi.

Also, wait: You mentioned Force-based martial arts?

Yeah, you don’t hire a performer of Carrie-Anne Moss’ caliber and not stage some awesome fights. The High Republic era saw the Jedi throwing around the Force pretty liberally, so the action sequences need to have a different look and feel to them. Headland mentioned that martial arts classics like Touch of Zen or Come Drink With Me influenced the series. That tone feels like it’s readily on display, but let’s hope it’s more integral to The Acolyte’s DNA than set dressing.

Alright, I’m a little excited now. When’s this drop?

The first two episodes premiere on Disney+ on June 4.

Originally Appeared on GQ