The Acolyte’s High Republic gives Star Wars a totally new timeline to play with

The Acolyte is the newest Star Wars sequence to launch on Disney Plus. Not like earlier sequence, comparable to Ahsoka (after Return of the Jedi) and Andor (earlier than A New Hope), it takes place in a distinctive and largely unexplored period of the Star Wars galaxy (in dwell motion, at the very least). Created by Leslye Headland, a self-professed main Star Wars fan, and starring Lee Jung-jae, Amandla Stenberg, and Carrie-Anne Moss, The Acolyte is meant to be as new-viewer-friendly as potential.

That stated, there are a few questions viewers could have as they head into the two-part sequence premiere, and we’ve obtained the solutions!

What’s the High Republic?

Launched in January 2021, the High Republic started as a sub-franchise publishing initiative from Lucasfilm, advised throughout a number of brief tales, novels, and comedian books. Named for the period of in-universe galactic historical past that marks a relative cultural and political high-water mark for the Republic usually and the Jedi particularly, tales set within the High Republic Period happen wherever between 500 and 100 years earlier than the occasions of the 9 movies that comprise the cinematic Skywalker Saga. For anybody acquainted with the Previous Republic Period thanks to the sequence of wildly well-liked video video games set in that period, the High Republic Period falls squarely between that point and the time of the “main” motion pictures.

The tales usually chronicle the battle between the Jedi and the Nihil, a group of ruthless house pirates who use their arcane information of hyperspace journey to perform devastating assaults on the Republic. However one of many issues that distinguishes the High Republic from comparable era-specific publishing efforts is its large scope. With tales advised in every part from books for younger readers to YA novels to conventional grownup novels, from comedian books to audio dramas, there are totally different tones and flavors for a large number of tastes. The Nihil are removed from the one risk dealing with the galaxy, which additionally contains the Dregnir — a species of carnivorous sentient vegetation — in addition to cults consisting of different non-Jedi Drive customers. The Jedi dealing with the specter of the Nihil throughout an period of prosperity varieties the narrative spine of the sub-franchise, however even within the brief existence of the High Republic as a storytelling initiative, the sheer quantity and breadth of tales launched creates a lot of nooks and crannies to discover.

When does The Acolyte happen?

Picture: Lucasfilm

The Acolyte represents the primary on-screen foray into the High Republic Period. Additionally it is marking the newest level but within the High Republic Period — that’s, the time limit closest to the beforehand established occasions of the flicks. Particularly, The Acolyte takes place about 100 years earlier than the rise of the Empire, placing it towards the very tail finish of the High Republic Period.

That time within the timeline may be very a lot intentional. In accordance to showrunner Leslye Headland, “If Star Wars is about the underdog versus the institution, [in The Acolyte] the Jedi are the institution. I was so interested in a storyline where the Jedi were at the height of their power — and I don’t mean The Phantom Menace, because at that point, there’s a Sith Lord in the Senate that they’re not picking up on.” Headland additionally expresses a need to discover “what went wrong” that led the Jedi Order from the highs of the High Republic to the stagnation and ignorance displayed through the prequel trilogy, wherein the Jedi are hoodwinked into aiding their very own downfall by a risk hiding proper underneath their collective noses.

Setting The Acolyte on the tail finish of the Jedi heyday is thus crucial to that examination. It permits Headland and her staff the closest potential chronological level to the prequels, to draw essentially the most direct line potential from the Jedi at their zenith to the Jedi at their nadir.

It’s additionally value noting, to that finish, that the Jedi of the High Republic are, of their methods, fairly a bit totally different from the Jedi of the prequel trilogy. Among the variations are merely aesthetic; as well as to the “typical” look of easy robes not not like these worn by moisture farmers and desert hermits, the High Republic Jedi additionally don extra resplendent costume robes of shimmering white and gold. Their lightsabers are extra ornate (and, sometimes, extra whip-like), with pronounced bodily hilts, and they’re worn in leather-based holsters fairly than merely dangling from belts. Mission apparel for High Republic Jedi contains leather-based gauntlets and armor.

However the variations go deeper than that. Whereas the Jedi of the High Republic nonetheless train concerning the risks of attachment, they’re much less just like the celibate monks of the prequel period. Deep friendships exist among the many Jedi, and even, in at the very least one occasion, bodily intimacy (which continues to be frowned upon, however nobody was drummed out of the Jedi Order over it). The High Republic Jedi additionally appear to have a deeper understanding of the Drive, with sure Jedi dedicating themselves to the exploration of particular facets of or talents with the Drive, comparable to battle meditation or the power to strengthen the Drive bonds amongst a group of Jedi. This may be seen in The Acolyte by way of Carrie-Anne Moss’ Indara, a Jedi who’s proficient in one thing not not like Drive-aided kung fu.

All of this serves to underscore the distinction between the High Republic Jedi and the extra acquainted Jedi of the Skywalker Saga. Which, in flip, underscores that query Headland is keen to discover, of what triggered these variations to emerge within the first place.

What concerning the Sith? The place are they through the High Republic?

A sith lord wields a spinny lightsaber contraption in Star Wars: Visions

Picture: Disney Plus/Lucasfilm

That reply is a bit extra… sophisticated. In The Phantom Menace, Jedi council member Ki-Adi-Mundi (the conehead Jedi) tells Qui-Gon Jinn that the Sith have been extinct “for a millennium.” That will imply there’s no approach the Sith might issue into The Acolyte, given it takes place a mere 100 years earlier than Ki-Adi-Mundi made his declaration, effectively inside that millennium. However, after all, Ki-Adi-Mundi is improper. He’s improper even earlier than he speaks the phrases; the viewers has already seen Qui-Gon battle Darth Maul on the sands of Tatooine, and the viewers already is aware of Darth Maul is a Sith, even when the Jedi don’t. And, after all, the Sith’s complete deal is the “Rule of Two,” wherein a sequence of masters and apprentices maintain the entire Sith present working, particularly from the shadows.

So the door is definitely open for the Sith to seem in The Acolyte (as they appear to within the first two episodes), albeit in a refined approach (that will nonetheless lead Ki-Adi-Mundi to make his incorrect declaration and never get laughed out of the council chambers). Headland has likened the Sith on this period to that of a Velociraptor for the Jedi: “Like it’s a thing I’ve heard of, but it’s not a thing that you would ever consider you’d be interacting with.” Whether or not they’re the central antagonists, and, in that case, how they handle to keep their standing as extinct beings of fantasy and legend stays to be seen.

The rest you want to know?

Jedi Master Kelnacca (Joonas Suotamo) looking down in a forest

Picture: Lucasfilm

Truthfully, probably not. Everybody concerned has been very insistent that The Acolyte isn’t a sequence that requires homework. It’s designed for anybody with simply a passing familiarity with Star Wars to choose up and luxuriate in.

One factor value noting is the presence of Vernestra Rwoh, the one named member of the solid so far to beforehand seem within the High Republic. A teen prodigy Jedi, Vernestra made a number of appearances all through the publishing line. However like The Acolyte’s setting within the High Republic timeline, her look within the sequence comes later in her personal private timeline, when she is over 100 years outdated. As a end result, whereas the identify will probably be acquainted to High Republic readers, even they’ll have a lot to study her alongside newcomers.

Additionally, anybody who has seen Return of the Jedi is aware of that Yoda is over 900 years outdated when he dies, which implies he’s very a lot energetic through the High Republic Period. No phrase but, nonetheless, whether or not he’ll seem in The Acolyte.

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