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The Acolyte's focus on the Sith could expand one of the most interesting themes in the Star Wars prequels

 Star Wars: The Acolyte.
Star Wars: The Acolyte.

"I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi," says Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, a particularly dire proclamation which, truly, isn't met with a whole lot of urgency. If you, like me, usually scream at your TV at this point, The Acolyte could be the show for you.

I adore the Star Wars prequels, and I've always thought one of the most fascinating things about them is just how darn complacent the Jedi Order is about the rise of the Sith, which is happening right under their noses. This is one of George Lucas's key themes in the trilogy, culminating in the Senate feverishly cheering the ascendancy of a maniacal dictator: when, as Padmé says, liberty dies with thunderous applause.

It's not just in Palpatine's rise that we see this stagnation, either – the Jedi are perfectly content to use the mysterious clone army that arrives pretty much out of nowhere, despite how shady that whole deal is, and Count Dooku even outright tells Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones that the Republic is under the control of a Sith Lord. Every opportunity to thwart the brewing dark plot is completely missed, right down to Yoda essentially telling Anakin Skywalker to simply overcome the fear caused by the horrifying visions plaguing him – visions that play a crucial part in his turn to the dark side.

Rise of the Sith

Star Wars: The Acolyte
Star Wars: The Acolyte

By the time of the prequels, the Jedi Order believes the Sith to be extinct. We know The Acolyte will be "Sith-led," however, and the first trailer for the show reveals a group of Jedi going up against a red lightsaber-wielding figure. So how, then, could the Jedi lose sight of the threat posed by the dark side in just a century? It's a question The Acolyte looks set to explore. "I really wanted to tell a story about the Sith," Headland told Entertainment Weekly. "That was kind of my dream Star Wars idea. But it felt like the time period to do that in would be something pre-Phantom Menace. That seemed to be the most interesting trajectory for the Sith: How did the Sith go from the Rule of Two and being quote-unquote 'extinct' to Palpatine coming into power without the Jedi knowing about it?"

It's not currently clear just how the Sith will factor into The Acolyte, though, considering Amandla Stenberg's warrior character appears to occupy the gray space between light and dark. What is clear, though, is that the Jedi are clearly in a gleaming golden age. In just 100 years, it'll all fall apart, and I'm predicting now that this will be thanks to the Jedi failing to learn whatever lessons they need to from the events of The Acolyte – meaning we could be about to discover the root of that frustrating complacency seen in the prequels.

It's also fascinating that, as Headland puts it, the Sith are "underdogs" in this show. We're pretty much hardwired to root for the underdog, after all; could The Acolyte end up reframing our view of the Sith's triumph in the prequels? It wouldn't be the first time that Star Wars has retroactively changed our perception of something – The Clone Wars added tons of pathos to Darth Maul's tale, and the prequels themselves deepened the tragedy of Darth Vader's story. Perhaps some of us could find ourselves seduced by the dark side of the Force thanks to The Acolyte.

With the Sith banished to the shadows at this point on the Star Wars timeline, we'll likely also see leaner, meaner versions of the red lightsaber-wielding foes who are far sneakier than those we've seen before. It's entirely possible, then, that the answer to the enigma of that complacency will simply be that the Sith are so stealthy that the Jedi thought their ancient enemy was truly banished once more.

At the moment, it all remains to be seen. The Acolyte isn't arriving till June 4, and it was even pitched as a multi-season story (via Collider), meaning there could be far more to the series yet. Plus, as Headland rather mischievously told StarWars.com: "Whatever you think The Acolyte is, it's not that." The aura of mystery surrounding the show is only making me more excited – and it's also dialling my speculation up to eleven.


Keep up with the galaxy far, far away with our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows.