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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 8

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 8: Previously On

“What is grief, if not love persevering.” Vision’s poignant line in Previously On encapsulates the complex themes and raw emotions explored in this week’s heartfelt episode of WandaVision. Previously On lives up to its title in providing a touching trek through Wanda’s trauma-filled past, while offering insight into the origins and motivations of the series’ villain Agatha Harkness. 

This week’s episode marked a departure from the established structure of the series by shifting away from the sitcom elements and the adventures of Monica’s team, instead opting for a more intimate focus on the show’s lead. Indeed, Previously On was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. Not only to see the horrors Wanda has experienced in her life, but to watch our titular character relive them was both disturbing and touching in an uncanny way. The beautiful moments with the Maximoff family highlight what could have been for Wanda and Pietro, in addition to (finally) explaining the sitcom influence on the Hex.

The pinnacle of the episode’s touching sequences, however, came with a conversation between Wanda and Vision at the Avengers Compound. In the MCU films, little time is actually spent on Wanda and Vision’s relationship, relative to the grander plot mechanics at work. As such, we only get to see glimpses of their intimacy and love for one another in the films. WandaVision has elevated the Wanda-Vision bond immensely, perhaps most evident in this scene in Previously On. Wanda’s grief and turmoil is palpable, truly brought to life by yet-again another stunning performance from Elizabeth Olsen. Paul Bettany deftly plays Vision as he captures the robotic nature of his character, while conveying such empathy and care for a woman he is beginning to love. This scene more than any other emphasized the strength of Wanda and Vision’s relationship and, in turn, the immense grief Wanda felt upon losing Vision.

Coupled with its series of touching moments, Previously On was filled to the brim with revelations and explanations. In fact, it’s quite commendable that the writers and director were able to assemble an episode that packs in so much emotion, while simultaneously delivering so much information in a manner that feels natural and not like an exposition dump. The explanations/revelations kick off with the episode’s first scene, showcasing Agatha Harkness’ evil origins. A departure from the comics, we see Agatha be punished for the misuse of her magical powers by her fellow coven members, before she unleashes her dark magic upon them and kills them all. After last week’s revelation that is was “Agatha All Along,” (the song is still stuck in our heads), Agatha’s true motivations were uncovered in Previously On as it was revealed that she infiltrated the Hex to learn how Wanda managed to wield such extraordinary power and create this world. While we’re not exactly sure what Agatha wants to do upon learning Wanda’s power, we suspect she’s up to no good.

With the emotional moments adding layers to Wanda’s character, so did the reveal that Wanda had latent abilities. Although not explicitly stated, Avengers: Age of Ultron suggests that Wanda and Pietro acquired powers upon HYDRA experimentation, which, as revealed in this week’s episode, is only partially true. Wanda had some predisposition to magic powers, before these abilities were enhanced by an infinity stone. This definitely changes the way we view Wanda throughout the series and also has implications regarding inborn abilities of human characters. Are Wanda’s innate abilities suggestive of her being a mutant? Are other people around the world like her in sharing unique powers? 

The episode’s concluding moments set up WandaVision’s season finale perfectly. After various films and episodes, we finally get our first mention of Wanda’s superhero title – The Scarlet Witch. It appears that this is some type of prophesied, legendary powerful being that Agatha believes Wanda is. The brief visual preview of Wanda in her classic Scarlet Witch costume was one of the series’ most impressive visuals yet and has us excited for the time when we get to see this costume in the flesh. 

Akin to last week’s episode, we once again got a post-credits scene this week, adding yet another layer of complexity to things. All Wanda wanted to do was grieve in peace in this artificial world she conjured, but she can’t achieve the peace she desires for multiple reasons. While Agatha poses a mystical, superpowered threat, Hayward and SWORD are a more technological menace as we see the live-action debut of White Vision in Previously On. This sets the stage nicely for the episode to come as we’re likely to see a Vision vs. Vision battle, in addition to the resolution of the conflict between Agatha and Wanda and a set-up for upcoming MCU films.

Verdict: 9/10

After last week’s somewhat stuttering episode, WandaVision returned with a bang with Previously On. Delivering the series’ most emotionally impactful and intimate moments yet, episode 8 also pulls the curtain back on what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of Wanda’s past, Agatha’s motivations, and the nature of Westview. All of this set the stage nicely for next week’s finale.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Victory’s Price

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The post-Return of the Jedi era has been fleshed out across a number of projects in different mediums, including the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Given the wealth of content inhabiting this transitional phase in the galaxy, it’s a testament to author Alexander Freed that his Alphabet Squadron trilogy stands apart as being some of the most emotionally resonant and impactful Star Wars content in this era and even the franchise more broadly in recent years. This is further showcased in Del Rey’s Victory’s Price, Freed’s concluding installment in the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. 

Victory’s Price follows the events of Shadow Fall and the shocking twist regarding the series’ lead character Yrica Quell. The galaxy is still reeling from the Emperor’s Operation Cinder, plummeting the galaxy into turmoil. The 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, a.k.a. Shadow Wing, have strengthened significantly since they first emerged in Alphabet Squadron. Led by Colonel Soran Keize, Shadow Wing once again go head-to-head with Alphabet Squadron in a conflict that is both intriguing and emotional.

Victory’s Price continues the tradition of its predecessors in really offering insight into what it is like to live in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor and be enveloped in the subsequent conflict. Yes, we see how the Empire ‘fell’ in Return of the Jedi, but it’s canon content like Victory’s Price or Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy that puts the audience in the shoes of people actually living through these events. Freed excels at this grounded, introspective storytelling and doesn’t restrict such a perspective to just the New Republic in also highlighting the perspectives of the antagonists.

This style of writing is best showcased whenever Yrica Quell takes centerstage. We really felt invested in Yrica’s moral conflict and warring sense of duties. Yrica is unlike many Star Wars protagonists we are exposed to as she’s more withdrawn and temperamental than others. This has made Yrica standout throughout the Alphabet Squadron trilogy and especially in this final installment.

The improvement of Victory’s Price over its predecessors is perhaps most evident when looking at the novel’s antagonists, in particular Soran Keize. The initial Alphabet Squadron novel provides a somewhat shaky characterization of the trilogy’s villains, but this issue has been ameliorated with both Shadow Fall and now Victory’s Price. Tonally, Victory’s Price is more akin to Shadow Fall than Alphabet Squadron, which is another advantage it has. Shadow Fall followed in the footsteps of The Empire Strikes Back in adopting a darker, nuanced tone relative to the more colorful Alphabet Squadron. Victory’s Price seems to blend the tones of Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Fall really well with plenty of levity that never detracts from the emotional weight or stakes of the plot.

Verdict:

Alexander Freed concludes his Alphabet Squadron in stunning fashion with Victory’s Price. The novel continues to flesh out the post-Return of the Jedi era by offering unique characterizations of figures on both sides of the morally ambiguous conflict. Exciting action, impactful emotional setpieces and decisions, and interesting easter eggs and references are abound in Freed’s novel and make us highly recommend it to Star Wars eager to engross themselves in a relatable, poignant tale in a galaxy far, far away.

Victory’s Price will release on March 2.

Image courtesy of Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 7

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 7: Breaking the Fourth Wall

It was Agatha all along. Amidst an expertly executed, intriguing plot twist, we can safely say that episode 7’s concluding song will likely be stuck in our heads for weeks to come. WandaVision continued in good form this week, plummeting viewers into a modern sitcom a la The Office or Modern Family. As Monica and her team try to safely defuse the situation inside the Hex, Wanda begins to grow disillusioned and Vision teams up with Darcy, all while an ominous threat operates in the background.

Compared to the last few episodes, Breaking the Fourth Wall seemed to stutter a bit in terms of its pacing and sitcom-leanings. Regarding the latter, the feel of a documentary was well executed in simulating shows like The Office, but made the episode feel at times choppy and stop-start. The edits, handheld camera movement, and monologues spoken directly to the camera (hence the episode’s title) simply don’t work as well as when WandaVision has leaned into aspects of sitcoms from other eras.

Similar to episode 6, Breaking the Fourth Wall balanced three central characters this week in Wanda, Vision, and Monica, but this time with varying degrees of success. This may be due to the fact that, at barely over 30 minutes without credits, the episode doesn’t quite linger long enough on any one character or storyline. Indeed, when the episode draws to a close, it leaves you wanting more, partly due to all that the show does well, but also because the episode felt as if it needed more meat on the bones. 

This isn’t to say, however, that WandaVision didn’t yet again deliver a really entertaining, intriguing, and ominous episode. Vision’s team-up with Darcy was interesting and led to a lot of good banter and back-and-forth dialogue. The concept of a character like Darcy recapping the events of the Infinity Saga to Vision was funny, especially as we saw Vision try to put the pieces together and Darcy downplay the stakes and severity of the Snap. The journey of Monica this week wasn’t as enthralling as previous weeks, despite Teyonah Parris’ excellent performance as the character. The mysterious emergence of Monica’s powers, however, make for an intriguing talking point moving forward in the series. And, after a scene-stealing performance as Pietro, Evan Peters’ return as Quicksilver was missed this week (albeit for a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a post-credits scene).

Meanwhile, Wanda’s journey diverged from her ‘happily-ever-after’ reality of previous episodes as she struggled with the idea of Vision uncovering the truth of Westview and wanting to leave, in addition to unpredictable anomalies occurring all around her. Elizabeth Olsen once again excels in the role she has truly made her own over the course of her journey in the MCU so far. It’s incredible to see Olsen’s performance both subtly and overtly shift gears each episode as both the sitcom era and Wanda’s emotional state change. Olsen jaw-droppingly switches from a character in a sitcom to a traumatized, grieving woman with such delicacy that each episode warrants repeat viewing simply to absorb the actress’ skills on display.

We’ve saved the best for last, however, as Kathryn Hahn completely stole the show this week with her performance as Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha Harkness (!!!). Yes, Agnes was finally revealed as a classic, sinister character after much fan speculation. The writers of WandaVision played this twist very well by almost making it seem too obvious over the last few episodes that Agnes had sinister motives, in turn making the audience think this wouldn’t come to fruition. With two episodes still to go, we’re sure that there are going to be layers added to this reveal, but, for the time being, it was brilliant both in theory and in execution. For fans of the comics, Agatha Harkness has a long history dating back to Fantastic Four comics in the 1970s. Harkness’ inclusion has a number of implications for the broader, ominous nature of WandaVision, including characters like Nicholas Scratch and the Salem Seven. Regardless of one’s prior comics knowledge, the execution of this twist was superb. Wanda’s mysterious trek down into Agnes’ dark basement already sparked some suspicions, and when Agnes’ true identity was revealed, Hahn shines. The montage that follows is both humorous in fitting into the broader aesthetic of the show, but also insidious in highlighting the extent to which Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha, was operating in the background. This balance of humor and insidiousness has been one of the hallmarks of WandaVision so far, and this twist really emphasized that.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Despite some shortcomings in regards to choppy pacing and integration of this week’s sitcom theme, Breaking the Fourth Wall was yet again a great episode of WandaVision. The Disney+ series continues to reveal aspects of the mystery slowly but surely and brilliantly balances its sitcom structure and ominous undertones, making us excited to see how the events in Westview unfold in the final two episodes. 

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE: Charles Soule Interview Excerpt from Star Wars Insider 200

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Titan Magazines recently released Star Wars Insider 200, a hallmark issue of the acclaimed Star Wars magazine. Coupled with the issue’s main piece, 200 Reasons Why We Love Star Wars (a fitting article to commemorate such an event in the magazine’s history), Star Wars Insider 200 also features an interview with Charles Soule, author of works such as The Rise of Kylo Ren, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, and, most recently, The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi. 

Included here is an exclusive excerpt and spread from Charles Soule’s insightful interview with Amy Richau in Star Wars Insider 200:

Charles Soule’s Star Wars journey began while he was practicing law—first at a large firm in Manhattan doing corporate law, and later focusing on immigration law at his own practice. The transition from lawyer to writer didn’t happen overnight. “I found my work very rewarding, and things were going well, but I always knew I wanted a life based in creativity,” explains Soule. “So, on the side, in my tiny bits of spare time, I wrote. First, a novel (which remains unpublished, maybe for the best) and then comics. I started to get traction in comics after four or five years of learning the craft and the business, and around four years later I started writing Swamp Thing for DC Comics—that was my first big gig in comics, and it led somewhat rapidly to work at Marvel, where I signed an exclusive contract for four more years. During that time, I put out some creator-owned comics featuring my own characters, and two novels, The Oracle Year and Anyone. Somewhere in there, Star Wars came calling.”

When Marvel re-launched Star Wars comics in 2015 with the flagship Star Wars title, Darth Vader, Soule reached out to Marvel editor Jordan White to let him know he was interested in writing a new Star Wars story. “I pitched for two characters: Palpatine and Lando. It could have gone either way, but I ended up writing for Lando, and I’m glad I did. I love that book, and it led to so much more.”

Now, Soule is one of five writers behind an ambitious publishing program initially dubbed Project Luminous, set in an era 200 years prior to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999).

The High Republic opens with Soule’s novel, Light of the Jedi, which centers around a catastrophe in hyperspace. “I was just really fortunate,” says Soule of the opportunity to pen the first release. “I’d come off some very high-profile, challenging Star Wars gigs that had done well (Vader and The Rise of Kylo Ren, in particular), and I think that helped in terms of giving Lucasfilm the confidence that I could introduce The High Republic to the world. I love writing novels, and I had a clear vision for what I thought Light of the Jedi could be. This can be a challenging, complex job, but it’s been very rewarding to create all these new ideas. I’m very proud of the book.”

Read the full interview and the second part of Soule’s The High Republic short story in Star Wars Insider #200 – on sale NOW!

And check out this great deal on Star Wars Insider:

8 issues for $47.99 – saving 40% on the newsstand price! Just click the link: https://bit.ly/36FjF1t

Images courtesy of Titan Magazines

Interview “Soule Man” conducted by Amy Richau for Star Wars Insider

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 6

by @holocronGeorge for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 6: All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

After last week’s bombshell, surprise ending, WandaVision continues its strong run as it shifts to a late 1990s/early 2000s setting where the mystery continues to unravel. The episode, aptly titled All-New Halloween Spooktacular, follows Halloween night in Westview as Wanda and her children grow accustomed to the unexpected arrival of Uncle Pietro. Meanwhile, Vision and agents of SWORD continue to question what’s really going on in this too-good-to-be-true town.

Akin to On a Very Special Episode…, Wandavision’s sixth episode excels in striking a perfect balance between the ominous, David Lynch-esque mystery of Westview and the team outside of the Hex trying to discover what’s really going on. Relatively speaking, it’s still the happenings of Westview that are most interesting, but the team of Monica Rambeau, Darcy Lewis, and Jimmy Woo continue to be great to see and offer a nice juxtaposition to the characters inside the Hex. Little hints throughout the last few episodes hint at a potentially rocky relationship between Monica and Carol Danvers, something we’re excited to explore in Captain Marvel 2.

Into Westview and the episode really kicks into gear. Director Matt Shakman and writers Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron brilliantly capture the feel of 1990s/2000s family sitcoms, especially the brilliant Malcolm in the Middle. The Halloween setting also adds another layer to a visually impressive episode. Evan Peters’ performance as Pietro heavily leans into the 90s tone of this episode. 

Speaking of Peters, it’s really jaw-dropping to watch this unexpected convergence of the MCU and Fox Marvel films come to life. In a show already full of intrigue, the recasting of Pietro adds another layer to this mystery. Why does Pietro look different? Is he secretly a villain in disguise? Why does he have insight into Wanda’s creation of the Hex? And why does he seem intent on knowing how she created this world? The intrigue of these questions highlights one of the strengths of WandaVision so far in that so much is kept from the audience’s awareness. We are now 6 episodes into a 9 episode season and, beyond the series’ foundational premise, know very little of what’s happening under the surface and what events will unfold. It’s a testament to the weekly rollout of episodes as audiences can theorize week-to-week as we are slowly given more and more information about what’s really going on.

The way in which the mystery unfolded this week was largely through the lens of Paul Bettany’s Vision. Donned in his classic comic book costume, Vision’s suspicions about Westview grew exponentially in this episode and culminated in him actually breaching beyond Wanda’s conjured world. This sparked an intense conclusion to the episode as Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda recognizes that something is off in her idyllic world and quickly seeks to intervene. The full breadth of Wanda’s power is on display as she expands the Hex more and more, highlighting now more than ever just how powerful (and dangerous) Wanda can be. The prophesied threat she posed in Captain America: Civil War seems to slowly becoming an unfortunate reality in WandaVision.

It’s impossible to review the latest WandaVision episode without noting the superbly complex and nuanced performances of the show’s titular characters, in particular Elizabeth Olsen. Olsen deftly plays the role of a sitcom wife and mother, but, with only a few subtle changes to her performance, makes it abundantly clear that she has turned to her ‘real’ self again. The way in which Olsen captures extreme grief and sadness in an episode that largely plays like an episode of Malcolm in the Middle showcases what an extraordinary performance the actress is delivering week after week. 

Verdict: 8.75/10

WandaVision yet again continued to impress, now with an episode that perfectly captures the feel of classic 1990s/2000s sitcom series. The Halloween setting adds a great aesthetic to an already ominous episode that makes us eager to discover what’s going to happen next.

Images courtesy of Disney+ & Marvel Studios

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Star Wars Holocron

Celebrating the 200th Issue of Star Wars Insider

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Star Wars Insider’s 200th Edition is out now! 

This special issue features a variety of interesting sections, including exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of Star Wars projects as the reveal their love for the franchise and what it means to them. Also featured is a behind the scenes look of Star Wars Stories, an interview with The High Republic author Charles Soule, part 2 of Insider’s exclusive The High Republic story, and Anthony Daniels’ ‘Wonder Column’, a reprisal of the section that appeared in the early early editions of the magazine.

Star Wars Insider began in 1987 as Lucasfilm Fan Club, an issue in which creator George Lucas wrote a letter to fans of the franchise. In it, Lucas stated: “Ten years ago, when Star Wars premiered, I never dreamed that I would be writing a letter to members of a Lucasfilm Fan Club. What a decade this has been.” Also featured in this issue was an exclusive look at Willow (which is now getting a sequel series at Disney+) and an interview with Anthony Daniels.

The magazine was renamed to Star Wars Insider in the fall of 1994, in an issue that featured Sir Alec Guinness on the cover and included interviews with Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker. Insider has gone on to cover the release of the prequel and sequel trilogies, along with spin-off films Rogue One and Solo.

Images courtesy of Titan Magazines & Star Wars Insider

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 5

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 5: On A Very Special Episode…

And just like that, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is changed forever. WandaVision’s fifth episode, aptly titled “On A Very Special Episode…,” sees the series fuse together the sitcom, dream-like structure of its first three episodes with the mystery unraveling nature of its fourth episode. In doing so, WandaVision delivered its best, most unpredictable and intriguing chapter yet.

The structure of the episode is a good place to kick things off given that this has been somewhat of a point of contention among select viewers. Some found WandaVision’s first three episodes to be a bit meandering, a criticism we most certainly did not buy into. Conversely, WandaVision’s fourth episode shifted the focus almost entirely away from its titular characters in exchange for a more by-the-books installment that began to unravel the mystery of Westview. Despite us absolutely loving everything to do with WandaVision so far, “On A Very Special Episode…” felt like the show had came alive in new and uncanny ways. Director Matt Shakman and writers Peter Cameron and Mackenzie Dohr deftly navigate the fifth episode in providing plenty of the weird and plenty of the grounded. 

Let’s start with the weird. Everything in Westview seems happy-go-lucky, but there is always something ominous lurking under the surface. Wanda and Vision’s children voluntarily grow at an alarming rate. Agnes breaks character, asking Wanda if she should “start from the top.” Vision seeing into Norm’s terrified, trapped mind. This latter point provides yet another big, confirmatory reveal for the series as it is finally and explicitly revealed that Wanda is in control of Westview and all of its inhabitants. 

Back in the real world, SWORD and the FBI work on uncovering the secrets of the fake reality that Wanda has conjured. After uncovering that Wanda stole Vision’s dead corpse just days prior in order to create this world, the agents send a drone into the world, angering Wanda enough to make her come outside and confront them. This, coupled with the prior reveal of Wanda controlling Westview’s citizens, really made Wanda feel like the show’s villain in an interesting and unnerving way. Wanda’s confrontation of the SWORD agents is reminiscent of Ian McKellen’s Magneto in the original X-Men film, and Elizabeth Olsen’s performance in this scene certainly evokes the villainy of her comic book character’s father. The subtle return of Wanda’s Sokovian accent and her change in outfit marks a stark contrast to the idyllic character we see in Westview (a.k.a. The Hex). Wanda looks disturbed, grieving with the loss of a man she loved dearly and the trauma of losing her brother and parents before that. Now more than ever, we’re getting a glimpse into Wanda’s rationale for creating Westview as a way to live her ideal life with Vision and slowly discovering more about the extent to which WandaVision is a show about dealing with grief and trauma in destructive ways.

After warning the agents to not enter Westview again, Wanda returns home to find that Sparky has died, prompting Tommy and Billy to ask their mom if she can revive him, knowing that she has full control and power to do so. Vision finds this suspicious yet again. He eventually confronts Wanda a few minutes later, revealing he knows that she controls Westview.

We don’t have much of an opportunity to see this heated conversation pan out further, however, as the door knocks and one of the MCU’s biggest “holy crap” moments yet. Not only is Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver knocking on the door, BUT Pietro is played by none other than Evan Peters, reprising his role as the character from the Fox series of X-Men films. This cracks the entire MCU open in a way even bigger than J.K. Simmons appearance as a reworked J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The explanations for Peters’ appearance are endless. Is it as simple as Aaron Taylor-Johnson being recast? Is this some merger of the Fox X-Men films and the MCU? Or is this akin to Simmons in Far From Home? Is this really Quicksilver, or someone insidious in disguise? The possibilities are endless, but for the time being we’re just beyond excited and surprised to see Evan Peters in this role again. Peters has been one of the highlights in the last several X-Men films, highlighted by two incredible slow-motion action sequences in Days of Future Past and Apocalypse. So, the prospect of getting more of this version of the character is not only exciting for WandaVision, but the MCU more broadly. All in all, we’re extremely impressed.

Verdict: 9.5/10

WandaVision stunned with its best episode yet as we were delighted to see more sitcom weirdness coupled with plenty of intriguing reveals along the way. Elizabeth Olsen excels in perhaps her best performance in the MCU yet, subtly shifting from sitcom housewife to a mourning superpowered being. The episode’s concluding moments are sure to change the landscape of the MCU for better and we cannot wait to see what that entails as WandaVision heads into its last few episodes.

Images courtesy of Disney+ & Marvel Studios

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Star Wars Holocron

Why We’re Excited for The Acolyte

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

With a slew of interesting Star Wars projects on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement as we eagerly anticipate shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, and, of course, the next season of The Mandalorian, amongst others. But one of the shows that particularly has our attention is one that has been seldom spoken about, relative to the other gargantuan projects in development. And that is The Acolyte, a new female-centric Disney+ series in development by writer and executive producer Leslye Headland. So why are we so excited about The Acolyte?

Headland leading the way

In recent years, Star Wars has attracted some incredibly talented writers and directors to helm projects and it looks like that tradition is continuing with Leslye Headland’s work on The Acolyte. The writer and director hit it out of the park recently with her Netflix series Russian Doll. For anyone who has not caught this show, definitely give it a watch. It’s eight 30 minute episodes that feel like a mix between Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, and The Good Place. With her work on Russian Doll, Headland demonstrated that she not only has a steady hand behind the camera, but is capable of writing clever and quirky dialogue and narratives that would fit perfectly into the Star Wars universe. The twinges of sci-fi sprinkled throughout Russian Doll also lay the groundwork for Headland to tackle a galaxy far, far away.

Headland is a Star Wars fan and made a great comment at The Rise of Skywalker premiere when asked about her favorite Star Wars film. Headland said to Variety, “I’m the type of Star Wars fan that doesn’t have a favorite movie, I just want to live in the universe of Star Wars continually, in perpetuity forever. So, when people are like, ‘What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?’ I’m like, ‘There is no Star Wars movie, only Star Wars.’” That definitely seems like the kind of person who understands Star Wars to perfection.

Adventures in The High Republic

Another reason we’re excited for what Headland has in store for The Acolyte is the series’ place in canon. At Disney Investor Day, Kathleen Kennedy revealed that the series will be set during the last days of the High Republic.This means The Acolyte is likely to be the first live-action depiction of this new era in galactic history. As the High Republic continues to be developed in great novels and comics, it’s interesting to ponder what it will look like when captured in a television show. 

In an interview with Fantastic Frankey, Headland stated, regarding her upcoming series, “I would say it’s in a pocket of the universe and a pocket of the timeline that we don’t know much about….I’d like to think of my show as a tent revival. You can come over if you want to. We’re going to be talking about some cool stuff.” 

The dark side of the Force is a pathway…

Perhaps the thing that has most captured our attention about The Acolyte is its focus on the dark side. The Acolyte’s official description states that the show is “a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.”

This sentence alone leads to quite a bit of speculation. For starters, the show is described as a mystery-thriller. The Mandalorian is very much a Western series. Rogue One is very much a heist film. It’s great when Star Wars leans into genre a little bit and Headland once again leaning into the mystery genre, but now within the Star Wars realm, sounds really cool. 

The exploration of “shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers” also catches our eye. In canon, the dark side is largely restricted to more sideline roles, in exchange for a primary focus on light side characters. It seems that The Acolyte will break from tradition in this regard by turning the focus toward characters who are traditionally conceived of as villains. 

If we begin to combine some of these pieces together and do a bit of Star Wars timeline mathematics, that’s where The Acolyte becomes even more intriguing. We know the series focuses on the dark side AND is a female-centric show. Immediately, our minds go to the Nightsisters. But, the mention of a series about the dark side set “in the final days of the High Republic era” also gets us thinking about Palpatine. The High Republic era concludes as the Fall of the Republic begins with The Phantom Menace. We know that, in the years leading up to The Phantom Menace, Palpatine was working behind the scenes to conquer the Republic. In this sense, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a show about dark side powers during this time doesn’t touch upon Palpatine and maybe even his master Plageuis.

Time will tell…

Not much is known of The Acolyte currently, but everything we’re heard so far has us excited. A female-centric Star Wars project like this is long overdue and Leslye Headland seems like the perfect choice to take the franchise in this direction. A live-action series depicting the High Republic era and dark side powers also have us intrigued and are sure to contribute to a lot of fan speculation in the coming months. Time will tell how The Acolyte eventually pans out, but we certainly have our hopes up.

Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, & Los Angeles Times