REVIEW – “Andor”

Note: This is a review of episodes 1-4 of the show.

As the Star Wars universe expands onto Disney+ with countless shows being produced every year, Andor surprisingly feels like a breath of fresh-air for the franchise. I say surprisingly because Rogue One, a film that I deeply enjoyed and find gets better upon repeat viewings, has as definitive of an ending for those characters as you can get – Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) especially. Even though Andor was announced to be a prequel for the character we met in Rogue One, I was still trepidatious to see how the series would justify an entire show based around a guy whose fate we have already witnessed. And yet, from the moment the show begins with its slick cinematography, a serious tone, and a truly impressive production design, it simply feels… right. The opening sequence finds Cassian Andor walking into a seedy bar, sleuthing for information – it reminded me of his best scene in Rogue One, where he shoots a man in the back directly after getting the information he needs from him. You see the pain and conflicted emotions in his eyes but simply moves on both because of the urgency of his mission and because he knows if he ponders on his actions too long he might not like what he finds; and Andor taps into these morally grey themes right off the bat.

The show (from the episodes I’ve seen so far) take place roughly five years before Rogue One and A New Hope – The Rebel Alliance is far from being fully formed, and Andor especially is far away from the man we know from Rogue One. One of the most interesting dynamics of his character this time around is his blatant rage and disgust towards the Empire, but without the Rebellion, he simply has no good use for all these feelings. With a film like Rogue One, it’s hard to give a standout performance due to such a large ensemble, regardless of how good or interesting a character is; so it’s nice to see Diego Luna get a lot more material to chew on here. It genuinely feels like the show is committed to being a character study opposed to a fan-service show that is concerned with connecting the dots between other shows and films in the universe.

Another thing that helps the show feel immediately distinct from the rest is how lived in every planet and city we visit feels. While I think most Star Wars productions, between both the recent films and Disney+ shows, have done a great job at keeping the tradition of practical effects and building sets – there’s something about Andor that feels even grander in scale for what it’s trying to accomplish in terms of practicality. The show makes an effort to show the lives and inner-workings of a working-class city that Andor is trying to blend into and build a life within. From the sets, to the various species, droids, buildings, vehicles, weapons, etc.. it just feels so genuinely alive and creative in a way that Star Wars always should be. All of these aspects help make the action feel all the more enthralling and tense when everything comes ahead; it truly makes all the difference.

Disney+ is releasing the first three episodes on September 21st, and I think that’s a very wise choice as these three episodes flow together perfectly. The third episode in particular feels like a great jumping-off point for the rest of the series to follow-suit with. The fourth episode got me genuinely excited for what the rest of the series has to offer, setting up an exciting arc for the rest of the season. While four episodes might be a lot to ask from some people who may or may not be on board with the character development and world-building of the earlier episodes, those who are on the same wave-length of the show and appreciate great character work will be happy to hear that Andor delivers big time. From what I’ve seen so far, it has a very clear focus on its story, themes, and characters – while also delivering some truly impressive action, solid cinematography, and unique world-building. I know it’s early, but I’d rank it alongside The Mandalorian as not only the best Disney+ Star Wars series, but their best original programming thus far.


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