Andor offers rich new approach to telling a Star Wars story | TV/streaming

The first season of “Andor” takes place five years before the action of “Rogue One,” and its twelve episodes from the first season will reportedly unfold over about a year for its titular character, with the second and final season filling in the remaining four more year. Diego Luna returns as Cassian Andor in a show that feels structured to reveal how he became an important figure in the Rebel Alliance. How does an ordinary guy become a central part of a revolution? Prequels often just repeat familiar details and fill in gaps with easter eggs instead of character, but the creator Tony Gilroy (that “Michael Clayton” writer who co-wrote “Rogue One” returns to write the series) is more interested in a nuanced birth story for a revolutionary. History often records only the major events, but how the people involved got to that point can be just as fascinating.

Don’t get me wrong, the Andor of this show is already on the brink of saving the universe, having fought the rebellion for years, but the tone of the premiere is more of a noir than a sci-fi action epic. This Andor is more of a drifter than a leader, someone whose life has been dismantled by the Empire but not yet radicalized to fight back. The opening episodes center on a classic MacGuffin, a box stolen from the Empire and sold by Andor, but not as important as what it means and what its possession does to the characters around them. It’s an item that Andor tries to pawn to secure transportation that attracts the attention of the Empire and brings him deeper into a conflict that will include new characters played by Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough, Kyle Sollerand Fiona Shawalong with known as Forest Whitaker‘s Saw Gerrera and Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma. Alex Lawther (“The End of the F** King World”) and Ebon-Moss Bachrach (“The bear”) appears in the fourth episode, as Andor becomes more entrenched in a building revolution, and the series opens up even more. Tony Gilroy hands over writing duties to his brother Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”) for sections four through six and Toby Haynes (“Black Mirror: USS Callister”) controls the first three episodes before the lightsaber is passed to Susanna White (“End of Parade”).

It’s quite the pedigree cast and crew for any show, and the dedication to craftsmanship of the team assembled to bring “Andor” to life pays off. Luna is particularly good and never overplays the pretentious possibilities of a future hero. He clearly sees this as a character study that happens to take place in space rather than part of a growing canon, and that realism grounds the entire play. It’s also a show with strikingly strong visual compositions that take into account elements like lighting, character placement in the frame, and production design in ways that genre TV often ignores. Even the score is richer and more distinct than many Disney+ shows, and the editing is tighter.

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