REASON: That Andor the series will explore a new perspective from Star wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make. The series unfolds the story of the budding rebellion against the Empire and how humans and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deceit and intrigue, where Cassian will embark on the path destined to make him a rebel hero.
REVIEW: After the lackluster reception of The Rise of SkywalkerLucasfilm has had great success with its small screen Star wars projects on Disney+. From The Mandalorian and The book about Boba Fett to the latest Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, fans have been treated to a lot of new material they never thought they’d see in a galaxy far, far away. The latest Star wars the series is Andor starring Diego Luna. Repeats his role from Rogue oneAndor is a curious series as it is spun off from a very divisive one Star wars feature film and follows a character that not many fans were interested in seeing more of. But with acclaimed writer Tony Gilroy on board for a limited two-season engagement, Andor must prove that it has a reason to exist. While the production values are the best we’ve yet seen from a Disney+ Star wars series, Andor starts out as an overwhelmingly dull entry in the franchise before picking up steam over four episodes.
Set five years before the events of Rogue One, Andor drops us into Cassion Andor’s (Diego Luna) days before the rebellion. We meet him hiding on the planet Morlana One, which is controlled by the Preox Corporation, a mining company with a militaristic security force. When Cassian finds himself implicated in the deaths of two Preox security officers, his life changes forever. The early episodes of the series weave Cassian evading authorities looking for him as a suspect with flashbacks to his childhood and what led him on his journey far from home. We quickly meet his close friend Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), who is one of the few people who know his true identity, and Maarva (Fiona Shaw), a mother figure in Cassian’s life who helps hide him while he is looking for his missing sister. It is through Maarva and Bix that Cassian comes into contact with Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard), a leader in the budding rebellion.
At the same time, we also spend a lot of time on two antagonistic characters. Syril, played by Kyle Soller, works for Preox and is determined to find Cassian Andor and bring him to justice. The parallels between Preox and the Empire are very clear, and it seems Syril’s eventual indoctrination is a foregone conclusion. The second is Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) beginning her investigation into Andor and the rebellion while also trying to prove her suspicions true to Imperial officers who refuse to believe anyone could stop their progress. Both Syril and Dedra are intriguing antagonists and show an angle to the Empire’s hierarchy that we haven’t really seen Star wars Before. Even though I’ve only seen the first four episodes, it’s somewhat confusing why so much time is spent on both characters. At the same time, we have a few scenes with Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) that give a very different perspective to her story in the earliest days of her turn against the powers that be. O’Reilly never got to do so much in his film appearances Revenge of the Sithand Rogue one but from what she brings to this show, I would have been intrigued to see a series all about Mon Mothma.
Andor will premiere in three episodes on Disney+, and for good reason. When I watched the first four episodes, I felt that the story takes way too long to get going and only starts to pick up in the last minutes of the third episode. The opening three chapters spend quite a bit of time informing us of the power structure of the Preox Corporation, which feels like a good buy container empire. Following Cassian Andor as he evades Preox officers and commits petty crimes is a bit boring to watch and only gets exciting when Stellan Skarsgard arrives. Skarsgard gives a great performance as mentor to Andor, acting as a mix of Woody Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett from Solo: A Star Wars Story with a little Qui-Gon Jinn thrown in for good measure. The relationship between Andor and Luthen is only teased in these early episodes, but his very presence elevates this series greatly. It’s not until the fourth episode that the real rebellion side of the story takes shape and left me feeling like the first three hours could have been streamlined into a single episode.
Fourth episode of Andor finally switches the story to another mode and is also the first chapter directed by Susanna White. The first three are directed by Toby Haynes, who directed half of the season. White’s direction definitely picks up the pace a bit and feels more like Star wars but it remains to be seen how her other two episodes will fare as well as the three directed by Benjamin Caron. The fourth episode is also where Tony Gilroy handed over the script to his brother, Dan. Tony Gilroy wrote a total of five episodes, Dan Gilroy wrote three, with Stephen Schiff contributing one and House of cards creator Beau Willimon drafting the remaining three. With a great score by Nicholas Britell, Andor succeeds in giving us an angle Star warsuniverse we have never seen before. There is a great level of detail in this series and production values that exceed even what we looked at Obi-Wan Kenobi but I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing from this series that’s holding it back from feeling exciting at the very least.
As a fan of Star wars franchise, including prequels and sequels, I’ve found something to appreciate in every series released on Disney+ so far. There is a lot of potential in it Andor which I can see looking through in this first third of the season. I love Diego Luna’s dedication to fleshing out his character’s life story, and there are some compelling supporting performances here, but I often wondered if this series chose the wrong focal point to explore the origins of the rebellion against the Empire. Tony Gilroy has certainly taken some creative challenges in making this a grounded and gritty look at the Star Wars universe, but it also seems to miss the heart of what makes George Lucas’ franchise so exciting to watch. I’ll reserve final judgment on Andor until I’ve had a chance to watch the entire 12-episode season, but based on what I’ve seen, I’m disappointed.Andor is good but should have been great and I may be more generous than I should be.
Andorpremiered with three episodes on Disney+ on September 21.