Review: ANDOR Has the Potential to be One of the Best STAR WARS Series So Far
Five years before a ragtag band of rebels stole the plans to the first Death Star during the Battle of Scarif one of the heroes of the day, Cassian Andor, was scraping together a living on the planet of Ferrix. He’s a bit of a swindler, a mover and shaker, owing money and cutting deals as he walks the streets. Among other things he is looking to offload a piece of stolen Imperial tech so he can get off-planet and continue on a personal quest. His exploits draw the unwanted attention of the authorities.
Events on another planet, Morlana One, introduce us to the ambitious deputy inspector from Corporate Security, Syril Karn, who insists on investigating a deadly incident that will lead him to Andor. That piece of stolen Imperial tech grabs the attention of Dedra Meero, a supervisor of the Imperial Security Bureau. Someone else is also interested in that piece of stolen tech, but not what it is but who stole it, Cassian Andor.
The first three episodes that premiere this week serve as an (re)introduction to Cassian Andor, at his life on the planet of Ferrix where the story of this series begins. We also go looking into Cassian’s past on the planet of Kenari, the story of his youth which ties in to his present personal quest and motivation to get off Ferrix. As Star Wars is wont to do, there is a lot of planet hopping as various players are brought into play.
When we first heard that there would be a whole three-episode premiere this Wednesday we were a bit surprised. That’s one quarter of your planned first season, done and used up. As we said in the previous paragraph, the first three episodes are used to (re)introduce us to Cassian. Honestly, that is a long time to commit to just one piece of your puzzle, important and central as they may be. One wonders if the showrunners realized they'd drawn out the set up a tad too long and decided it best to get all three episodes out and out of the way before drawing the ire of the online community. Telling your backstory and setup over three episodes (it could have been weeks) is a long time.
You’ve also not yet brought all of the key players into the mix yet nor have you really given us the kind of Star Wars action that fans expect - just one very good set piece at the end of the third episode. If you’re a “Lasers, Eight o’clock, Day one!” kind of person you’re likely to be a touch impatient with it. The action picks up at the end of episode three, in time to get this ball rolling and open Andor to the bigger conflict, the rebellion against the Empire.
Thankfully, we were also allowed to watch the fourth episode of the series. We didn’t want our review to say, ‘Skip to the end’ but episode four is where Andor really begins to open up the story and introduce us to more of the players in the series. Here is our first appearance of Mon Mothma and we learn about the clandestine life that Luthean Real leads on Coruscant. We also
see Dedra Meero, that supervisor from the Imperial Security Bureau. If you had to wait four weeks just for all these players to finally make an appearance, well, it would have certainly been talked about.
The worlds of Ferrix, Kenari, even Morlana One are like Jedha City in Rogue One, the type of Star Wars that gets ground into your clothing and caked under your fingernails. Production design has never been an issue for Lucasfilm and Disney. They’ve got some of the best creators in the world on their payroll. Of course, in contrast the Coruscant and Imperial locations are clean, sterile and immaculate. There’s also the inescapable opulence of Mon Mothma’s residence. It really does separate the haves and the have-nots, though Mothma’s feelings about some dinner guests at a dinner her husband is planning shows her earnest nature to set things right.
There are no Force sensitive players in this mix, at least not yet. Let’s see if Lucasfilm and Disney can resist the urge to throw a Jedi or a Sith into the series. If you’re indeed trying to break away from the Skywalker line and explore the great universe, this show is a good place to keep going that route. Like Rogue One broke away (mostly) away from the Jedi/Smith and gave us a Star Wars war film we’re hoping for more of the same from this prequel series to that film. At the very least it will allow the studios to test the waters with their audience and ask again how everyone feels about a significant drop in lightsaber usage.
For the most part Andor appears to have a good balance of themes for viewers, young and old. You’ve got your usual adorable droid with the introduction of B2EMO. We do hope that we see more of them before Cassian comes across K2SO later in his story. On the other side you have more adult content like a moment of intimacy between two side characters, and a couple of mild swear words thrown into the dialogue. Both of these points kind of took us by surprise, “Oh! They’re coupling. Has Star Wars done this before!?!” and “Huh, that was the S-H-I-T word”.
After four episodes we still think it is too early to tell if Andor will be considered one of the best Star Wars series that Lucasfilm and Disney will have put out. We’re optimistic, due in part that Rogue One remains one of our favorite Star Wars films BECAUSE it strayed off the Skywalker path and gave us something very different from what had become the norm.
We go back to what Cassian said to Jyn Erso in Rogue One before they piled into the freighter and headed off to Scarif.
Some of us - well, most of us - we've all done terrible things on behalf of the Rebellion. Spies, saboteurs, assassins. Everything I did, I did for the Rebellion. And every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause that I believed in. A cause that was worth it. Without that, we're lost. Everything we've done would have been for nothing. I couldn't face myself if I gave up now. None of us could.
This allows Andor to play out within a gray morality, to show us these terrible things that Cassian had done on behalf of the Rebellion. Cassian may not be the hero that you wanted but he is the hero that the Rebellion needed in order to succeed, and survive. We find this quite exciting as the line between good and bad in the Star Wars universe has been pretty clear up until now.
We have (Don't say it! Don't you dare!) ... ... hope.
- Tony Gilroy
- Diego Luna
- Genevieve O'Reilly
- Alex Ferns