By Chad Shreeves
Intro: Andor Review
Where to Stream It? Disney+
Starring: Diego Luna, Genevieve O’Reilly, Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough,
Kyle Soller, Fiona Shaw
Created By: Tony Gilroy
Note: While this is going to be relatively spoiler-free, some minor spoilers may slip out throughout this review.
To say that Star Wars has had a bit of a rough patch the past few years is an understatement. While I’ve enjoyed (most) of what they’ve had to offer, there’s been a fair amount of division among the fanbase. However, I’m happy to say that Andor ends up on the positive side.
Conceived more of a classic 70s spy thriller than a traditional Star Wars series, Andor is a much darker look at the universe than fans may be accustomed to. But that proves to be one of its greatest strengths.
Age of the Empire
Andor picks up a few years before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Following Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he struggles throughout the early days of the Empire, living on the outskirts of the law. After a run in with some Imperial thugs, Cassian finds himself on the run and into the arms of the rebellion.
What is great is that unlike other recent Star Wars offerings, the Empire is really seen as a force of strength here. Imperial Officers will use their power and influence to get what they want, and they’re not afraid of showing force. They aren’t the bumbling buffoons that make you wonder how they managed to conquer a galaxy.
This series also shows just how deep the Empire’s power goes. Many of the citizens seen in this show are poor, destitute, or struggling in some way. This comes to a head as the early seeds of rebellion begin to show pretty quickly, particularly in the third episode.
It really does put the ‘war’ back in Star Wars. In an era where Star Wars has become more self-contained and overly focused on Jedi vs. Sith conflicts, it’s nice to see this change of pace and a broader focus on the universe at large over the more traditional narratives that revolve around the Skywalkers.
Shades of Gray
One of the best things about Andor is that nobody is innocent in this world. Even in flashbacks to the time of the Republic, we learn they were not afraid to get their hands dirty to protect their own. Cassian himself proves to be a “whatever it takes” kind of person, but that is exactly what a show like this needs. Rebellions, even for the right reasons, get messy and hard decisions need to be made.
That’s where one of the major flaws of the show so far comes into play. Outside of its gritty atmosphere, the series spends more time setting the tone and dire situation the galaxy has found itself in than developing its characters. Now, this is only a small chunk of the season so there’s still more to come, but most of Cassian’s character development seems to be reliant on those having already viewed Rogue One.
Many of the supporting characters as well are given just surface level introductions to various successes, hopefully they will become fully fleshed out characters by the end of the season.
A New Hope
At the end of the day, Andor succeeds much more than it struggles. As a much more adult-oriented take on the Star Wars universe, it mostly works when it focuses on the dark underbelly and the fear-inducing weight of the Empire. With still plenty of episodes to go, it becomes exciting to see how it will turn out in the coming weeks.
Star Wars: Andor releases weekly every Wednesday on Disney+.