A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived billions upon billions of people who had nothing to do with the Jedi, the Skywalkers, the small green and grammatically challenged, or deep-voiced cape wearers pursuing their kids across an infinite void.
Star Wars has traditionally lived in the high meggers. Andor – thankfully – cleaves through the ground-level reality.
Shows like The Mandalorian wove a flavour of the everyday by having a bounty hunter always on the verge of ruin, but still relied on slotting this in within lightsabers and the Force.
Within its opening salvo of episodes, Andor portrays a world more universal, where refugees are targeted, and all live under the boot.
In the mind of this reviewer, Rogue One was the best Star Wars movie outside of the original three thanks to a bittersweet grounding that shone a light on the “many [who] died to bring us this information” (ok ok that line wasn’t technically about the events of Rogue One, but the sentiment is the same, alright?!).
In Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) – a Rebel Alliance spy with far dirtier hands than the likes of a Skywalker – the movie shone through with doomed determination.
What Is Andor About?
Five years before Rogue One, life is not going well for thief Cassian Andor. While hunting for his lost sister he falls victim to a shakedown by two sketchy guards.
As a Kenari refugee, Andor is picked out due to his accent (the insults used are a powerful parallel with Luna’s Mexican nationality), but it all goes wrong.
Andor, on the run, must cash out and flee the planet Ferrix where he has been hiding out.
Ferrix gets intrigue points straight off the bat by virtue of not being Tatooine (huzzah!). Easy win aside, Andor paces its opening episodes well by not planet-hopping.
Ferrix hardly gets a deep dive (lots of scrap, sweaty workers wielding, etc) but its general atmosphere of grinding out a living outside of space opera glitz is a welcome change of pace that allows us some time with our characters.
Diego Luna brings more of the powerful urgency that underscored his character in Rogue One, but here is directionless and focussed on his own survival.
After his assault on the two guards, Deputy Inspector Karn (Kyle Soller) takes it upon himself to hunt Cassian down.
Soller’s performance is exemplary, and anyone who has watched the recent Poldark series will know how much he can use seething arrogance to barely cover up vulnerable insecurity and desperation to be acknowledged.
The Star Wars TV shows frequently lack interesting antagonists, but in Soller, they have one in spades.
Andor Official Trailer
Is Andor Worth Watching?
Even with such slow and deliberate pacing there a few elements that get cast aside in favour of set up.
Cassian and Soller light up the screen, but as a mechanic with black market connections, Bix (Adria Arjona) suffers from the familiar problem of being defined by her relationships rather than having any distinct agency.
Some plot threads are introduced only to dangle, also. Cassian’s hunt for his sister, which kicks off the entire plot in the first 10 minutes, isn’t remarked upon again during these first few episodes.
Lies unspooled like a plot thread that should be wound tightly and flashbacks to Cassian’s life as a child on Kenari time jump, such that the end of episode 2 and start of episode 3 hardly seem to connect at all.
Yet so long as set up pathfinds into pay off, Andor starts by carving away with bright sparks.
Stellan Skarsgård’s trademark gruff approach sows seeds of the sewer work needed for the world of practical spy craft, and Fiona Shaw, as Cassian’s ‘adoptive’ mother, brings the dignity that saw her sparkle in Killing Eve.
The most intriguing element of exploring the backstory of a character where their end point is most definitely known is that there is room to flesh out a whole journey.
The first season of Andor is 12 episodes – an unusually long run time in this day and age – which promises to encapsulate both Cassian’s journey and the coalescence of the Rebel Alliance.
With weary people banging metal in alarm, Andor finally takes Star Wars away from bloated nepotism to take a look at what happens when its people refuse to shine the leather of the oppressor’s boot.
Words by Mike Record
How Many Seasons Of Andor Are There?
To date, there has only been one season of Star Wars: Andor, but the good news is that a second season is in the works.
Andor season 2 will have 12 episodes and has a release date on Disney+ in August 2024.
Where Does Andor Sit In The Star Wars Universe?
Star Wars fans are very particular about the various TV series spin-offs and the accuracy of the characters in relation to the original story.
Showrunner Tony Gilroy created Andor as a prequel to the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and explores the formative years of the Rebel Alliance, delving into the backstory of Cassian Andor and the events that led him to become a committed rebel hero and member of the Rebellion.
The timeline of Andor is crucial as it is set about five years before the events of Rogue One and A New Hope, during a period when the Galactic Empire is consolidating its grip on the galaxy.
This era is characterised by the Empire's increasing authoritarianism and the formation of what will become the Rebel Alliance.
The show provides a deeper look into the Star Wars universe, focusing more on the ground-level perspective of the Rebellion rather than the Jedi or the Sith lore.
Cast of Andor
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a thief and scavenger whose home planet, Kenari, was rendered uninhabitable by a botched Imperial mining project.
Kyle Soller as Syril Karn, a Deputy Inspector for Preox-Morlana (Pre-Mor) Authority, a corporate conglomerate in charge of the trade sector.
Adria Arjona as Bix Caleen, a mechanic and black market dealer.
Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen Rael, Caleen's dealer contact who is a part of the Rebel Alliance.
Fiona Shaw as Maarva Andor, Cassian's adoptive mother who saved him from Kenari with Clem.
Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma, an Imperial senator for the wealthy core world of Chandrila.
Denise Gough as Dedra Meero, an ambitious supervisor for the Imperial Security Bureau.
Faye Marsay as Vel Sartha, a Rebel leader on the planet Aldhani.
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