Andor: A Spoiler-Free Review of Episodes One to Four

Andor: A Spoiler-Free Review of Episodes One to Four

When Rogue One premiered in theaters on December 16th, 2016, it was an unexpected gem that took filmgoers by surprise. It had that Star Wars spectacle and wonder we know and love but also featured a darker, grittier tone than we were used to in the franchise’s iconic mythology. A standout of the film’s stellar cast is Diego Luna, who plays the mysterious Rebel spy, Cassian Andor. His backstory begins this week in Andor, the Disney+ twelve-episode series that will chronicle the five-year period before we meet him in Rogue One.  The first three episodes will drop Wednesday, September 21st, followed by a one-episode release each week.

(L-R): Kravas (Lee Boardman), Verlo (Stephen Wight), hostess (Margaret Clunie), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and bartender (Caroline Green) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Andor takes Star Wars into significantly unexpected places. It is notably more mature in its reach and scope than previous ventures into a galaxy far, far away; much more so than Rogue One. The first five minutes of the premiere episode feature several firsts in Star Wars that I will not spoil here. However, it is fair to say it is decidedly not for small children. Like its main character, this is a bold decision that goes against the norm of what we are used to in Star Wars. If you are ready for a more unflinching look at this galactic conflict, buckle up.

One of the most compelling things about Andor is that the cost here is decidedly palpable. Andor puts the “war” in Star Wars. It is much more realistic, as far as the inner workings of a burgeoning Rebellion and what oppression looks like in an unsettled world. Creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy captures the psychological essence of what a revolution is like for the reluctant heroes, as well as those in power. It’s incredibly captivating, intense, and suspenseful. I have seen the first four episodes of Andor and I appreciate the creative vision and direction. It’s fantastic.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The cast, led by the previously mentioned Diego Luna, is elite. Luna is brilliant; his occasionally macabre mood is replete with suppressed anger that is boiling to the surface, while still maintaining an outward appearance of moderate civility. Genevieve O’Reilly returns as Mon Mothma, and offers a nuanced portrayal of her character; of particular interest to me is how she balances her role behind the scenes as a leader of the Rebellion with her role as a senator and her personal life.  Stellan Skarsgård is an absolute show-stealer, with a blended performance that walks several lines as well. 

Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The true spirit of this show is best represented in each character’s struggle to live in a world of gray and how they work internally to change the exterior of their world and separate visions for the galaxy. This is especially notable in regards to one of the Imperial leads, Syril Karn, played by the dynamic Kyle Soller. Soller’s character fights for what is right, according to his belief system, and his vision of the Empire adds new depth to what we think we know about the Galactic conflict. The gray of this show and these characters is what makes Andor such a unique thriller and one that will undoubtedly generate some compelling rhetoric among media consumers.

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Andor is decidedly different from what you have seen on screen in Star Wars. Like its titular character, it takes bold and unexpected risks in story and storytelling that may be similarly unnerving and thrilling in the same breath. While I do not recommend this show for small children or those hoping for purely swashbuckling adventure, the verisimilitude and bold new direction of Star Wars through the lens of  Andor is visionary, unexpected, and more captivating than you can possibly imagine. Andor is unflinching and sophisticated Star Wars storytelling at its finest.

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