Review (And Recommendation): Andor

There are currently only four episodes available of the latest Star Wars property Andor on Disney Plus. The series acts as part prequel to Rogue One starring Cassian Andor, one of the leads of the mentioned film and played impeccably by Diego Luna (Mexicans in Star Wars!), and part bridge between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Essentially, in Andor, we are seeing the conditions of the various worlds under the new Empirical regime and how they led to the formation, and eventual success, of the Rebellion. So far, it is doing so with impressive grace, care, and craft.

Oddly, Andor is somehow the least Star Wars property and the most Star Wars property while also being the most adult Star Wars property, thus far. Okay, the previous statement might be a bit confusing. There are, at present, no Jedi or Sith or any mention of the Force or magical, mystic aspects of the franchise. There have been no mentions of the Emperor, Darth Vader, Inquisitors, Order 66, Jedi survivors, etc. Hell, we have yet to even see any of the expected or standard icons like StormTroopers or Star Destroyers or such. We barely saw a Tie Fighter in episode four and that was for only a second or two. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the average viewer was not fully aware that this was a Star Wars property until the title screen or credits.

However, while no mention of these traits or elements have really been made, their presence is without a doubt in the skeleton and framework of the show. Cassian, along with his downtrodden comrades and the viewing audience, feels the weight and push and impact of the Empire even on the Outer Rim of the planetary alliance. We see the power and reach that the Empire has through its networks and resources and ability to fully take over control of a planet’s economic and law enforcement system without real cause or issue. We understand the disparity between the Empire and the worlds it controls in the architecture, the clothing, the conditions of the people and places closest to its center compared to the ones at the furthest away. In short, we see the true everyday horrors and lives the very practice of Empire imposes which strikes to the core of what Star Wars is trying to say.

Really, like Rogue One, Andor feels like Star Wars growing up. Now, to be fair, the extended universe (that no longer exists) and many, if not most, of the animated series and projects felt the same even when they included the Jedi and Sith. There was a sense of the depth and potential the universe could have for narrative and story and character beyond the simply binary of good versus evil or absolute right and wrong. Andor allows for gray areas and nuance. Yes, the Empire is still the villain, but the “heroes” are not paragons of virtue and valor. Their hands are not fully clean of blood or strife or harm. Good intentions can, and will, have terrible consequences and vice versa. It genuinely feels like an occupied people fighting back against an empowered oppressive force with any and all means. We are witnessing the true birth of the Rebel Alliance.

Unsurprisingly, this framework leads to opportunity, and execution, to have real world political and social issues. This is only a boon to the series as these allegories and metaphors only add to the significance and weight of the story and characters being portrayed on screen. Complexity and depth and development are not constraints or elements to be diminished in favor of simplicity. They just need to be given consideration and care in their implementation. Andor has been pulling it off so far in spades. If you have ever wanted Star Wars, or any beloved childhood property, to grow up and actually try to have substance and intrigue in their universe, this is the show for you. Please support it if you can, so that more like it will be made. To show that genre audiences are interested in well paced and written and acted fiction that goes beyond simply showing off a new shiny toy in the background for a few seconds.

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