Star Wars: ‘Andor’ Episode 1-4 Review

Screenshot of Diego Luna as Cassian Andor from the Disney+ series ‘Andor’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve finally found enough time to watch the episodes of ‘Andor’ that dropped on Disney+ so far! The reactions to this series have been really interesting. I’ve seen a majority of positive reviews that not just praise the series, but feel as though it’s the closest we’ve gotten to the feel of the original trilogy since ‘Return of the Jedi’. On the one hand I understand this reaction. The original trilogy had a lot to say about society through its depiction of the Rebel Alliance, and none of the other Star Wars content have really matched that deep and dirty look into what it means to rebel against a giant political power. Except for the movie ‘Rogue One’ which provided those themes in a much more real and dark way, but didn’t have the time to fully flesh out many of its ideas and most of its characters. ‘Andor’ feels like a second try at ‘Rogue One’. A means of going for the same things ‘Rogue One’ was going for, but finally with the time to do it complete justice. But at the same time, is a series with the same feel as ‘Rogue One’ really the show to appeal to fans of the original three films? SPOILERS AHEAD!

Characters:

We’re dealing with a cast of morally gray characters so far and there really are no exceptions. First there’s our lead, Cassian Andor, who within the first few minutes of the first episode kills two Imperial security contractors even after the second one begs for mercy. While he doesn’t start off the series a member of the Rebel Alliance, he still very much hates the Empire, and the moves of small rebellion (Mostly stealing) he makes against them still require him to cover his tracks. And that doesn’t always mean he’s making moral decisions in order to do so. Really, the Cassian we meet at the beginning of ‘Andor’ is reckless and prepared to sacrifice a lot, even the people around him, in order to demonstrate his dislike for the Empire. I can definitely sense character development upcoming for him, though it isn’t like his childhood trauma doesn’t already explain some of his behavior. Our other main character so far is Luthen Rael, a spy who recruits Cassian to join a ragtag faction of the Rebel Alliance. Along with being extremely intimidating and suspicious, he also lives a double life working amongst the senators while giving threats to people as impressive as Mon Mothma. As for other characters, we’ve gotten quick looks at Bix Caleen, a badass who helps out Cassian but hasn’t been seen since her boyfriend was killed, Syril Karn, our villain who was interestingly fired from his job only four episodes in, and a younger Mon Mothma, who believes she can change things as a senator but is failing to do so. It’s a mix of characters with questionable morals and motivations, but the reasons for why they do the things they do are pretty clear. They just aren’t easy to connect to, especially not right away.

Story and Tone:

‘Andor’ so far is telling a slowly paced origin story of the Rebel Alliance. We’re talking, back when the Rebel Alliance could only spare eight people per faction at most. Cassian, due to his anti-Empire ideals as well as the way he frequently gets in trouble with the Empire, manages to get himself in the position of having to agree to work for Luthen Rael as part of the Rebel Alliance. As of now in the story, he’s in one of the previously mentioned small factions while they prepare a heist. That isn’t much plot progression for four episodes, but this is an extremely character-driven show that’s focused mostly on Cassian’s relationship with his adopted mother, his memories of losing everyone he knew as a child, and the friends he brushes off in modern day. It’s very effective at making the audience feel as though they know Cassian as well as they’d know a best friend. But it’s all a lot of doom and gloom. Which is where ‘Rogue One’ comes in. While both ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Andor’ go for a “there’s hope for the future” sort of message, both are pretty dreary in tone. That isn’t a dig at either. It really does make sense to show the harder parts of being part of the Rebel Alliance. But that isn’t going to appeal to every original trilogy fan. The original trilogy was made for kids, and as such, mixes in the harder war concepts with mystical powers and lighter characters. It isn’t cartoonish by any means, but it’s completely different tonally. So if you heard reviews of ‘Andor’ and aren’t expecting something depressing because of the feel of the original trilogy, here’s your warning.

Anti-Establishment:

Since I’ve been really going after the tone of this show, I should shine a light on why so many people are praising ‘Andor’ for going back “to the roots” of Star Wars. While I don’t dislike the most recent Star Wars trilogy, it had nothing to say. It didn’t have the corruption of the Republic and the Jedi’s fall from grace due to their position of power like the prequel trilogy did. It didn’t have the full on war against fascism that was presented in the original trilogy. It had all the fun stuff and nothing else. ‘Andor’ doesn’t have lightsabers or the fun elements you can find in the sequel trilogy. But it does have an anti-establishment message that makes us look at our own society and the ways that groups are being oppressed around the world. I’d argue that means more than any lightsaber fight could ever mean. But that doesn’t have to mean it’s your cup of tea. If you’re into more of the fun stuff, that’s ok! It’s good to be aware of what you like! But it’s so important to have media that challenges our society, and ‘Andor’ proudly joins the Star Wars content that has always strived for that.

After all of that, what’s my opinion of the show? It’s well written, well acted, and well executed. It’s slow moving, but it does a lot for its main character. It could do more for the side characters, but we’re only four episodes in. Its story is admirable and refreshing to see after the sequel trilogy. But it isn’t really my thing. I love seeing content tackle societal issues and the ways in which we view life, but I’m not always a fan of the more depressing shows that do these things. From the gray color palette to the brutal fight scenes, I’m just not always in the right frame of mind to truly get enjoyment out of ‘Andor’. But that doesn’t mean that it’s by any means bad. I feel it deserves a lot of praise. I just might not be the best person to give it.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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