Judging by its first three episodes, Diego Luna’s new Star Wars series promises to be the most impressive project to come out of the franchise in a long time.
Andor Series Premiere Review Score:
Judging by its first three episodes, Disney+‘s new Star Wars series Andor promises to be the best thing to come out of the franchise in years; arguably since the 2016 film that inspired it. The first three episodes deliver wonderful performances set in a world steeped in the space saga George Lucas created, while at the same time managing to feel like nothing in the mythos we’ve ever seen before. I hope all the fans who screeched like dying Jawas on Twitter over the appearance of an Ak-47 in the Andor trailer are hungry, because they’re going to be eating so, so many of their own words.
It’s no mistake the new Star Wars series opens with Andor (Diego Luna) doing the same thing he’s doing when we first meet him in Rogue One–trying to remain incognito while looking for information, and committing a dark act in a hidden corner of a city. The scene brilliantly not only sets up the plot for the next few episodes, but it contrasts wonderfully with Rogue One to shows us that the Andor we’re meeting is light years away from the guy who was willing to manipulate Jynn Erso in the hopes of murdering her father.
In between scenes from the present, we get glimpses of Andor’s childhood when he lives on Kenari as part of a group of children surviving in the wilderness in the wake of a cataclysmic mining accident (if you’ve seen it, it’s impossible to not be reminded of the all-kid post-apocalyptic tribe from 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). While fans had valid issues with such flashbacks in the Star Wars series The Book of Boba Fett (my own being that I wished the rest of the series was as engaging as the flashbacks), here Andor’s backstory gives us only what we need. One fascinating touch you may not even notice until after you’re done watching is that even though the child Andor (Antonio Viña, who is referred to as “Kassa”) and all of the other children speak only in an alien language, the TV show offers no translation; it isn’t needed, because everything they say is implicit in what’s on the screen.
The bulk of the action takes place on Andor’s more recent home of Ferrix, and this is where we get to see two of the aspects of Star Wars we’ve rarely, if ever, gotten a peek at: the mundanity of life under the Empire, and the on-the-ground view of the fomenting rebellion. The disciplined bell-toller, who stands atop the same tower every morning to wake the town to their scavenging jobs with his measured hammer strikes, is one side of the coin. When the corporate troops arrive to arrest Andor, select Ferrix citizens start banging on carefully placed rods all around the town, and that’s the flip-side; the side that will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Death Star.
You won’t see a single lightsaber in these first three episodes, or hear The Force mentioned at all. Not that the Jedi and Sith of Star Wars aren’t entertaining, but in Andor it’s the more fallible and human characters who are in the spotlight. Actually, if there’s any failing to the series so far at all, it’s that sometimes it’s so utterly familiar that when the occasional droid or alien showed up, I was almost a little surprised; as if I just shook myself awake and thought, “oh right, this is Star Wars.”
The choice of using the corporate soldiers as antagonists in these first episodes, rather than the more recognizable Star Wars stormtroopers, is a perfect one indicative of the less epic and more relatable feel of Andor. Rather than just rows of gleaming, white sameness, we see everything going on in the minds of the bad guys bogged down on Ferrix. We see their tension, their guilt, their fear, and their utter confusion in the face of resistance.
After watching all three episodes, it’s not difficult to imagine why this Star Wars series was renewed for a second season months ago, without a single episode of Andor having streamed. Unless Diego Luna disappears for the next few weeks and Pedro Pascal inexplicably shows up to take over the series with a motorized baby carriage and a “Darksaber For Dummies” manual, I’m confident the rest of Andor‘s first season will rock like Tattooine’s hottest Jizz band.