Andor: Season 1, Episodes 1–3 Review
The Best Star Wars Since Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi
Having only written one TV/Streaming Series review ever, for Stranger Things 3 in 2019, it has been quite some time since I’ve felt the urge to sit down and type something up with regard to my television habits. That is not to say I don’t watch TV. I do. HBO’s Barry remains arguably the best show around, with Bill Hader and Henry Winkler both delivering the best work of their careers, while also somehow only getting better with each season. Abbott Elementary came out of nowhere, and as someone who lives in the Philadelphia area, it’s admittedly pretty damn cool to see it represented so well on TV in a show that highlights the true heroes of America; teachers (who deserve so, so, soooooo much more love than they get). Mike White’s The White Lotus delivered to great effect, and Season 2 is coming soon, featuring the duo of Aubrey Plaza and Michael Imperoli, and yea, I’m sold. Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk, all feel like some of the more unique takes on superheroes in the MCU. And finally, Game of Thrones is back (kind of), with the long-awaited prequel series breaking all kinds of records, and somehow overdelivering with an amazing first season thus far, as House of the Dragon continues to be must-watch television on a weekly basis.
The point I’m trying to make is, I still watch TV shows, I just have never really regularly written about them. As I continue to try and revive this page however, and with my overall hype around Lucasfilm's Andor, I just could not pass up the opportunity to;
- Talk about Star Wars (please, do not crucify me)
- Talk about Andor, specifically
- Finally review another TV show
Following a number of delays, including a last minute one just shortly before its premiere, thanks to She-Hulk, House of the Dragon, and Rings of Power, Tony Gilroy’s Andor finally arrived on September 21, with a special three-episode premiere!
2016’s Rogue One remains a somewhat split film for most, though not nearly at the levels of the sequel films in Star Wars. While some tend to accept the prequel as is, feeling okay about it, others tend to rate it as one of the best Star Wars projects of all time. As for myself… I do indeed land in the latter, and having just seen the movie during its special IMAX rerelease, I will continue to shower praise towards Rogue One. Feeling less like a cash-grab obsessed with nostalgia or fan-service, the film tells a cohesive story that adds to A New Hope in several meaningful ways while not feeling like it doesn’t need to exist. On top of it being extremely well-made, it also features one of the best ensembles in Star Wars, with the key characters being some of lived-in within the main universe.
When Disney and Lucasfilm first announced Andor however, it seemed like most, regardless of opinions on Rogue One, rolled their eyes at the idea of yet another prequel (and this time, one that did indeed feel totally unearned). That being said, the reasoning behind this story being told makes total sense as the Cassian Andor within the 2016 outing is an extremely captivating, intriguing character, arguably the greatest of the new Disney era of Star Wars.
With Tony Gilory and the creative team being adamant that this is a two-season story, with a total of 24 episodes, Andor already feels not only like a reasonable prequel, but one that exists to only add to a specific character (Diego Luna’s titular character), rather than just cashing in on the Star Wars branding and iconography. This is something apparent from the first three episodes of the new Disney+ original show, as from the jump, it feels much more mature, grounded, and in a way, even grander than the other main Disney+ Star Wars property; The Mandalorian. Without featuring “The Volume” technology that Mando brought to fame, and that Book of Boba Fett and a number of the MCU shows have used, a clear area where Andor stands distinctly on its own, is in its sets and real environments. This is something that cannot be overstated as it just feels like a bigger, more cinematic experience, sharing more vibes with Blade Runner 2049 and Dune’s than with recent Star Wars outings.
and yes, some will surely cringe at that statement… but it is true. Watch the show, watch clips from the first few episodes and that much will be as apparent as ever.
Without giving too much away, Andor feels like the most mature Star Wars property that Disney and Lucasfilm have given fans, and for those that want the franchise to stay something for all ages, this tows the line fairly well. With no in-your-face, graphic violence, the show does push boundaries for Star Wars, as within the first episode, Cassian visits (presumably) a brothel while in search of his sister before murdering two corporate guards in a public setting. The show does not pull punches in that regard, with no attempt at washing away the sins of Cassian’s past, a character that fans already know is more than complicated based off his actions on-screen in Rogue One.
Where younger fans may lose interest is in the pacing and style of the show. Spread out over 12 episodes in its first season, Andor is not the fun, pulp-adventure style show that The Mandalorian was in its first two seasons, rather the show takes its time and delivers great dialogue between its numerous key players. With Diego Luna leading the bunch, the first three episodes have seen a number of characters introduced including Bix (Adria Arjona), Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), Maarva (Fiona Shaw), Sgt. Kostek (Alex Ferns), Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), and Brasso (Joplin Sibtain). While the show delivered some truly great, explosive, and high-octane action in its third episode (easily the best of the first 3 released), the show really does shine when it features these characters just talking to one another, with the first interaction between Cassian and Luthen being just a delightful treat.
Despite Giancarlo Esposito’s moustache-twirling performance of Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian being a ton of fun, and him being a good villain for that show, with just three episodes in, Kyle Soller’s performance as Syril Karn, a member of the Pre-Mor Authority, has given such a hateworthy performance (in the best possible way) in Andor. With the character feeling like your least-favorite co-worker or peer at school, Soller brings to life a realistic villain in a genuine manner despite him being in a galaxy far, far away. And that is something that goes for most of the show thus far, is its realism. Despite being set in the fantastical world of Star Wars, Andor feels so different than anything that came before it in terms of mainstream Star Wars media. Gone are the constant reliance on the Jedi and The Sith, no lightsabers, no Death Stars (yet), no clones, no Skywalkers or Palpatines. What Tony Gilory and his team have crafted in the first three episodes of Andor feels vastly unique, while also staying true to the world and in-universe preconceptions of Star Wars.
While only 3 episodes have been released of the 12-episode long first season of Andor, it feels as if when all is said and done, this show will go down as one of the best things in Star Wars. And while it may have seemed I was dunking on The Mandalorian throughout this, please take note that I do enjoy that show quite a bit, I am just glad that we are getting a show that doesn’t feel the need to have cameos or legacy characters introduced just for the sake of doing so. Between Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, Star Wars Visions, The Mandalorian, Rogue One, Obi-Wan Kenobi (which had its highs and lows, but please give me a season two), and now Andor, all I want from Star Wars/Disney/Lucasfilm is some variety. Not everything needs to be a nostalgia-fueled adventure, not everything needs to feel like an Avengers-style event, and not everything needs to feel like a political thriller.
Andor is now streaming on Disney+, with the first three episodes available at the time of this writing (9/23/22). Weekly episodes will be released every Wednesday, with Season One consisting of 12 episodes total.
If you enjoyed this review of the first three episodes of Andor, please consider following me for more in the future! It is now officially Fall/Autumn, which means there is going to be lots to talk about with a number of major releases including The Fabelmans, Halloween Ends, Black Adam, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way Of Water, and so, so much more.
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