Despite being announced in 2018, “Andor” was finally released on Disney+ on Sep. 21, 2022. The show follows Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor in the years leading up to the film that originally introduced him, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.
To put it simply, this show kicks ass and is the best offering on Disney+. It’s enthralling, complex, and most of all, exciting. It’s the space political thriller I didn’t know I needed or wanted for that matter.
Between its 12 episodes, the show is split into three major parts: the Ferrix arc, Aldhani arc, the Narkina-5 arc, plus the finale. Each setpiece follows Andor as he works his way in an everchanging galaxy. Each episode not only shows us Andor but the several subplots that run congruent with his story. To that end, the show isn’t just about him, standouts include Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen Rael, a key figure in the start of the rebel alliance we see in “A New Hope”, Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma, a senator who secretly funnels money to Luthen and his rebellion, Andy Serkis, finally out of his mocap suit, and in the flesh as Kino Loy, and Faye Marsay and Varadu Sethu as Vel Sartha and Cinta Kaz respectively. Every single character is shaded in, they have their own views on the “mission” and their own way of sticking it to the Empire.
Luna gives a standout performance in the show and his arc is wonderful to watch playout. He goes from a rugged individual, only ever looking over his own shoulder, to someone who looks at the bigger picture. We see how he became the strong fighter that we see in “Rogue One” and it’s simply perfect.
And that’s just the “good guys”, as far as the Empire goes, they’re just as well-written as the rest of the cast. Kyle Soller as Syril Karn, a disgraced security agent obsessed with the rules and forever wanting to serve his emperor well, and Denise Gough as Dedra Meero, an up-incoming ISB agent whose cutthroat nature puts her at odds with her uptight and lazy colleagues.
For as good as the characters are, there are a ton of them. And even for a mega-fan like myself, it can be hard to remember who exactly I’m looking at. Several times while watching I found myself asking “what’s the name of that character again?”.
And on top of that, as I mentioned there are tons of subplots that could lead to further confusion, but thankfully, the show’s editing helps differentiate plots and gives each segment equal screen time to let the episodes breathe a bit.
The show explores and has fantastic commentary on tons of topics like the prison industrial complex, guerilla warfare, abuse of power, sacrifice, and the one I think it handles the best, fascism. Tony Gilroy, the show’s lead writer does a fantastic job showing how fascism roots itself in every facet of our lives. It controls everything and when it feels even just a little bit threatened by something or someone, it snuffs it out. But it also isn’t afraid to display the empire as lazy. All over the place, there are imperial officers and even ISB members, which are at the top of the Empire’s food chain, cutting corners and handling situations lazily because they don’t feel like they have any opposition.
In a similar fashion, the show also displays several different shades of rebellion. Forest Whitaker makes a return from “Rogue One” as his extremist character Saw Guerra. Despite fighting for the same thing, the show makes it a point to make it clear that he and Luthen are not the same. Guerra represents the radicalization of methods as situations get dire, while Luten strikes carefully and planned as to not blow the operation before they can properly achieve anything.
The show is filled with fantastic character moments, but one of my favorites is in episode 10 “One Way Out”, where Luthen delivers a beautiful monologue about sacrifice. Skarsgård’s delivery is full of emotion, he portrays someone who is mournful about the life he’s lost but knows what has to be done. He acknowledges that he is fighting for something that he may never see perfectly capturing the nature of rebellions.
Another comes as a way to end Mon Mothma’s subplot of her family accounts. To make a long story short, the show follows Mothma as she tries to cover up her large withdrawals from the watchful eyes of the ISB, who have her constantly watched in the form of her chauffeur. She works with a childhood friend from her home planet Chandrila, which leads her to a prominent crime boss. After taking up his offer of an arranged marriage for her daughter, regretfully, she plays off these charges by gaslighting her empire-loving husband Perrin, by pinning it on his previous gambling addiction. It’s shot perfectly and shows how clever and again captures the mournfulness of these actions.
This show needs to be watched to be properly experienced, its episodes flow together in a way that writing can’t properly capture. Thankfully, even if you’re not a particular Star Wars fan, this show stands on its own two feet and doesn’t rely on connections to previous movies. Unlike its counterparts like “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” it isn’t trying to get you to point at your screen the whole time cause you remember that! It stuns you with its messages and everything else in between.
With a second season already greenlit and on the way, I’ve only been left wanting more. Star Wars hasn’t seen this quality in a while, and all it needed was a spark of rebellion to bring it back.