Review of the first episodes of Star Wars: Andor, a spy thriller in a galaxy far, far away

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It is impossible to understand the existence of Star Wars: Andor without stopping for a moment to remember Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The 2016 spin-off directed by Gareth Edwards told us the story of Jyn Erso, daughter of one of the scientists who designed the Death Star. Captain Cassian Andor, along with her and a group of charismatic rebels, would embark on an impossible mission to steal the plans for the Empire’s mythical weapon and thus give new hope to the galaxy.

The film meant an overwhelming success of box office and public; nevertheless, his shoot was an absolute disaster, coming to be reports stating that the film changed considerably after the reshoots that Disney had to undertake. The person in charge of redirecting the course of production was Tony Gilroy, who ended up appearing in the credits of Rogue One as writer and now as showrunner for Star Wars: Andor. The secret about how he was able to save the film could lie in some very interesting statements that he made regarding the filming of the spin-off: he is a person who does not like Star Wars, he does not feel attached to the brand.

What at first might seem like a red line for someone who wants to take on such an important product for the franchise, in Star Wars: Andor it turns out to be a blessing. While the iterations that try to establish more direct relationships with the canon, or even tell stories with its most emblematic characters, are better served by the involvement of fans like Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars and Rebels), the premise behind the series that occupies cries out for the address of someone who wants to get out of the conventional in the saga. And it is that Star Wars: Andor, above all, feels like something very different and new within the Star Wars universe.

We have been able to see the first four episodes of the twelve that the first season of Star Wars: Andor will have. We tell you about our first contact with this spy thriller set in a galaxy far, far away.

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spark of revolution

Cassian Andor, the character played by Diego Luna, looked like a charismatic captain, very capable and fully committed to the rebel cause. However, he was not always like this. Star Wars: Andor explores the origins of the character, from his childhood to the turning point where his fate is sealed. The series takes place five years before the events of Rogue One, and (at least for now) it has been confirmed that it will only have two seasons. The last trailer shown makes an exhaustive review from Leia’s communication from Episode IV to what happened in Rogue One; not in vain, it is showing the birth of a rebellion against a galactic empire whose development and outcome we already know, so the context, in this case, is determined to a greater extent by subsequent events, not by the past.

There are two fundamental pillars in order to face this series: we have that context dependent on the future, and we cannot forget that we are facing a series of intrigue focused on the dynamics of spy plots; if we come expecting a familiar adventure to use, we are cementing a huge disappointment. These factors determine what the development of Star Wars: Andor is very slow and focused on the characters. Andor is at the center of the conflict, but there are many more protagonists in these beginnings of the rebellion, all of them in different starting moral and social positions. A good spy plot does not depend (only) on the action, but on knowing the people participating in the intrigues well and seeing how they break different barriers, the humanity they are willing to give up, in pursuit of an internal commitment, see with the cause, with a country, etc.

With the right chip, it’s a lot of fun watching a thief living on an industrial planet end up being a key player in a revolution in its infancy. Or how Mon Mothma, a character that we also saw in Rogue One played by Genevieve O’Reilly, begins as an important presence within the Empire. An antagonistic part has also been seen that promises a lot for future episodes. From the first scene in which the different actors are seen interacting with each other, they transmit from their performance and their dialogues dynamics different from what we are used to in the franchiseas well as a grateful darker tone.

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Away from grandiose speeches, with very earthly and understandable internal problems and conflicts, they begin to lay the foundations for a global plot that will increase as the chapters progress. We see ambiguous characters, who are neither purely good nor entirely evil: it is a product of Star Wars that puts humans in the central focus, not archetypes or ideals with anthropomorphic forms. With this simple change, it automatically becomes a much more interesting product. Cassian Andor himself presents himself with a really harsh scene that casts doubt on the viewer about the integrity of the protagonist who gives the series its name, a declaration of intent that lays a very powerful foundation.

The promise of an interesting future

However, despite the enjoyment of these types of scenes and developments, there is no doubt that the series has a start too lacking in rhythm. Its first two episodes, in particular, are a very long presentation, only seasoned with a sample of some of the best settings and locations that I have seen in the saga. In fact, those initial rhythm problems stand out especially in the last moments of the chapters, when they show absolutely nothing that encourages the viewer to see the next one. There’s no cliffhanger, powerful last scene or dialogue that gives you goosebumps; they are painfully anticlimactic endings. It is a series that in its first bars will ask the viewer a lot. Of course, having seen the next two chapters, I have no doubt that they are building something interesting, being much more exciting within the relaxed tone of the work.

Furthermore, I believe that this initial presentation of Star Wars: Andor relies too heavily on knowing where the conflict and the characters are headed. Nobody would believe that Andor is that star member of the revolution from what we see in these first chapters. The series is so focused on presenting Andor’s past and current surroundings that it neglects to tell us why we as viewers (and the rebels as a faction) should be interested in this thief with a knack for people.

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Fortunately Star Wars: Andor offers something very important from the beginning: a galaxy richer and more varied than ever.. The series takes place constantly traveling from one planet to another (moving to the past as well), with different environments and cities. From the suburbs of an industrial city, through an imperial base to a crowded city, all his sets are visually overwhelming, full of details and life everywhere. On a technical level, Star Wars: Andor is the opposite of what we recently saw in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. This huge difference does not seem (only) due to a budget issue, but also to the quality shown in the directing and casting work. The variety of resources, shots, situations… are at the highest level, being one of those productions that stands out above the rest of its peers. Expands the spectrum of what has been seen so far in Star Wars, expands the galaxy and our imaginationas always should aim to make the mark.

Also don’t think that in Star Wars: Andor there are no exciting sequences of chases and gunfights; in fact, although few, the more action-focused set pieces are excellent, both in terms of concept and display on screen. Some of them seem to me to have enough potential to last in the minds of the fans, they are very powerful. I am looking forward to seeing what other similar situations he proposes in the future, because what has been seen so far in this section is exciting.

In conclusion, from what has been seen so far Star Wars: Andor, we are facing a spy adventure, with a much slower and darker pace than usual, more focused on its characters and its world. A series with an outstanding technical bill that is going to ask a lot from the viewer at the beginning, in terms of knowledge of the lore and attention, but that promises a lot towards its conclusion. A new hope for the Star Wars series.

Star Wars: Andor will premiere on Disney Plus on September 21 with its first three episodes.