TV Review: 'Andor' - The Proper 'Star Wars' Follow-up

Andor actor Diego Luna and Disney+ TV review

The Star Wars movies and series under Disney have largely played to fan service but Andor creates a whole new world outside of the existing Star Wars universe that feels fresh and cinematic. Disney+ 12-episode series takes its time setting up this new world and the characters that will play a part in the early days of the Rebellion but it’s worth it.

Created by Tony Gilroy (ROGUE ONE), Andor explores the origins of the Rebellion through Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from ROGUE ONE. The prequel to ROGUE ONE explores another side of the Star Wars galaxy with new people and planets, and Cassian’s path to becoming a Rebel hero.

There are no Jedis, the Force, or Skywalker drama but there’s a familiarity in this unique and cinematic story that is compelling because we know where it's headed. Lucasfilm under Disney has largely catered to fan service but Andor plays it differently.

Disney made the first four episodes available. Andor begins with Cassian, a smuggler, in the present, looking for his sister, and we occasionally flash back to his childhood living in a tribal society with their own language called Kenari. Like most Star Wars heroes, Cassian Andor is an orphan. We come to find out how he ended up in his current situation.

Cassian’s actions in the first episode set up a crash course between Diego’s character and the ISB when it triggers a manhunt. Everyone in his orbit will be affected.

However, we do meet Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma, the Rebel leader first introduced in RETURN OF THE JEDI (played by a different actress, Caroline Blakiston) and her backstory is quite intriguing. The trailer also teased another familiar face with Forest Whitaker reprising his ROGUE ONE’s Saw Gerrera.

Immediately we’re taken with Luna’s Cassian. He’s not a sleek smuggler like Han Solo. Cassian is a loner and scrambling to survive a very dangerous planet. At times, he’s sort of a Western-like movie figure reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s the Man with No Name. The cinematic music also lends itself to that comparison. Luna plays the part differently than his ROGUE ONE character because he is a different person who has no purpose except to survive the harsh landscape. In ROGUE ONE, he had a purpose. Luna brings real gravitas to the role, and you become invested with this out-of-the-ordinary Star Wars lead.

The supporting cast is equally engaging. Kyle Soller (101 Dalmation Street, Brexit) plays Syril Karn, a low-level officer, and Denise Gough (Under the Banner of Heaven) is Dedra Meero, a high-ranking agent. The two Imperial agents are ambitious, but their warnings of an impending rebellion are ignored. Meero must claw her way to the top as a female officer, while Syril is also frustrated with his job but we get the sense that there’s more to his determination to find Cassian. Soller’s character is the one to watch for as there are many questions surrounding his psyche. The actor hinted his character may switch sides, and there are certainly clues to that possibility in the first four episodes.

Andor actors Kyle Soller and Denise Gough

Andor is a wonder to look at with a very stylized look that harkens back to the scrappiness of NEW HOPE. The cinematography and soundtrack are very cinematic. It makes you wonder whether Lucasfilm put all their resources into this series which left scraps for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series which didn't seem to have the same level of quality as Andor.

Andor feels like a proper Star Wars follow-up fans have been expecting since Disney acquired Lucasfilm. The Disney+ series brings a refreshing take to the franchise with original storytelling that doesn’t rely heavily on the Skywalker saga as the modern Star Wars movies and series have done. There’s nothing wrong with paying homages to the prequels but the films and series have relied too much on it. ANDOR is the perfect middle-ground.

The first three episodes premiere September 21st on Disney+.

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