“Andor” Tries to Offer ‘Star Wars Fans’ One Way Out of Its Downward Spiral

Watching Andor took a long time because Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett were awful. Andor with more realistic sets and professional Academy Award-nominated co-writers like Beau Willimon, Tony & Dan Gilroy is a step up. The directing by Toby Haynes is a step above Deborah Chow’s work, although that’s not saying much. It still suffers from being overall directionless under Lucasfilm’s producer-turned-CEO Kathleen Kennedy. But after a run that included Episode IX, and Solo it’s easy to feel hopeful.

The show’s cast includes Diego Luna as the ill-fated title character from Rogue One Cassian Andor. The exhibition explores the rise of the rebellion beforehand that would eventually be led by series heroes Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. Stellan Skarsgard joins the fight as Luthen Rael, a shop owner who helps fund the alliance alongside Mon Mothma (given too much screen time along with her husband Perrin Fertha who gets a wasteful subplot).

The frustration with Andor is that it takes a simple story and in true late Star Wars fashion, unnecessarily complicates it. There are flashbacks to young Cassian on his home planet that are spoken in a made-up language without subtitles so that the world feels more natural. Cassian gets picked up and sent off to prison for the show’s most exciting stretch, but it’s not clear what it pays off aside from introducing a great character in Kino Loy (played by Andy Serkis, Former Bad Guy General Snoke).

That’s not even half of it. The first half is about a pencil-pushing member of the empire who tracks Andor across the galaxy but not before Cassian joins a ragtag group to pull off a heist stealing millions from the Empire’s payroll. The heist, similar to the later prison break is staged well but bungles the implications for its plot. What the characters steal, the same as what they escape to doesn’t matter. It’s the journey, not the destination. Which is why it’s disappointing when the show decides to just end suddenly at a relatively anti-climactic moment.

The show is a prequel to Rogue One, and although it’s miles better than its television predecessor Obi-Wan that is faint qualifying praise. Star Wars fans’ expectations have been beaten down by disappointment after disappointment after disappointment followed by The Book of Boba Fett. I’ve said enough about the decaying quality of the Star Wars franchise under Kathleen Kennedy that I won’t exhaust you here, but suffice it to say that if my family didn’t already have access to Disney Plus I wouldn’t be reviewing it here. Perhaps the $130 million+ budget would be more worth it if the rest of Disney’s Star Wars empire weren’t crumbling around it. But for now its nothing more than an aberration.

Rating: 6.5/10

Some Nice Things:

  • This looked outstanding by the previews, and the sets are great, if this were a Game of Thrones-style focused 10-episode series it might be worth something but there’s too much bloat that smothers the good performances.
  • I can’t remember the last time I cared about a character in Star Wars more than I did Kino Loy, perhaps Finn in Episode 7 but not since then.
  • Stellan Skarsgard shows the value of good acting in this series. He has more of a character presence than Mon Mothma who has been in two theatrical Star Wars but feels chained to the rhythms of whatever Star Wars is supposed to be written in George Lucas’s abandoned scrolls.
  • There is thankfully one more season, I say it even though this is the best Star Wars has been in six years because the most frustrating bit of all of this is the lack of closure. It’s time for the sequel era to end and move on from the shadow of the original trilogy.

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