By Henry Fisher | November 28, 2022
“Andor” is by far the best Star Wars production in recent years. It gracefully uses its runtime of 12, approximately 45-minute, episodes (long for Disney+) and makes an interwoven, complex storyline filled with the nuance that audiences love to see.
This review will be split between a broader overview – one that is spoiler free – followed by a spoiler-filled analysis of the story itself.
Disney’s Star Wars has shown us that Disney usually doesn’t know how to work with older characters, like those from the Original Trilogy or Prequel Trilogy, but they have been able to craft beautiful stories with original characters. “The Mandalorian,” “Rogue One,” and “Andor” all focus (mostly) on characters that Disney created. The titular character of “Andor,” Cassian Andor, was one of many in the ensemble cast of “Rogue One.” When his series was initially announced, I reacted as I did to many Disney+ releases: “Why?”
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), while one of the more interesting characters from “Rogue One” didn’t have a stand-out performance per se, as he didn’t have any deep and unanswered questions. “Andor” places the audience on his shoulder and uses him as a lens for the early days of the Rebellion, twisting through intriguing storylines.
The music in “Andor” is something of great note. It is beautifully done, working with the pace and tone of each episode. Star Wars has long been known for its music, and the soundtrack doesn’t disappoint. Sound effects in general are well done, especially on the planet of Ferrix.
The C.G.I. in “Andor” looked incredible, which was especially impressive given the prevalence of the extremely detailed set piece of the city planet of Coruscant, where several of the series’ storylines take place. There is also one noteworthy piece of C.G.I. that I will discuss in the spoiler zone.
Last thing before I get into spoilers – the characters. “Andor” works with a very large cast of characters. By my count, there are six perspectives followed, though one could probably divide it into different groups. While they all focus around Andor (the character) to a degree, each one contains their own characters and individual storylines. Each one expands the scope of the story and the time in which the story takes place.
To end off my spoiler-free segment, I will say one thing: watch “Andor.”
“I am condemned to use the tools of my enemy to defeat them. I burn my decency for someone else’s future. I burn my life to make a sunrise I know I’ll never see.”
That quote comes from a monologue by Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), and it perfectly describes the show and its tone. The titular character is already destined to die in “Rogue One,” fighting for a future he will never know. All of the Rebel characters, from Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) to Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) to Luthen Rael know the stakes. While Mon Mothma seeks to maintain her morals, both Saw and Luthen are ready to do whatever is necessary for a brighter future.
This attitude is perfect for a show like “Andor.” It shows a darker side to the Rebellion, a Rebellion that is simply unwilling to lose. Luthen and Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) fight on opposite sides of the conflict, and yet their tactics are frighteningly similar.
In a show focused around espionage and political intrigue, this message is key. It carries “Andor,” granting it a status unseen by the likes of “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the preceding Star Wars live-action shows to “Andor.” They feel somewhat aimless, not really telling a story with any particular point or motive. Those two shows also have a clearly defined main character, ones that have existed in Star Wars media for decades.
Coming back around to my earlier comment on noteworthy C.G.I., the effects during “The Eye” are truly incredible. The array of colors that grows more and more complex as Andor and company escape from the Aldhani heist reinforces an already amazing episode. Having this visual tied into the story is another way that “Andor” surpasses other Disney+ shows – every detail has meaning.
Something that is definitely quite the spoiler are the many deaths of “Andor.” So many characters die in this show, and yet, each one feels impactful. Cassian Andor himself works with three separate crews in this show, and is one of a few survivors in all instances. Somehow, this works. The writers had a nearly perfect balance of screen time for each to hammer in that impact.
The finale of the show, “Rix Road,” is a masterful combination of the many storylines of the season into a satisfying conclusion. The music here is especially on point, with the funeral procession combined with the anvil guy (a personal favorite). Every character has goals in this scenario, and it is fascinating to see them clash.
I would give “Andor” a 9/10. It has truly impressed me. I am excited for its second season, but also for other Star Wars shows to follow in its footsteps, giving us more nuanced stories with a clear focus, and a clear message. Stories that don’t make you ask why they exist in the first place.