by Hans Engel ’23
The Post-Sequel Star Wars era has been unorthodox since TV shows have dominated, and we’ve seen a wild mix of live action and cartoon in The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars Season 7, The Bad Batch, The Book of Boba Fett, Star Wars: Visions, Kenobi, Tales of the Jedi, and finally Andor. To the average Star Wars fan the plethora of content could be difficult to navigate. Everybody’s seen The Mandalorian, but should you watch something like Tales of the Jedi, or does that make you a nerd? Are Star Wars cartoons important to watch, or are they unnecessary content for kids? In this fray, Andor has mostly gone unseen. Many fans don’t even know it exists, and Lucasfilm seems reluctant to put out a half decent ad for the show. Whatever your concerns, though, you should give this show a chance.
Whatever your opinion of modern Star Wars is, something that most everyone agrees on is that two things, cinematography and music, will almost always be exceptional. The good news is that Andor is no exception. While its soundtrack fails to achieve the catchyness of The Mandalorian theme, it does do an excellent job of serving the atmosphere of the story. The show’s cinematography, however, is most assuredly the best out of any Star Wars TV series and stands right along with the best scenes in the movies. The standout scene, when a Star Wars version of a meteor shower comes to fruition, absolutely blew my mind. It echoes the fantastic cinematography in Rogue One, where scenes such as the Death Star rising above Scarif or when Darth Vader’s red lightsaber terrifyingly luminates a dark hallway of a rebel ship similarly enraptured me.
Andor’s characters are also almost all completely original, something that takes guts and pays off for the viewer. Granted, not all the characters are exceptional, and the writing definitely takes a page out of Rogue One, but it’s incredibly fresh compared to the fan service often deployed in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. I’ve been a fan of Diego Luna since his portrayal of cartel lord Miguel Felix Gallardo in Narcos: Mexico, and I find his performance to be mostly top notch in Andor. Other standouts are Andy Serkis as Kino Loy, Kyle Soeller as Syril Karn, Denise Glough as Derdra Meero, Alex Lawther as Karis Nemik, and Geniveve O’ Reilly as Mon Mothma. These supporting characters flesh the story out, and their dynamic performance means that every scene and plotline is extremely gratifying to watch. However, one character is a stand-out: Stellan Skarsgård’s performance as Luthen Rael is absolutely unreal, and I find myself rewatching almost every scene he’s in. Luthen is without a doubt one of the coolest, most harcore characters Star Wars has ever seen, which is expanded by the fact that he is completely original to this show. The duality of his life in the upper class of Coruscant and his dirty role in the creation of the Rebellion is, in my opinion, the show’s most interesting concept. His monologue in episode ten is my favorite scene in the show and perhaps one of my favorite scenes in all of Star Wars. His “I share my dreams with ghosts” line is undoubtedly one of the most “wizard” things any Star Wars character has ever said. Luthen is even easily my most anticipated part of season two.
Andor’s plot is extremely mature for a Star Wars series, and if the viewer can find the slowest parts palatable, then the payoff is glorious. Andor is the type of show that will make you wait, but it will reward you fabulously. The three episode arc, with two build up episodes and a payoff episode format, is one that I can appreciate because even its slowest scenes are at least somewhat well made and definitely watchable. Still, my favorite parts of Andor are the action-packed finales. While Watching Andor, whenever you think something drastic is going to happen, it most certainly does. The show has zero lightsabers, something that — although was concerning at first — I began to appreciate. The characters in Andor lack the Jedi or even Sith sense of honor and will shoot at first at first thought, giving a scumbag early Han Solo energy. It informs one of the show’s major themes about the dark side of the rebellion, and adds to the gritty, dark feel of the series. Another appreciated part about Andor is how pretty much every arc is better than the last. Although my favorite happens to be the third arc, the show speeds up at every turn. Each new arc comes with new locations, characters, and themes to prevent the show from ever getting stale.
Andor was a pleasant surprise for me. The Star Wars universe had just begun to seem stale when this show came on to the scene and upset the status quo. It’s something that its ties to Rogue One, and its different style ultimately should not have come as a shocking surprise to fans of this film. Although it’s not perfect, with some minorly annoying characters and slight pacing issues, the show’s strides earn it the title of criminally underrated. I could easily write three times as much as this on different reasons why I love Andor, but I think the best way to experience that is by watching the show itself. When Disney seemed to appreciate fan service and marketable characters (I still love you Baby Yoda) over plot development, Andor breathed new life into Star Wars, for which I am extremely grateful.
Overall, I would give Andor a 9.6 out of 10.