Andor Review

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Benjamin Birnbaum, Contributor

Andor is the Star Wars series I didn’t know I wanted, but I’m thrilled that I got to watch it. Disney + has been cranking out Star Wars live-action series since 2019, with Disney’s release of The Mandalorian, which has gained critical acclaim and numerous awards. Following the Mandalorian’s release, Disney has given Star Wars fans six other series hoping to bridge gaps in the Star Wars timeline for fans. One of which is Andor which stars Diego Luna as the titular Cassian Andor from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story One in a series that is created by Tony Gilroy.

The series is set five years before the events of Rogue One and Episode IV, which shows the perspective of Cassian Andor, who, after killing several Imperial officers in an alleyway, is a wanted man and is recruited by a stranger called Luthen to become a part of an assault on an Imperial garrison. What follows is an adventure that gives Cassian a new perspective on the difference he can make. The series also tells the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on a path destined to turn him into a rebel hero.  

As I said earlier, Andor is the Star Wars series I didn’t know I wanted, but I am thrilled it got made. I was blown away by the series’ outstanding production value, a tremendous and tightly knit story, compelling characters, a phenomenal soundtrack and near-perfect pacing. I found the first few episodes, while they felt a little slow, were great at setting up the worldbuilding and the characters.

I really enjoyed seeing Cassian, as a character, progress throughout the series from a thief who was only serving himself to someone who comes around to see the noble merits of the Rebels’ mission. I liked Diego Luna in Rogue One, and while he was intriguing, he was just shown as a diehard rebel. Now I am glad to see the character more fleshed out in the series as we learn more about his backstory and history. Diego Luna’s acting is also out of the park as he is compelling to watch, and his acting helps hold the series together. 

Besides Cassian, Andor is held together by a beautiful cast of characters, such as Stellan Skarsgård who plays the deliciously mysterious Luthen Rael, who is unpredictable, and I never quite knew what was going through his head, but his complex motivations were quite engaging. I also found Adria Arjona, as Bix Caleen, a great addition to the show, bringing warmth and loyalty to the series. The series had many great guest cameos who never felt out of place. One of my favorites was Andy Serkis’ portrayal of Kino Loy, the floor manager inside the facility where Cassian is later locked up. He is engaging to watch and gives a powerful monologue to the other prisoners that had me gripped to the edge of my seat. Genevieve O’Reilly also returns to play Mon Mothma, after previously playing the character in Rogue One, she returns more developed and engaging in political scenes that have sort of a Game of Thrones vibe to them.  

Moving on to the villains, while they are not as iconic, they give excellent performances. I am really gripped by Denise Gough as Dedra Meero. I found it interesting that I was rooting for her, even when I knew it was wrong, as she is determined to make her way up a male-dominated hierarchy, and she is given the complexities of real people. I also liked Kyle Soller as Syril Karn, someone who is ambitious and searching for recognition, which makes him all the more relatable and enjoyable to watch. I also found his relationship with Meero interesting, and I’m interested in where it will go next season.   

One of the best things Andor has going for it is its visual style. The series is visually stunning compared to other Star Wars series. One of the best looking was a moment in Episode Six, where Cassian and his crew fly through the Eye of Aldhani being chased by Tie Fighters, which are more menacing and terrifying than they have ever been. The music done by Nicholas Britell is also notable because it sounds nothing like previous Star Wars music, in a good way. 

Overall, Andor is the best Star Wars series that has been made. It’s a masterfully constructed political and espionage thriller that is not afraid to address real-world issues and challenge the oppressive nature of order and security. Its cast is top-tier, it is visually stunning to look at, the music is great and its pacing is good, despite a slow start, which may put some off at first. However, once it hits its stride, it never looks back and develops into a tremendous series. Star Wars has never looked this good, and will never look better.