Reel Thoughts: ‘Andor’ is a fantastic expansion to the galaxy far, far away


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

“Andor” has excelled at providing a sense of danger and oppressive forces similar to that of George Orwell’s “1984.”

Danny O’Grady, Reporter

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

Since the polarizing conclusion of the Skywalker Saga in 2019, Disney has capitalized on the Star Wars blockbuster franchise through Disney+ exclusive shows. So far, Disney’s newest addition to the universe is “Andor” — perhaps its best live-action television show to date.

“Andor” takes place between the prequel and original trilogies of Star Wars films. The series is a spinoff to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and focuses on Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an important intelligence agent for the rebellion. The show follows Andor as he joins the rebellion and learns what it means to sacrifice for a good cause.

The show also introduces oodles of new characters and planets that meaningfully expand the overall Star Wars canon. New planets like Ferrix and Narkina 5 are a refreshing change of pace from a recent trend that took every Star Wars show to the planet Tatooine. As a result, “Andor” does not come off as a shameless cash-grab but rather an intentionally crafted work of art.

Most notable among these new characters is Kino Loy (Andy Serkis). Starting as a gruff floor manager resigned to imprisonment, Loy is emboldened by Andor to stand up for himself and lead a prison revolt. He may not be the most important or visible character in the Star Wars universe, but Loy is crucial to Andor’s development and understanding of what it takes to be a leader. Andor is able to learn these skills by watching how Loy commands the other prisoners on the floor with a style that balances firmness and compassion.

“Andor” also creates a strained yet fruitful dynamic between Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård). “Andor” puts Mothma center-stage for the first time in the series, as she had previously been relegated to a background role. 

Now, Mothma is a major character, at the forefront of the rebellion with her hardline stance against the emperor’s growing power. In contrast, the show introduces Luthen as a rebellion leader without qualms about using violence to obtain freedom. 

One masterful monologue sums up Rael’s motivations, as he struggles to conquer his inner battle to create “a sunrise (he) will never see.”

Strong performances across the board add depth and emotion to nearly every character in the show. There is hardly a weak link among any of the actors, which helps the audience become emotionally invested in its characters.

Tony Gilroy masterfully weaves a gritty atmosphere (much like the one in “Rogue One”) that doesn’t rely on over-the-top action or special effects to engage the audience — which is very different from Marvel’s copy-and-paste movies. Even a simple bureaucratic meeting of imperial officers becomes entertaining in “Andor.” The atmosphere is heavily reminiscent of George Orwell’s “1984” with similar themes of rebellion and oppression.

While Andor’s titular tale is by no means flawless, most of my criticisms are merely nitpicks. For instance, introducing multiple new characters at once means they all blend together at first. Furthermore, compelling characters like Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) and Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw) deserve more screen time. The overall pacing is stellar, but the plot did dramatically slow when Andor becomes imprisoned.

“Andor” seems poised to take the top spot of all the “Star Wars” live-action shows, thanks to its iconic characters, strong acting performances, refreshing gritty atmosphere and unique settings. With its only downsides being a few minor oversights, prepare to sit back and enjoy the finale on Nov. 23.

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Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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