Andor – Episode 1-3 Review

Director: Toby Haynes

Writer: Tony Gilroy

Starring: Diego Luna, Kyle Soller, Adria Arjona, Joplin Sibtain, James McArdle, Rupert Vansittart, Stellan Skarsgård, Fiona Shaw, Alex Ferns, Gary Beadle, Genevieve O’Reilly, Denise Gough

Rating: ★★★★½

The first season of Andor starts five years before the 2016 film Rogue One, giving a back story to Cassian Ando, played by Diego Luna, reprising his role from the film. Rogue One has a different style and tone to most other entries to the franchise, and the new series keeps that tone. There’s a grittiness to it that’s not in the other Star Wars series. With the first three episodes it’s on a lot smaller scale that Kenobi or even The Mandalorian. Andor is not yet a hero of the rebellion, but instead searching for his sister. It’s not the full might of the empire that’s after him, but Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), an over-ambitious officer of the Pre-Mor Authority.

The first three episodes have all been released at once on Disney Plus and really work as one feature-length episode. It’s a real slow burn show so far, with these episodes being half the length of the entire Kenobi show, without anywhere near as much happening. It’s still part of the same universe, with the familiar sound effects, speeders, and blasters, but it’s showing a much darker and seedier side of it. The first episode opens with Cassian travelling to an illegal brothel in order to find his sister, who may have been working there. It’s not explicit in anyway, but from the opening sequence you can tell the grittier tone from Rogue One is here. Cassian himself is brutal, killing two members of the Authority in a back alley when they try to rob him, shooting one at point blank range as he pleads for his life. This act puts Cassian in the sights of Syril Karn, who focuses on finding and capturing Cassian, using every resource at his disposal.

Diego Luna is great in the role (although he does look like Paul McCartney circa 1970/McCartney I album era, which can’t be unseen once you notice it), making the character likable despite all of his flaws, which isn’t the only way that Cassian feels similar to Han Solo. He’s a smuggler, who owes a lot of people money and is running out of favours from people. Intersected throughout the three episodes are flashbacks showing Cassian as a young boy and the events that set everything in motion, which add a lot to his characters. It’s interesting to think that his actions will help spark the events of the original trilogy and the idea that heroes can come from anywhere is on display with the flashbacks as well as the ‘present day’ storyline in the way the people stand up and join together when the Pre-Mor Authority comes to town. They stand by each other, and it’s really good to see the everyday resistance against the empire.

Something else we get to see in the first episode is the corruption and laziness within the Pre-Mor Authority, and the empire as a whole. Syril Karn’s superior tells him to leave the murder investigation alone, and cover it up as an accident, saying that the more brief the crime report is, the better it is for everyone. The members of the Authority are involved with illegal activities themselves, turning a blind eye illegal establishments to operate. It’s a far cry from the clean cut empire that we’re used to from the original films, and it’s always interesting to see different sides of the universe.

When Disney first bought the Star Wars franchise ten years ago, there were no calls for a prequel showing the plans for the Death Star being stolen, but Rogue One still turned out pretty great, and gets better with each re-watch. My biggest issue with that film is the characters did not get enough development and Andor is set to change that for at least Cassian. We’re only three episodes in, with the overall story only just starting, but it’s been great so far and the next episodes can’t come soon enough.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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