The five-year-old me who saw A New Hope for the first time would find Andor an incredibly boring show. The 40-year-old me who saw Andor for the first time is thoroughly impressed with the latest Disney + offering from a galaxy far, far away.
Andor is set five years before the events of Rogue One and welcomes back the film’s creative architect, Tony Gilroy, who masterfully has the Empire loom over everything despite being completely absent from the first three episodes.
In fact, the first three episodes carry very few references to the world it plays in. The first verbal Star Wars reference occurs at the 20-minute mark. The inaugural episode opens in a red light district that looks like it was pulled directly from Blade Runner.
While there is no explicit imagery, there are no illusions about where we are as Cassian Andor gets himself in a predicament that sets the stage for his journey. The rebellion is a far cry from the Rebel Alliance generally associated with Han, Luke, and Leia.
Rebellion is a dirty business, and Andor makes no bones about it.
We’re introduced to Preox-Morlana security inspectors, essentially Imperial rent-a-cops who’ve let the power go to their head. To draw a real-world comparison, Preox-Morlana is the local police, and the Empire is the FBI, who eventually takes the reigns, increasing the stakes dramatically.
Acting is a mixed bag in Star Wars. However, Tony Gilroy’s narrative produces the best casting, writing, and acting to grace the franchise. It’s a stellar cast in every aspect imaginable.
Diego Luna shines in his return as Cassian Andor. He is a guy in a poor and underserved part of the galaxy hustling his way through life until fate intervenes in the form of Stellan Skarsgard’s Luthen Rael.
Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn is Preox-Morlan’s over-ambitious jackbooted thug viewers will love to hate. Fiona Shaw’s commanding presence as Maarva Andor is a scene stealer. Adria Arjona’s Bix is a strong and loyal salvage worker whose beauty doesn’t define her character.
Perhaps Andor’s sentimental favorite character is the boxy red salvage droid of the Andor family, B2EMO. Dave Chapman, the voice actor of BB-8, makes the worn and technically challenged droid a faithful companion everyone would want in their life.
There’s a scene where someone threatened to pull out B2’s battery, and the fear Champman emotes is heartbreaking.
Those who find no issue with the slow burn of Andor’s opening salvo will be highly engaged with the characters and world-building that is masterfully small in scale and large in scope. It’s a prequel of a prequel that goes all in the new.
In fact, there is so much new that one might wonder if Andor is even a Star Wars show. As a franchise referred to as sci-fi fantasy, the significant absence of fantasy helps Andor take Star Wars on its first steps into a larger world.
The remaining eight episodes of Star Wars: Andor premiere Wednesday’s on Disney +.