The series premieres with a three-episode release tomorrow on Disney+.
In recent years, Star Wars has been at its best when it delivers stories where the focal point is off the Skywalker family and centered on lesser-known characters. Case in point with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Mandalorian, which are two properties in this universe that have provided more excitement in delivering stories that don’t feel entirely familiar and are more mature to some extent (though still kid friendly). The potential for great Star Wars content outside the Skywalker saga will always be limitless, which is why the prospects for Andor have the potential to deliver a great series that can fill in some of the gaps in the overarching story.
Andor takes place five years before the events in Rogue One and focuses on Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who we now see as a thief before becoming a spy for the Rebellion. Labeled as a grounded story about the rise of the Rebellion, we know the runway of the series, which will have two, 12-episode seasons to bridge the gap between Andor and Rogue One. The series is also being run by Tony Gilroy, who infamously was brought in to help get Rogue One to the finish line before its release (let’s also not forget that Gilroy wrote and directed the great Academy Award-winning film Michael Clayton).
All these components provide the makings for a must-watch series, right? However, after watching the first four episodes in the series, I caution viewers to exercise some early patience with this series.
After a great opening scene in the premiere episode, the first two episodes of the series are sluggish in terms of storytelling and pacing. Some of the early backstory will likely pay off at some point during the show’s run; however, some of the storytelling progression in the present-day setting moves at a snail’s pace and possibly could have been cut out altogether. Maybe the answer would have been to have been to edit and combine the first two episodes into one, but it’s still too early to make that claim. But still, early on Andor will test its viewers, some of whom may check out of the series for a bit or abandon it entirely.
All that being said, there is a moment in the three-episode premiere of Andor that moves the needle (and we won’t spoil it here) to the point where some of its viewers might say, “This is where the fun begins.” And Episode Four premiering next Thursday begins to home in on the overall story of the series. And even during moments in the first couple of episodes where things weren’t moving at an ideal pace, there is no debate that Andor is the best-looking Star Wars show to date. The most likely reason for that is that this is the first Star Wars series shot mostly on set without relying on The Volume technology— one of the hottest things on Hollywood productions these days–that was on display in The Mandalorian.
It will be interesting to see how things play out on Andor in the weeks to come. One would hope that the story will be well-rounded with new characters to get behind instead of relying on well-known Star Wars personalities making cameo appearances throughout the series to generate excitement. Case in point is Luthen Rael, played by experienced actor Stellan Skarsgard, who is the best part about the early stages of the series.
When Andor was first announced, it sounded like the most promising live action Star Wars series to date, which is why it’s disappointing that it stumbles out of the gate. However, by eventually finding its footing, the foundation is there for the series to deliver exactly what its viewers want to see the rest of the way.
615 Film was given the first four episodes of Andor for review. All images courtesy of Disney.