For some of us who are lifelong Star Wars fans, this has been a strange time in fandom. Our love for a simple story about a kid who becomes a hero has expanded so much over the years. From three movies that told what we thought was a complete story to nine films that have split the fandom with endless TV shows and spinoffs, it’s been a wild ride.
It can also feel like a cash grab. I’’s odd to love something so much and want more of it but also realize that some of it is out there just to keep everyone talking. It’s not that I haven’t loved the shows that are out there. For the most part, I have, but Andor feels different.
Here we have a story that, on its face, is seemingly a strange one to tell. We’re following Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), someone we know the tragic fate of from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Knowing what happens should take away from the story of what led up to us, right?
It doesn’t. With far more episodes to tell his story in than something like The Book of Boba Fett, we’re not just looking at the story of Cassian Andor. We’re looking at a very different side of the Rebellion, and it’s not confined to his tale.
There is something very comforting in that. The six-episode model lets writers touch on some points but never gives us time to settle in and get wrapped up. It feels like we have to put our lives on hold for six weeks, analyze every scene for clues, and quickly move on. With Andor, there is a whole different pace. There is a place for the mystery of it all.
This series feels like a great political thriller novel. (I’ve seen the first four episodes given to the press, and I won’t spoil it for you.) We have time to wonder about Cass’s mom (Fiona Shaw) and the motivations of the officers like Dedra (Denise Gough).
With more than six episodes, who each character is doesn’t have to be immediately telegraphed. You get to ponder the goals of someone like Bix (Adria Arjona), Cass’s friend. You can take time to see a particular central character go from one persona to another and wonder how he managed to hide. We don’t have to find it all out right away.
That’s the beauty of what I’ve seen of Andor so far. It has the time to unfold in a way that the earlier shows didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I will defend The Mandalorian all day long, but I will admit that it often feels rushed. It feels like an event the production company wants to hook us all on (yes, it worked) and keep our attention focused on. Andor, however, feels like a real story. It’s like a novel unfolding only as fast as I can read it. There is time to ponder what’s going on.
Once we bring Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) into it in episode 4 (which gave me time to anticipate a character I’ve been dying to see more of), I was utterly hooked. I don’t feel like I have to do homework to watch, so I catch every Easter egg and reference that has to be shoved into a short story. It unfolds slowly.
I think that’s the thing about a story that doesn’t rely on a viewer’s past knowledge of a character. Yes, we’ve seen Cassian Andor before, but we don’t know much about him. That means his past is introduced, not stuck in our heads from the last time we saw him. I’m sure there are plenty of Easter eggs in here (I spotted a number of them), but it doesn’t feel like we have to know them or be left behind.
I’m not saying I always want to go back to 23-episode television. It’s just that some stories, particularly ones that involved the politics of an entire galaxy could use some time to breathe.
Diego Luna had me hooked right away. That’s saying something because when I first heard about the show, I believe I said something to the effect of, “I barely remember his character. I’m very surprised that this is whom they chose to wrap a show around.” Within the first few minutes, I wanted to know who he was looking for and who was looking for him, and I was completely ready to dive in.
Once his relationship with Bix was shown, I needed to know their history. All I will say about Mon Mothma is that I am completely hooked by her character beyond what I thought. The little glimpse we get of her in the films did not prepare me for how into her deception and bravery I would be.
There is so much I want to talk about with this series so far, but it would all enter spoiler territory, so suffice it to say right now, four episodes have barely scratched the surface of this story in the best way. I feel like I have a glimpse into a world spoken about in the films and series, and I want to dive in completely. There is no higher praise I can give a show than that.
ANDOR REVIEW SCORE: 8.5 OUT OF 10
The first three episodes of Andor will launch on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 21.
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games, and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.