Whenever I get into a heated debate over whether or not the benefits of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber crossguard outweigh the many impracticalities of the thing, I have to remind myself that Star Wars was, and mostly still is, primarily made for kids.
This reminder is a soothing balm for whenever the Jar Jar Binkses of the Star Wars galaxy stumble onto the screen, but it is also one that I sometimes forget to apply because I, like many others, grew up with the franchise. Shouldn’t we older fans be catered to now and then as well as kids?
As they did with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Mandalorian before it, Disney actually obliged this last year by giving us Andor, possibly the most “grown up” Star Wars project to date.
The prequel to the prequel to the original, which is itself the fourth film in a nine-part saga, Andor explores the early days of the Rebellion from the eyes of Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor from 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (mostly from his eyes, anyway… the cast is enormous).
Unlike Disney+’s other Star Wars offerings, the story of Andor starts slow. Like, really slow. Nothing much happens in the first couple of episodes, and even after things hit the fan the events unfold on their own sweet time. I did not mind this at all. I found it refreshing, in fact, that Andor goes the more character-driven route rather than feeling the need for a spectacle every few minutes.
A first for a franchise not known for having particularly good dialogue, the writing of Andor is engaging and believable, although I definitely recommend watching the show with subtitles—characters have a tendency to talk quietly and mumble at times, and when you factor in made up space-words it can be quite easy to miss an important nuance or two as plans, politics, and even philosophy are discussed.
These mumbly characters are, perhaps, the strongest asset that Andor enjoys. I said that the cast is enormous, and it is true, but every character, from the bad guys to the rebel foot soldiers to Andor himself are interesting to watch, proving once and for all that you don’t need a Skywalker or a Solo or a Kenobi to make a moving entry into the Star Wars canon. Despite this large ensemble Andor solidly remains the main character, a tough juggling act to pull off when you have as many irons in the fire as his show does.
And it is not all talking, of course… Andor still takes the time to inject some war into its Star Wars. When action does happen it is grounded and highly cathartic, a result of showrunner Tony Gilroy’s ability to ramp up expectations and let things breathe. The pacing of Andor is very well done, although I admit that I would have been frustrated if I had watched the show as each episode aired week after week instead of watching them all back-to-back like I did.
I’m finding it hard to say anything bad about Andor; not only is it Star Wars for grownups, but it is Star Wars at its best.
Andor season 1 is now available on Disney+.