- Created by Tony Gilroy
- September 21, 2022 to November 23, 2022
- Cassian Andor-Diego Luna
- Syril Karn-Kyle Soller
- Bix Caleen-Adria Arjona
- Maarva Andor-Fiona Shaw
- Luthen Rael-Stellan Skarsgård
- Dedra Meero-Denise Gough
- Mon Mothma-Genevieve O’Reilly
- Vel Sartha-Faye Marsay
- Cinta Kaz-Varada Sethu
- Kleya Marki-Elizabeth Dulau
- Brasso-Joplin Sibtain
- Timm Karlo-James McArdle
- Chief Hyne-Rupert Vansittart
- Sergeant Linus Mosk-Alex Ferns
- Clem Andor-Gary Beadle
- Eedy Karn-Kathryn Hunter
- Perrin Fertha-Alastair Mackenzie
- Major Partagaz-Anton Lesser
- Karis Nemik-Alex Lawther
- Lieutenant Gorn-Sule Rimi
- Arvel Skeen-Ebon Moss-Bachrach
- Taramyn Barcona-Gershwyn Eustache Jnr
- Commandant Jayhold Beehaz-Stanley Townsend
- Tay Kolma-Ben Miles
- Kino Loy-Andy Serkis
- Ruescott Melshi-Duncan Pow
- Saw Gerrera-Forest Whitaker
- Davo Sculdun-Richard Dillane
- B2EMO-Dave Chapman (voice)
- Lonni Jung-Michael Jenn
An incident while searching for his sister sets Cassian Andor on a fateful path.
I can’t say I was particularly interested in Andor when I first heard it announced. After all we know how Cassian Andor’s story ends. And for the purposes of Rogue One we got all we needed to know about the character from that. In comparison to a character like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Han Solo or Luke Skywalker there weren’t multiple films which could produce extended questions or curiosities when it came to the characters past or future.
I am happy to report that I should have been interested from the very start. I’ve heard this series called “Star Wars for adults” but in my opinion all Star Wars is for adults. Star Wars in and of itself is a family friendly universe that adults can watch with their kids or by themselves. This is a more mature Star Wars and on the darker side which is what Rogue One was. It’s something different in the mold of Star Wars. Different yet still feels like it belongs in the Star Wars universe.
There are no epic space battles with fleets of vessels facing off or force sensitive individuals or laser sword battles. What this focuses on is the blue-collar aspect of the Star Wars universe. This is how the Empire affects the average individual. It takes a weirdly realistic yet Star Wars friendly approach to everything from the Empire to the individual characters.
And the Empire feels like a really dangerous presence in the lives of everyone. What I get from this is much like what I have read about East Germany or the Soviet Union in the heyday of communism. Friends would turn in friends and neighbors couldn’t be trusted.
This is beautiful looking Star Wars. Not always in the classical clean Star Wars way but in a lived in and long existing world type of way. It has shots of cities and just beautiful spaceship ports and space and Star Wars had them aplenty.
What Andor benefits in a story sense is multiple episodes to tell its narrative. Elements are laid out and built upon. Seemingly simple things contribute or prove to be part of something larger. Characters are given complex motivations. For example Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), who really starts it all, is not just some job obsessed corporate cog (which he also is) but rather driven by the damage caused by an emotionally and overbearing mother (Kathryn Hunter) for whom nothing is ever good enough. He is driven by an intense need to impress others and prove himself because of her.
Andor start out the story trying to locate a missing sister but has his own demons and flaws that have contributed to his problem and are causing one mistake to become so much worse for not only him but those around him.
During the course of the series Andor demonstrates an ability to lead and inspire others in this show as well as an intelligence and cunning. His leadership and cunning are not used necessarily because he wants to take down the evil Empire or of a general altruistic nature but more from a sense of self preservation
Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), an ISB security officer, is looking to make her mark in life but doesn’t know really how to go about it. She wants to rise in the ranks, but she feels a bit out of her element. These are all complex and real people given a depth not common in Star Wars. I’m not knocking other Star Wars, but this is a different animal than much of what has come before and it does things differently yet still feels a part of the lore.
While I understand building up characters that Cassian interacts with or who must go after him, I don’t understand building up ones that he has no interaction with. Building up Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), while I appreciated it, seemed a little unnecessary at multiple points. In the overall arc of the series she barely connects to Cassian or anything he really does. In fact what he does is make her organizational efforts a bit more difficult. It is not until the eighth or ninth episode that she’s even tangentially aware of his existence.
For much of her existence we knew very little about Mon Mothma and it wasn’t until more recent Star Wars efforts that she began to actually develop as a character. When you get here is rather interesting. She is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t seem to really want anymore with a husband she cannot trust as she tries to use her position to financially build up a rebellion. And Cassian Andor‘s actions or actions he is involved in pushes her to do things before she is emotionally ready even though it is probably the right time to do them for the rest of the galaxy.
The appearance by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) during the course of the series felt a little unnecessary. While it drove home how connected to it all Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) was, based on dialogue in another scene with ISB officer Lonni Jung (Michael Jenn) among other moments of the series we knew how connected Luthen was and how involved he was in getting things started in a fight against the Empire. It came across as a ham-fisted way of highlighting connection to Rogue One.
And there are points where the title character is barely present in the series that has his name on it. This was when they instead choose to focus on side characters. This is about Andor (or should be) and all those characters that got some spotlight pushed him out. This did produce some bright spots so it might not be all bad such as B2EMO.
B2EMO (voiced by Dave Chapman) is a droid owned by Cassian’s adoptive mother Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw). For much of the show it is treated no different than C-3PO or any number of droids that pop on screen in Star Wars-like an object and not something with thoughts or even feelings like they have all clearly demonstrated. Not to reveal too much but when Maarva passes and others mourn, B2EMO mourns as well and is perhaps the most devasted of all. And it is just heartbreaking.
Characters could grow or change based on new information. They weren’t necessarily caricatures. Not only did Cassian Andor grow over the twelve episodes but so did Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) among others. We meet the character when Cassian is unjustly tossed in prison. He started out trying to keep his head down and doing what he had to do to get out. When he learned that just wasn’t going to happen he changed.
Speaking of Kino Loy, I had heard about “I can’t swim” and thought people were overreacting. When that moment came I was heartbroken. A character I had started out disliking because he was willing to be a cog in the system of the Empire, I felt heartbroken over because in just a short amount of time they were able to get me to care about this character and he was in a no win scenario. That’s not only great acting but great writing and directing as well.
Andor is a masterclass in writing and acting. This is a show that was crafted by people that cared about the material. They wanted to do something special that also honored that which inspired it. And what we got was some of the best live action Star Wars to date.
Star Wars previously has only really hinted at the evil of the Empire. I’m not talking like the big things of blowing up Alderaan or of Order 66. I’m talking about secret police or of the populace living in a surveillance society. I’m talking about prison labor. I’m talking about spies everywhere. These are things that have only been assumed but here are shown to exist. These are all hallmarks of authoritarian regimes. They seek to control a society and watch for every aspect of possible disloyalty.
And as Cassian Andor observes they do it because they are afraid. Someone or something that is truly in control doesn’t need all the steps the Empire has taken to maintain order. They do it because they barely have control and what control they do have is more of an illusion than real. It’s a surprisingly real-world bit inserted into a universe with space wizards and planet destroying weaponry. And they do it in such a way that it fits in smoothly.
This show has done something for me when it comes to Star Wars that I haven’t felt in quite some time: unbridled excitement. I am always excited over Star Wars, but this brought it to ‘unbridled excitement’. It’s addictive and goes down so smoothly that it’s easy to marathon through. The show is evenly paced and just builds. It’s a connected narrative but each episode has a payoff of its own at the end while contributing to the overall story. And it gets you excited and leaves you wanting more.
The finale is a mix of somber and uplifting. It fits in the mold of original Star Wars as well as the mold of Rogue One. It’s a rousing finish with serious consequences and sets the stage for the future. You take it as either the start of the rebellion or simply the start of unrest and rebellion on the planet of Ferrix. And more importantly it is the culmination of everything that has occurred in the series from the opening scenes up until the final minutes. The story of Andor has been all leading there even if you do not necessarily see it. And wait for that post credits scene in the last episode. It connects to what Andor was doing in the prison as well as other stuff.
From a visually stunning lived-in world to even one great space battle Andor has everything that makes Star Wars what it is yet has enough to make it it’s only thing that fits in with a Star Wars universe. Star Wars: Andor-Season One is a must see for all Star Wars fans. It is exciting and emotional and just beautiful to watch. This is an amazing bit of television.