‘Andor’s’ Three-Episode Premiere is a Breath of Fresh Air

By Ben Konuch

“There comes a time when the risk of doing nothing becomes the greatest risk of all.”

I’m a massive “Star Wars” fan and have been for as long as I can remember. I would play with my brother’s “Star Wars” Legos when I was little, grew up on “The Clone Wars,” and sunk into the extended lore of books and video games as I became a teenager. As a diehard fan, however, the last few years of “Star Wars” content have been hit or miss. We’ve had the controversial sequel trilogy, but “The Mandalorian” and its sequel season seemingly shifted the reception of the franchise after mixed opinions. Following it up with the spectacular “Jedi: Fallen Order” game, “The Bad Batch” animated series, and a  mediocre “Book of Boba Fett” show, the last few years of “Star Wars” have been full of highs and lows. I could feel fatigue building for my favorite franchise, and even with the releases I’ve liked, I’ve longed for something truly fresh and distinct to reinvigorate my love for this universe.

“Andor” is that breath of fresh air “Star Wars” has needed. Starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, reprising his role from “Rogue One” but taking place five years prior, “Andor” is a show that seems to be as much about the formation of a revolution as it is about Andor himself. Coming off as more espionage thriller than action with more of the tone of an HBO Max series than Disney+, the series is set in a period of “Star Wars” that we’ve seen frequently in recent years, the “dark times” at the height of the Empire’s power. However, “Andor” in its first three episodes has already done enough to set itself apart as distinct and noteworthy. 

From the beginning of the premiere, “Andor” sets itself apart, starting with its setting. The majority of these three episodes are spent on the planet Ferrix, a desert scrapyard planet under the jurisdiction of the Preox-Morlana, a corporation of the Empire. The planet Ferrix feels incredibly real, helped in part by the slower pacing of these three episodes fleshing out Ferrix as a setting and as a culture. Streets are always busy and bursting with activity, making this planet feel lived-in while avoiding the “empty set” feeling that I got from “Book of Boba Fett.” Ferrix is colorful and bustling, showing that just because “Star Wars” apparently can never move away from desert planets doesn’t mean they have to feel bland or boring.

Diego Luna is once again on fire as Cassian Andor

“Andor” also sets itself apart through its characters, which feel notably more fleshed out than in previous Star Wars shows. This is aided by the slow-burn style of the episodes, with the first two being able to take their time to give these characters depth and nuance. The early antagonists of the show are not just faceless Imperial soldiers, allowing the enemy to have faces and names and personalities. Cassian Andor is clearly our protagonist and has an aura of mystery that’s only just started to get pulled back. Brief flashbacks showing his childhood establish why he’s searching for his long-lost sister with glimpses into a beautiful tribal culture that I hope “Andor” will explore more. Surprisingly, his adopted mother, played by Fiona Shaw,  is one of my favorite characters so far. She shows concern for Andor and the path he’s going down as well as strength and love for her family and her people.

Episode three takes what the first two episodes set up – an interesting world and characters with depth – and gives one of the biggest payoffs I’ve seen in this franchise, despite its relatively low stakes. This episode also introduces the next big player, a mysterious benefactor named Luthen (Stellar Skarsgard), who recruits Cassian to join a revolution movement, and the new dynamic he brings sets the episode on fire. The Preox-Morlana finally acts, charging Cassian for the murder of one of their officers, shoving Ferrix into chaos. Cassian is forced to ally with Luthen to escape the chaos, going head-to-head with security forces for their very survival. This is how “Andor” shows a new kind of “Star Wars:” one that isn’t concerned with Jedi and a chosen one to save the galaxy, but one with lower stakes that are personal and important to characters. It gives a level of deep connection to “Andor” which has been missing from “Star Wars” for a long time.

Glimpses into Andor’s past have been an unexpected highlight of the premiere.

“Andor” also looks gorgeous, thanks to immaculate sets paired with great visual effects which bring the universe to life in stunning fashion. From the rain-soaked alleys of Morlana One to the sandy, colorful streets and scrapyards of Ferrix, “Andor” has crafted all of its visuals with an attention to detail that rivals the recent movies in the franchise. The cinematography is also stellar, especially the action of episode three filmed with a down-to-earth feel that keeps the scenes grounded and gritty, without relying on shakycam or dizzying fast cuts. Deliberate framing of the camera has also led to some beautiful shots of characters and settings, with shots of a character looking at the aftermath of an explosion shellshocked and a scene of a speeder racing across plots of different colored crops being particularly memorable examples.

All in all, “Andor” is a slow-paced, deliberate, and fresh show, laden with depth and humanity in its characters. Even its current antagonists feel fleshed out and real, adding a sensation of real stakes and involvement with the story that is slowly unfolding. With the premiere ending right as Cassian has grudgingly allied with rebels and direct involvement with the Empire looming close, I cannot wait to see where “Andor” takes us next.

I give “Andor” a 9.5/10.

“Andor” is now streaming on Disney+

Ben Konuch is a sophomore strategic communications student and an A&E writer for Cedars. He enjoys getting sucked into good stories, playing video games, and failing horribly at wallyball with his friends.

1 Reply to "'Andor's' Three-Episode Premiere is a Breath of Fresh Air"

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    reyhan October 4, 2022 (1:08 am)

    thanks alot of information mantap

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