One way out: ‘Andor’ is the storytelling we’ve been looking for


Shavonne Chin

Illustration by

Ashley Pelletier, Staff Writer

“Star Wars” has always been political and Tony Gilroy’s “Andor” on Disney+ exemplifies that.

From start to finish, the series “Andor” is a work of art. “Star Wars” as a franchise is already known for worldbuilding, but this show takes audiences beyond the Jedi, the Force and the usual hallmarks of George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

Over 12 episodes, viewers follow Cassian Andor as he is radicalized into the rebel leader we met in “Rogue One” six years ago. The season consists of four installments of three-episode arcs that act almost like short films, right down to the armrest-gripping third act. The first three-episode arc takes a while to get off its feet. However, once you get past those episodes, it’s hard to stop watching.

Each aspect of “Andor” shows how despicable the Empire is. “Star Wars” fans already know the Empire is bad — it’s literally run by men in dark cloaks — but “Andor” is realistically evil. Throughout the show, Andor witnesses religious oppression, slave labor, environmental terrorism and other atrocities.

Diego Luna gives an inspiring performance as Andor. Andor is not a man who seeks rebellion, but he inherently inspires it in others. This is most seen through Andy Serkis’ performance in the show. Serkis’ character, Kino Loy, believes that if he keeps his head down and does his job as a lead prisoner then he will be able to go home one day, until the prisoners on Narkina 5 realize the Empire never releases their prisoners. Andor convinces Loy that there is only one option — escape. Serkis gives one of the show’s best performances, but only after his character is launched into action by Andor.

Another highlight of the show is Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael. Rael is an antique dealer that moonlights as one of the founding members of the rebellion. Skarsgård’s performance is chilling as Rael jumps from his flamboyant persona to the grizzled, pragmatic leader who isn’t afraid to break a few eggs when he makes his rebellion omelet.

Two performances surprised me in “Andor,” Alex Lawther’s Karis Nemik and Fiona Shaw’s Maarva Andor. Both characters give goosebump-raising speeches in the final episode of “Andor.” Without spoilers, they’re watershed moments that are a pleasure to watch on screen.

While these performances stick in my mind the most, each performance in “Andor” is spot-on. The characters feel so real, down to B2EMO, the Andors’ pet-like droid, and Dedra Meero, the power-hungry Imperial girlboss.

Overall, “Andor” builds on the theme of pushing for freedom, even if you’re not there to experience it. If you’ve seen “Rogue One,” that hits a nerve. While “Andor” is a prequel, we know that Cassian Andor will eventually die getting Princess Leia the plans to the Death Star.

“Andor” season two is in production and will cover the four years between season one and “Rogue One.” Even though we know how Cassian Andor dies, watching the natural development of the rebellion without the idea of lost Jedi heroes feels so much more impactful.

Like any show, “Andor” isn’t perfect. Every character besides one side character is human, which is an ongoing problem in recent “Star Wars.” However, after “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” felt like let-downs earlier this year, “Andor” shows Disney’s potential in the franchise.

One of fans’ biggest complaints since Disney took over “Star Wars” has been that the company mishandled a beloved property. From the disjointed sequel trilogy to fan service jam-packed “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” fans just weren’t getting what they hoped for. “Andor” firmly delivers on everything that Disney’s “Star Wars” — except for “The Mandalorian” — was missing.

“Andor” is a much grittier show than most of “Star Wars.” Much like “Rogue One,” it’s unafraid to kill off characters to reach the end goal. The lack of Force mythology in the show adds to that. “Andor” is “Star Wars,” but a much more mature, realistic “Star Wars.”

Some fans may not want realism in space opera, but “Andor” is just what Disney needed to stand out from the wave of unoriginal storytelling and undeserved fan service it has put out in the past few years.