I will start off by saying this: I am nowhere close to an expert in Star Wars lore. I have always appreciated the world that George Lucas created, and find it quite exciting how much the Star Wars universe has impacted people.
Andor was a production that just jumped out at me. You of course had the wonder and the splendor of the Star Wars universe, but the production felt more personal, intimate and about the characters.
Created by Tony Gilroy, the show follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) five years before the events of Rogue One, diving deep into the character and his journey during a one year period, setting up the foundation towards the Cassian audiences see in Gilroy’s film. The production features new character introductions and a number of reprisals from the film as well.
Andor is a brilliant character study
Gilroy hasn’t just created another Star Wars production. While it pays respect to the franchise in so many ways, this show is a new experience that can be enjoyed by everyone. Even someone like myself who isn’t an expect, I was immersed into Cassian’s world immediately.
Flowing like a spy thriller, Andor is a slow-burn character study, planting the roots and origins of Cassian, and slowly introducing the characters that will help forge who he becomes. With the approach the writers have taken to the script, you get to step into the psyche of each character and understand who they truly are. In my own opinion, I feel Gilroy has minute amounts of his other works reflected in this series; with the whole spy-thriller vibe, Jason Bourne immediately came to mind.
The production feels very personal, and I love that.
I don’t know how to quite explain this, but when a creative team come together and pour more than they can give to a creative project, you can almost feel it. Diego Luna has embraced Cassian Andor as an extension of himself. I cannot see another actor play the role, and definitely not to the investment that Luna has given. Luna has spoken extensively in interviews of the immigrant nature of his character. I found this profound while watching the show as I saw a man who was searching for his identity and his origins, moving around like a gypsy with only those who he loves as the roots of his home. It is powerful stuff, and a relevant story plot for audiences of today.
While Luna is brilliant in this show, the ensemble cast are equivalently excellent in this production. Adria Arjona plays Bix, this perfect friend and definitely no damsel in distress. Her character is layered, complex and captivating and I hope her journey continues. Kyle Soller has this brilliant role as Syril Karn, an antagonist that is building up to be a major player in this series. Soller captures his fractured nature so well, leaving it up to audience imaginations to figure out what will happen next. Of course, it goes without saying that Stellan Skarsgård is brilliant as ever. Luthen Rael is a welcomed addition to the series, and a character who will be interesting to watch.
Performances yet to be seen are those of Genevieve O’Reilly as she reprises her role as Mon Mothma, as well as Forest Whitaker reprising his role as Saw Gerrera. Looking forward to those!
Also, as someone who loves robots and droids, B2EMO, voiced by Dave Chapman, is a welcomed new character!
I will also say this, on a more serious note. I appreciate the representation in this production. From people of colour, to multiple ethnic backgrounds, to multiple regional dialects, this production has so much diversity. Whether intentional or otherwise, it added a layer of complexity and depth to the narrative that made it feel authentic.
I’m in love with the production and costume design
This production is made with a lot of love and care, and it shows in each and every frame. Production Designer Luke Hull and his entire team have done a phenomenal job. At no point do you feel that the production was made on a budget. In fact, Neal Scanlan who served as Creature & Droid FX Creative Supervisor clearly said that they “[treated] this exactly like [they] would a film”. The production is very cinematic in nature.
While there are special effects used in various parts of the production, the majority of the show is very physically present. The custom built set cements the atmosphere for the story to unravel, really capturing the nostalgic Star Wars vibe from the older films. It makes everything happening around the characters very tangible compared to some green screen nonsense, making their performances very realistic.
I must give a shout out to the costume designers. For a show that is gritty and edgy, the costume team still managed to collaborate with the production design team to weave in wonderful colours into the costumes, while still capturing that edgy look. I love the balance this show achieves, making it an easy viewing experience.
With more Andor on the way, I will say this: The story is sublime, the performances captivating, and the visuals just breathtaking. It is worth a watch, whether you are immersed in Star Wars or not. Heck, if you haven’t watched Rogue One, you will still enjoy it. It is a grounded and personal, with a story that flows like butter on warm toast.
First three episodes of Andor are now streaming exclusively on Disney+. There will be a new episode every Wednesday, for a total of 12 episodes in this first season.