‘Andor’ grounds Star Wars universe in storytelling

Why the Disney+ series warrants a watch


Series promotional poster featuring Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna and supporting cast. “Wouldn’t you rather give it all at once to something real?” (Picture courtesy of Disney+. Graphic created in Canva by Ryan Ascalon).

Ryan Ascalon

Disclaimer: Spoilers for the show are included in this review. 

For both novice and well-versed Star Wars fans, “Andor” does not disappoint with its mature spy-thriller story and elements of political intrigue. 

With the much anticipated third season of “The Mandalorian” debuting on March 1 — and more Star Wars series on the way — it is an excellent time to be a part of the Star Wars fandom. The debut episode of “Andor” last September focuses on the life of grizzled rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) before the events of the movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

 “Andor” is a plateable Star Wars series for audiences who prefer mature themes; it forgoes the simple philosophy of light versus dark for a story that involves shades of gray. No doubt that Star Wars has had dark moments, including the brutal extermination of the Jedi in “Revenge of the Sith,” but “Andor” adds to the thematic elements that make the Star Wars narrative compelling.

For the uber fans who have not already watched “Andor”, note that you get a canonized display of the Star Wars dating system in the first episode of the series. 

“Andor” is set in 5 BBY or — for those who have not fallen victim to the fandom yet — five years before the Battle of Yavin; Yavin being the planet that hosted the rebel base shown in Star Wars: A New Hope.

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The series’ opening scene features the first appearance of the canon dating system. This means that the show takes place five years before the events of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” (Picture courtesy of Disney+).

When the show finds it’s namesake character, Cassian Andor is in a brothel — in an onscreen Star Wars story streaming on a service that is just a click away from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse — seeking information.

After hitting a dead-end seeking information Andor, he is stopped by two drunken corporate police officers who try to extort him for money. 

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Andor endures a mugging in the series premiere. A fight ensues. (Picture courtesy of Disney+).

The camera is focused entirely on Andor’s face, only the sound of rain and vile sneers at his back. With each step towards him, the viewer can see Andor preparing himself through an array of strained facial expressions. 

He does not want this fight; he wants to go home. Even still, he is prepared to defend himself against men who have a gun to his back.

The fight between them lacks enough artful choreography to emphasize the struggle. Each moment to this point felt carefully crafted to create palpable tension and engage the audience. 

The show also explores the political complexity of the Star Wars universe with the inclusion of Mon Mothma, (Genevieve O’Reilly) a senator battling for more humane methods for the Empire to conduct itself. Her role in the series is to secretly bankroll rebel cells across the galaxy and navigate the lion’s den of the Imperial Senate. 

To display this, Mon Mothma hosts a party for politicians and dignitaries in the hopes of garnering votes. At the party, senators discuss the Emperor’s speeches on public order and how a directive he passed infringes on their civil liberties to free speech. One senator states that it is surveillance and prosecution without limit, only to be met with the response, “If you’re doing nothing wrong, what is there to fear?” 

The damaging effects of using overwhelming force to achieve peace, as it undermines the ethical foundations of society, is a concept skillfully depicted in the series’ writing. Having a piece of legislation be the focal point is refreshing  to see in a newer Star Wars property because  it’s relatable. 

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Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) meet incognito in Galactic Antiquities and Objects of Interest. The shop, owned by Rael, serves as a front for the character’s intelligence operations. (Picture courtesy of Disney+).

The Intelligence agent Luthen Rael helps Mon Mothma as a middleman for resistance groups and mentor to Andor. The master spy holds no qualms with trading the lives of allies for the cause against the Empire, sometimes throwing in with the likes of terrorists to further his goals.

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Rael and Andor escape on a speeder bike. Rael acts as a middleman for resistance groups and a mentor to Cassian. (Picture Courtesy of Disney+).

“Andor” shows a hardened guerrilla force that results in morally questionable outcomes. It focuses on the people and not the magically endowed space wizards. 

The series shows betrayal, hardships and sacrifices in pursuing a life free of Imperial rule. The grounded story is a much-needed addition to the franchise and I cannot wait to see where it heads next.