Review: 'Star Wars: Andor' A Grimmer Tale in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday September 22, 2022

Review: 'Star Wars: Andor' A Grimmer Tale in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
  (Source:Disney+)

When Disney decided it would purchase Lucasfilms, Ltd. and the properties that included George Lucas' "Star Wars" universe, the entertainment media conglomerate was determined to get the most bang for its buck. Under the creative helm of longtime Lucas collaborator Kathleen Kennedy, several theatrical projects were immediately greenlit.

In 2016, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Tony Gilroy, peeled back the mysterious events leading up to one of the Original Trilogy's most profound moments: The mission that puts the plans for the Empire's most destructive weapon, the Death Star, in the hands of Princess Leia. "Rogue One" reveals that desperate mission and the ultimate cost many rebels paid. Felicity Jones starred as Jyn Erso, and Diego Luna played Rebel agent Cassian Andor. It's his origin story that is explored in "Star Wars: Andor."

The new original series, premiering exclusively on Disney+ on September 21, is set in an era that is dark and foreboding. The beginnings of the Rebellion have been explored before; the animated series "Rebels" followed a team of spirited adventurers that band together to save the day, but the galaxy is a far more dangerous place as depicted in "Andor," and it is at its most unpredictable. The Empire is asserting its grip, its tyrannical rule fueled by fear and terror, forcing oppression and discord.

On a world in an outer rim territory, a younger Cassian Andor (Luna) than the one we met in "Rogue One" carves out a meager life for himself. He's an accomplished pilot with an ambiguous background. When he isn't salvaging wreckage, he's scrounging technology that he can offload to the highest bidder. But he is also desperately looking for his sister, and the only leads he's gotten point to the underbelly of an Imperial-controlled industrial city. Inside a pleasure palace, Andor runs into a dead end in his search, and the unfortunate attention of two low-ranked security officers results in him becoming a wanted man!

The smoldering Kyle Soller ("Poldark") plays Syril, an ambitious law-enforcement agent who is determined to advance in his career and, perhaps, move into a position of prominence. Syril is determined to bring Andor to justice, but the pursuit of his quarry goes horribly wrong, especially with the arrival of the imposing Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), who sees something more in Andor. When the invasion into their village by Syril and his team goes awry, Andor and Luthen escape. Andor leaves behind everyone he knows, including his friend Bix (Adria Arjona) and Maarva (Fiona Shaw), the woman who raised him and worked to keep him safe.

Now a fugitive and a marked man, Andor must reckon with the consequences of his actions, and the target they have placed on his friends, as a fascist Empire tightens its grip and is determined to crush any dissidents that threaten law and order. The series is created by Tony Gilroy, who also co-wrote the screenplay for "Rogue One." The series is directed by Toby Haynes, and executively produced by its star, Diego Luna. The show's creatives have assembled an impressive cast.

"Andor" is far more visceral than its predecessors, and though it immediately is familiar and fits expertly into this galaxy, the events are far more consequential than have ever been depicted before in a "Star Wars" story. Its feel is more in line with the recent "Obi-Wan Kenobi" limited series, though "Andor" is set closer to the events that prelude "Episode IV" and "Rogue One."

The series is intentionally gritty, but it is without a doubt relevant, as its lead follows a heroic journey, not unlike any of the other heroes in the "Star Wars" universe, though this one is wrought with a shadowy depth and moral texture that sets it apart. "Star Wars: Andor" is positioned to even further explore the significance of George Lucas' vision of this galaxy we journey to again and again. Here's to a new hope as "Andor" comes into port.

"Star Wars: Andor" begins streaming on Disney+ September 21.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".