ENTERTAINMENT | With the serialized series Andor, the Star Wars franchise has turned a corner indeed. It has now proven that it’s capable of layered storytelling free of gimmicks, silliness, and cuteness that had become a big part of the other shows that have aired on the streaming service. Much to the contrary, Andor commits to a complex, multi-level narrative with complex characters and a plot with real stakes, chronicling the events that sparked the conflict shown in the original films.
This series premiered with three episodes that told the story of Cassian Andor having to trust a stranger, Luthen, in order to escape the planet Ferrix with his life as law enforcement officer Syril Karn was closing in. When Andor escaped, the spark of rebellion on that planet was ignited, forcing the Empire to place it under close jurisdiction, and we soon see how this affects Karn. Eating his breakfast, he examines a piece of cereal that resembles the planet and ponders how his actions caused the planet to be lost to the Empire. Meanwhile, Luthen presses for Andor to join a team of rag tags to steal the quarterly credits of an Imperial Garrison on a remote planet at an opportune time, with help from a defector. In the interim, Luthen returns to the Galactic Capital of Coruscant, where a senator named Mon Mothma (first seen in Return of the Jedi) works behind the scenes to support this new rebellion, but their actions depend on the success of the heist.
This series works on every level. The locations are well chosen, and the gritty World War 2 aesthetic really works, while the human characters we are introduced to are complex and nuanced. The show’s rather slow pace (which is the show’s main flaw, according to critics) allows us to truly assess these characters. At each passing moment, the audience must constantly rethink what they think they know about them. From the young man who wrote his own manifesto on human instinct in the face of living under a dictatorship to the headstrong leader of the group, who hesitates out of fear at a critical moment during the heist, this show attains a level of depth that Star Wars has never before achieved. Often, this franchise has been able to communicate character traits very simply, as robed Jedi Knights, or men and women in Mandalorian armor, easily tell us something about the characters at a mere glance. On the other hand, this show deals entirely with humans who have reached a crucial point: they are regular people who must choose a side or have that side chosen for them.
Perhaps this show’s flaw is how it has been released on the Disney Plus streaming service. The season will have twelve episodes to create four mini-stories of three episodes each. With that in mind, each “episode,” on its own, will seem incomplete. This show should be experienced three episodes at a time.