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Andor Review: The latest Disney+ series is a reminder of everything Star Wars could be and should be

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 22, 2022 | 17:49

Andor Review: The latest Disney+ series is a reminder of everything Star Wars could be and should be

The spinoff series to Star Wars: Rogue One just dropped, and stays true to its roots by delivering us a side to the sci-fi saga never before seen in the franchise's history.

Andor follows the story of its titular character, the Rebel spy Cassian Andor, during his formative years while joining the Rebellion and carrying out a number of missions for the cause.

Series creator Tony Gilroy returns to the franchise, having co-written Rogue One alongside Chris Weitz, and stars Diego Luna reprising his role as Andor for the series.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in the series

Andor is the first of the handful of Disney+ Star Wars productions that shifts away from the eight episode formula - a bone of contention for most fans - and features a considerable 12 total episodes for its first season. 

However, the length that it has promised does not do much in lightening the burden of expectations that the series carries, in light of the poor reception of recent Star Wars television productions. Andor had a lot to deliver and the three-episode premiere is testament to the same.

Though expectations scaled vast heights, the series lived up to them in the unlikeliest of ways. For Star Wars thrives on the art of the spectacle, capitalises on nostalgia and makes the most of fan service; yet, Andor brings none of those to the table.

The pilot spends little time investing in needless world-building and develops the narrative quickly and concisely. The environments and the characters are introduced on a need-to-know basis only, wasting not even a spare piece of dialogue for any means of exposition whatsoever.

Andor speaks to Bix, a new character played by Adria Arjona

Andor is in trouble. He needs to escape and he needs to do so fast. That’s what Gilroy’s razor-sharp script can afford us and it is the level of brevity and straightforwardness we never knew Star Wars needed.

But that isn’t the only part of the series that has been toned down effectively. Controlled yet impactful performances, subtle yet witty exchanges and the series’s remarkable ability to somehow make its mundane, morose environments the most captivating parts of the frame; all drive home the point that Andor isn’t trying to stand out, which is precisely why it does.

A still from the series

Though contrary to that, what most definitely stands out over the span of these first three episodes is Nicholas Britell’s phenomenal original score. The Succession composer takes the world of Star Wars to places seldom explored by John Williams and Ludwig Goransson, his stalwart successors. A medley of distinct new motifs ranging from cyberpunk-ian aesthetics to the chilling percussion sequence as the second episode closes, cements his stature as one of the most inspiring and diverse composers for television. 

And Britell’s gorgeous music is complemented with some of the finest sound design we’ve witnessed in Star Wars since the likes of The Last Jedi in 2017. The moments of quiet and subtleties of movement are beautifully contrasted with an enthralling final segment as the agitated mining town erupts in a metallic clamour, furthering the anticipation.  

Amid a few powerful opening performances, the standout character however turns out to be the newest droid addition to the Star Wars universe - B2EMO. Whoever thought that a timid little box of a droid, with a stutter, would be the stroke of genius character design that offered the restrained bits of relief that the series has to offer.

B2EMO joins the Star Wars universe

In essence, Andor successfully manages to subvert all expectations and promptly chucks all that we know and love about Star Wars into the figurative Sarlacc Pit. Yet somehow, this change of pace and style is exactly the sort of boost that the franchise needed to kickstart its otherwise rather dormant hyperdive. 

The final shot of the third episode reflects the dawn of a new era (though still calls back to the Binary Sunset). One that has matured its style of storytelling to not only better suit the inclinations of its audience, but more importantly strip away the superfluous melodrama that has kept the franchise from evolving into something greater.  

Andor is the pocket of fomenting that Star Wars has desperately needed and has a promising rebellious future ahead of it.  

Last updated: September 22, 2022 | 17:50
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