With the twelfth and final episode of Disney+ Star Wars’ original series coming to a spectacular close, Andor has its presence firmly marked in a galaxy far, far away, confirming beyond all doubt that Star Wars has never been better.
Following its three-episode premiere over two months ago, the series has consistently and continuously delivered on all fronts, surpassed expectations and left us breathless on more than one occasion; making it one of the strongest to the Star Wars canon to date.
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. Carrying on from where the third episode left off, Andor has since led a high-stakes heist on an Imperial facility, broken out of a high security prison and eventually found purpose in a higher calling.
However, where the opening act gave us but a taste of the quality of world-building and profiling to come, the narrative progresses through the perspectives of a few new characters alongside Cassian’s journey. Detailing a thorough list of characters would prove cumbersome considering how even the most insignificant of roles seemed perfectly fleshed out and displayed grounded, realistic motivations.
From zealous ISB officers striving to outdo their peers, to the spark of hope in the eyes of each prison inmate, desperate for their freedom; going that extra mile by giving each character the depth and respect they ought to be getting is what sets the series apart in its uncompromising development of its compelling characters.
What contributed towards producing such rich and absorbing character arcs could definitely be attributed to how the series treated its women. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the women of Andor constitute some of the most captivating characters within the Star Wars continuity, considering how Star Wars has (and still does for the most part) pertain primarily to its male audiences. It's the sort of inaccessibility that has impeded the franchise in its storytelling potential (much to the dismay of odd misogynist Star Wars Redditor).
Who would have thought that Senator Mon Mothma, a relatively background character from the Original trilogy, could prove to elevate the precarious origins of the Rebellion to never-before-witnessed stakes and standards? Genevieve O’ Reilly is transfixing and strikes a duplicitous balancing act between the two lives of the eventual Rebel commander.
On the other side is the go-getting ISB Lieutenant, Dedra Meero, played by the brilliant Denise Geough. Dedra’s intriguing new perspective gives us some insight into the cut-throat behind-the-scenes environment of the Empire’s daily routine.
andor is reminding me how Good evil women in sharp suits are....... iconic— Banzai 🦇💜 (@Juliet_Shark) November 21, 2022
Dedra serves as a fitting character study in nuanced writing, as she brings a level of complexity that exceeds any other character in Andor. Through Dedra, the series carefully navigates the stifling atmosphere for women in an overwhelmingly masculine space, while never losing sight of the bigger picture: that fascism permeates all walks of life.
It’s curious to see an inversion of conventional power dynamics with the weird sexual tension between Dedra and an ex-Imperial outcast Syril Karn. While it's undeniable that the two strive for the same purpose through similar motivations, the one-sidedness in Syril’s solicitation is cleverly contrasted with Dedra’s conscious refusal to reciprocate.
While the Rebellion is still but a whisper in the shadows, a few random acts of defiance across the galaxy, evidence of a movement quietly brewing crystalizes with the raid on Aldhani - in what can be safely considered one of the most gorgeous, cinematic sequences in Star Wars history - and find its way seeping into the most remote parts of the galaxy.
These seemingly random, insignificant acts of active resilience is where the series finds its heart. Not an all-in-or-nothing incursion on the Empire led by some heroic Jedi, but the mobilisation and collective efforts of Imperial prisoners finding their way out of a high security facility.
“One Way Out” is a masterclass in Star Wars. Well rounded, riveting and concise - Star Wars takes a simple prison escape and with a healthy helping of some inspiring words from Andy Serkis, elevates it to something spectacular.
As if a certain three-worded punch in the gut from Serkis’s Kino Loy towards the end of the episode wasn’t enough, Stellan Skarsgard’s lynchpin-like Luthen Rael delivers (at the risk of sounding repetitive at this point) possibly the most powerful monologue in Star Wars history.
But all things said, what has remained a fairly unsung hero of the entire series thus far has been Nicholas Britells mesmerising original score. Britell’s sustained efforts at reinventing motifs and themes at every possibility has enhanced the Andor experience to heights at par with John Williams at his prime. Nicholas Britell is a genius and deserves every bit of praise coming his way.
Tony Gilroy has successfully maneuvered the series towards what no other Disney+ original has achieved in the brief history since its conception: stick the landing. From the get go, Andor has gone against the grain, pushed back and pushed harder, leveraging its unique position in the Star Wars canon to champion artistic vision that it has so masterfully delivered.
In increasingly more ways, Andor takes the figurative leap of faith that its titular character devotes himself to in its final scene, confirming yet again, beyond all doubt, that when it comes to the future of storytelling in Star Wars, there is only “one way out”. Sorry Mandalorian, but Andor is the way.