It’s been roughly three months since the last episode of OBI-WAN KENOBI aired on Disney+, so I imagine many STAR WARS fans are itching for some new content, right? Based on the first three episodes, ANDOR might just be the best of them yet. Season one is set five years before the Battle of Yavin (5 BBY) and follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from his childhood on Kinari to his role in the Rebel Alliance, leading directly into the events of ROGUE ONE. Creator Tony Gilroy has stated that this is a two-season series.
There are so many wonderful things about these first three episodes, the biggest of which is that it doesn’t feel like any other STAR WARS live-action shows. I’ve really enjoyed the shows so far, so you may wonder why this one is special. ANDOR has built an entirely new galaxy, so to speak, within the larger STAR WARS universe. New planets, new characters, new challenges. There are no Jedi (yet), no Luke, no Han, no Mandalorians, no Yoda-like creatures. ANDOR is mature and adult, but it does still stop at the PG-13 line without stepping over it so far. The show, filmed entirely in the United Kingdom, has pulled away from the sets used on THE MANDALORIAN, THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, AND KENOBI, and we absolutely needed that break.
I was lucky enough to view the first three episodes without a break, so if you can, I highly recommend viewing the three-season premiere in one sitting. It flows more like a film than a tv show, and I’m optimistic they can keep this pace up for the remaining nine this season. The creator and cast have discussed how the season was filmed in three-episode arcs giving directors a chance to frame a story over consecutive episodes instead of being limited by the thirty-or so minute runtime of each.
While setting up Cassian’s role in the Rebellion, ANDOR delves into how colonialism has shaped the STAR WARS universe. Yes, even in the cosmos, explorers took over new-to-them planets and disrupted indigenous species. The premiere demonstrates that even when these actions may have good intentions, they can still have tragic consequences. Diego Luna was the first Latino STAR WARS lead (in ROGUE ONE), so it feels doubly important that his story be very different from the primarily white protagonists that were part of the Rebellion, like Luke, Leia, and Han.
The Empire is looming over this period in Star Wars lore, but their role in ANDOR so far is told through lowly foot-soldiers that serve the corporate-owned planet Ferix where Cassian lives. These aren’t stormtroopers, but they absolutely give off the vibe of Nazi-party members that police the locals. It’s a new and more personal level of how the Empire came to rule, and it’s terrifying. If you’ve seen ROGUE ONE, you know how Cassian’s story ends. For me, that was the reason I had a hard time connecting with the characters in that film. Now, six real-world years later, and my only critique of ANDOR is that I’m sad we didn’t get this story sooner.
ANDOR premieres on Disney+ with three episodes on Wednesday, September 21st, and streams every Wednesday through late November.