(L-R): Arvel Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Taramyn Barcona (Gershwyn Eustache Jr), Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay), Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu), Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

We are close to halfway through ANDOR, and I honestly really like the show as a whole thus far. It’s a very different side of the STAR WARS universe that we’ve never seen; gritty, mature, and refreshing. Much like ROGUE ONE, seeing the war between the Rebels and the Empire from the eyes of ordinary heroes without powers or lightsabers is completely engrossing. And getting to know these characters has been an absolute pleasure.

I love the show’s commitment to character development and painting what could be these stock characters as something deeper. They are making an effort to turn Vel, Skeen, Lt. Gorn, and the other Aldhani rebels into multi-dimensional characters, and trying to develop a sense of a relationship between them and Andor, while also showing sides to characters like Mon Mothma we’ve never seen before (i.e. we get a glimpse of her home life here, and it sucks). It tries to take the mundane and make it, not only relatable, but critical puzzle pieces that contribute to a larger picture of a true rebellion. And tries to show the day-to-day effects of issues like colonization and how that can affect individuals that would otherwise not have a voice in a war. Because that is truly an aspect of how wars are fought, we’ve never seen before in this universe. And the show is better for it.

However, if there’s one criticism I have with this show, it has trouble balancing these episodes with the action beats to keep the audience awake. And THE AXE FORGETS is an episode that really exhibits this. It’s sneaky in its progression, making progress by building relationships and characters out rather than narrative progression, which is good. But I wouldn’t mind if they had at least one action beat per episode, the way shows like HOUSE OF THE DRAGON typically do. But I think showrunner Tony Gillroy is fairly content with the idea that rather than slow building an episode to an explosion per episode, he can build up for 2-3 episodes to have an explosion towards the end of the season or several episodes after. It’s not a horrible strategy. I’d rather he make us care for these characters rather than rush to get to the ‘splosions. But it does sometimes make things a bit of a slog to sit through.

THE AXE FORGETS is a bit of a grind that could be mistaken for filler despite being a slow-burn exercise in character and relationship building. It’s essential, and we know it’ll pay off when the chips hit the fan in the next few episodes. But I can see why folks won’t find it particularly engaging. If the payoff from this slow-burn show begins to explode within the next few episodes, ANDOR has the potential to be one of the best STAR WARS projects ever. But for now, it needs to elevate the action as an equal part of the show in addition to the character development, which it’s, at this point, struggling to do.

Episode 5 of ANDOR is now streaming on Disney+.

Mike Manalo

Born a Slytherin. Baptized into Marvel. Bitten by a Radioactive DC fan. And raised a Jedi, Mike Manalo is a silent guardian, a watchful protector… a Dark Nerd!

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