Review: Andor Season 1
The series will explore a new perspective from the Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor's journey to discover the difference he can make. The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It's an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.
Diego Luna, Stellen Skarsgard, Kyle Soller, Genevieve O'Reilly, Denise Gough, Andy Serkis, Adria Arjona, Faye Marsay & Fiona Shaw.
Andor is Disney Plus’ newest Star Wars show and it is simply nothing but outstanding. After the highly disappointing Obi Wan Kenobi & the Book of Boba Fett series, Andor becomes a breath of fresh air with superbly written, directed and acted episodes that rival some of the best of the year.
Arc 1 - Episodes 1 to 3:
The show kicks off with an awesome Blade Runner aesthetic and tone that was certain you a shock to a lot of people. It does a fantastic job at introducing this younger Cassian, as well as setting up the entire events as a whole. It almost becomes incomprehensible that with an event so small, leads towards the destruction of an entire empire, but it’s importance is subtle and isn’t obvious until it is reflected upon in future episodes.
To many people’s surprise, the show deals with commentary and criticism on the police and their hunger for power, as well as using that power to create supposed “order”. It’s brutal, but it’s real. It’s a real world reflection done expertly, introducing dynamics to raise the stakes & dynamics that we long to see develop further. Each shot is pristine and motivated, offering some form of meaning or purpose to each sequence, with Nicolas Brittel’s impeccable score that only elevates every scene it’s present.
While the pacing is slow and admittedly, a little uninteresting at times. The first arc is the perfect set up for the rest of the season, introducing complex characters and elevating the unique world building that Star Wars projects have perfected many times before.
Arc 2 - Episodes 4 to 6
This is where the show could throw many off, particularly with pacing. Episodes 4 and 5 seemingly have nothing going for them according to many viewers, but I tend to disagree. The first two are very subtle in nature, having discussions on fascism & treatment of all people by the empire. However, it’s strongest suit is building upon the previous 3 episodes with perfect character introductions and raises the stakes even higher. Motivations are clear and offer a lot of character development for Cassian, who begins to learn truly what a revolution is, despite him specifically being there for the money.
Just as before, the first two episodes of the arc are brilliantly shot, acted and directed. All storylines whether it is with Andor, Mon Mothma, Luthen or Dedra are exciting, fresh and offer a lot in the narrative. Each with some form of commentary on the real world and to an audience, this becomes more actively engaging.
Episode 3 is where it’s at. A phenomenal hour of television that rivals some of the best Star Wars episodes to date. Despite the slow, but subtle pace of the previous episodes, there’s no denying how perfectly they set up the closing arc episode. It’s just as thrilling as many films today with stakes higher than ever, built up by Nicolas’ hypnotic score and Dan Gilroy’s pitch perfect dialogue and rhythm. The visuals are otherworldly & the performances are stellar, however, this isn’t the best of Star Wars yet.
Episode 7 is the bridge between two arcs, while in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem too important. It sets up the best arc to date, as well as developing Cassian further with well shot flashbacks offering more sympathy and complexity to his character & others around him.
Arc 3 - Episodes 8 to 10
The prison arc is some of the best TV this year, introducing Andy Serkis back into the world of Star Wars as Kino, one of the best newly introduced characters into the universe. His performance carries a lot of weight and it’s hard to deny that he puts out the best performance of the whole show so far. While Mon Mothma, Luthen & Dedra’s storylines are consistently engaging and exciting to see development, it’s hard to discuss them when completely in the shadow by Cassian’s arc here.
Unbelievably well written & continuous with its commentary on the real world, with this time being a focus on imprisonment. Whether it is false imprisonment or exploitation of prisoners and using them for their own benefit. Each character is riddled with inner turmoil & hunger to escape, shown really well during a sequence when we see all prisoners band together without talking as if they had been planning it for years.
However, despite how perfect each scene in the prison is, it’s hard to look away from Stellen Skarsgard’s phenomenal monologue in episode 10 that has had people talking about for weeks, analysing each poetic word and it’s link to Rogue One, making that story just as emotional and fleshed out. No second is wasted, each scene offering some form of emotional reaction from the audience that keeps them glued to the screen, rooting for each character as they plot their escape.
Episode 10 makes its mark as the best of the whole show and one of the best episodes of the year as everyone comes together masterfully, accompanied and elevated by every technical aspect & fantastic overall production. Andy Serkis is Emmy worthy, Nicolas Britell is on another planet. The show is showing how peak it can reach.
Arc 4 - Episodes 11 to 12
To finish off the season, almost all storylines converge in an epic finale brimming with so much passion behind all aspects, driving home a almost perfect end to the season. It is merely a miracle that a season with so many strong performances, moments and writing has stayed so consistent and builds upon itself each week with ease. While not as many deaths as I would have imagined, just as previous episodes, the stakes are truly higher than ever and set up what can only be a emotionally devastating follow up season that if it comes even close to the level of its first, it’ll be the best Star Wars has ever been.
Despite not all storylines are resolved, there is complete satisfaction with the season and it’s commentary on fascism & treatment of one’s whom would be seen as a “minority is completely admirable. In an almost perfect season comes many perfect aspects such as the brilliant score, weighted screenplay and character shot to perfection by everyone behind the camera as well as the ones in front. The pacing can be rather rough at times and of course, some storylines are a lot more engaging to watch that it sometimes pulls you out of others. Andor is nothing but a miracle.