Diego Luna’s Andor is both a spectacle very much in line with Star Wars, and the kind of grounded, political drama the franchise has never really done before. Andor is truly Star Wars in a lot of good ways, and yet …it’s really not Star Wars, also in the best ways. The end result is a journey that feels brand new, even while being part of a franchise that, up to this point, had mostly done the same thing, over and over again, particularly in live-action.
For us bigger nerds, yes, there’s more of Clone Wars and Rebels in Andor than there is of any movie except, of course, Rogue One. But the show still exists in a gray area that Star Wars had never truly tried to define before to this extent. Before Andor, the Rebellion was made up of heroes, and perhaps after Andor it will still be, but they will be the more grounded kind of heroes. The ones we understand aren’t always saints, just people trying to fight for what’s right.
In the end, that’s a better story than the dichotomy of the light side and the dark side – as much as we all enjoyed every second of that tale. And perhaps the most important reason why it’s a better story isn’t even that, as people who don’t have the force, it’s easier to relate to Cassian Andor than it is to Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker. No, the most important reason Andor is groundbreaking as a show is that it expands the Star Wars universe in ways the Jedi and the Sith never truly could.
The Skywalker saga is over, and that’s the way it should remain. The future of Star Wars has a place for nostalgia (see, Obi-Wan Kenobi), but it shouldn’t just be about that. Instead, new characters (see, Din Djarin) and new places can welcome a new era for a galaxy far, far away. And it all starts here, with a story we sort of know, but that we’re now realizing we’ve never really given enough thought to.
In a way, Tony Gilroy is only building from Rogue One, a movie that attempted to do this before – give us the gray areas and explore the ways that regular people become heroes. But how does Cassian Andor become the man willing to give his life to kickstart the story we first saw in A New Hope? That’s the question Andor will try to answer, and for us to get there, we of course have to start with a man who is truly not interested in joining the rebellion – or being part of anything, really.
The Cassian Andor we meet at the beginning of Andor isn’t truly a loner, but that doesn’t mean he belongs. It’s a story as old as time for immigrants, and Cassian feels like one as the show explores where he comes from in a way Rogue One simply didn’t have the time to. There are connections, yes, people he cares about, but as we begin this is simply the story of a man trying to find not just a place in the world, but a purpose.
The A to the B feels obvious. Cassian is looking for a purpose, and the Rebellion is right there. But why would a man who has had to learn to take care of himself in a world that will never favor him put his life in danger for a nebulous greater good? What kind of faith …and in what …would that require? That, of course, isn’t an answer for the first few episodes, or likely the first season, but the journey starts there …and we know where it ends.
Surprisingly so, the destination doesn’t truly matter. Yes, we all know how this ends. There’s no miracle awaiting us – not unless you believe in the same nebulous greater good that spurred Cassian into sacrificing himself. And though Star Wars has given us many things, including great heroes and unforgettable villains, it has never truly given us a reason to care for the Rebellion other than …well, common sense. Empire bad. Rebellion good.
And that is still true. But there can be more. There should be more. This isn’t a story that is worth telling just because Cassian Andor is an interesting character, though he is. This is a story worth telling because, for those of us who have already invested in this tale, there have always been gaps in the story. Gaps in our feelings. And now, hopefully, there won’t be.
Thanks to Diego Luna, an inspired choice as Cassian Andor when we thought we only had him for a movie, and an even more inspired choice now that we get him for two full seasons. Thanks to Tony Gilroy, whose clear vision is felt in every frame. And thanks to the cast and crew around them, including Adria Arjona, Stellan Skarsgård, Genevieve O’Reilly and Denise Gough, among others.
Andor shines because it knows what story is telling, knows what message is sending, and knows not just who its audience is, but who it could be. When you know all of there truly is no, limit …especially in a galaxy far, far away.
The first three episodes of Andor will be available to stream September 21st, with weekly episodes releasing on Wednesdays after that.