In the days of streaming services and more opportunities to binge-watch seasons than ever before, time and time again, I have heard the phrase “You have to give it ‘x amount’ of episodes before it gets good.” This may be more potent than ever with Andor, the new series on Disney Plus set in the Star Wars universe.
Andor is billed as the first down-to-earth gritty spy thriller set within the fantastical realm of Star Wars. We get to experience a new story showcasing the rise of the resistance to the Tyrannical Empire and some of the other key members outside of the Skywalkers. Set some five years before Rogue One, it is an origin story for Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Cassian is a far cry from his Intelligence agent’s future content on getting by stealing spaceship parts from the Galactic Empire to sell in shady back-alley deals. The wheels are set in motion after an unnecessary trip to Morlana One, a corporate-controlled planet loyal to The Empire, in search of his sister. After a brief altercation, he ends up a wanted man who can no longer lay low.
The first two episodes of Andor really make you work for it. The timing is very slow as it builds its story, settings and atmosphere. There are some glimpses of what we are to expect going forward but nothing to really grab your attention and that want for the next episode.
Episode one introduces us to Cassian Andor as he is looking for his sister on Morlana One. The city is a neon-filled yet miserable-looking authoritarian area with a corporatized police force and strict rules. Visually we are getting all we could ask for, yet the slow burn approach to build the story paired with flashbacks to Cassian’s childhood drag the build-up out.
In episode 2 we have more of a build-up of our characters that we are going to be spending time with throughout the series, but we are back on Cassian’s home planet Ferrix. An order has been sent out for anyone fitting his description to be referred to the authorities on Morlana One by Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) an underling security agent who believes his ruthless approach to this case will help him ascend the ranks to where he believes he is deserved. We also get to meet his adoptive mother, Maarva (Fiona Shaw) and Cassian’s lost love Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), a headstrong mechanic who also dabbles in the trade of acquired parts.
For me, I would have preferred a more traditional opening to a series. Episodes one and two could have been rolled into one with a longer length than your standard episode. The slow burn of story and building at no point in the first two really builds to anything more than trot, yet in the third, we start to get a bit more of that dark, gritty spy thriller that we were promised with some action and Star Wars brilliance thrown in for good measure. What’s unfortunate though, is if I hadn’t been hoping to be putting something in writing for Andor, I would have given up on it halfway through episode two. That is in no way a reflection on the quality of Andor or where the series will take us, but it is a very definitive stroke from Disney in having three episodes available on launch.
Andor hasn’t started off well for me, so the only way from here is up. Visually we have the hallmarks of another hit within the Star Wars universe. Locations are well designed, and characters already there from stories past are ready to be built upon. This isn’t your standard Star Wars story, so don’t expect to see light sabres any time soon, I’ll be honest, I hope we don’t, or at the very least we meet some Jedi that we haven’t seen before on screen.
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