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Andor

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What it’s about:

A prequel to the 2016 film Star Wars: Rogue One, the 12-part series follows rebel spy Cassian Andor from his early days with his Kinarian family to his rise to becoming one of the leaders of the rebellion.  

Names you might know:
Fiona Shaw

From Rogue One, Diego Luna returns as Cassian Andor and Genevieve O’Reilly returns as his mother Mon Mothma. Stellan Skarsgård (Dune, Chornobyl) stars as Luthen Rael, and Forest Whittaker (Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) returns as Saw Gerrera.

You will also recognize Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve, Baptiste) as Maarva Andor and Adria Arjona (Morbius, Father of the Bride) as Bix Caleen.

Why it’s worth your time:
Bix (Disney)

Andor drops us back into the Star Wars universe in a more gritty and grounded way, as it relies less on the “the Force” and more on human warfare in the battle for supremacy.  There are no true “heroes” in this world. We all root for the rebellion, or at least most of us do. But their characters in Andor are flawed in both their actions and beliefs.

You won’t find Jedi or any welders of the force here, only the foot soldiers and pilots, which makes the characters more relatable and their story arcs more engrossing. Cassian, for instance, makes some questionable decisions throughout, but in flashbacks, we come to see why. They are shaped by his complicated upbringing and his need to survive.

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Outside of Cassian, there’s B2EMO, because there is always one android in Stars Wars that I like. B2EMO serves not only as a servant android to Mon Mothma but also a companion who seems to have self-awareness.

Luthen Rael (Skarsgård) brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive ability to set up huge traps MacGuyver-style. If there is any ally that doesn’t have superpowers backing you, then you would want Luthen on your side.

Cassian’s adoptive mother, Mon Mothma, and his friend, Bix, serve as his foundation, as close to a family as he can get. They both are strong and committed to those they hold dear, but the show also gives them moments of vulnerability during their encounters with the Pre-Mor Authority.

While independent from the Empire, Pre-Mor Authority is seen as their strategic ally — and the show’s antagonist. Take note of their Deputy Inspector Syril Karn, who appears straight-laced and timid in early episodes. I can’t wait to see how this character becomes a bigger threat in the series.

The Context

Andor is set just before Rogue One, which took place a week before Star Wars and followed a group of rebels who teamed up to steal plans of the Death Star, the ultimate weapon of the Galactic Empire.

Andor‘s world shares the same dystopian setting (Rogue One director Tony Gilroy is the showrunner and co-creator), blending sci-fi with urban impoverished, bearing some resemblance to the world in Blade Runner. From the textures of the worn and battle-tested buildings to the dirt-dusted clothing, we can feel that the characters have been through hell and the stakes are survival.

We saw this type of world in the recent Obi-Wan series, but there is something more authentic about it when none of the characters use Jedi mind tricks.

As a Star Wars fan, you want to see some places you recognize from the universe, and Andor delivers with places like Coruscant, the sith world that was eventually liberated by the Jedi, and the Partisans home base, which is the faction that Saw Gerrera belongs to.

Best of all, unlike in Rogue One, you’re getting 12 episodes here, so get ready to commit to being immersed. Andor creates a stronger connection to their characters…and to the franchise.

The takeaway:

Andor brings new depth to the Star Wars universe by focusing on each character’s internal battles as they fight against the opposition. Consider this a more grown-up, psychologically complex part of the Star Wars story that will help you better understand the others.

 

Watch it with:

Fans of Rogue One, first and foremost. But any sci-fi fans who are less interested in the “Force” or Jedis. Those who love a good character arc will also be interested in Andor, largely because of Cassian’s story.

 

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