Six years after Rogue One hit the big screen Diego Luna is back as the fan favourite Cassian Andor.
Andor is set some time before Rogue One, before Cassian meets K2-SO, and before he joins the Rebel Alliance. The show follows him as he looks to uncover details about his past. There are three episodes out on the day of release but let's start with episode one.
Immediately you'll notice how good Andor looks. The locations, while extremely grimey and grey, are some of the best looking we've seen in the Disney+ Star Wars shows. That's not to say that they're the most visually striking or stunning locations, but they look extremely real in a way that hasn't been seen since Solo. It might seem like what I'm saying is grimey and grey = real which is not the case. What I'm actually saying is that Andor relies a lot less on The Volume and a lot more on actual locations and physical sets, and the limited CGI work that is used merely as a secondary option rather than the go to. I don't have a problem with CGI work in the slightest, when done well I love it (check out the Rings of Power to see it at its absolute best), but there is something really refreshing about a high budget show going back to the more traditional way of doing things.
Every time a Star Wars show comes out fans speculate on whether this one will be the darkest, most adult show yet, but up until now we haven't really seen anything nail that time quite like Rogue One did. The Mandalorian has a very similar tone to the originals, a somewhat light hearted space western adventure, the same can be said for the Book of Boba Fett. Obi-Wan Kenobi was wholly confusing in the sense that its own creators didn't seem to know what it should be and so at points it felt like a show for children (which is completely ok as long as this is your intention) and at points a show that was trying way too hard to be hyper gritty and a bit of a Logan wannabe. None of this is to say that these shows are worse than Andor or that a show has to be gritty and dark to have any value, but it is to say that I greatly appreciate a show that knows what it wants to be and commits to it. Andor is a show that does just that. Andor isn't a horrible grunge slogfest as can often be the case when a light-hearted franchise like Star Wars tries to be adult, it strikes the balance perfectly just like the movie its main character came from.
Episode One is quite short, it's 34 minutes but as with every Disney+ show a large chunk of that is filled with credits leaving us just under half an hour of runtime. For now this isn't a problem, we have three episodes to get through, but when you have to wait a week between episodes the runtime might start to feel a lot shorter as is the case often with the Marvel shows.
Storywise there's not a whole lot given away in the opening episode. It very neatly and believably sets up a hunt for Cassian but other than that we don't really get given much else. We get a glimpse into a couple of the relationships between Cassian and the other characters (including his current very Wall-E like droid), but it is little more than a glimpse. In my opinion this is the ideal way to show a character like Andor, a half an hour exposition dump would be the worst way to start off a show about a character who's whole deal is mystery. With two series of twelve episodes to come I'm fairly confident all of these pieces will fall into place in time to fully flesh out the second most stylish man in the galaxy (no prizes for working out that Lando is first).
Speaking of style, Cassian's fine collection of jackets is back and while none quite top his coat from Rogue One it is great to see both the show and character maintaining a wardrobe so distinct from shows like the Mandalorian.
Really there's not a huge amount to talk about from the first episode alone, but everything that is there is good and extremely promising for a show with so much potential. I think the thing that really sets Andor apart from the other shows is its clear sense of purpose which is something that both the Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi struggled with hugely.
I'll be reviewing Andor weekly as was the case with the Book of Boba Fett, and The Mandalorian. We'll also be talking about Andor on the podcast next week. There is an episode to come all about Rick and Morty, technical issues have delayed that but it should still be out before too long.