I was late to the ANDOR party, but I’m glad I had the chance to remedy that. A gritty political thriller set in the STAR WARS universe, ANDOR goes far deeper in terms of ideas than pretty much the rest of the STAR WARS franchise, producing something strong and different enough that it really doesn’t need its source material.
The show is really about empire and rebellion, fascism and the the desire to resist it, and how resistance requires sacrifice and often resorting to tactics that mirror the evils of the oppressive regime. In this show, we primarily follow Andor, an orphan looking for a shortcut to a comfortable life who through circumstance winds up pushed to radicalism, one man’s journey to rebellion. While he simply wants to be left alone, the police state will not allow it, pushing him and others until they put their lives on the line to resist. For them, there’s little inspirational talk about democracy and way more base resistance to being dominated, used, and destroyed.
Speaking of the show’s themes, apparently, ANDOR was responsible for quite a few domestic arguments among viewers. I have to wonder who the hell watches STAR WARS and roots for the fascists enough to argue about it.
Anyway, back to the show: Connecting to Andor through a wider web, we have agents of Empire, from bureaucrats trying to get ahead to minor police wanting to prove themselves to gain approval from an authority figure, and the rebel network itself, made up of sympathizers, leaders, and hardcore operatives. In this early rebellion, it’s hard to know who to trust–as you’re doing so with your life and the cause–and you often don’t know what the big plan is. There’s a terrific speech by a rebel leader about sacrifice, how he will only know suffering and won’t survive to see the final victory. The methods and tactics used on both sides are fairly realistic, such as the Rebels provoking a brutal reaction by the Empire to further inflame the populace against it.
The show took a while to get rolling for me, but once it did, it fired on all cylinders, and I was fairly gripped.
The actors are all solid, notably Diego Luna as Andor and Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen Rael (the aforementioned rebel leader). The sets and effects are fairly good, notably the prison, while Andor’s hometown appears to be recycled from several scenes in THE MANDALORIAN, so striking I’m wondering if it’s intentional, as THE MANDALORIAN is set in ANDOR’s future. Otherwise, there’s the usual STAR WARS set design where people seem to have to walk miles to get to work and everything either looks blank, bright white, and uncomfortable or stuck in a futuristic Middle Ages.
Overall, ANDOR takes on the rebellion against the Empire as a concept and takes it seriously, going way beyond the usual superficial to offer a story that is gritty, real, dramatic, and compelling.