The recent efforts in the epic Star Wars saga have been a bit of a mixed bag. While the sequel trilogy has its fans, there’s no denying that the J.J. Abrahams-led project went a bit off the path toward the end.
Still, the new era of Star Wars adventures has enjoyed an advantage that the franchise never had in the past — at least, not at this scale: amazing streaming shows to complement the films. After the strong start that was The Mandalorian, even the Disney+ shows have been on a decline of sorts.
Projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett failed to capture the magic of The Mandalorian’s first season according to critics and die-hard Star Wars fans alike. A few bumps in the road would not be enough to dissuade an empire like Disney, which seems to have taken notice of some of the most recent fan comments online. The result: Andor — the best Star Wars project we’ve seen since the original trilogy.
A New Take on an Old Galaxy
In the middle of the sequel trilogy run, there were two additional Star Wars films released that had nothing to do with Rey or the First Order. While Solo hardly made an impact on the fandom, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” quickly became a surprise hit.
The film, set merely a week before the events of the first Star Wars film, expanded upon the origins of the Rebel Alliance. It also offered a fresh new look for the franchise as a whole, with awe-inspiring setpieces that looked like proper war epics, instead of the usual space opera affair fans have come to expect from Star Wars.
Andor shares many connections with Rogue One, both stylistically and lore-wise. First off, one of the main characters of Rogue One, Cassian Andor, is the whole center of Andor. Additionally, it follows the same steps as its film counterpart when it comes to adding a new layer of complexity to the world of Star Wars.
If The Mandalorian is the Fistful of Dollars of the Star Wars universe, then Andor is its Blade Runner.
A Mature Narrative for a Mature Audience
At its core, the Star Wars series has always been a classic retelling of the hero’s journey, complete with a clear-cut divide between the forces of good and evil — the Light and Dark sides of the Force, for example.
However, Andor is a lot more gray when it comes to morality. Cassian Andor himself is not the picture-perfect image of a hero anyone would expect. In the very first episode of the show, we see that the future Captain of the Rebellion executes an enemy mercilessly. This is certainly not the same Star Wars where Jar-Jar and the Ewoks defeat hordes of bad guys with zany antics — and it’s a much better show because of it.
For years, fans of the deep lore found in the now-defunct Star Wars Expanded Universe have wanted a live-action show with the same tone and moral tones as the ones seen in the Star Wars comics and novels. Andor might be the closest we’ve ever got to realizing this ideal, with characters that feel much more mature and nuanced than the ones in the films.
The show also realizes George Lucas’ vision for the prequel trilogy by introducing some more complex elements of political intrigue into the mix. While the long, “nuanced” political discourses of the prequel trilogy have become a point of contention between supporters and detractors of the prequels, Andor handles these themes much better than the divisive prequel films.
Consistency Over All
As good as The Mandalorian might be, it was always, at its core, a marketing tool for Disney’s novel streaming platform. The characters and storytelling might be good, but there’s no denying that there’s a certain air of “merchandise” looming over the project.
Things like the highly marketable characters, episodic narrative structure, and a bit of excess when it comes to the cameos make the show feel just a bit too much like a “product” instead of a genuine TV show.
That said, Andor sticks to what it does best from the very beginning of the show: telling a compelling story. Every character in the show feels like a real entity, reacting to the changes in their world in a credible and organic manner.
The fact that Andor abandons the episodic structure of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett also does wonders for the show’s structure. It also avoids the pitfalls that made Obi-Wan Kenobi so divisive; by having the main character whose story isn’t entirely known up to this point, fans can keep guessing what’s going to happen episode after episode, something that Kenobi failed to achieve.
Going back to the subject of consistency, one of the most notable things about Andor is that all the elements of the show are tied together in a way that feels far more satisfying and coherent than anything else out there in the current Star Wars franchise.
Honoring the Star Wars Legacy
As we mentioned before, Star Wars, as creative as its concept might be, has always been quite an archetypical franchise. For this reason, shows like Andor are vital to the evolution of the franchise as a whole.
Innovation, especially narrative innovation, is one of the things the sequel trilogy so desperately needed. Who could forget The Force Awakens and its emphasis on retreading the same narrative beats from A New Hope? It was a dark time for a galaxy far, far away — but Andor is an amazing first step into what could be a new era for one of the best sci-fi franchises ever made.
Thanks to its more mature production process, and a much more evident emphasis on the narrative innovation side of things, Andor is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best Disney Star Wars live-action project, and one of the most solid entries into the Disney+ streaming catalog.