By Ethan Percival
Warning: This Article Contains Spoilers. Warned, you have been.
What do you think of when you hear Star Wars? Maybe you think about the Jedi or Sith. Yet, in a distinct contrast to preceding Star Wars media, Star Wars: Andor, focuses, not on the Jedi or the Sith, but on the story of so many who would shape the rebellion into the force for good and how it would spell the end of the Empire.
The series takes place five years before the events of a New Hope. Reprising his role from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Diego Luna returns as Cassian Andor, a man on the run after killing two corporate guardsmen. Seeking to flee the planet and go into hiding, Andor meets Luthen Rael, (played by Stellan Skarsgård, from HBO’s Chernobyl) who, interested in Andor’s abilities as a infiltrator, hires him to join a team of rebels in their fight against the Empire.
Right away, this series presents itself as something completely different from any Stars Wars media Disney has produced before. In the original trilogy, the lines between heroes and villains were extremely clear: Luke Skywalker and Leia were obviously the good guys and the Emperor and Darth Vader were the bad guys, plain and simple. Much of Star Wars follows this model, the main protagonists display distinctly heroic qualities, and vice versa for the main antagonists.
With Star Wars: Andor; however, the characters are harder to define as strictly heroes or villains, many are closer to anti-heroes and anti-villains. In the first few episodes, Andor isn’t portrayed as the stereotypical, pure of heart hero. There are times he acts in his own self-interest and does things most heroes in Star Wars wouldn’t define as heroic, such as murder. However, when the time comes he will step up and do the right thing.
The main antagonist character, a (now former) Preox-Morllana corporate officer named Syril Karn, is nowhere near as horrible or terrible as other villains in the Star Wars. Karn’s actions aren’t outright villainous or evil in nature, he demands justice for the slain guardsmen and revenge because, as he sees it, Andor ruined his career and life. Make no mistake, while Karn’s motives may be justified in ways, he still enforces the Empire’s will on the galaxy.
Additionally, Andor does something previous Star Wars TV shows and movies only touch on: illustrating the interworking of the Empire. In the original trilogy, the Empire is the stereotypical evil and all-powerful organization. Yet, we have rarely ever seen its interworking. Andor begins to address this by showing how the Empire actually operates through the Imperial Senate, the corporate sectors, and the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB).
Something that absolutely needs to be addressed is the completely different tone and feel Andor has in relation to other Star Wars media. Mature subjects such as murder, prostitution, corruption, oppression add a much more realistic and grounded experience when you see the show, or as realistic as a science fiction genre can be. Many characters aren’t fully good or fully bad, they fight for the Rebellion or the Empire for differing reasons or beliefs. They are written in ways that are much more accurate to how people who have differing personalities or ideals view the same idea in our world.
There are so many things that make Star Wars: Andor so unique in Star Wars media and amazing that it will be impossible to list them all here. It just feels so well done. The acting, the sets, the characters, the details, the tone, and the story make for an experience unlike any other Star Wars TV show or movie before.