With Andor, Star Wars is Exciting Again

The new show, streaming Wednesdays, understands that heroes can be flawed — and that’s a good thing.

I’ll start with a confession: I didn’t watch The Mandalorian, or The Book of Boba Fett, or Obi-Wan Kenobi, or any of the other Star Wars content that Disney has been cranking out by the barrel ever since “the Skywalker saga” came to an end in 2019. I just couldn’t work up the energy to care. 

Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a big Star Wars fan — ask any of my old friends from middle school and I’m sure they’ll recount my elaborate theories as to who is and is not a force mirage (how, how did we never get any further details on that?) and just how cool the speeder battle at the end of The Last Jedi is. But after the severe disappointment that was The Rise of Skywalker — a movie which, among its many other stumbles, canonically made Reylo a thing for reasons I still fail to understand — I decided I’d had it. No more forking over ticket money to the soulless franchise machine. I was done, out. Star Wars and I were through.

But for Andor, I came back. 

Why this show you ask? Why return for the backstory of Cassian Andor — a little known Rebel spy who doesn’t even survive the single movie he appears in — and not beloved characters like Kenobi or Fett? Well, put simply, his single appearance of Rogue One was a really good movie.

Part of what made Rogue One such a standout — and, I believe, the best of modern Star Wars — was the way it captured the sense of a true war movie. While there were certainly more than a few classic examples of remarkably bad aim, people died in Rogue One, often unexpectedly and badly. The film was messy, sharp edged, nail-bitingly stressful and often brutally violent in a way that made the new hope its heroes fought and died for all the more precious.

But the new show takes place before all that. It’s the story of a man who became, lest we forget, an assassin, and that means it’s far from simple or even particularly hopeful. In a bar fight “gone too far,” the show’s titular anti-hero murders two imperial officers in cold blood in the first five minutes of the premiere, a fateful choice that sets him on the path to rebellion. And from there the show only gets more comfortable with death, emphasizing, if possible, even more of the horrors of war than the original movie. 

Over the course of the three episode premiere, which arrived on Disney+ last week, you’ll get to see exactly what a laser rifle does to a human body — including, at one particularly disturbing point, the body of a child — in a way that the Star Wars canon has often shied away from in the past. But it’s that immediacy, that cover-your-eyes, turn-your-back run-Cassian-please-just-run, that gives the franchise some much needed grounding. 

Forget everything you know, Andor beckons. The heroes of this era don’t fight the Empire because of ancient rivalries between Jedi and Sith, and they don’t do it with magic or swords made of light. They do it with code phrases and improvised explosives and sometimes their very bodies because they know that when the empire of this Star Wars shoots, it shoots to kill. And it’s only with that very real danger that Rebellion begins to mean something. Only with death so close does hope seem so very daring. 

We know where Cassian Andor is going. We know where he’ll make his final stand. But I no longer know if, in the end, he’ll be a hero, or just another soldier with blood on his hands. If the Rebellion is what it always seemed, or if there’s more to the story of Star Wars than we know. All I know is, for the first time in a long time, I’m excited to find out.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Stories


We would love your thoughts, please comment!x
%d bloggers like this: