You read correctly, this is not a typo. Andor is, for all intents and purposes, a masterpiece; a writing never seen until now in the SW panorama (with Rogue One just below thanks to a few jokes with an easy Marvelian reference) and practically perfect characters. Will this perfect series be enough to make Star Wars re-emerge from the abyss of sequels? Above all: would it be right to re-emerge the Star Wars title with Andor? In this review with very many spoiler we tell you how this series is damned and great.
Andor is a TV series from the Star Wars universe that tells the story of Cassian Andor, a rebel human already seen in Star Wars: Rogue One. Andor's 12-episode prequel to the character's only appearance, showcasing recurring characters in the Star Wars universe that have always remained in the background. The series is particular because it uses a very hard and crude language; it is certainly one of the few Star Wars-branded products not designed to be usable by everyone. Strong themes are accompanied by well-drawn and three-dimensional characters, a well-written plot and a scary soundtrack.
Where do we start with Andor?
Before launching into what Andor is, let's start with the overall design. Andor is a product of the Star Wars ensemble, probably one of the best known titles on the globe. I'm your father, May the force be with you, Galaxy Far Far Away are three phrases that, on average, everyone knows or has heard. The popularity of Star Wars has led it to be a cornerstone of the universe nerd, also thanks to the many capitalizing and explosive boosts that this universe has received thanks to The Big Bang Theory and D&D.
The commercial phenomenon of Star Wars could not therefore go unnoticed and, after the recent acquisition by Disney, "this generation" has received 5 new feature films; 3 which extended the fee to 35 years after the 6th, according to many fans (or few and noisy) unwatchable. Two of these deepening what had already been told, namely Solo (concerning Han Solo) and Rogue One (concerning the rebellion). From the ashes of the latter was born Andor, the series we are talking about today.
Galaxy Neighbor Neighbor
Andor excels at speaking of a Galaxy Near Near as if it were Far Far Away. The empire, with its constant striving for control; the lives of the poor crushed between strenuous work and mediocre leisure; a political class very far from the reality of citizens. All elements that anyone can bring into the present with various political declinations, right or wrong: therefore the establishment becomes the Deep State, the Healthcare Dictatorship, Capital, Fascism.
I expose myself in saying that Andor is the most anarchic series I've ever seen (and it's also the one I appreciate the most). There is no room for fetishism towards the beautiful uniforms of the Empire, which the figure of Vader, in his redemption, has managed to make everyone digest. The Empire, the representation of Nazi-fascism in Star Wars, is horrible and there is no place for misunderstandings. Over the years we have often seen the Empire lend itself as a comic support: the Stormtroopers unable to hit anything, the stupid maintenance workers and the inept generals. In Andor, the empire is scary because facing it are not pew-pew Jedi Knights, but ordinary people. And from ordinary people, sometimes, improbable heroes are born, and Andor is one of them.
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May the Force be with you Andor
However, the path of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is not a straight road towards the Resistance and the Rebellion. He begins slowly, slowly, in everyday life, between unauthorized exchanges and some smuggled credit. Then he meets two guards too eager to assert their power and realizes that he can no longer crawl in the shadows. There is no longer any place to leave the battle to others. It's time to fight because, willy-nilly, the Empire exists and is stronger if everyone "they sleep".
To pave the way for the Rebellion, for the cowardly Casssian, is Nemik. “Freedom is a pure idea, it comes spontaneously“, as his quotes The Manifest, is the purest and most unassailable declaration of the values of the Rebellion. A rebellion that, on Aldhani, Andor sees happening but refuses to follow. But, as has already happened, once you notice the existence of the Empire you can't live without it. And here being captured and sent to a prison camp, for Cassian, is the beginning of a battle that no longer has to do with others, but with himself. As it has been since the beginning, on the other hand.
I am your mother
Among all the characters who play a face of the rebellion I would like to focus first on the one that struck me the most: Maarva (Fiona Shaw). There mother di Cassian had her own smuggling ring, she found baby Andor but she was always a rebel. Advanced age prevents him from taking part in rebellion hard and pure but that doesn't mean he can't do something. Her speech at her funeral is a warning to the next generation not to sleep. Not to let the Empire pass but to fight it, because by sleeping you are playing its game.
I have compared Maarva to the figure of our partisans: people who fought and who are now abandoning us, but who still harbor the spirit of rebellion within them. Maybe they also realize that they can no longer take part in it as they would have done at the time, but they don't give in to the fact that things have to change.
The second character I would like to talk about is Mon Mothma. A very strong female character (like many in the series) and representations of the elites. The dissident elites who, in their ivory towers, looking for a way to destroy the Empire from within. A continuous but useless struggle made in the comfort of a status quo that makes them practically untouchable. And here, when Mon Mothma joins the rebellion, she begins to see the Empire with its constant need for control.
Here, when in concrete terms one begins to apply oneself, the grip of the Empire becomes stronger. And the sacrifice to be made on the altar of the Rebellion is as enormous as it is for all who have undertaken it before. Genevieve o Relly is extraordinary in representing (perhaps thanks to the Irish origin?) the need for a revolution of expectations, far from the ideas that something can be saved in the process. Everything will have to change if you want change.
A life of ghosts
Last but not least is Luthen Rael, played by a phenomenal Stellan Skarsgard. Luthen is the dirty face of the Rebellion, the one made of necessary sacrifices, of unconventional means. It's the part we like least, the one we'll all gladly do without but that we accept because it's necessary. He is the summary of the means of the Empire with a different flag and for this reason he figures as a cross between an accomplice and an antagonist.
His monologue, in the corridors of Coruscant's slums, is incredible. It shows us how much a person can dig into a fight, how strong is his willfulness and lust for destruction. But it also heralds its possible end, once there is nothing left to fight for or the differences between methods are a mere dazzle of ideology. The end justifies the means, on the other hand, it's an unfortunate phrase that lends itself well to his character, for now.
The Empire between Syril and Dedra
The empire is best represented with two different points of view. Syril, insecure incompetent and just enlisted in the ranks of the Empire, dreams of his greatness and the need for order pushes him into the arms of tyranny. Dedra, capable and astute overseer, she understands that camaraderie is mere propaganda and only those who are higher up the ladder count, no matter how dirty she has to get her hands to climb.
Both work for the empire, both support a machine that oppresses them, yes, but oppresses theirs much more others, and so that's fine. They accept being in society because it doesn't oppress them and both have blind devotion (or maybe not?) to a mechanism made by people to control other people. They are the collaborators, the supporters, the mechanisms of the Empire and therefore, in reference, to Nazi-fascism. Negative characters, slimy, insecure, often incapable and doomed to failure.
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Beyond the characters of Andor
Separate mention to the music, curated by Nicholas Britell, extraordinary and capable of adding/subtracting sensations from each scene. High pitches and short silences in the script of Maarva's funeral and the Aldhani heist, as well as Escape from Narkina 5 are true musical essays on how to build expectation in the audience with the use of sound, and Britell was outstanding.
Honorable mention must then be given to the costumes and sets, underlined by a very capable direction; Andor appears true, real, three-dimensional and human like never before has a Star Wars appeared. And rightly so. We could talk for now about which character was best rendered, who played something best, or what. But in Andor, as in a human tragedy, all the characters are facets of humanity. And that's why it's a masterpiece.