Andor: Star Wars Shines in a New Way

The main poster for “Andor” on Disney Plus (Lucasfilm). The series has been proclaimed as one of the best new entries in the Star Wars franchise, thanks to its excellent characters and world building.

The main poster for “Andor” on Disney Plus (Lucasfilm). The series has been proclaimed as one of the best new entries in the Star Wars franchise, thanks to its excellent characters and world building.

Star Wars under Disney’s ownership has been a wild ride, from the infamous sequel trilogy that left fans divided to the well-received “The Mandalorian.” After “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” mostly fell flat in audience reception, perhaps something new was needed for the franchise’s next big success. 

The main critique given in regard to “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was the series’ use of the volume technology. First used in “The Mandalorian,” the volume is a large wraparound screen that has the ability to replace a green screen while also creating immersive environments and lighting. The volume’s downfall was that it simply wasn’t big enough to accommodate large set pieces such as the town of Mos Espa or the exterior of a refugee hideout.

“Andor” ditches the hyper-realistic screens in favor of practical sets and on-location filming, creating lively environments with roots in practical filmmaking such as the Cruachan Dam, which stood in for the planet of Aldhani. The real world sets bring a larger atmosphere and allows for intricate details such as civilians living their lives which creates a stark contrast from the empty feeling sets of previous Star Wars shows. However, “Andor” is not without stunning visuals such as TIE fighter pilots entering their cockpits against the glow of the Eye of Aldhani in the sixth episode or the wide shot of inmates swimming away from the prison on Narkina V during episode 10. 

“Going into it, I wasn’t all that excited, I had watched “Rogue One” but I wasn’t a big fan of him (Cassian Andor) being a derivative of other characters, but I really enjoyed it, especially the last two episodes,” Lambert junior Amaar Alidima said.

Before the series was released, an initial critique of “Andor” was that it wouldn’t appeal to viewers because Cassian Andor’s eventual fate was already known from the movie “Rogue One,” where the character originally appeared. On the contrary, “Andor” uses this knowledge to its advantage by adding expansive background and motivations to a character lacking screen time. In addition, the reveal during the season finale’s post credit scene that Cassian helped construct his cause of death was an excellent way to circle around his character arc. Cassian Andor’s character fleshes itself out in a natural way thanks to the amount of time spent with the character in his own show.

In contrast to just about every piece of Star Wars media that came before, “Andor” relies less on spectacular CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) battles and the overwhelming power of the force to keep the audience engaged, instead drawing acute attention to every main and side character. Perhaps the most intriguing of the characters introduced in the show was Luthen Rael, the rebel spymaster, as portrayed by Skellen Skarsgard. His performance is one of a double sided character that can separate his public and private personas while also delivering one of the most memorable monologues in Star Wars, being where he defiantly declares what he sacrifices for rebellion during the series tenth episode.

Other standout performances include Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma, who notably played the character in a deleted scene from 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith” and returned for “Andor” 17 years later. Mon Mothma is given the stressful role as the secret funder of the rebellion while the walls of the empire close in, leading to suspenseful and tension scenes where the truth cannot be revealed. In addition, Forest Whitaker continues rebel partisan Saw Gerrera’s character arc by showing the early rebellion leader in his most paranoid state as he refuses to work with others and is suspicious of his own men as traitors.

“I’ve been a Mon Mothma fan since the first time I watched “Return of the Jedi”, but I was surprised to find that no one asked the question of what’s Mon Mothma’s husband like, or her family, or what she does when she’s not doing Mon Mothma things,” Alidima added. 

Cassian Andor was originally a simple character in “Rogue One”, a rebel spy that served as command of a rebel squad that stole the original Death Star plans. “Andor” gives the character a shocking amount of depth while also introducing and adding to a plethora of a supporting cast that at times steals the show with incredible craftsmanship.