Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 4/5
Since Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, the brand has had a turbulent ride, to say the least. After retconning the entire Expanded Universe and delivering a film trilogy that amounted to two Directors wrestling for creative control, it’s fallen to the small screen to pick up the slack after Rogue One felt like a big-screen anomaly.
The Mandalorian delivered simple, fluffy fun to win back some of the fans, while Book of Boba Fett undid some of the good will with a lackluster miniseries. Obi-Wan Kenobi came storming in earlier this year like a bull in a china shop, delivering one of the worst Star Wars series in recent memory.
Coming into Andor, Tony Gilroy’s show had it all to do. Thankfully, Andor is a big surprise and one of the better Star Wars shows that few people are watching – especially if you count the Nielsen ratings and audience buzz online.
Andor is a slow burn of the highest order, taking place before the events of Rogue One, with its titular character Cassian Andor taking centerstage. With lots of practical effects and a compelling set of characters, this is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year.
The story takes place across several different planets and systems, with the rise of the Empire and the start of the rebel alliance the real focus here. With danger, deception and intrigue around every corner, Andor is a wanted man after killing several Imperial officers in an alleyway. After being recruited by a stranger called Luthen to be part of an assault on an Imperial hangar, what follows is a wide-spanning adventure that eventually leads to all the pieces falling in place ready for Rogue One.
The first set of chapters essentially set the scene, with lots of worldbuilding, plenty of establishing shots and flashbacks showing how Andor made it onto the planet of Ferrix. From here, the story see-saws between slow-burn build up and just plain slow, forcing you to be patient with the story. When things do pick up though, it hits all the harder as a result.
Alongside Cassian’s story are several other subplots, involving a politically-driven tale with Mon Momtha on Coruscant, Cassian’s old friend Bix on Ferrix, and a low-level officer called Syril who’s desperate to find Andor no matter what. All of this interweave around the main story, and although most of the characters do a good job with their roles, Diego Luna doesn’t quite have the swagger and charisma needed to pull off the role for this main character.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s still the Cassian Andor that we saw from Rogue One, but the role is crying out for someone like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo to really take this show by the scruff of the neck and take it to the next level.
This is the sort of show that’s going to benefit from a binge-watch and there could be an uptick in viewers as a result of this. The pacing itself is a particular problem between episodes, with some chapters doing very little to actually push the character or story forward. While one could argue it’s all for the atmosphere and build-up, several episode could very easily have been edited and added into other chapters, with some clocking in at around 39 minutes and including Disney’s recent trend of adding around 8 minutes of credits at the end.
Aesthetically though, Andor is moody, mature storytelling but it’s also one that’s going to divide the new wave of fans that Disney have brought in. Those expecting lots of flashy effects, bombastic battles and lightsaber duels will be very disappointed. Instead, this feels much more akin to an espionage spy thriller – and it’s easily one of the best things Disney Star Wars has put out. Roll on season 2!
Verdict - 7.5/10