No one would have bet a penny on Andor when the series was announced. A spin-off series, from a spin-off movie. And yet, she is the best yet in the Star Wars live action category. Ahead of Obi-Kenobi and The Mandalorian.
Andor is an awesome series. Who would have thought that a series about a character whose fate was already sealed in the film RogueOne would prove to be not only a beautiful work of science fiction, but also and above all the best series on Star Wars to date in real shots? That it would outclass much more anticipated and marketed productions, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian ?
Yet it is the feat that has just succeeded Andor. In one season, she managed to get everyone to agree – in any case, everyone among those who bothered to watch her. Even the undecided who kindly laughed at this project – after all, Cassian Andor is an ordinary character compared to the other heroes of Star Wars — agreed on the quality of the work.
Of course, the success ofAndor is largely due to the fact that this excellent series on Star Wars is above all an excellent series, period. All this has already been said and very well said elsewhere: the relevance of the dialogues, the complexity of the characters, the representation of the cold evil embodied by the Empire, the cinematography, the music, the cast. Everything contributes to this success.
An excellent series Star Wars who doesn’t make a fuss about it Star Wars
But beyond the production itself, there is also the way the universe of Star Wars was portrayed here, which allow to say thatAndor is the best live action series to date for this license. They are certainly not numerous: apart from The Mandalorian (2 seasons) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (miniseries), there is The Boba Fett Book (1 season). Others arrive.
You want one and only one reason why Andor won all the votes?
She’s not resting on that damn thing fan service which is vomited throughout films and series, whatever the license for that matter. Here, no “re-match” between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, even if it is obviously a guilty pleasure. Here, no small green monstrosity like Grogu, modeled on the figure of Yoda, and which sweats the merchandising with full nose.
The series is good because it has something to say, and is not there to “show Star Wars “. His characters have a life, a trajectory and do not seem to land in the story by chance. We have the impression of seeing real people, living in a dictatorship, torn from their daily lives. And that’s all. Moreover, this was felt, including in the fan communities: the winks, the references, the cameos were quite rare, sometimes non-existent.
The editorial staff of Numerama, however, has several aficionados of this license. However, over the weeks, we rarely came across something that would have deserved an explanation – where a series like Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed to do only that: the Jedi knight meme, the echo of a scene from a drawing animated, the mention of a famous character, and so on.
Andor don’t waste time trying to crack jokes with a funny side-kick — like Grogu. She also has the chance to spare herself implausible scenes or dialogues, not to say problematic. Remember the scene where young Princess Leia gets chased by villains? This is perhaps one of the most awkward passages to date.
The Empire is terribly scary
The representation of the Empire is also striking in Andor. We discover an immense cold and sprawling machinery, whose ramifications extend throughout the galaxy. We’re spared dumb stormtroopers getting their helmets caught in a doorjamb. Instead, we see all the bureaucracy and the intelligence services in motion.
Of course, the Empire also has its share of idiots, incompetents, lazybones and small bosses. But they are not there to amuse the gallery – even if it must be admitted that Alex Ferns, in his role of zealous and incompetent sergeant, is tasty. They serve a political purpose, showing that the Empire was built on blind masses. It’s not a free scene.
Besides, the Empire shows an all the more terrifying aspect because, on the one hand, everyone is not zero – think of the formidable Bureau of Imperial Security – and, on the other hand, we see at most close to individuals how much of a grind machine it is. The torture of Bix Caleen, the arbitrary and expeditious justice on a lambda planet, the endless imprisonment of the unfortunate…
Brutality is not exclusive to the Empire, however. The violence is also expressed on the other side, that of the “good guys”, who are driven to such extremes because they have suffered years of repression and humiliation. People are struggling for survival and getting their hands dirty. For a character like Luthen Rael, played by Stellan Skarsgård, who is very far from being a saint in the series, the end justifies the means. Even if it means sacrificing friends and allies.
Andor is an excellent series, because it brings everything down to human level. We are not about pitched battles in space between two armies, nor about a small band of rebels capable of detonating a super-weapon in space. We are in the dirty daily life of a galaxy under the yoke of an oppressive regime. The real threat is that of arbitrary detention, beatings in an alley, the loss of a loved one.
It’s because this series brings everything down to an individual scale, or almost, that small victories seem even more brilliant than the destruction, for example, of a Death Star, or a helmeted Mandalorian getting rid of his adversaries. The prison riot is a textbook case in this regard: it’s just a riot, in an Imperial prison, one of thousands in the galaxy. Very few will make it. It won’t even shake the Empire from its foundations. And despite everything, seeing them all get up, we only wanted one thing: to also take up arms to answer Kino Loy’s call.
The challenge is not to save the whole galaxy, but for Cassian Andor, to just get by. Certainly, the story will later lead him to take a much more decisive role in the course of events – what we will see in season 2 and what we already know thanks to RogueOne. But it works because it is first and foremost a question of humanity. How to have empathy for a character like the Mandalorian, who is always helmeted and nothing seems to touch?
Andor is great… but who knows?
Paradoxically, however, Andor is currently the live action series on Star Wars which seems to have the hardest time starting. Its audiences are set back compared to the others, while the series, by its intrinsic qualities, but also for the way of depicting Star Wars, and for the strong themes of sacrifice, domination, commitment and justice, tick all boxes to appeal to fans, and also to a wider audience.
And then, Andor nevertheless remains a derivative work of another derivative work. The readability of the events is perhaps not so easy to follow for those who are not up to date, because from one work to another, the era changes very quickly. Rogue One happens like this with episode IV, while Andor is a prequel to the film. To this is also added a reality: we already know what will happen for certain heroes. And we suspect that the other characters will not have a great destiny, because we did not know them before.
Andor is she paying for the recent mistakes of Star Wars, whether it’s postlogy, which is relatively decried, or live action series, of variable quality? Does it suffer from the impression of a secondary series, because its hero is secondary? Or did it come at a critical moment, between the two titans that are The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon ? Maybe it’s all of these things at the same time. The slowness of the implementation of the action (many dropped after one or two episodes), its more “adult” tone in the narration, could also weigh.
Season 2 ofAndor should be an opportunity to make adjustments to the pace, which will necessarily experience an acceleration with the rise of Cassian Andor in the ranks of the Rebel Alliance. However, we can be hopeful for the future. First, because the series may be more recognized over time – like other works, like Blade Runner, which took time to become cult. Then, because it may feed Disney on how to offer Star Wars in the future. It is also in his interest.