If Disney+ gets the hell out of the way, “Andor” can save “Star Wars.”
Drew Magary, a columnist for SFGATE, denies having a fan service need.
Here is a summary of “Andor,” the most recent “Star Wars” television series, in case you need it: It’s great. I watched the first three episodes, which were all released on Disney+ yesterday, and I’m eager to see what happens next. Really, the only thing you can ask of a television programme is that you want to keep watching it.
I can’t promise that will be true for “Andor.” Every TV show ultimately veers off course, and the “Star Wars” franchise has a nasty habit of crashing and burning. Let me indulge in the nice stuff for a bit before we discuss those tired complaints. Weak spoilers are forthcoming.
If you need a reminder, “Andor” is a stand-alone television series that follows Cassian Andor, who is portrayed by Diego Luna and whom you may (or, forgiveably, may not) recognise from “Rogue One.” He was one of the martyrs who died delivering the Death Star blueprints to the Rebellion so they might destroy it completely at the conclusion of “Episode IV.” Tony Gilroy, the writer/director of the “Michael Clayton” film series and the “Bourne” trilogy, reportedly took on unofficial directorial duties for “Rogue One,” a difficult production that was quickly revised to become one of the better “Star Wars” films of this century.
As with “Rogue One,” Gilroy was chosen to be the showrunner for “Andor,” and he has created bantha-ade from bantha fodder. “Andor” is more of an adult TV show than any “Star Wars” or Marvel show that preceded it, and not in the usual, cheap way of darkening every set and making the main character talk so low that their lines are inaudible. This programme features real character development, real dirt, real sets that appear real enough, and real filmmaking voice.
It has an advantage over some of the more abhorrent “Star Wars” canon chapters because of all of that. The terse speech that distinguished “Bourne” and “Michael Clayton” is immediately noticeable in “Andor,” and it makes a significant impact. Instead of snarky one-liners spilling out of every seam, there are times when there is a telling quiet. Almost all of the characters lack self-confidence. Two unloving characters engage in sexual activity. The SFPD and Imperial guards are both equally outstanding and capable. Every time he appears in a piece of art, Stellan Skarsgard serves as a Medallion Signature Guarantee and wields a retractable sword that isn’t a lightsaber. Blasters are used in handgun-like brutality and violence. Only one adorable droid moment is present.
In between all of that, we learn of an intergalactic urchin who kills two people he shouldn’t have, and who then must make the most of the meagre resources at his disposal to avoid being apprehended and imprisoned. I enjoy genre s—t, and this is genre s—t in its purest form. The genre-crossing TV shows are a disaster. In comparison, “Andor” is happy to remain a little piece of space noir, and is significantly better for it.
Because Gilroy is new to television and is still getting used to the conventions of film, the first two episodes of “Andor” had awkward conclusions. There is no similar issue in the third episode. After a spectacular action scene, one of those theatrical montages follows in which each character looks into the distance while aware that their problems have only just begun. It was during that episode that I finally said, “OK, I’m game for this,” but it also signalled a significant turning point in the plot. Luna and Skarsgard leave Andor’s chosen home planet at the end of episode three and travel into space, giving Gilroy the chance to spread his noir over the cosmos while keeping the plot in check.
But since this is “Star Wars,” every programme and film must ultimately give in to the narrative. “Andor’s” first three episodes are delightfully devoid of self-reverence. I never once heard the name “Jedi,” and this gave me a lot of serenity. That shouldn’t be how a fanboy like me behaves. I revered the original film trilogy growing up, therefore I take “Star Wars” WAY too seriously now. I ought to want more Yodas, more Skywalkers, and more Jedi crammed into every available space.
I don’t. From 11 films and the other three expanded universe TV episodes, I was able to obtain all of the Skywalker mythos I needed and then some. Mind you, these tales are set in a galaxy. A galaxy has a lot of worlds. many characters Many interesting things are possible. Since “Star Wars” has established itself as a distinct genre, not all of its stories need to be connected. If you want to see anything from it, you shouldn’t have to be a completist. The beginning of “Andor” is clever enough to zero in on one of these relatively far-flung stories, giving it a distinct, and superior, flavour from much of what came before. I thought I was seeing something fresh. I think Gilroy wants to give me something new to view because I wanted to.
That depends on if Disney agrees to let him. They might not be happy with this series remaining understated. The transition of the main character from a nameless s—tbag to a revolutionary is currently taking place in “Andorplot. “‘s This portends the arrival of many well-known beats. Battle station will be mentioned under one’s breath by someone. There will be more adorable droid moments. It will shine like a lightsaber. There will undoubtedly be at least one prominent character from the wider universe present for the obligatory cameo. Perhaps Andor will have A Moment when he or she sees a digital version of Carrie Fisher.
Gilroy has so far created a show that genuinely treats its viewers like adults. He’ll have liberated “Star Wars” from its own creative restraints and guided it into fresh, and more intriguing, realms if he can maintain doing it in spite of the demands made on him by the evil powers at Disney. He can thread the needle, and I want to believe that. He has the skills to pull it off, for sure. I’ve been hurt before, though, kids. I would proceed with caution.