Forget Star Wars Fatigue, ‘Andor’ Is One of the Best Shows of 2022

There is a scene episode 7 from foreman which sent me reeling.

It started out strange. Cassian Andor, our titular antihero, after pulling off an impossible heist in the Galactic Empire, doing what any reasonable criminal would do afterwards: partying it up in what can only be described as “Space Ibiza”. Day and night boozed, relax hangover on the beach during the day. A strange vibration for the universe is usually pressed in space wizards duking it out with a laser sword.

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While lounging, Cassian – a passerby in a completely new, separate crime he had no involvement – was pulled up by a Stormtrooper and interrogated on the spot, accused of taking part in the crime he was merely a witness.

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Anyone who saw that scene being interviewed by the evil cop almost certainly had a knot in their stomach. Cassian, polite and forthcoming, frantically tries to avoid problems as he is slowly ensnared by a calculated series of leading questions, resulting in him being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. It was a scene brutal and confusing in its truth. What at first feels like a parody slowly unravels into something horrifying. The result feels depressingly inevitable: This is what happens when you allow fascism to flourish without recourse.

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A KX droid appeared on Cassian on the beach promenade in Andor

Cassian’s first encounter with the Imperial droid KX was unpleasant.

Lucasfilm

It’s funny, but Andor — a spinoff show focused on characters from spinoff movies — was literally the first Star Wars “thing.” It shows us that the Galactic Empire is a truly fascist regime, at its core, very fried. In a universe where the villain is supposed to be a space Nazi, that’s weird.

But that’s also why Andor continues to be such a great TV show. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. That’s the rule.

Andor rules because it is a view obsessed with small things in his universe. Star Wars has traditionally been about humongous events, gigantic space battles with galaxy-changing consequences. But at no point in any Star Wars movie have I gotten a real sense of what Luke Skywalker and Co. are actually fighting for; or what the rebels are fighting against.

Darth Vader was bad because he was dressed in black dudes choked. That’s it. The emperor, on the other hand, had a pale, pale face and a hideous smile. Sure, these guys blow up planets and slaughter young kids, but that’s the stuff of pantomime villains. In Andor, the villain is a slow, creeping fascism that is unpredictable, and that makes the show one of the scariest things Disney has produced since acquiring the Star Wars license in 2012.

The indistinct silhouette of the black-clad, helmeted villain Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus.

Nice to get a breather from this guy.

Disney Plus

This show is obsessed with small things, the minutiae of the grind. We get to see apartment buildings, broken robots, disappointed mothers eating dinner with their adult children. We see the impact of bureaucracy in action, little work meetings, office bitch sessions. We watch the family bickering over breakfast, agonizing over the guest list and just generally partaking in the banalities of everyday existence. Surprisingly, it was fascinating.

I often criticized Star Wars for obsessively plugging gaps in the timeline itself and making the once grand universe feel small. The building of the Andor universe is different. It is pressed in minuscule details in a way that makes the world of Star Wars feel authentic to live in. By weaving the story of this less important character into the grand narrative, we get a sense of the enormous scale of the wider conflict. This isn’t a Star Wars story, it’s a little story that takes place somewhere in that universe. It’s awesome.

But beyond that topline concept, Andor is simply a great show in almost every aspect of its production. Looks great, well written. Not a single line of dialogue feels overwrought or awkward. It’s also packed with some top-notch performances.

Denise Gough – who plays Dedra Meero, a member of the Imperial Security Bureau – brilliantly captures the corporate anxiety of high-stakes meetings where one wrong word can lead to you losing your job. And, as this tweet statedthere is no crime I will not do if Stellan Skarsgård gruffly asks me if I want to “fight these bastards for real.”

Andor takes Star Wars to places it’s never been before. It feels more like a John le Carré novel with blasters than a space opera. And as a person who is literally once finished a Star Wars rant/article with words“That’s enough Star Wars for me thanks,” was a welcome change.

If you, like me, are tired of the exploits of Luke Skywalker and Co., I urge you to reconsider. Andor, regardless of the Star Wars baggage, is one of the best events of 2022. I’m as surprised as anyone.



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