Andor’s More Grounded ‘Star Wars’ Feels Fresh, But Its Storyline Is Not

Yesterday, Disney Plus debuted the first three episodes of Andor, which I was a bit confused about until I watched them and realized they were essentially a 90 minute movie, with the first two ending in weird places and the climax happening in the third one.

Much ado has been made about Andor shedding a lot of the problematic things that have plagued Disney-era Star Wars. It’s grittier, Cassian Andor executes a guard point-blank in its opening minutes, it feels more grounded, with practical sets and effects and at least somewhat less CGI than other series. And at least so far, it does not seem concerned with easter eggs and crossovers into the Skywalker saga, other than its obvious connections to Rogue One.

I like this approach. I like this cast, I like these sets, I like the look and feel of Andor. And yet after watching these episodes I still cannot shake the feeling that we simply know where all this is going, and we know how we’re going to get there.

The story, of course, centers on Cassian Andor, a side character in Rogue One who ends up being instrumental in stealing the plans for the first Death Star and getting them to the alliance. Doing this costs him his life and the life of essentially everyone else in that movie. So we very much know how his specific story ends.

But past that, I’m not exactly sure what we’re expecting to learn through 12 episodes of season 1, here, nor a second season that already appears to be in the works. The story is about the “birth of the rebellion” which will ultimately become the Rebel Alliance, but it seems pretty straightforward already. The people are being oppressed by Imperials, they eventually have enough, and key figures like Andor, Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera join forces to begin a sort of guerilla war against them.

You may say that Star Wars often does this, exploring things we’ve already treaded over before, but Andor seems like an example more guilty of this than most. The prequel trilogy was leading toward an inevitable place, but the prequel trilogy was also…not good, and I’d argue that was a big reason for it. The Obi-Wan series was similarly guilty of that. The Mandalorian, I’d argue, is more meaningful because we don’t know where things are going with those characters, given the timeline right after the first trilogy, and many years before the new Disney trilogy that came late.

In theory, Rogue One should have not worked because of this as well, though I will admit that even if it was a story we thought we know, I did not see the movie going as bleak as it went, with the deaths of essentially everyone involved. But now, Cassian Andor exists as a spin-off of a movie that was already predetermined and now he specifically has his fate known, along with many other characters, so that saps some tension out of things. I guess we have to worry a lot about…Bix?

While I appreciate this approach to Star Wars storytelling compared to what we’ve gotten lately, I just don’t know why they picked this character in this period of time telling this story this way. Maybe it will be good enough to overcome the obvious storylines that are unfolding, similar to what Rogue One did, but after these initial episodes, I’m not so sure.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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