When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released in 2016, it quickly became one of the most well-received Star Wars projects of the Disney era. The prequel earned an 84% critics score and an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's become an important part of the overall arc of Star Wars. The movie perfectly retconned a major question that had plagued fans since 1977: Why was there a flaw built into the Death Star? The film also shocked fans by directly leading into Star Wars: A New Hope with one of the coolest (and scariest) Darth Vader moments ever put to screen. It was a prequel that succeeded in expanding a beloved story while successfully introducing new characters. Now, thanks to Disney+'s Star Wars: Andor, the prequel film has a prequel of its own, and the underdog series has managed to fill out the Star Wars universe even more than the film that inspired it.
It's hard not to compare Andor to the other Star Wars shows that hit Disney+ this year, but The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi expanded on some of the franchise's most popular characters while Andor has done something unique by changing the way we view the original films. Since the series began, I have seen many tweets commenting on the fact that the Rebellion had so many heroes before Luke Skywalker came along at the very end and took all the glory. Of course, these are mostly good-natured jabs, but it was still a wise decision to use Andor as a way of showcasing the Rebellion's victory as a massive group effort. Star Wars may be fiction, but taking down any empire is not something that can realistically be done by a few people alone. As Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) said in Andor, "I burn my decency for someone else's future. I burn my life to make a sunrise that I know I'll never see. And the ego that started this fight will never have a mirror or an audience or the light of gratitude." Hypothetically, there are countless stories Star Wars could tell about people who contributed to Rebellion in some way or another.
Andor clearly isn't trying to undercut the triumphs of Luke and the rest of the franchise's original heroes, but exploring characters who fought on different levels adds a rich realism that you never expected from a franchise that started with the adventures of bickering robots (we love you Artoo and Threepio, never change). From Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) using her high rank in the Senate to Melshi's (Duncan Pow) mission to reveal the truth of the Narkina 5 prison, the range of characters who helped take down Palpatine is vast. Star Wars could have ended after the original trilogy and those movies would have remained wonderful and iconic, but the choice to keep the franchise going has left a lot of room for bigger stories, and while we didn't need to reach the point of an anti-fascist, heartbreaking, and masterful prequel, it's very welcome after a bout of extreme fan service. As someone who loves to be catered to, I'll never knock getting nostalgia-fueled content, but a franchise cannot live on sentimentality alone. Andor has redefined Star Wars in a way that makes everything richer, and the next time I jam out to Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, I'll be even more grateful for the silly scenes knowing about the universe's grim underbelly.
One of the most powerful moments in the season finale of Andor was the voiceover from Nemik's (Alex Lawther) manifesto, "The day will come when all of these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance, will have flooded the Empire's authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this: try." Of course, one of the most famous lines in Star Wars history is Yoda's "try not, do or do not. There is no try." There's a weight to Nemik's "try" that doesn't negate Yoda's teachings, but rather cracks open the difference between Luke's fight and Cassian's. Luke's birthright and quest to hone his Jedi powers give him an advantage that no one in the Rebellion has had before. Yoda knows that Luke needs to be taught mindfulness to continue his training, but that lesson doesn't apply to everyone. Fans have been using the quote for years, but in most cases, it's not actually a good rule to follow. When it comes to taking down an empire, and you don't have superpowers, trying is all you have.
The characters in Andor are holding on for dear life, and we already know that most of them aren't going to live to see the war won. The show in no way diminishes the original trilogy but recontextualizes it in a powerful way that will change how we watch those movies forever. A hat tip to Tony Gilroy for creating a series that feels like a sincere and worthy Star Wars entry while also capturing a deeper essence that is unlike anything that's come before.
Andor's first season is now streaming on Disney+.0comments