Andor, as it turns out, has been an interesting entry into Star Wars lore… from a certain point of view. I say that because the series, though not nearly as divisive as The Last Jedi, has split the fan base nonetheless. There are those that found its “slow burn” pace and lack of the usual “pew pews” and battles galore a bit boring. Then there are those like me who, to the contrary, found it to be some of the best content in the entire franchise. The Season One finale, “Rix Road,” confirmed for many fans that Andor is indeed the Star Wars we needed.
Never at any point of the feature films did we truly witness the evilness of the Empire like we do in Andor. Our first exposure was Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer hunting down the Tantive-IV… but… George Lucas’s jumping into the middle of the story with Episode IV prevented us from really experiencing the effect that the Imperial onslaught had on the galaxy. The Empire barely touched Tatooine. Thus, Luke Skywalker had no first-hand knowledge of the Empire until it came knocking on his door and murdered his family. Not so for Ferrix, and Cassian. And that’s why the show is so important, and so special.
Andor is indeed the Star Wars we need
The Empire didn’t take over the galaxy in an instant. Instead, it too took a slow burn, absorbing worlds like Ferrix one system at a time. In Andor, we finally, truly, get to see how they did it, and how brutal Imperial tactics could be. Murder. Torture. Lies. Rampant ambition. Manipulation. You name it; it was all on display in the series. The Empire simply broke people. Luthen Rael’s monologue at the end of episode 10 was one of the most poignant moments in all of Star Wars. Mon Mothma’s character progression was downright gut-wrenching. Cassian’s arc, however, from ne’er-do-well rogue, to false imprisonment, to becoming a man with literally nothing left to lose…. We knew at the end of Rogue One that Cassian would not survive. This series shows us how he learned to live.
Few scenes in Star Wars can surpass the funeral procession down Rix Road. Seldom has there been a more-perfect allegory for a powder keg the fuse of which has begun to burn. From the emotion on the characters’ faces (Joplin Sibtain’s Brasso, in particular) to the haunting funeral dirge, the scene built to the ultimate crescendo of rebellion. Denise Gough was brilliant as her Dedra Meero came literally face to face with the horror she reaped. Through it all, Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor fell to pieces as he came to grips with his role in it all.
Tony Gilroy joins Dave Filoni among the masters
For someone who initially had little interest in Star Wars, Tony Gilroy nevertheless has created something magical in the galaxy far, far away. We see, feel, and relate to the pain the Empire caused the people of Ferrix. We empathize with, and are angered on behalf of those forced to fuel the Empire’s war machine in the prisons of Narkina-5. Our hearts sank when Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) declared “I can’t swim” after leading the prison uprising that saw Cassian Andor and Ruescott Melshi gain their freedom. Finally, we see the live-action hows and whys of the Rebellion’s true beginnings. Star Wars is unquestionably better for it.
At the season’s conclusion, Cassian Andor is a completely broken man, ready to die. We of course know otherwise. Though Season Two has just begun production, it already promises so much. We’ll see Cassian connect with K-2SO, as well as his reunion with Melshi. We’ll see Mon Motha’s moral compass continue to spin, and we’ll likely see more of Luthen acting as the architect of the Rebellion. If the writing in the second season is remotely as compelling as that of Season One, Tony Gilroy and his writers will further solidify themselves among the upper echelons of Star Wars sstorytellers.