TV Review: Andor Season 1, Episodes 1-3

By Matthew Moorcroft

Episode 1 – Highest Recommendation
Episode 2 – Strong Recommendation
Episode 3 – Highest Recommendation

  • Directed by Toby Haynes
  • Starring Diego Luna, Kyle Soller, Fiona Shaw, Stellan Skarsgard
  • TV-14

I’ll get around to it eventually – Star Wars Wednesdays aren’t dead, I promise guys – but Rogue One is a movie that I consistently have mixed feelings about. I don’t know if they are the right words or not in cases like this cause it’s not like I hate the film, far from it. I actually quite like, hell even love at points, Rogue One and I think there is a ton of reasons to regard it as one of the recent era’s more important entries. That being said, a lot of it feels a bit messy and while it ends up succeeding in spite of itself, there is a better version of Rogue One out there somewhere.

And now it’s out, and it’s called Andor.

Andor is triumphant. It’s a rallying cry for every franchise to sit down, shut the fuck up, and watch, cause the original master is back in town to show you how it’s done. For the past 3 years, Star Wars has been in rut of using fanservicey premises and characters to get by, and while it’s had some success – I’ll stand by most of Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi as solid entries – Andor is the first time in a while that a show has left genuinely really excited for the future of Star Wars.

The beauty of Andor is in it’s presentation. There is real consideration behind the way this thing is made, shot, and edited, and it’s all deliberate and meticulous. It’s slow-paced, yes, but it’s not boring, instead taking it’s time and letting each moment breathe in and out. The practical location shooting compared to other shows’ usage of the Volume likely helps with this (though Andor used the Volume as well in certain spots), but I’ll credit it more to Tony Gilroy’s excellent dialogue and scripting. It’s rare to get scenes where characters just… talk for the sake of talking, but it really gives these scenes and character life.

This is evident from the opening scene alone, which is straight out of a noir. Cassian Andor, five years before his big screen adventure in Rogue One, is on the search for his sister in a brothel where he accidentally kills two corrupt police officers. It’s dark, stormy, and neon-lit, and that sets the tone. From there it’s a spiraling series of events and circumstances that build on top of each other. Human emotions get in the way of logic, and eventually it’s a race against time to escape a planet. It’s almost shocking how quickly Andor engages you, as Gilroy uses his background in spy thrillers and political dramas to great effect here.

Of particular note, and the moments that ended up being some of the best, is everything with Kyle Stoller’s character Syril Karn, who is being set up as the lead antagonist for this section of the series. The inner workings of the Empire being as they are, it makes sense the main driving antagonistic force would be an opportunistic middle-manager more interested in the company bottom line rather then the lives of people. After all, corporations and fascism have the same interests at heart, and seeing the something like the corporate guilds and the Trade Federation’s initial dream – full control through taxation and power – fully realized is actually pretty terrifying and only serves to highlight the grim reality that the galaxy is going through at this moment in time.

And when that kettle does actually explode at the end of Episode 3, it becomes all the more effective. Nicholas Britell’s score is sublime, which is to be expected of one of our best composers working today, and uses an effective use of drums and strings to create something wholly unique for the franchise. A powerful montage that wraps up this section of episodes is one of the best moments in Star Wars in quite a while, a solemn reflection of the events of the episodes and just letting the audience soak in the events around them. And that parallel between Andor leaving his home planet twice? Exceptional.

Diego Luna is in top form throughout all of this as well, even if that was to be expected. Cassian was one of the better character from Rogue One – hell he was probably the best all things considered – so while a series about him seems random on paper it really seems like Tony Gilroy and his staff had a story they wanted to tell with him. What happens when you take somebody who has never made his own decisions and put him into a world where he is thrust from moment to moment without much in the way of breather? It’s a great question and the show really leaning into the idea that he’s been fighting his whole life actually makes Rogue One in retrospect all the more tragic. Cassian’s story is shaping up to be one of Star Wars‘ saddest but also one of it’s most necessary – a smaller, more intimate tale about the man who would eventually save the Rebellion.

Just loved this so much. I’m already eagerly anticipating the next episode, so much so that I was upset that after Episode 3 they didn’t just immediately dunk me into the rest of the show. This is engrossing, adult television done right – and the Star Wars show you’ve been waiting for. Wow!

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