Andor offers a rich new approach to telling a Star Wars story | TV/Streaming

The first season of “Andor” is set five years before the action of “Rogue One,” and its twelve first-season episodes would take place over roughly a year for its titular character, with the second and final season filling in the other four. years. Diego Luna returns as Cassian Andor in a show that seems structured to reveal how he became an important figure in the Rebel Alliance. How does an ordinary guy become a central part of a revolution? The prequels often just repeat known details, filling in the gaps with Easter eggs instead of the character, but creator Tony Gilroy (the “Michael Clayton” scribe who co-wrote “Rogue One” returns to write the series ) is more interested in a nuanced birth story for a revolutionary. History often only records major events, but how those involved got there can be just as fascinating.

Don’t get me wrong, this show’s Andor is already on the verge of saving the universe, having fought with the rebellion for years, but the premiere’s tone is more of a noir than a sci-fi action epic. -fiction. This Andor is more of a wanderer than a leader, someone whose life has been dismantled by the Empire but has yet to be radicalized to fight back. The opening episodes center on a classic MacGuffin, a box stolen from the Empire and sold by Andor but not really as important as what it means and what its possession does to the characters around them. It’s an item Andor tries to pawn to secure transport that catches the Empire’s eye, bringing it deeper into a conflict that will include new characters played by Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough , Kyle Soller and Fiona Shaw, as well as familiar films like Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera and Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma. Alex Lawther (“The End of the F**king World”) and Ebon-Moss Bachrach (“The Bear”) appear in the fourth episode as Andor becomes more rooted in a construction revolution and the series s open even more. Tony Gilroy hands writing duties to his brother Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”) for episodes four through six and Toby Haynes (“Black Mirror: USS Callister”) directs the first three episodes before handing the lightsaber over to Susanna White (“Parade’s End”).

That’s quite the cast and crew pedigree for any show, and the dedication to craft of the crew assembled to bring “Andor” to life pays off. Luna is particularly good, never overplaying the pretentious possibilities of a future hero. He clearly sees this as a character study that takes place in space instead of part of a growing canon, and this realism grounds the whole piece. It’s also a show with surprisingly strong visual compositions, considering things like lighting, placement of characters in the setting, and production design in ways that genre television often ignores. Even the score is richer and more distinct than many Disney+ shows, and the editing is tighter.

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