This week finds Lucasfilm’s latest entry into the Star Wars universe making its debut on Disney+. Star Wars: Andor opened with a three-episode special event on September 21, and will run for 12 episodes, making it the longest live-action Star Wars television show to date.
It is also the first series since The Mandalorian to follow a non-legacy character, that is, someone who is not too deeply entangled in the four-decade-long galactic mythos. And that’s a good thing according to critics and viewers.
Led by Diego Luna’s Rebel spy Cassian Andor, the series takes place in the five years prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and thus five years before George Lucas’s original trilogy beginning, Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977). Co-writer of Rogue One, Tony Gilroy, is behind Lucasfilm’s latest effort and has already been clear where his two-season Star Wars event will end — directly before the beginning of the original trilogy prequel movie.
This makes Andor a significantly different Star Wars show than previous entries already. While the likes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett from creator and showrunner Jon Favreau, and Lucasfilm Creative Chief, Dave Filoni, take place five years after Star Wars: Episode IV — Return of the Jedi (1983) and long before the events of the sequel trilogy, there is a bunch of untapped space for the characters to explore.
Likewise, while Star Wars fans know the outcome of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor/Alec Guinness), and Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen/David Prowse/James Earl Jones) the recent limited miniseries left a big enough gap before A New Hope that more elements can be explored.
As for Andor, fans already know that the end of the series will see the titular character entering his final days; Rogue One famously ends with Andor and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) being destroyed, along with the rest of Skaro, shortly after sending the Death Star plans to Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the Rebel Alliance. Gilroy has already stated the show is two halves of a novel, with the five-year time span being explored across both seasons.
So with three episodes already under its weapon-clad belt, how is Andor faring in the eyes of critics and fans? Extremely positively.
Review and ratings site, Rotten Tomatoes, shows that Star Wars: Andor is currently sitting in second place when ranked alongside the other Disney Star Wars streamers — The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Andor holds an 89% Tomatometer score with an 80% audience score, just behind The Mandalorian at 93%.
Interestingly, despite revolving around classic characters, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi both fall drastically short of Andor‘s initial rating. The Book of Boba Fett has a poor 66% (with an even worse 55% audience score), and Obi-Wan Kenobi has 80% and 64% in those same areas. Reception for both of the former was lukewarm; The Book of Boba Fett lacked originality, opting for low stakes story despite the inclusion of animated fan-favorite Cad Bane (Corey Burton). Similarly, Obi-Wan Kenobi, while larger in scope, faced criticism over its use of the Inquisitorius, casting, and story. For the latter, it would seem expectation outweighed the final product.
But the high score for Andor begs the question of whether Star Wars should move away from its legacy characters. The sequel trilogy was marred with negativity due to its revival of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid); instead of bringing something new to the franchise, Lucasfilm decided to recycle old characters leaving the plot feeling stale.
With no new movies seemingly in development and others removed from the slate, Andor‘s success may make Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy question the direction of the galaxy far, far away. Because according to critics and fans, the two most popular properties are two of the newest.
Luna will return to his role of Cassian Andor alongside a cast that includes Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma. Forest Whitaker will also return as Partisans leader, Saw Gerrera — the character that first appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars before making his live-action debut in Rogue One.
Are you watching Andor? Let us know in the comments down below!