It is no secret that there is a bit of a Star Wars schism forming at Last Movie Outpost, and indeed in what is left of Star Wars fandom, around Andor. In the blue corner are Star Wars traditionalists, who want their tales from a galaxy far, far away more… well… laserific. In the red corner are those of us who didn’t really know what was missing from Star Wars for us until we found it.
Maybe we had just grown out of it, but didn’t really want to accept that a key cultural touchstone in our lives was far behind us? Conversations between these two factions generally go a bit like this:
“It’s so boring. Its just lots of people talking and plotting!”
“That’s why it’s brilliant! It is dialogue with a slowly building plot!”
And so the long day wears on. I don’t attempt to hide it. So far I am Red Team all day long.
Frustrated at cutesy, precocious toddler Leia kidsplaining everything while Ewan McGregor single handily carries an entire show on his increasingly weary shoulders? Don’t like seeing Boba Fett, the badass bounty hunter, frantically signing to Tusken Raiders before being upstaged in his own show by a comedy Rancor? Then this show is for you.
As I said last week, this is Star Wars for those of us sliding towards our decrepit years… sorry, I mean mature years, with different tastes. This is a John Le Carré adaption of Roger Moore’s Moonraker. A political and espionage thriller for people who can finish a book.
Anyone who was looking for more action is looking in the wrong place again this week. The slow build continues. Parts of Coruscant society, concerned at the creeping despotism of the Empire, aligning with disparate groups of resistance fighters in a nascent rebellion. They are building to the heist, and are right on top of their target, but that isn’t this week.
What we do get is more actual adult stuff with distrusting allies in a fragile alliance, actual dialogue, real characters and blue milk.
A lot of the character stuff revolves around the Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn, the corporate security deputy sent home in disgrace after the bungled raid to capture Cassian in episode 2. He’s back living with his mother and the conversations between them continue to lay groundwork for him to figure importantly in things. We just don’t know how yet.
Is his mother a relentless social climber with plans for her son? Somehow connected in Imperial high society? There is something intriguing cooking with this character.
The diversions away from Andor and his new friends into Mon Mothma and her life on Coruscant remain an excellent storytelling mechanism, as the clear political differences in her strained marriage give an insight into bigger things happening in the Imperial establishment. The snide, back-biting nature of life among the Imperial bureaucracy likewise feels like just what you need to see in order to add detail to what you know is about to happen.
Along with the blue milk, there are more little Easter eggs like mentions of Kessell and Jakku. Even the Shankara Stones from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom make an appearance.
The show continues to be both expansive and immersive through it’s use of actual locations rather than virtual stages so it feels real. Big scenery remains on display. Mountains and valleys and lakes, real forests, a real dam. It makes it feel like it has value.
There is no talking in riddles in Andor, no Yoda musings on the nature of evil and no cod philosophy, and the show is better for it. It is a well told story in a familiar universe that we loved hanging out in as a kid. Only now it is dealing with grown-up concepts like politics and the fabric of freedom and democracy.
There are lots of small cuts. Talk of liberty and oppression, manifestos and the insidious nature of control. In a world where we look back at what we did to society, economies, ourselves and each other in the name of COVID, and then look forward with trepidation at what may come next, it seems to chime in a way little has in Star Wars for many years. Against the way the world is now, it almost seems subversive.
We also see glimpses that remind us that Cassian Andor is not necessarily a nice guy and is a mercenary rather than a committed hero.
Who would have expected it? The prequel nobody asked for to the prequel nobody asked for turns out to be the best thing to have come out of the Star Wars stable since Disney took over. Potentially the best thing since 1983.
You know what’s next as the episode leaves you with balls as blue as the milk, with the freedom fighters on top of their target and a fantastically impactful, yet small and quiet scene.
Late at night, Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael is among his antiquities on Coruscant. He is listening anxiously to his hidden com-link, think World War II resistance radio, when his assistant and confidant enters and tells him to go to bed as there is nothing more he can do.
“It will all be over this time tomorrow… or it will just be starting.”
Please don’t shit the bed… please don’t shit the bed…