The actor reprises his “Rogue One” role as future revolutionary Cassian Andor in Disney+’s darkest, initially slowest continuation of the sci-fi adventure to date.

I know people who think Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie ever made and those who think it’s the worst. Even while I tend to lean neither way, the disagreement shows something that is undeniable: Rogue One is the only movie with an entirely distinct tone, style, and cast of characters in a franchise where contrived homogeneity has often been the aim.

Since Andor is a prequel to Rogue One, a new drama series on Disney+, it doesn’t quite share that movie’s reputation as an outlier. Three Disney+ fan service initiatives, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, have had varied degrees of success. After the epic exploits of the Jedi and Skywalkers on the big screen, Rogue One was a welcome palate cleanser. Reviewers may have had to use the word “slow” for the first time in Star Wars history, and this is likely the first production that required the warning that “The first two episodes would surely bore younger viewers to tears.” But I also appreciate the effort taken to create a story that was absolutely credible and mostly situated in this reality.

Will everything succeed in the same way as Rogue One did? Who knows, but over the course of the four episodes that were sent to reviewers, Andor made me wonder whether “different” and “good” are the same thing (it’s definitely the former, occasionally the latter); whether “interesting” and “entertaining” are the same thing (it’s usually the former, becoming more and more of the latter as it goes along).

It was developed by Tony Gilroy and has episodes that were initially directed by Toby Haynes and later Susanna White. Andor, which debuts five years before Rogue One and reintroduces us to Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor on Morgana One, a rainy planet ruled by corporations, was conceived by Tony Gilroy. Cassian had a catastrophic encounter with two mall cops but is able to escape and escape back to his home on the mining planet of Ferrix after failing to find his sister in an upscale brothel.

Instead of being the self-assured mercenary we initially met in Rogue One, Cassian is now a scavenger in need of money. He thinks he might make a lot of money, however, if his buddy Bix (Adria Arjona) can only help him get in touch with the ideal customer, who may or may not be Stellan Skarsgard’s Luthen Real.

In the meanwhile, Kyle Soller’s Syril is curious about what happened on Morgana One. Syril is a member of an Imperial security force that is aiming to rule the galaxy and is one of those stubborn man-child authoritarian personalities who consistently excel in this field. Cassian’s early years on a dying planet are shown in flashbacks as really fundamental character development. Cassian must decide between ignoring his past and pursuing his destiny.

Although there are details in this summary that go into the third episode, there are no spoilers or details that will encourage you to watch Andor. The choice by Disney+ to release the first three episodes of the series all at once was a wise one since it would have been very frustrating if each episode had been published individually.

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Both as 74-minute movies and as episodic television, the first two episodes are unstructured and underwhelming. After the stunning prologue, they largely lack action, and I don’t think they contribute much to Cassian’s character growth. It takes a lot of work to persuade us that Cassian owes money and that he doesn’t get along with the cops, but I think the same points might have been made much more persuasively.

But I didn’t hate them since the first two episodes are the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Ken Loach Star Wars movie. My favorite part of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s first episode was the first half, which mostly focused on how our protagonist went to work, struggled through shifts at a lifeless job, and then went home to have a subpar supper by himself. What a pertinent statement! Even it was made tolerable by the Tatooine scenery, jawas, and countless adorable background CG creatures.

The Muppet Babies Star Wars fan-friendly episodes opened with a quick discussion of how horrible it is to be a typical blue-collar citizen on this planet without access to the Force and little possibility of progress.

The first two episodes of Andor are all of that and more. Cassian is a depressed and miserable individual, while Ferrix is a depressed and dismal planet. There aren’t any cute creatures or robots that have been given human characteristics; just factories, storage facilities, and junkyards. Even the robots seem to have had subpar maintenance and to be far behind in system upgrades.

Corporate interests and power presently have sway over the planet, and given what we already know about what the Empire will bring, things are only going to become worse in the future. We see little glimpses of how these people in need find comfort, whether it is via sex or Cassian exploiting the black market. Andor has a red-light district, the aforementioned brothel, as well as the first booty call I can remember in the Star Wars universe. Yes, it’s sex on a Disney+ level. Even in coveralls, actresses Luna and Arjona smolder. Although there is no nudity or thrusting, I enjoyed how it suggested that people might be just as willing to turn to revolution or boinking in such a depressing climate.

With stunning contrasts drawn by production designer Luke Hull, the fourth episode’s introduction of the series to Coruscant, the opulent capital planet, further highlights the gap between the haves and have-nots. See now why Generation Baby Yoda would be bored to tears by this?

By then, Cassian has finally started down the path of the event that will be the main plot of the season. This chance is predicated on our conviction that he has a very high level of skill set, which the prior two episodes in no way show. In Rogue One, the character was primarily shown as a contrast to early Han Solo, who was portrayed as an irresponsible rapscallion. The first two episodes of Andor offer a clear beginning with more time for character development, but they fall short of providing Cassian any lovable characteristics or giving Luna something new and interesting to depict.

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Luna is often eclipsed by other actors when stuck in the role’s sadness, such as Fiona Shaw as a character from Cassian’s past and later Skarsgard, whose appearance clearly signals a change in direction when Andor for an hour begins to be entertaining. The fourth episode that comes after largely focuses on meeting new people and beautiful natural settings.

Although Soller (from Broadway’s The Inheritance) gives by far my greatest performance in these first two episodes, I’m expecting a lot of instinctive “He stinks, I detest him” comments since he portrays a character who must decide between weakness and evil. If you haven’t seen Kathryn Hunter in this part, which she performs for barely two seconds, watch Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. Hunter is a live special effect in a series that is extremely light (or subtle) on effects, making her the perfect actress to be a Star Wars breakthrough.

Because of this, after four episodes of Andor, the adversary still has my attention the most, I’m curious about how they’ll use Hunter, and I’m perplexed as to why Gilroy and his writers don’t seem to comprehend what kind of medium they’re using to deliver this story. Please accept my apologies if it seems harsh, but I’m more interested in where Andor takes the audience in the galaxy than I ever was by the pandering — “Hey, remember Jabba? “What if there were two Hutts?” and “Remember Princess Leia, what if she was a small girl?” are two recent Disney+ shows.

Andor is distinctive, and it could end up being its best asset, even if it doesn’t instantly provide the thrills I expect from a Star Wars show.

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