STOP! Before leaving you to my 100% spoiler and just as subjective review, I invite you to consult the new survey on the site on which you too will be able to share your opinion! Do not hesitate to read the review of my comrade Obiwan Keshnobi who was able to see episodes 1 to 4 in preview and who offers you his overall feeling here!
Good reading !
A little background, after a The Mandalorian who hit very hard with a duo that immediately became iconic and a storytelling consisting of small independent stories leading to an ambitious finale, a Boba Fett book sprinkled with good ideas but the whole thing left me with a bitter taste of imbalances and broken promises and a Obi-Wan Kenobi relatively weak in terms of writing quality and falling short of the grandiosity that we might have expected following the project’s announcement with great fanfare, my overall feeling about the Star Wars TV franchise was rather pessimistic. The slope seemed slippery to me, bringing projects with (very) variable qualities and which seemed neither to stand up to the phenomenon of the very first (Mando) nor to the tough competition (House Of The Dragon, Rings Of Power to name only these two the). However, the franchise that we love so much and which brings us together here has placed its short-term future in the hands of live TV series (especially after the postponement of Rogue Squadron).
The cinema moves away from the horizon for some time leaving the heavy burden of (sur)viving the license on the shoulders of the small screen. It is therefore quite logical to expect a lot from these live series. They must create expectation, excite the public, be worthy of the monstrous events that are films at the cinema. It’s about Star Wars all the same: 11 films on the counter in several decades (and this is where the comparison that we often find with Marvel can no longer be made because the number of films and live series of the house of ideas greatly exceeds that of SW and in much less time).
Thus, I discover Andor in a particular context, that of concern for this license that I love so much. Between the beginning and the risk of “Star Wars fatigue” for some and enthusiasm for others, the period seems to me to be crucial for Star Wars, as a flavor of pivotal moment seems to emerge from it.
So, will this show reassure me? Start of answer below with my overall opinion on the first three episodes:
A radically different atmosphere
A mess. Literally a mess! The series starts in a house of pleasures! The tone is therefore set: we are not in watered down Star Wars. We find this “cold” realization (this is not a criticism on the contrary) of RogueOne. Here, no magic, no hope in the light of the Jedi, there is only the harsh reality of the equally harsh conditions of existence.
We therefore follow Cassian (Kassa) Andor in a mysterious journey in search of his sister who confronts him, in a city dominated by a corporation, with two security agents who are only waiting for one thing, namely, the opportunity to carry out a good old police blunder.
And it is in these first minutes that the show shows us its content: Cassian will kill the two guards. One by accident. The other out of necessity for its survival. He must therefore flee and we are going to discover the extent of this character’s loneliness, traumatized by what he will have experienced in his childhood (can’t wait to have the rest of these flashback scenes!), but also his entourage who seem sometimes exasperated by him although having a sincere affection for him. The man is therefore ambivalent, capable of weaving social ties which seem deep but which can be transformed just as quickly into exploitation out of self-interest as he asks for help and favours. Many of these friends are fed up with him, between money and services rendered, Cassian’s reputation is made: he is a profiteer.
We feel all the same that this behavior of Andor comes from the fact that he constantly lives on the breach. The man is already broken (after all he claims to have started “the fight” since he was 6 years old). His traumas haunt him. His home planet, destroyed by imperial overmining, is never far from his mind. And the end of the third episode proves it to us, juxtaposing his escape from Ferrix with his rescue on Kenari.
But despite his brokenness and his loneliness, he must find help to escape the murder of the two agents. Bix seems to be able to do this. The link that unites him to Cassian is tangible. The chemistry between the two actors works totally. For her part, her mother, Maarva, feels a deep tenderness for this kid she saved years ago, too bad these three episodes don’t focus more on her and her relationship with Cassian (perhaps in we will learn more later).
Moreover, almost all of the characters we follow are interesting in a few moments, in particular by an interpretation that I find very fair. Diego Luna arrives in a single glance to make us understand the full extent of the pain felt by Cassian when Kenari is mentioned to him. Adria Arjona offers us a very human Bix, torn between several possibilities. Stellan Skarsgard perfectly embodies Luthen, a sort of recruiter/master spy for a just-nascent Rebellion. Kyle Soller is impeccable as a psycho-rigid officer.
The cast is five stars.
A political and committed history
Yes. The big word is out. No offense to some, Star Wars has always been political. Isn’t the original trilogy the story of a group of rebels working to destroy a fascist regime? So a political struggle?
So what a joy to discover a story as committed as this one! Let me explain.
Entertainment is good. Entertainment that has something to say and to defend is even better. How not to see the environmental subtexts in the overexploitation of Kenari? How not to see in this a criticism of the unbridled production of fossil resources? How not to see in the exchanges between the officers of the police-corporation, an attempt to show us what can push certain individuals to collaborate with and to desire a totalitarian regime?
We are faced with a story that seeks to show us how a revolution can appear and a revolution never happens in a neutral context. But here, the context is not neutral! Life on Ferrix is tough. Dominated by a corporation, work is difficult there on the dismantling sites. The parallel with the working-class suburbs of the beginning of the industrial revolution seems clear to me. The Empire is distant but present through the corporation’s security agency. The local population clearly sees the presence of these agents as a threat and even an insult. Although these rarely come to the suburbs.
The best scene of the three episodes in my eyes is the one where, faced with the brutal violence of the security guards and the risk for one of their own of being caught, the working population expresses its solidarity by warning each other of the arrival officials. What a wonderful sequence and what bias!
I come back to the police officers. First of all, in my opinion, the series avoids falling into the pitfall of dehumanized and little (or not) developed stormtroopers. Here, the agents are clearly identified between an old guard a bit of a homebody and a youth won over to the impetial discourse on order and security (we see you Palpatine). Thus, the discussions between Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and the other officer on the need to intervene, on discipline, on the need, the desire for order and immediate and punitive action, show us how, in the facts, simple people find themselves to be the tangible cogs of a clearly fascist imperial organization. This aspect is important because it is almost too simple to say that the thousands (millions) of stormtroopers have been brainwashed, conditioned, or outright chipped. No. I find it very interesting to develop these people sincerely acquired by imperial (fascist) values to understand what drives them to embrace this ideology, however nauseating.
An interesting lore
Let’s continue with what I liked. The small details in the city are interesting and testify to a thorough and thoughtful work to make Cassian’s environment tangible, deep. The imitation minaret in which a worker rings a bell to punctuate the working day, the storefronts of the “pleasure district”, the presence of numerous extras and a few aliens, the children’s war paint on Kenari, their language, the retro-technological side particularly present and so “starwarsian”…
The whole offers a coherent, living world. I approve 100%.
rhythm and music
The narration moves slowly, that’s obvious, but more because these three episodes actually form a whole. Like a short film cut into three parts. The central part (the second episode) is therefore clearly slower but takes the time to develop precisely this environment to anchor Cassian’s story in a reality that we feel is vibrant with truth.
As such, and with its sober music, this show is definitely anchored in a radically original proposal in the saga.
As you will have understood, I am particularly enthusiastic about these first three episodes. They present me with a story that I find myself wanting to know and follow with envy and excitement. Cassian Andor, this secondary character, has the right to a series that we may have deemed uninteresting. And yet, here is the opportunity (for the moment seized) to show that this galaxy is full of stories with different tones and stakes. A galaxy in which the Force sometimes rubs shoulders, an Order of monk-knights with laser swords and magical powers, gargantuan space battles but also political intrigues, the fight against fascism and the lives of billions of billions of souls struggling to ensure their survival in the face of harsh material living conditions.
There is room in Star Wars for Andor. This proposal completely appeals to me. Congratulations and look forward to next Wednesday!