4 episodes (although simply two weeks) into Andor, and I stay shocked by simply how good it’s. And having made related statements on Twitter, I really feel the necessity to make clear and caveat a bit. Is it The Sopranos? No. However is it, say, Obi-Wan Kenobi? Additionally, no, and that’s a great factor. It is a actual present, with an actual message sure, however extra importantly with actual moments that aren’t needed to maneuver the plot or pop the followers with Easter eggs and references.
There are going to be viewers and critics who’re so disgusted with Disney Star Wars materials that this merely won’t penetrate to them, and that’s superb, I completely get it, it’s not laborious for me to think about being in that place too. However I’m too shocked by the present’s many refined, legitimately refined, touches of private and interpersonal drama to share that disgust. Once more, Andor is an actual present. Given the machine that produced it, that’s a minor miracle.
The episode kicks off with Andor and his recruiter, Luthen Rael, hovering by hyperspace on their approach to Rael’s appointed vacation spot. Alongside the best way he makes an attempt to present the skeptical — and now clean-shaven — Andor a motive to hitch his nascent motion, for which “The Rebel” is only one of a number of competing names. Andor’s not shopping for it till Rael presents him 2 hundred thousand credit to take part in a giant rating: Raiding an Imperial website and stealing its total payroll.
It’s not till they attain their vacation spot that Andor learns of the difficulties inherent on this mission. For one factor, the payroll is positioned adjoining to a whole Imperial garrison, full with a contingent of TIE fighters that might simply take down any getaway automobiles, so to talk. For an additional, the mission’s chief, Vel (Recreation of Thrones vet Faye Marsay), needs nothing to do with a brand new member on her group, and solely takes him on attributable to Rael’s stress. The remainder of her tiny group — most notably a personality performed by Ladies and The Bear’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach — are much more skeptical than she is. However ultimately a détente is reached, and the group prepares to maneuver within the morning.
As for Rael, he heads to the galaxy’s capital, the planet-sized cityscape referred to as Coruscant. There, he assumes the guise of a vendor of artwork and antiquities in order that he can maintain a clandestine assembly with Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), the then-secret chief of the Rebel. Rael asks her for extra money to maintain bankrolling his operations; Mothma should take care of her callow husband’s insistence that they host a cocktail party for a bunch of people that already don’t like her, including to her sense (correct, most probably) that she’s always surrounded by spies and enemies.
In the meantime, the gaggle of company safety functionaries that features our hapless un-hero Syril Karn will get chewed out by an Imperial intelligence officer for his or her failure to include Andor’s murderous escape. Their sector is positioned underneath direct management of the Empire, and Karn returns sheepishly to, of all locations, his mom’s condo. She slaps him, then hugs him. To say this isn’t a aspect of the galaxy’s unhealthy guys we’ve ever seen earlier than is to understate the case significantly.
Lastly, we meet Imperial intelligence operative Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), who’s on a mission to recuperate the stolen Imperial whatchamacallit that Andor had been coping with throughout the opening episodes. This may require her gaining jurisdiction over that lately Imperialized sector, which her boss, performed by Anton “Maester Qyburn” Lesser, is reluctant to do, although he does give her one thing of a pep speak afterwards.
And that’s the form of factor I hold coming again to about this present. Given how happy a number of Star Wars followers are merely to see, like, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi on display screen collectively once more, regardless of how finally pointless and deleterious these encounters have been, there’s no want for a Star Wars collection to indicate you a low-level Imperial flunky returning to his mother’s home hat in hand as Karn does; or to indicate you a Rebel operative placing on a wig and fancy garments and rehearsing his “so happy to see you!” routine as Rael does; or to depict Imperial workplace politics in, if not a sympathetic, than not less than a recognizable mild, as we get with Dedra; or to depict the Rebel’s footsoldiers as a bunch of hardscrabble assholes, as Cassian discovers.
Nevertheless it’s exactly the present’s willingness to go in opposition to the grain, to indicate us sides of this universe we’ve by no means seen earlier than, to create new character dynamics, that makes it a worthwhile drama, not only a mere Star Wars Present. If, at this level, Star Wars is not for you, that’s superb. I get it! However for me…nicely, I’ve all the time believed within the potential of this setting to inform new sorts of tales, supplied its company overlords allowed that to occur, and that appears to be precisely what we’re getting: A brand new form of Star Wars story.
Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Instances, and anyplace that may have him, actually. He and his household dwell on Lengthy Island.