Forget Star Wars Fatigue, ‘Andor’ Is One of the Best Shows of 2022

There is one scene in it episode 7 of Andor that sent me off.

It starts out weird. Cassian Andor, our titular antihero, after pulling off an impossible heist on the Galactic Empire, did what any reasonable criminal would do in the aftermath: party in what can only be described as “Space Ibiza.” Getting drunk at night, listening to hangovers on the beach during the day. A strange atmosphere for a universe usually turned on by space wizards duking it out with laser swords.

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As he listens, Cassian – a bystander in an entirely new, separate crime in which he has no involvement – is picked up by a Stormtrooper and interrogated on the spot, accused of taking part in a crime he merely witnessed.

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Anyone who saw that scene being interviewed by a rogue police officer almost certainly had a knot in their stomach. Cassian, polite and approachable, frantically tries to avoid trouble as he is slowly cornered by a calculated series of leading questions, leading to his imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. It is a scene both brutal and startling in its truth. What initially feels like a parody slowly develops into something horrifying. The outcome feels depressingly inevitable: this is what happens when you allow fascism to flourish without recourse.

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A KX droid looms over Cassian on a beach promenade in Andor

Cassian’s first encounter with an Imperial KX droid is anything but pleasant.

Lucas film

It’s funny, but Andor — a spinoff show centered on a character from a spinoff movie — is literally the first Star Wars “thing” which has shown us that the Galactic Empire is a truly fascist regime that is, at its core, very bad. In a universe where the villains are supposed to be space nazis, that’s kind of weird.

But it’s also why Andor remains a surprisingly excellent TV show. If you aren’t seeing it already, you definitely should be. It rules.

Andor rules because it’s a show obsessed with the smaller things in its universe. Star Wars has traditionally been about humongous events, giant space battles with galaxy-changing consequences. But at no point in a Star Wars movie have I gotten a real sense of where Luke Skywalker and Co. are going. or what the rebels rebelled against.

Darth Vader was bad because he dressed in black and choked dudes. That’s it. The emperor, on the other hand, had a pale, pasty face and a terrifying laugh. Sure, these people blew up planets and slaughtered youngsters, but that’s pantomime villain stuff. In Andor, the villain is the slow, unassuming creep of fascism, and that makes the show one of the most compelling things Disney has produced since acquiring the Star Wars license in 2012.

The unmistakable silhouette of black-clad, helmeted bad guy Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus.

Nice to get a breather from this guy.

Disney Plus

It’s a show obsessed with the smaller things, the minutiae of the grind. We get to see apartment buildings, broken robots, disappointed mothers eating dinner with their grown children. We see the consequences of bureaucracy in action, shitty little work meetings, office bitch sessions. We see families squabbling over breakfast, agonizing over guest lists and just generally participating in the banalities of daily existence. Strange, it’s fascinating.

I’ve often criticized Star Wars for obsessively plugging the gaps of its own timeline and making its once vast universe feel small. Andor’s universe-building is different. It focuses on minuscule details in a way that makes the world of Star Wars feel authentically alive. By weaving the stories of these minor characters into the larger story, we get to feel the enormous scale of wider conflicts. This isn’t a Star Wars story, it’s just a bit-part story that takes place somewhere in that universe. That’s great.

But beyond those top-line concepts, Andor is simply a show that is good in almost every aspect of its production. It looks great, it’s well written. Not a single line of dialogue feels overworked or awkward. It is also packed with a number of top-notch performances.

Denise Gough – who plays Dedra Meero, a member of the Imperial Security Bureau – brilliantly captures the corporate dread of high-stakes meetings where one wrong word could cost you your job. And, as this tweet statesThere’s no crime I wouldn’t commit if Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd gruffly asked me if I “wanted to fight these bastards for real.”

Andor takes Star Wars to a place it has never been. It feels more like a John le Carré novel with blasters than a space opera. And as one who literally once ended a Star Wars rant/article with the words“that’s enough Star Wars for me thanks,” it’s a welcome change.

If, like me, you’ve found yourself exhausted with the exploits of Luke Skywalker and Co., I urge you to reconsider. Andor, despite the Star Wars baggage, is one of the best shows of 2022. I’m as surprised as anyone.


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