LONDON: For all the “Star Wars” universe’s recent movie missteps, its TV storytelling has never been in a better place — recent shows such as “The Mandalorian,” “Visions” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” have been some of the most enjoyable material to slot into the galaxy far, far away since George Lucas originally put pen to paper in the 1970s.
But that comes with an added layer of pressure too, like that hanging over “Andor” — the latest show to be added to the growing pantheon of “Star Wars” small-screen entries. The series is a prequel to a prequel, in fact: “Andor” charts the origins of Cassian Andor, the (then) haunted Rebel soldier who sacrificed his life to help steal the plans to the Empire’s first Death Star in “Rogue One.”
In “Andor”, Cassian — played again by Diego Luna — is a wayward soul, angry at the universe for reasons (presumably) yet to be revealed, and desperate to find a way to fight back against the growing tyranny sweeping across the galaxy. That is, until he meets Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), a member of the Rebel Alliance who believes that Cassian may be a key addition to the burgeoning resistance.
Of the first three episodes, there’s little more to say than that, largely because “Andor” is redefining the notion of a slowbuild show. We’re treated to flashes of Cassian’s youth, and reasons why he hates the Empire so much, and we learn about his life on the planet Ferrix, which finds itself under the heel of an authoritarian regime in a drawn-out introduction that has little action.
But what we do get is the “Star Wars” universe painted in detail more intricate than we’ve seen before. There are no Jedi, no sprawling space battles or (cough) trade disputes to drive the story forward, so “Andor” treats us to a gritty, realistic look at what it might actually be like to live in this fantastical universe.
For “Star Wars” fans, it’s a wonderful tour through a level of minutiae never glimpsed before in live action. And while the lack of fireworks early on might deter casual viewers, or those not familiar with the franchise, that level of expectation that surrounds new “Star Wars” outlets will probably be enough to buy the show the time to realize its true potential.