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Andor is near perfect but Disney is still holding Star Wars back

Andor is near perfect but Disney is still holding Star Wars back

Andor is Star Wars at its very best, but Disney is still afraid of letting the franchise show its mature side.

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for season one of Andor.

As Wednesday rolled around this week, my evening felt slightly duller than usual and it’s all because Andor’s first season has drawn to a close. Set five years prior to the events of Rogue One, Andor explores the inception of the titular character's involvement in the rebellion all whilst he’s hunted by the ruthless Imperial Security Bureau.

Back in September, I had the pleasure of reviewing the first four episodes of the series and I had a good feeling about it then. I wrote, “Andor is Star Wars at its very best. A compelling and twisting drama that utilises the vast Star Wars universe to elevate what is already an extremely gripping plot,” and I stick by that. Those opening four episodes filled me with hope because finally, Star Wars was stepping away from its reliance on nostalgia and cheap thrills. For once, we didn’t have to venture to Tatooine for the umpteenth time and I’m so happy that this dedication to real, quality storytelling was respected throughout the entire 12-episode run. This is why Andor is the best Star Wars project to date, but I can’t help but feel like Disney is still holding the franchise back.

I sat down with Diego Luna to chat all things Andor, including the actor’s biggest ‘holy sh*t’ moment on set. Take a look below.

I’m yet to hear a bad word about Andor, but I have encountered plenty of people who’ve delayed watching the series. Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett were fun, but they also triggered a lot of Star Wars fatigue. Obi-Wan lacked stakes and Boba Fett was essentially a filler ahead of The Mandalorian’s third season. This is where Andor succeeds. There are big action set pieces, but they have to be earned. Character development comes first. No element of the Star Wars universe is utilised for the sake of it. It all has a thematic significance. It’s mature storytelling.

I could go on. Showrunner Tony Gilroy tackles gender politics, corruption, police brutality, forced labour, and facism. I describe it to people as a compelling drama set within the Star Wars universe. Someone told me it’s what they imagine Star Wars would be like if Vince Gilligan, of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame, was handed the reins.

Andor isn’t absent of humour, but it is on the whole a serious story. Clearly, Gilroy outlined that if he was to come onboard, he wanted to do things his way and that’s been hugely successful. And yet, Disney is still afraid to let Star Wars break the mould in certain areas. Andor’s season finale saw a posthumous Maarva Andor rally the people of Ferrix into action against the Empire via a hologram played at her funeral. Actress Fiona Shaw delivered a visceral and powerful performance - one that we haven’t been able to see as originally intended.

Star Wars: Andor /
Disney Platform Distribution

Shaw is responsible for building a huge amount of tension within the scene. The residents of Ferrix feel unbounded levels of resentment for the years they’ve succumbed to and accepted the rule of the Empire. Employees of the Imperial Security Bureau share furtive glances, unused to dealing with such disobedience. At the end of her speech, Maarva shouts, “Fight the Empire!” but it was revealed by Dedra Meero actress Denise Gough that Shaw actually said, “F**k the Empire,” on set.

This line didn’t make the final cut but it begs the question: why not? How can a show be allowed to explore and address mature topics yet be held back by an F-bomb? Star Wars is no longer a small series of films - and it hasn’t been for a long time. This is a cultural zeitgeist and that means that there’s room for Star Wars to assume different identities. There’s no denying that the main Skywalker saga has a family feel. Andor doesn’t share that. Again, this is a show exploring facism and corruption. The very actions of the Imperial Security Bureau are far worse than the dropping of an F-bomb.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this from Star Wars. Although it’s full of familiar Star Wars imagery, Jedi: Fallen Order also shares a similarly dark tone yet the game utilises family-friendly gameplay that’s completely at odds with its narrative. Earlier this year, I pointed out that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor should be allowed to embrace an R-rating and it’s much the same way I feel about Andor. This is a show that is near perfect. Its critical success proves that there’s room for Star Wars to be something other than what Disney has fed us up until now. Please, let’s stop holding the franchise back.

Featured Image Credit: Disney+

Topics: Star Wars, TV And Film, Disney