Just like Rogue One, the first four episodes of this series bring some fresh air to the franchise.
I'm not sure if I can call myself a Star Wars fan anymore. Sure, I adore the first six movies and some of the literature and animated shows we got around that time, but the last seven years have been rough. The new films were okay at best, and the shows have tried to hide their theatrical and predictable stories behind an overflow of fan-service and/or cute creatures. Maybe I've just got old and grown tired of the well worn formula...Or maybe I just needed Andor.
Because the first four episodes of what you can call a prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are the best I've seen from Star Wars in a decade. This coming from a man that thought one of the worst parts of the movie was Cassian Andor. Diego Luna trying to blend ice-cold rebel with Han Solo's charm and wit just didn't suit him nor Rogue One, which is why the first two episodes of Andor had me worried. The early parts make it seem like the show follows the same recipe as the others with an antagonist that only wants to make Cassian and crew's lives miserable, a plot you've seen a hundred times before and some weird flashbacks trying to make certain characters more likeable. Fortunately, it keeps on getting better every minute and every episode.
Things really kick off when Cassian, without spoiling anything, decides to take a chance on something new and gets to see what's really happening in this galaxy. Leaving his old life behind also leads to the show abandoning some Star Wars tropes. Pretty much every aspect starts feeling fresh and more unique. Minimal use of visual and special effects, less overly futuristic clothing, deeper and less predictable characters we don't know the fate of, exploration of lore and places we haven't heard much about before and what's generally a more raw take on Star Wars have kept my eyes glued to the screen most of the time - something only small parts of the other shows have managed. Just like Rogue One, Andor is at its best when it tries something new and different.
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This includes the acting. Mr. Luna is far more captivating and interesting when he's allowed to show a darker, more mysterious side of Cassian, while Stellan Skarsgård plays a character I can't make up my mind about yet - in a good way. While both the plot and some scenes still fall into old habits and tropes once in a while, everything else feels like a more realistic war-story with real stakes.
Never tell me the odds, however, as having large portions of the first two episodes rely on the same old recipe as the other shows with a "funny" droid, boring antagonist and wannabe drama makes me somewhat worried that episode three and four might just have been lucky shots with their new takes on stuff. 50/50 odds haven't exactly gone in my favour in terms of Star Wars products lately, but the best parts of Andor so far show this crew knows how to spice things up. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has one of the best endings in a Star Wars product yet, so I hope this positive trajectory keeps on going and that the many Bothans that died to bring us this information do so in a very entertaining way. If they do it in a way similar to episode three and four, it will have been worth it.